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Maitland Gaol.
Maitland Gaol.
Inside Maitland Gaol.
Ben has a guided tour from an ex-inmate.

Maitland Gaol

Thursday, November 2, 2000
This 150-year-old gaol was one of the country's first. Convicts helped build it, and the thick stone walls confined murderers, serial killers and armed robbers.

Maitland Gaol is 150 years old, making it one of the oldest prisons in the country. Convicts, who helped build it, were taken there in shackles and chains beginning in 1849. Local sandstone was used in construction and in some places the heritage-listed building is three storeys high.

Maitland was a maximum security prison, one of the toughest facilities, built to withstand time and many escape attempts. Only 11 convicts ever made it over the wall, all were recaptured.

It ceased to serve as a correctional facility in 1998. Nothing has changed since its last inmates were relocated. Although the 148 cells were meant to hold no more than 150 prisoners in total, at times there were more than 300 crammed in the gaol. This is one reason Maitland was reputed to have awful living conditions.

The thick stone walls confined murderers, rapists, serial killers, armed robbers, escape artists and petty criminals. In its early days, the goal also had a women's wing.

A superintendent was murdered by two prisoners in a gaol tower and buried in the wall. Legend has it that his ghost is still there.

In 1976 a major riot broke out in the tailor shop. It was burnt down and there was other destruction around the prison. Scissors and improvised bows and arrows were used as weapons, yet there were no casualties.

Guides take visitors through the prison, some are professionals, most are former wardens. One former inmate, incarcerated for a white-collar crime, made the most of his time in gaol. He organised a walkathon to raise money for children's leukaemia research and completed a law degree. He has written a book, a number of songs and plans to produce a film set in the gaol.

Location

Two hours north of Sydney.

Cost

Maitland Gaol tours start at $8.50. Night tours start at $13. They are open every day except Christmas Day. Enquiries and reservations should be made through Landmark Tourism.
Please note prices are valid at time of transmission and to the best of our knowledge are inclusive of GST.

More information

Landmark Tourism
Ph: (02) 4936 6610
Fax: (02) 4936 6614

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