I found this old post from Darwin that I guess I hadn’t finished…
I can’t remember how we heard about the Fannie Bay Gaol while we were in Darwin, but we decided it would be good to go have a look. Entry is by donation so it’s an affordable family attraction. We thought it would be good for the kids to go inside the prison cells and learn a little about prison life. This is probably one of those places that people who live in Darwin have never visited!
You can see in this cell there were some old beds set up. Some even had old mattresses filled with straw and we wondered what it would have been like to sleep on them. Softer than the floor at least. I caught one child laying on one as soon as my back was turned. Just had to try it out. I won’t say which one, but if you know them then you know who it was!
The infirmary building also held the gallows. Two people were hung on these gallows, there were other hangings at the prison but they had all been done on temporary gallows erected for the occasion. It was a bit spooky seeing the gallows and the trapdoor open beneath. There was an information sign nearby that talked about what a job it had been digging out the ground for that trapdoor. Australia has now abolished capital punishment, with the last execution taking place in 1967.
Next we found the ablution block. Before they had this they would take the prisoners down to the sea for a wash. The prison is very close to the coast. Apparently someone escaped during one of these trips to the ocean, so a separate building on site was built.
Then we found the separate confinement building. Not the same as solitary, there were two cells right next to each other and you could hear anything that went on outside. It was meant for prisoners who might have been a harm to themselves or others. It was hot the day we were there, it would have been unbearable in some of these prison cells. LadyBug (5) enjoyed locking us in the cell, this was the view through the small window in the door.
Then we were off to the maximum security building. See the signs on the wall in the background? Some of the cells had information about the history of the police in the Northern Territory. The signs looked dated, it seems like they are trying to expand their exhibits.
The laundry building was blown away during Cyclone Tracy in 1974. After hearing about some of the other damage during the cyclone, I’m amazed the prison didn’t suffer more damage.