The Old Geelong Gaol
Explore one of Geelong’s darker sides with a visit to the Old Geelong Gaol, which has recently been reopened, not for prisoners but for tourists.
Formerly known as HM Prison Geelong, this bleak and scary building was built in stages from 1849 to 1864 by prisoners who slept on high security barges on Corio Bay.
In today’s terms the prisoners lived in appalling conditions with freezing blue stone walls and iron bars.
The prison was used right up until 1991 when the new “hotel style” Barwon Prison was built near Lara. The award winning Australian film “Everynight, Everynight” used the prison building as a film set in 1994.
The three-storey central block is a cruciform and was based on North London’s Pentonville Prison with the east and west wings serving as cells (some featuring interesting graffiti), a north wing as administration and the south wing as a kitchen, hospital, ablution rooms and a tailoring workshop.
A tour takes in all elements of the complex including security points, prisoners’ murals, muster and exercise areas, watchtowers, and a gallows setting depicting the 1863 hanging of James Murphy for beating a constable to death with a hammer in the Warrnambool courthouse.
Many believe the gaol is haunted, not only due to the fact that plenty of people have died in the building during its lifetime, but also due to strange noises and weird feelings felt by some visitors.
The gaol is located at 202 Myers St, behind the Geelong Hospital and is open 1pm-4pm Saturday, Sunday, School holidays and public holidays excluding Christmas day, Boxing Day, New Years Day and Good Friday.
In 2014 the Geelong Gaol featured on the History Channel’s Time Walks program hosted by Black Adder star Tony Robinson. The program explored the history of the gaol and many stories about it being haunted.
The Geelong Gaol is owned by the City of Greater Geelong. The council is currently deciding on a future for the former prison, whether to keep it or put it up for sale.