April Lecture – Rob & Deb Robinson
a sad local landmark that’s seeking a new vision


The old prison chapel with evidence of an old mural

Yes, that describes our April Meeting as our members toured the Old Geelong Gaol under the direction of Rob and Deb Robinson.

Lights flickered, and hidden stairs and doorways were revealed as we made our way through the building that was established in 1854. Small, cold, empty cells exposed the harsh conditions prisoners experienced during their incarceration. Dark shadowy corners, enclosed spiral staircases, thick bluestone walls and heavy security cell doors enhanced our foreboding. It was an experience that was spine-chilling during my day visit, but at night another level of trepidation was added.

Rob spoke about his role and the Gaol. The Gaol’s continued development as a museum was explained. He stressed the importance and value of the museum as a way to message youth of the consequences of poor behaviour and making poor life choices. Part of the importance of the museum was to influence the behaviour of people to make wise choices in life.

Deb displayed her encyclopaedic knowledge of Geelong’s penal system and the people who (through societal lack of care, personal tragedy or bad life choices) ended up in Geelong Gaol. Our members asked many intelligent and interesting questions.

Rob took our large group of 27 members and visitors on a tour. His explanation of the prison was detailed and interesting. Of great interest wasn’t just the facility itself, but also the artefacts Rob found hidden in many places while he was performing cleaning and restoration jobs. A light supper concluded the visit.

Our Society’s numbers didn’t seem to be increased by any resident apparitions. Not that we saw anyway. As I departed the building, Rob’s regular Ghost Tour was about to begin.

Review written by Harry Roberts

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