It appears that Dubbo was not only considered "out west" but in its early days was something of "The Wild West". The first two public buildings constructed in Dubbo were a police residence and a combined courthouse and lockup in 1847. Keep in mind that the first white settlement (convicts) in Australia was less than 60 years prior to this (1788).
Old Dubbo Gaol continued to grow and remained in use until 1966 with conditions largely unchanged. It is located along what is now Dubbo's main shopping street, slightly set back from the shop fronts. A volunteer group restored the Gaol for public access in 1974. I remember visiting it shortly after its opening. In recent years extra information, displays and theatrical performances have been added.
In the old Infirmary we listened to and watched a rather sobering holographic exhibit introducing us to the history of the Gaol. One of the children discovered a set of locked iron bars at the top of the fire place, preventing any attempted chimney escapes.
At its busiest, these cells housed up to six prisoners each.
|Vegetable and food store|
Several escapes were attempted, notice the recessed water down pipe to help prevent climbing.
As time went on a separate women's section was built.
Not all who entered as prisoner left alive. Here a condemned murderer tells his story on the eve of his execution in 1897. The Condemned Cell afforded extra "luxuries" for that last night.
The gallows were erected for each execution. Eight men were hanged for murder in Dubbo Gaol between 1877 and 1904. When not in use the gallows were stored under the courthouse. There is also a hangman's kit on display and a holographic exhibition which tells the story of one state executioner.
There is much more to see including a padded cell and a solitary confinement Dark Cell (very eerie). Well worth a visit but the sombre feel about the place is not something which makes you want to linger too long.
In one sense we were pleased to walk out through the original wooden gates, over the wooden pavers, returning to today's outside world of freedom and light.
Sharing at Macro Monday.