Transport yourself back to the heyday of colonial crime and justice.
Geelong Gaol has been the scene of six executions including the first regional execution outside of Melbourne. It also saw one very near miss.
The first executions were public ones held at Gallows Flat, an area around 200 metres from the front gate of the Gaol. The bright yellow gallows would sit at the front of the gaol as a warning to keep on the right side of the law.
The next three executions were held in a wooden gallows on the north side of the gaol.
The final execution was that of Thomas Menard in 1865 and the only execution on the gallows inside of the gaol
Saga Behind the Armour brings to life the story of Ned Kelly and his gang through the eyes of the Geelong people involved in the story.
Come and view Ned Kelly’s death mask and experience the infamous bushranger’s replica armour as you take in the stories of those who lived it.
Love him or hate him, one cannot deny that Ned Kelly is one of the most recognisable figures in Australian history, even 140 years after his death in 1880.
The criminal underclass has long fascinated those from all walks of life, whether it was the romance of the forbidden or the ability to be up close with the wrong side of law, or perhaps looking at why these people committed crimes.
No matter the reason, there were plenty of opportunities for satisfying the public’s thirst, from public execution of murderers to morbid displays in Victorian Wax Works.
This gallery is a macabre display of death masks of executed convicts, bushrangers and serial killers.
With the discovery of gold in Victoria, hundreds of thousands of people arrived in Melbourne, and the population of 77,000 in 1851 grew to 540,000 by 1861.
The huge increase severely affected the infant criminal justice system of the colony, with insufficient police and no courts or gaols on the goldfields.
With Melbourne now the gateway to the goldfields and the crime rate increasing, 12 colonial gaols were constructed across Victoria.
Unlike other states in Australia, Victoria was the land of the free and not settled by convicts, having little need for large gaols.
The onset of the 1851 Victorian gold rush and the influx of people seeking their fortunes — including many ex-convicts and ticket of leave holders from Tasmania and NSW — placed strain on the only existing gaol in Melbourne.
The fledgling colonial government purchased seven unseaworthy ships and converted them into floating gaols.