Old Castlemaine Gaol

Coordinates: 37°3′43″S 144°12′41″E / 37.06194°S 144.21139°E / -37.06194; 144.21139
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Old Castlemaine Gaol
LocationCastlemaine, Victoria
ClosedAugust 1990

The Old Castlemaine Gaol is a former prison, located in Castlemaine, Victoria, Australia. The building was modelled on Pentonville prison in London, replacing the original, designed by Inspector General John Price, which was never occupied. Built in 1861 to house offenders from the goldfields and nearby towns, it served various functions in the penal system before it was closed in 1990 and its prisoners transferred to HM Prison Loddon.

From 1861 to 1908, the gaol housed all manner of criminals, including lunatics and debtors, and ten men were hanged within the walls. In the later of these years however, the gaol housed mostly short-term prisoners and first-time offenders.

Between 1909 and 1951, the gaol was converted into a reformatory school for boys aged between 16 and 25. Most were under 21.

The gaol then closed for a number of years, before reopening in 1954 to accommodate medium-security prisoners from across the state. It remained open until August 1990.

After it ceased prison operations, it was used as a hotel and tourist attraction. It served as the studio for local community radio station WMA FM/Main FM 94.9 as well as various small businesses.

In 2018, the old gaol was sold to artist David Bromley.

The grounds were originally landscaped by renowned landscape gardener Hugh Linaker.[1]

Notable prisoners[edit]

  • Peter Dupas, who was serving a life sentence for multiple murder and rape.
  • Greek illusionist, Alexander Canaris, served three months for larceny in 1889–1890.

Notable wardens[edit]

  • From around 1868 to 1875, Thomas Francis Hyland, later a very successful wine industry businessman of Penfolds fame, was the notoriously hard-driving governor of the gaol. Under his tutelage, prisoners were obliged to work or do without rations. Within a few years, not only the gaol, but the town of Castlemaine had been transformed by their efforts and his organisational skills.[2]


Name Year of birth Date of execution Crime
David Young 1831 21 August 1865 Murder of Margaret Graham
Long Poy 10 March 1866
William H Terry 31 July 1867
John Hogan 1815 14 August 1868
Ah Pew 23 May 1870 Murder of Elizabeth Annie Hunt
James Wilkie 1844 20 May 1872
Samuel Wright 1813 11 March 1873
Pierre Barbun 1841 20 May 1873
Ah Kat 9 August 1875
John Duffus 1820 22 May 1876 Criminal Assault of daughter


  1. ^ "Mont Park Psychiatric Hospital Precinct (listing RNE100229)". Australia Heritage Places Inventory. Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities. Retrieved 12 November 2008.
  2. ^ "A Model Prison". The Age. No. 5452. Victoria, Australia. 4 May 1872. p. 6. Retrieved 3 January 2018 – via National Library of Australia.
  • Clark, Mary Rillis (1995). "Castlemaine's magic gaol on the hill." The Age. 13 May.
  • Mitchell, Glenn (2003). "A Night in Irons." Herald Sun (Melbourne). 4 January.
  • Wilkinson, Geoff (2005). "Rapist looked after my daughter." Herald Sun (Melbourne). 6 December.

37°3′43″S 144°12′41″E / 37.06194°S 144.21139°E / -37.06194; 144.21139