Step back in time and immerse yourself in depravity with a visit to the absorbing Old Melbourne Gaol.
The history of this National Trust holding dates all the way back to 1842. Based on London's Pentonville Prison, it was designed to be a modern, scientific facility. Instead of the filthy, violent, debauched jungles into which bad men were traditionally loosed, this was to be a place of silent isolation, where a person's spirit would be broken so that his character might be redeemed.
The Old Melbourne Gaol operated until 1929, and where previously its solitary cells held lice-ridden miscreants, they now contain wonderful exhibits on the penitentiary's history. One cannot help but be morbidly drawn to the biographies and death masks of some of the 133 people to have been executed there, the most famous of whom was Ned Kelly.
As you wander around the imposing colonial building, a delightfully debauched world of bushrangers, gangsters, murderers, lunatics and hangmen is revealed. So what are you waiting for?
While you're at it, you can take a special tour of the adjacent City Watch House, which involves being 'arrested' and locked up. Plus, if it's open, you can sneak a peak at the Old Magistrates' Court, where Kelly was sentenced to death.
Finally, the Old Melbourne Gaol is home to three other enjoyable experiences: Hangman's Night Tours, which usually occur four times per week; Ghostseekers' Night Tours, which are held monthly; and Such A Life, a free live performance about the famous bushranger that is staged each Saturday afternoon.