Adelaide Gaol

Kids who enjoy gruesome thrills will relish this window into prison life. Whippings and executions were carried out in this jail from 1841 to 1964. See the gallows that were employed for hangings and  the cruel whipping frame with manacles that once held prisoners in position. You can imagine sleeping  in the tiny, uncomfortable cells, set up just the way they were when they were occupied, complete  with bucket toilets. In the interactive exhibits, try out the lock-picking devices, or put on handcuffs and  manacles. If you sense the presence of ghosts as you walk around, that might be because hanged men  were buried in pine coffins in the gaol grounds. You can still see the graves here.

Contact details

18 Gaol Rd, Thebarton; (08) 8231 4062

Open Sun–Fri

Price range


Don't Miss

■ Solitary confinement cells, nicknamed ‘The Fridge’. Feel a chill run down your spine as you enter  these small, airless rooms with their solid, soundproof doors and fridge-like handles.

■ The toilet bucket cleaning machine, used until porta-potties were introduced in the 1980s.
■ The dentist’s chair, which looks more like an instrument of torture!
■ Open excavations in Yard Two. Archaeologists have peeled back five layers of occupation,  beginning in Aboriginal times. Artefacts found in the dig are on display.

Fabulous Facts

More than 200 prisoners died at the gaol during its 147-year history. Some were hanged, some died  of self-inflicted wounds, but many died because of the unsanitary conditions. The prison’s first well  became polluted from the disposal of toilet waste in the grounds. Its water caused diseases such as  small pox, typhus fever, impetigo, and tuberculosis (some of which were caught by prison guards as  well as prisoners).

Insider Tips

■ Guided tours run on weekends, except on days of extreme heat; check website for times. The last  tour starts one-and-a-half hours before closing.

■ On weekdays you conduct your own self-guided tours with a handout.
■ Ghost tours are also available; phone to check times.
■ There is no cafe on site, so bring your own snacks.

See Also

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