Why was the Gaol built?

Victoria was not used as a convict settlement. Those who were brought to work here from the other colonies were housed and fed by the settlers they had been assigned to. Initially the colony of Port Phillip was a farming community. The availability of good land led to overcrowding in the new colony.

- So why did the settlement at Port Phillip need such a large prison complex?
- What problems arose as a result of the new colony's rapid growth?
- And when and why did the Melbourne Gaol close?

Scroll through the narrative galleries below to discover the story of the Melbourne Gaol and where it sits within Victoria’s criminal justice history. Hover your mouse over an image to reveal further information.

Please note that images and names of deceased Indigenous people are contained within this webpage.

Things to think about

  • Explain the association between poverty and crime in relation to the Development boom in Victoria during and after the Gold Rush.
  • Comment on how the development, expansion and closure of the Melbourne Gaol (1841 – 1924) reflects the changing needs of the colony of Victoria and its people.

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