Old Newcastle Gaol
The Old Gaol Museum and Police Stables are part of a historic complex of buildings associated with law and order in the Toodyay district. The ‘Old Gaol’ was in fact the third building which functioned as a gaol in old Toodyay and Newcastle.
||13 Clinton Street, Toodyay
||9574 2435 (Toodyay Visitor's Centre)
Monday to Friday: 10.00am-3.00pm
Saturday to Sunday: 10.00am-3.30pm
Open every day of the week except Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Day and Good Friday
- Adults/children: $ 3.00
- