Thursday, 20 March 2014

Eidolon Investigation: Old Mount Gambier Gaol - Mt Gambier - SA (2013)

Old Mount Gambier Gaol
Location: Mount Gambier
Location type: Old Gaol – now Accommodation
Where: 25 Margaret Street Mount Gambier, SA

The Old Mount Gambier Gaol was completed in 1866 after a need for a gaol in the southern regions of South Australia became an issue with the rise of crime in the area, and no suitable place to house convicted criminals. The Gaol in Robe was insufficient and poorly built (only being open for ten years), the Government at the time saw Mount Gambier as the best, most central place to build a gaol that would alleviate the issue of travel to Adelaide for inmates and Police officers.
The Gaol's first Keeper was Mr George Tims
A list of Keepers of Mount Gambier Gaol includes:
G.Tims – 1866
B. Young – 1884
D. Plunkett – 1888
S. Criddle – 1896.
R. McDonald – 1911
R. Lowe – 1917
E. Conole – 1920
H.E. Langlois – 1935
T. Lashbrook – 1960
A. Binnie – 1962
J Moody – 1963
G. Bullock – 1974
R.J Stratman – 1979 – until the Gaols closure in 1995

The Gaol has a long history of corporeal punishment and hard labour, even unto children who were arrested and sentenced.  John MacMasters, a 13 year old boy, was sentenced to Gaol for 18 months for the crime of forgery. He would be inside with adult men,  adding more pain to his infliction, the judge also sentenced the boy to be flogged with 20 lashes in the last week of his stay at the gaol.
However, mercy was on the boys side when the local towns women heard of his plight and petitioned the Governor, who then spared the boy the flogging.

  Mary Turley was not so lucky, she was caught stealing, and was on remand, close to being imprisoned, her only saving grace, her Father. Mary's Father offered to give her a “severe whipping” for her crime, the judge allowed the Fathers punishment, and released the girl into his custody.
The Gaol saw death greet some of its prisoners in its time, suicide being the main account of death, usually by hanging. The first death by suicide was of an Aboriginal girl named Eliza Walton, on the 19th of January 1867.
In the life span of the gaols operating years, from 1866 to 1995, twelve people lost their lives inside the walls of Old Mount Gambier Gaol, 2 men were hung for their crimes, 5 people committed suicide by hanging, and 4 people lost their lives through natural causes.
The first execution in Mount Gambier Gaol happened on November 10th, 1871. Carl Jung, a shoemaker and wine seller of German origin had gone into debt because of poor sales. In June that year, bailiff, Thomas Garroway was sent to seize the goods and effects of Jung.
The two men came to an agreement, and Jung was to follow the bailiff into Mount Gambier the following day. When morning broke and Jung joined Galloway to leave, the bailiff seized Jung's horse and cart, and some farm animals and set off for Mount Gambier, Jung was furious, and set off after him. When he finally caught the bailiff, he shot him with both barrels of his shotgun at close range.
Jung tried to kill himself but was unsuccessful, and fled into the scrub to hide, but hunger overtook him and he returned to his home, where the police were waiting and apprehended him.
Jung was hung inside the Gaol, holding a bouquet of flowers, that he asked to be given to his wife upon his death.

