Saturday, October 13, 2018

Newcastle Gaol Museum and Moondyne Joe..

'The Governor's son has got the pip
The Governor's got the measles
For Moondyne Joe has give 'em the slip
Pop goes the weasel'
The first thing that struck me about the gaol cells was the size! It took my breath away standing inside to take the shot above, below right looking in. I'm pretty sure claustrophobia, although then not recognized as a real thing, has been around forever. My head would have exploded confined to this tiny space. Newcastle Gaol Museum in Toodyay 'was built at the request of the Resident Magistrate who was enraged by Moondyne Joe’s repeated daring escapes from a previous lock-up'. Joseph Bolitho Johns aka Moondyne Joe was transported to WA in 1853 for stealing foodstuff.. harsh! Moondyne Joe, was brilliant at escaping his confines, so much so that when a special 'escape-proof' cell was built for him in Fremantle, he was promised a pardon if he managed to escape, which he did four months later :) The 'pardon' came many years later..  

The wooden shingles or they may be shakes.. hand made from split jarrah or sheoak will be renewed soon as a grant has been received to cover the cost. Will have a look when we go back for the Moodyne Festival next year, sounds like fun. Happy Saturday, take care and stay safe..


  1. An interesting use for the building. The old gaol here was turned into a youth hostel, and so the cells are now rooms, but as small as they ever were. The odd time they're open for tours, you go in and you're struck by how confining it is.

  2. I bet that festival is a fun one, Grace!

  3. Thank you for the interesting story!

  4. Moondyne Joe sounds like an interesting character!

  5. How interesting and a great story. I bet Moondyne Joe was a quite the character.

  6. Love all of your photographs but that first one gets an extra vote - it's great!

    All the best Jan

  7. Claustrophobia indeed. Amazing what people were jailed for at one time!

  8. ...the exterior sure looks nice!

  9. These museums make us realize how inhuman these places were. Not sure our current jails are much better.

  10. Those cells don't seem much smaller than many of the steel bar cages used in prisons today. Then I don't care if they are huge. I never want to stay in any of them. Great photos Grace.

  11. Great story! I'll bet those cells weren't very well lit, either. I'm feeling a little claustrophobic just looking at the photos.

  12. Interesting, Thanks for the post and pics.

  13. Do you know when it was first constructed?

  14. Reminds me of that jail for immigrants in Sydney. Reading the reasons for being jailed left me speechless. Life for stealing a horse!


  15. Love Toodyay. As you know, Grace, we attended the festival for many years... After the devastating bushfire of 2009 I wrote a poem about Moondyne Joe which appeared in The ECU International Center for Landscape and Language, Sustainability Journal.


    black ash still lay
    where fire had licked
    with devil tongues
    across the road-side gravel

    a care less cigarette
    city slicker thrown
    on community fun day
    to re-enact Moondyne Joe

    quick fire prowled up
    summer-dry gullies
    stand of ridge trees
    wind-break - not fire-breaker

    no escape allowed
    as bright yellow jackets
    smother white foam
    contain the bush fire danger

    gumtree pale striped
    old bark peeled back
    green growth beauty
    black trees juxtaposed

    fresh life canopies
    halt dieback spores
    spiked hair sprouts
    thousand years and counting

    Frances Macaulay Forde © 2009

  16. Ewww, Grace, this reminds me of Fanny Bay Goal in Darwin. They had such a super slim door, too, I went in, saw some clothing, like just thrown a way from a prisoner and BAHM. Not only Ingo but at least 5 other people behind me already :-) "No way out"!!!!!

  17. The building exterior looks lovely. Back in the 1970s I went to Brisbane women’s jail on an inside visit (it was still in use). It was horrible. I don’t think jail cells are nice for anybody.

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