It’s been around 10 years I am told since the Old Melbourne Gaol opened it’s doors for paranormal investigations. Like a lot of venues, there only has to be one group to do the wrong thing and they will close their doors. I am not going to go into specifics of what happened, but there has been a lot of work regaining trust. Sure they put on ghost tours and other walking tours which are run by the National Trust, but they haven’t let paranormal groups in to investigate, despite a massive demand for this reason. When we struck up our partnership with the National Trust, I am not going to lie – the gaol was at the very top of our list. I know I personally have wanted together in there for years. It has been my dream location. We were finally able to secure an event – but there were a lot of rules to follow which we happily would, I mean it’s the Old Melbourne Gaol you do what you gotta do. The main rule was that out of respect for living family members, we were not to link any evidence we received back to a documented prisoner (no matter how famous), and we had to be respectful to the many cultures of people that resided in the gaol. For this reason there was to be no provocation used – again so not to upset any family members.
The other battle for us was the number of people that were allocated to this event. Honestly if it were up to us, we would take 10 people through, but it has to be viable to open up these amazing doors. As we were not in charge or ticketing etc, the National Trust allocated 35 tickets for the public. Overwhelming? Yes it was, but luckily this place is so amazing we worked around it. There are 3 floors, so we split into 3 smaller groups. 1 group was the more experienced investigators. We basically told them if they bought their own equipment, they could go off and do their own investigations. I know if I was attending this is what I would have been doing. This group was led by Bill from Australian Paranormal Society who was on hand with his wife Mandy giving us a much needed hand for the night. The gaol was a place they knew well. It is a place they had investigated many times so we were certainly intrigued to hear their experiences and stories. The other 2 groups were led by us. We took them through the gaol and showed them different pieces of equipment and basically tried to see if any one was up for chat!
There were a few different things happening throughout the night. While there were some responses on the spirit box, some rem pod activity and even some interesting stuff on the paranormal puk – it was more a night of personal experiences. I personally was acting as a bit of a runner for the night and going between the 3 groups making sure everyone was out of each other’s way and that we could transition to the next floor without interrupting another group. This meant I got to join in on quite a few different investigations and hear about their experiences and even witness some of them. One group I was with was doing an spirit box session on the gallows where 133 people met their fate. I went into a cell on the other side of the walkway as for some reason I was drawn in there. The energy was very thick and heavy. I felt extremely anxious and almost like I wanted to run out of there. I grabbed a couple of people from the group and said come in the room and see what we find. I popped a REM Pod on the floor and Mandy from APS suggested giving someone a trigger object to hold. She was wearing a cross that had been blessed so I gave it to one of the guys to hold. We asked a couple of questions and as soon as we mentioned the cross we heard a very loud tapping noise. It was almost like someone was tapping on the perspex glass of the display that was in the room. There was no open window and no source for the tapping we could find. After this the energy felt like it lifted and the room felt completely normal again.
This seems to be a common word that people associate with the gaol – energy. It has a certain feel about it that you cannot deny no matter how sensitive to the paranormal you are. A lot of people seemed to be affected in certain areas one way or another. Sure you could start debunking a lot of this but when I goto a place like this, I immerse myself and just go with it and enjoy it because how often do you get an opportunity like this! Everyone seemed to be doing the same. There were reports of people being touched, feeling various emotions in different rooms, cold spots and the general feeling of being watched or followed. While the equipment may not have been validating a lot of these experiences, you just felt like you were not alone.
I personally seem to get affected by the death masks. The bottom floor is basically a shrine to them. Back in the day, there was a study called phrenology. It was quite common after an execution for a death mask to be cast for science to study as it was thought at the time that maybe a criminals brain was made up a certain way and they could derive this by feeling the contours of the skull etc. This has been discredited by the scientific field, but it is thought there was another reason behind it as well. Death Masks of notable criminals such as Ned Kelly’s (the most famous mask on display at the gaol) were put on display to show that authorities were able to contain even the most notorious criminals. It was used as almost an example or a notch on the belt. Almost every cell on the left hand side of the bottom floor of the gaol has a death mask on display with the story of the person behind this. I cannot be in these rooms for very long day or night every time I visit. Maybe it is the thought of the death masks or being confronted with some of the facial expression and neck contortions, but they give me a headache. Some you can see the facial hair and eyelashes which have come off in the cast. Not all masks are original as copies were made (especially Ned Kelly’s mask) but you would have to wonder what energy is held in the original masks.
2 hours was definitely not long enough to investigate this amazing location, but again you take what you can get. Our guests were a pleasure to investigate with and I think most enjoyed the night and walked away with some sort of personal experience. This is a location that needs no hyping up – I think anyone would be happy just to walk the corridors.
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