The next execution was that of William Page on the 27th of October 1875. Page was convicted for the brutal and gruesome strangling murder of Mary Buchan.
Page, also known as William Walker, had long deserted his wife and family and was wanted on desertion charges. He met Mary and courted her, he soon proposed (with a stolen ring), but kept delaying the wedding. Mary's parents urged her to end the relationship.
On Sunday the 11th of July 1875, Mary skipped Church to go for a walk with Page, her last walk on this Earth.
Her ending was pieced together by evidence given by Page, eyewitness accounts of Mary's whereabouts and Pathologist findings. It is believed Mary went with Page, he pushed for sex, and Mary consented, but at the last minute refused, This angered Page, and an argument ensued, in which Mary returned the ring and refused marriage.  Page lost control and struck the girl with a whip with a metal tip on the end, Mary screamed uncontrollably from the pain, so Page grabbed her by the throat to quiet her, but killed her by doing so.He buried her body and tried to hide the evidence of the crime, he then constructed an alibi, but he was already under suspicion, and when he tried to leave town was arrested.
Page pleaded guilty to his crimes of Desertion, theft and murder and was duly sentenced and hung, at 8am on the 27th of October 1875.
The last man to be executed in Mount Gambier Gaol on the 18th of November 1881 was William Nugent a.k.a. Robert Johnson, he had been apprehended for supplying liquor to the Aboriginals at Wellington.
Trooper Pearce had stopped Nugent, and insisted he follow him back to Kingston, off which Nugent agreed and began to follow with his three horses in tow.
Nugent knew he was in trouble, the three horses were stolen! He asked the trooper if he could stop for a while, and they did so, but the trooper insisted he remount his horse and get on with the journey, Nugent agreed, as the Trooper began to remount his horse he turned his back on Nugent.
Nugent didn’t hesitate, pulled a knife from his boot and stabbed Trooper Pearce, severely wounding the officer. Nugent fled with his three horses, with the notion of crossing the border into Victoria.
Trooper Pearce was a 24 year old man, who had only two years earlier applied to become a Minister of the Wesleyan Church was found on the side of the road by passers by, of which one rode his horse into Kingston to find the Sergeant.
The Sergeant sent the injured Trooper back into town by horse and cart, and then, with two other Troopers set of to find Nugent, which they did very easily as Nugent was slowed  by his three horses in tow.
Nugent was arrested and sent to Mount Gambier Gaol.
Trooper Pearce had identified Nugent as his attacker.
Three days later, whilst sitting in his bed, with his Mother and Father sitting beside him, the 24 year old died of his wounds.
It was said by Nugent that whilst in his cell, he suddenly felt as though someone was next to him. He distinctly heard the voice of Trooper Pearce say “ I came to tell you I hold no grudge against you Will Nugent, no doubt others will, but I do not”.

Like all three men Executed, William Nugent was buried within the Gaols walls, as the law stated during that time, although it is not known exactly where the men are buried now, it is thought one may be behind cell 21, where Karen and I stayed, and the other two may be in, or nearer the courtyard where they were hung.

During our time inside the Gaol, the lovely concierge told us a few spooky ghost tales, of noises in the gaol and unusual happenings. It would seem cell four in the mens section, and the condemned man cells seem to be most active with strange goings on, but also, a lady in white has been seen walking through the courtyard between the dining room and cells, no-one is sure who she is, but she could be one of the women who were imprisoned with her children in tow, as was normal at the time, or she could be a woman who gave birth inside the gaol, as records indicate did happen, but to this day, her origins are unknown!


We were not equipped to carry out  an investigation as we would of liked, as we were unsure of the size of the gaol, and we were also on our honeymoon! - We did however record a number of EVP sessions, Allen also experimented with a laser pen, but the lighting in the gaol was far too strong during the night for the laser to be effective.
The only occurrences we had would be deemed personal experience, and therefore unsatisfactory to be deemed as “evidence”, however, Allen had some unusual “feelings” whilst standing in the doorway of the Condemned Man's cell, and also in the far courtyard where the three men were hung.

You can stay at Old Mount Gambier Gaol

and hopefully experience something paranormal yourself !
(and even if the ghosts don't come out to play, it is still an incredible location to sleep in)
The Old Mount Gambier Gaol  now offers backpacker and boutique style accommodation. They also provide venue hire for functions and events.

Office Hours are 9am - 5pm
08) 8723 0032

Accommodation Bookings can be made 9am-9.00pm
General information
The Old Mount Gambier Gaol offers affordable accommodation in the form of dorm rooms, twin rooms, double rooms and a family room.

Functions and events are catered for, we have a sports bar with pool table, large screen tv, couches and wood fire place, we have a cafe and beer garden coming.

Also check out the Gaol Website at: 

More Photo's from our stay

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