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A tour guide, dressed in period costume, stands in the center of a dimly lit, historic room within the Old Melbourne Gaol. The room features brick walls and wooden beams, with historical artifacts displayed on the walls. The tour guide gestures while speaking to an attentive group of visitors.


Visit the new permanent exhibition with general admission to the Old Melbourne Gaol.

You will find the panels located on the second floor inside a suite of cells.

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Women & Children of the Gaol

10am - 5pm

Open Daily

In line with the recent upgrade of the Old Melbourne Gaol interpretation in 2020, the histories of women and children have now been revitalised with the installation of new permanent panels. The second floor now features a suite of cells devoted to their histories.

Researchers at the Old Melbourne Gaol, including staff, volunteers, and academics, have been tracing this history of women and children for decades. Previous installations honoured these stories and placed the experiences of women and children in context with the site. Drawing from this expertise, the new installation places these histories at the heart of the Gaol.

Adjacent to the gallows, the narrative starts with the story of execution and female imprisonment and ends with the social welfare work of Dr John Singleton and the Salvation Army.

Before entering the Old Melbourne Gaol, we recommend a walk around the outside of the extant building. Take a moment to look up and around. The original gate and courtyard allow us to imagine the experience of many prisoners, including women and children, entering the Gaol for the very first time to begin their sentences.

If you walk towards the back of the remaining building, you will see some shards of whitewashed walls. They extend out from the sealed section of the exterior, jutting out on either side of long sealed doorways whose access is hampered by garbage bins and a fence. The students on the first floor of the RMIT building have the best view of these fragments; the only vestiges left of the Female Ward. Before this wing was built women were housed with the male prisoners.

The Female Ward at Melbourne Gaol was demolished in the 1930s, and the Female Prison at Pentridge became the main site of incarceration for women and children.

Find out more with a visit to Old Melbourne Gaol – purchase your tickets here.

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