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Adelaide Gaol

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by Dave Walsh (subscribe)
I enjoy writing about Adelaide and its many attractions. If you think Adelaide is boring, the problem is not with Adelaide. adelaideunearthed.blogspot.com.au/
Published February 16th 2015
Events
Old Adelaide Gaol Psychic Fair 2017
22/04/2017 - 22/04/2017
Eerie ghost stories and terrible tales
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Old Adelaide Gaol Ghost Stories Often Appear in Tales of Haunted Adelaide


Old Adelaide Gaol was the first prison built in South Australia, operating from 1841 until 1988. It's located in Thebarton near Bonython Park, and its grim and forbidding frontage is a popular place for tourists and photographers.

Unlike the eastern states which were originally convict colonies, South Australia was founded by free men. However the early colonists were not angels and the need for a lockup was soon apparent. Before Adelaide Gaol was built the first prisoners were confined on the HMS Buffalo, and later chained to trees near the Botanic Gardens.

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Learn About Crime and Punishment in Early South Australia on Old Adelaide Gaol Tours


Adelaide Gaol was built to a design based on the layout of Pentonville Prison in the United Kingdom but the high cost nearly bankrupted early South Australia. Nevertheless the first prisoners moved into the still incomplete gaol in 1841.

The radial design of old Adelaide Gaol enabled access to all cell blocks and prison exercise yards from one central point near the main gate. A total of exercise six yards enabled prisoners to be categorised and kept in appropriate groups, although their purpose changed to suit prevailing needs.

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Adelaide Gaol Records Show 45 Prisoners Were Executed Here


Prison labour was used in the construction of the "New Building" started in 1878 to accommodate increasing numbers of prisoners. From 1886 A Wing of the New Building contained the gallows, which was used until 1950 for 21 Adelaide Gaol executions. In 1953 the west tower was converted for use as a gallows, seeing four executions before capital punishment was abolished.

With a total of 45 Adelaide Gaol executions (and numerous suicides), it's not surprising that tales of paranormal activities in the prison are to be heard. While all guided Adelaide Gaol tours are currently on hold, you can read an interview with a former prison guard recounting his supernatural experiences. Check the Haunted Horizons web page to see when Adelaide Gaol ghost tours resume.

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See Inside the Prison Cells on Self Guided Adelaide Gaol Tours


Most tales of haunted Adelaide include old Adelaide Gaol ghost stories. Like Z Ward in the Glenside Hospital historical precinct, Adelaide Gaol was nearly demolished by the government in 1965. Fortunately the government have since grasped the tourism potential of the gaol, but not for Z Ward. You can find some other examples of Adelaide's lost icons here.

Commit a crime and punishment was often swift and severe in early South Australia. Even relatively harmless offences earned a visit to a magistrate - read some fascinating stories here.

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Police on Guard Before an Adelaide Gaol Execution in 1950


There are also walking tours available from the State Library of South Australia as a mobile app which showcase the seamier side of Adelaide and its criminals - well worth a look for the amazing imagery!

Self guided Adelaide Gaol tours are available every day, and there are also occasional special events such as open days and movie nights. The easiest way to find out what's happening is to follow the Adelaide Gaol Facebook page, or visit their website.

Do you think that the gaol is the scariest place in Adelaide? Do you have any old Adelaide Gaol ghost stories? If so, please tell us in the comments.

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Why? Adelaide Gaol Tours include tales of haunted Adelaide, and crime and punishment in early South Australia
When: See website
Phone: (08) 8231 4062
Where: Gaol Road, Thebarton
Cost: See website
Your Comment
Great summary Dave
by Steve H. (score: 3|1210) 771 days ago
Since I migrated to Adelaide, I've heard a story about the "alive statute" in one of the ceremetries... The story was about a group of students saw a statute moved in the ceremetry at night but I don't know where the place is. And one of the students had a seizure after that weird happened. Have you heard about this story?
by girlcho (score: 1|17) 771 days ago
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