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Classic Prison Movies at Boggo Road Gaol

Home > Brisbane > Museums | Tours | Unusual Things to do
by May (subscribe)
Typical Gemini, with the concentration span of a gnat & not one for sitting still. My old Da used to say that "you're a long time dead". So my mantra is get busy living.Please join me for more at
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Movies about crims escaping gaol, surrounded by barbed wire
Do you believe that old buildings, buildings with a dark history, can exhude "bad energy"?

A friend, a beautiful, sensitive soul with a good head on her shoulders, on her first and only walk through the remains of Boggo Road Gaol many years ago was so shaken by the unpleasant vibe that she had to quickly excuse herself to find a bathroom. So I was eager to experience Boggo Road for myself.

Walking the perimeter of the one remaining structure I couldn't help but admire the views across to Woolloongabba and note its proximity to Brisbane City. The building, known as Division 2, opened in 1903 and originally housed female prisoners. It has since been Heritage Listed and is an imposing presence in an area undergoing much redevelopment.

courtesy of author
Walking the perimeter

The first cell block - Division 1- opened in 1883 when it was known as Brisbane Gaol and housed male prisoners. Division 1 saw 42 executions, the last being in 1913, and has since been demolished.

Different tours of Boggo Road Gaol are held throughout the week. I joined a recent addition to the itinerary - a 45 minute History Tour followed by watching a Prison Movie, movies featuring criminals whose goal it is to escape from Gaol. Someone has a good sense of humour, right?

courtesy of author

As numbers gathered by the main gates awaiting the tour start, we were welcomed to peruse a Prison and Indigineous Art Exhibition. Not only did this get us out of the cold, it provided an insight into the loneliness of prison life. Although some pieces were confrontational they most certainly indicated some talented artists.

courtesy of author
Poster for Indigineous Art Show

When those daunting, green gates opened at 6:30pm we were cheerfully greeted by our guide, Jack, who proceeded to walk us through the buildings, the history, and many of the personal stories of the inmates contained within these walls.

courtesy of author
The Green Gates of Hell

Boggo Road Gaol was decommissioned in 1989, after rioting prisoners scaled the roof of the prison twelve months beforehand in protest over appalling prison conditions. This naturally created a media frenzy. As Jack tells it, after the review of the riots the Prison Department became defunct and rebranded as the Department of Corrective Services in an effort to rehabilitate prisoners, rather than just incarcerate them.

After the tour we assembled on the lawn surrounded by prison walls to watch "Brubaker", a 1980 prison movie starring a young Robert Redford. We sat in plastic chairs under the stars watching a movie projected on to a white sheet that was surrounded by barbed wire. Cold but most definitely atmospheric and there were no complaints from any of the mixed crowd.

courtesy of author
Prison movies surrounded by barbed wire

Coming movies include:

Millers Crossing on Thursday, 2nd June.
Shawshank Redemption on Friday, 10th June.

Just make sure you pack an extra coat or even a knee rug, and take a few gold coins so you can purchase a packet of chips or chocolate bar for the film.

Did I pick up on any bad energy? I was both saddened and shocked by the appalling conditions that the inmates had to endure - and remember, this was less than thirty years ago! I will also admit that the proposed plans to redevelop Boggo Road Gaol did creep me out a little. Having only touched upon the history and stories contained within these walls the thought of dining in a cell block turned trendy wine bar holds no appeal.

Bad energy or just creepy? Not sure. It is well worth a visit to this slice of Queensland history to make your own decision on that one.

Boggo Road Gaol is a two minute walk from the Park Road Railway Station making the evening tours viable if you rely on public transport. Car parks are plentiful and the good lighting contributes to the feeling of a safe environment.

Times :
7:30pm - Movie Only (Gates open at 7:15pm)
6:30pm - Tour plus Movie (Arrive at 6:15pm)
Costs: Movie only $15
Tour and Movie $35
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*May was invited as a guest
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Why? Learn a little of the dark side of our City's history
When: 6:15pm for history tour, 7:15pm for prison movie
Phone: 07 3844 0059
Where: 21 Boggo Road, Dutton Park
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