Old Melbourne Gaol – Uncovering chilling stories of Victoria’s oldest surviving prison.
A visit to the Old Melbourne Gaol is a great way to learn about some of Victoria’s history and the perfect indoor activity for school aged children on a rainy day. Explore the gaol, experience the interactive watch house where you get “arrested” and “locked up”, and participate in different events and activities throughout the year.
Old Melbourne Gaol
A visit to the Old Melbourne Gaol gives you a look into the lives of the prisoners who were housed there between 1842 and 1929, with special attention to the infamous bush ranger Ned Kelly.
It is the perfect educational activity for school aged children with many special activities and events organised over the school holidays.
There are three different parts to explore including the gaol cells themselves and other rooms such as isolation, and psychiatric.
Everything is indoors so you can visit at any time. Here is what you can expect to see and do inside the Old Melbourne Gaol.
A Tour of The Old Melbourne Gaol
There are 40min guided tours available for those interested, however if you have younger children, you can do the self guided tour of the gaol at your own pace. There is information to read everywhere on the walls and in each cell and also some audio.
You are free to wander around exploring the numerous tiny prison cells filled with information about the inmates who lived there including of course that of the infamous bushranger, Ned Kelly.
There are often special events, so make sure to check out what’s on before you visit.
The Watch House
A visit to the Watch House is a must. You get to experience getting “arrested” and “locked up” just like the inmates did. Get your mug shot taken and thrown into a cell.
This is a really fun interactive experience, and beats a guided tour which for kids can sometimes be a little boring. Careful though to tell your kids before going in that it isn’t real. While my 7 year old thought it was a great laugh and giggled all the way through as the Sargent yelled at him for “drink driving”, my 4 year old had fear in his eyes from the moment she started talking!
The place where many of Victoria’s most notorious criminals were sentenced can give you chills. In fact it was the place where Ned Kelly was sentenced to death in 1880. But kids will love putting on a costume and standing in the dock or sitting in the Judge’s chair.
Old Melbourne Gaol: 377 Russell St, Melbourne
Tips for your visit to the Old Melbourne Gaol
- There is no aircon or heating, so dress accordingly.
- Allow at least 2-3 hours
- Best for school aged children who can read.
- Skip the tour for little ones as it is quite long, you can do the self-guided tour.
- Prepare young kids for the watch house, make sure they know it is “pretend”
- There are plenty of places to have lunch on Lygon Street which is not far from the Old Melbourne Gaol. Otherwise there are tables and chairs outside if you choose to bring your own.
Kids Activities Melbourne
The Old Melbourne Gaol is fantastic way to look into the past and educate kids about some of Victoria’s most important history. It is a great indoor activity especially throughout Winter and the school holidays. Check our SCHOOL HOLIDAY ACTIVITY post, where there are often special events to make the experience even more exciting for kids. While in the area, make sure to pass by the STATE LIBRARY.
Looking for more fun things to do with kids in Melbourne? Take a lookat our Melbourne For Kids page and make sure you Follow Mum’s Little Explorers on Facebook to stay updated on the latest!