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.
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.
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.
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!
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?