Guidebook Old Melbourne Jail

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Old Melbourne Jail

This suitably solid sandstone jail, built in 1839, “once loomed over the city, taking in any and all-comers from lazy children to murderous vigilantes, writes Atlas Obscura … “the site of over 100 hangings including that of famed criminal Ned Kelly, whose death mask, along with those of others hanged at the site still sit in the museum that now inhabits the space.”

“Among the 135 hangings that took place was that of notorious bushranger Ned Kelly, in 1880,” writes Frommer’s Easy Guide to Australia. “The scaffold where he was hanged still stands, and his gun, as well as a replica suit of homemade armour is on display.”

“My favourite relic of the Melbourne of scamps, rascals and Micawber, and of the England that sent most of them there, is the Old Melbourne Gaol on Russell Street, which was built in 1841 and is now a museum. The structure itself has a certain cruel beauty: a tall, narrow space bordered by cells, with a vaulted ceiling and handsome openwork staircases at either end leading to two more tiers of cells. The cells, into many of which one can peer, are bare miseries, and some contain the strangely serene death masks, along with contemporary newspaper accounts, of some of Melbourne's most notorious killers.” Mary Cantwell, New York Times

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