Haunted Australia: The Old Melbourne Gaol

Ladies and ghouls, welcome to a new series only found here on Truly Disturbing.  Today I, Rhiannon Irons, a.k.a Ahlephia, will take you on a journey around my wonderful home nation of Australia, sharing with you tales of terror from some of the most haunted locations.

From famous cemeteries to jail blocks that are filled with ghosts and even some homesteads that give new meaning to paranormal activity, if you’re looking for haunted locations, look no further than the land Down Under.

Today’s destination is located in the heart of Melbourne, the capital city of Victoria; The Old Melbourne Gaol.  (Fun Fact: For those not familiar with the term/spelling ‘gaol’ is actually pronounced ‘jail’)

The Old Melbourne Gaol was the first extensive gaol complex in Victoria.  It is now a museum, though it was a former prison hence the name.  It’s located in Russell Street, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

The first Melbourne Gaol was built in Collins Street West in 1839 and completed in 1840, but was far too small.  A second gaol was built in 1841 and completed sometime in 1844, adjoining the then Supreme Court at the corner of Russell and La Trobe Streets, but this was entirely demolished early in the twentieth century when the Magistrate’s Court complex was built.

What was officially a new wing, but really stage one of the third gaol, was built in 1852 and was completed sometime in 1854.  It was of bluestone rather than sandstone, and had its own perimeter wall.  This new design was based upon the designs of the British prison engineer Joshua Jebb, and more particularly upon the Pentonville Model Prison in London.

The building was a model prison and based on the current prison reform theories of the day.  In spite of the amount of building and extension work performed on the gaol, the complex was consistently overcrowded.  It was extended in two stages in 1857, and the boundary wall was also extended in 1858 with both works being complete in 1859.

The gaol was famous for housing and executing some of Australia’s most notorious criminals including the famed bushranger Ned Kelly and serial killer Frederick Bailey Deeming.  Though the gaol was used briefly during the Second World War, it ceased operation in 1924, becoming a museum.

In total, 135 prisoners were executed by hanging.  The most infamous was that of Ned Kelly.  Kelly was 25 when his life ended on November 11, 1880.  The first woman to ever be hanged in Victoria was Elizabeth Scott on November 11, 1863.  Scott was hung alongside her co-accused prisoners, Julian Cross and David Gedge though it’s not really clear as to why they were hanged.  The last person to be executed at the gaol was Angus Murray in 1924, the same year that the gaol was closed.

So, is the Old Melbourne Gaol really haunted?

Rumors of hauntings among paranormal enthusiasts are quite active.  With its dark history, the gaol is one of the first places paranormal seekers migrate too.  British parapsychologist Darren Done believes that the gaol is haunted and has conducted many studies including spending a night in 2003.  He claimed that he heard voices and detected evidence of an electrical interference which ultimately suggests paranormal activity.  In 2005, Done claimed that he had a recording of a ghostly figure with a grotesque visage standing in one of the doorways.

Other paranormal seekers back up Done’s claims by saying they’ve heard the voice of a woman.  Most people who have heard this woman calling out suggest that it might be the spirit of the first woman to be executed, Elizabeth Scott.

But what seems to amaze most people is that none of the reported hauntings have been about the most notorious prisoners, Ned Kelly and Frederick Bailey Deeming, who, after his death was reportedly linked to the Jack The Ripper killing.  (Fun Fact: Deeming spent his last few weeks alive writing an autobiography and poetry.  One such poem was “The Jury listened well to the yarn I had to tell, But they sent me straight to hell.”  However, after his execution, his autobiography was destroyed)

But where there are believers, there’s also doubt.  One journalist has gone on the record to state that any form of supernatural occurrences and paranormal activity at the gaol is, quote, “Scant.”  Other doubters have gone on the record to say while the gaol has an eerie feel to it and a dark past, there’s nothing to suggest that it’s haunted.  Just simple ghost stories.

But regardless of if you’re a believer of paranormal activity or not, The Old Melbourne Gaol is one location that you must visit should you find yourself Down Under.  With weekly tours and performances that bring the gaol’s history to life, if you’re looking for something to do with a spooky edge, check it out.

I have included a ghost story video about the Old Melbourne Gaol for you to view as well as a link to the official page of the gaol where you can gather more information at your leisure.

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