For a realistic experience of what prison life was like in the 19th century, Old Melbourne Gaol gives visitors a true taste of what sentenced criminals had to endure. Famous criminals including Ned Kelly and Squizzy Taylor stayed within these walls. Visitors will also see execution areas, confined prison rooms, and experience live court cases.

Highlights

  • City Watch House – Included in the admission ticket, you can can experience what it really feels like to be arrested and allocated rooms by guards. Guards, played by actors, will shout orders, separating men and women into 2 lines. You’ll be free to explore the prison after this interactive role play. This will run for approximately 40 minutes.
  • Old Magistrate Courts – Find out what really happens during court and how guilty suspects were trialed for their crimes. Visitors will be asked to volunteer for various roles, becoming part of the drama as it unfolds. This is normally held during school holidays and peak periods.
  • Gaol Exhibits – In the main building, a number of exhibits are on display in prison cells, including history, documentaries, and criminal sculptures. You’ll also see an execution area where prisoners were hung.
  • Night Tours – For a more spooky experience, you can book a tour at night. These are only held on some days during the week depending on numbers. More details here.

Prices

Single Visit

Adults $25
Concession $20
Child (5-15 yrs old) $14
Family (2 adults & 2 children) $55

Season Pass

Adult $32
Concession $25
Child (5-15 yrs old) $18
Family (2 adults & 2 children) $69

Night Tour

Hangman’s Night Tours Adult $38
  Concession $33
Ghosts…What Ghosts? Adult $35
  Concession $30

Events & Functions

For those keen on functions like weddings, birthdays and work events, more details can be obtained here.

Tips

  • Temporary Exhibits & Experiences – Before going, check what’s on at the Old Melbourne Gaol on this page.
  • Large Groups – For schools or large group tours, call for bookings so they can organize performances and experiences accordingly. (+61 3 8663 7223)

Transport

  • Trams – Catch the free tourist tram (number 35). There’s a stop at La Trobe and Russell Street.
  • Train – The nearest train station is Melbourne Central Station. Old Melbourne Gaol is a 2 minute walk from here.

History

The Old Melbourne Gaol, built in 1839, didn’t only hold some of the most wanted criminals, but also the mentally ill and homeless citizens. 133 criminals were hung including the famous Ned Kelly. The gaol continued to expand in the late 1800’s but eventual closed in 1929. In 1972 the National Trust of Australia re-opened Old Melbourne Gaol, redesigning the heritage landmark as a tourist attraction.

9 Reviews

  1. joel
    joel 19 Comments
     -  06 Dec 2017

    Excellent

    I was small when I visited old Melbourne Gaol with my grandpa. The guides did excellently answering our questions. My grandpa told me a long story about the place when we got to our lodge, and I am glad to rate them 4 stars because I need to tour there again, so I will be able to understand the place better.

  2. karafox
    karafox
    United Kingdom 87 Comments
     -  15 Sep 2017

    Excellent

    I enjoyed my visit to the Old Melbourne Gaol. It’s not the most fun place in the world, but then I wouldn’t expect that of a prison. Its cold, creepy and very informative on the history of the penitentiary system and foundation of Australia. Don’t miss Ned Kelly’s cell!

  3. Letsgodothings
    Canada 15 Comments
     -  27 Aug 2017

    Excellent

    Great piece of history in the middle of Melbourne! The staff do a fantastic job from start to finish, remaining in complete character which enhances the experience entirely. Warning: Definitely a bit chilling and includes displays of actual execution equipment, some of which fully function.

    Walking involved – recommending comfortable clothing and a full stomach!

  4. Nemanja Popović 45 Comments
     -  26 Aug 2017

    Excellent

    I thought the whole experience was good. Reasonable price to get in. Dripping in history. The cells are quite dark when the lights get turned off. Great experience!

  5. Mademoiselle_MM
    Mademoiselle_MM
    Yugoslavia 17 Comments
     -  21 Aug 2017

    It was good

    This is a nice museum, but I wish I had searched more about it on Internet before I actually visited it. It’s dark and spooky. You can get some useful info about everyday life of the prisoners, but generally, I was freaked out. I am sure I am not gonna go there again. Anyway, I have to praise guides, they do excellent job!

  6. Jovelyn Delos Santos
    Jovelyn Delos Santos 31 Comments
     -  01 Jul 2017

    It was good

    Informative. Informative. Informative. That’s it, you will only benefit from information, nothing else. Places like these are probably great for students learning history or teens who are out for some adventure but not when you have younger kids who are scared of the dark, enclosed areas. Guides are great at explaining how prisoners lived through their days. The spooky feel was almost real.

  7. shae23
    shae23
    Australia 115 Comments
     -  28 Jun 2017

    Excellent

    We really enjoyed this tour and highly recommend the night tour to be completely freaked out. The guides are amazing and really give you an insight into how these prisoners lived. Nice and easy to get to via tram.

  8. Jessica
    Jessica 10 Comments
     -  13 Feb 2017

    Needs improvement

    I really enjoyed this museum. There is tons of information on notorious criminals that were imprisoned in this gaol. Also, it is amazing to see the conditions that they lived in and also how many criminals that could be held there at any given time. The City Watch House was a fun and unique experience to run by the museum. There is an opportunity to explore the gaol and also take some funny mug shots if you wished.

  9. echo 30 Comments
     -  09 Oct 2013

    Its the type of place I would only go once. I’m not too interested in learning about the history of gaols. Small rooms for prisoners, dark halls…that’s pretty much it.

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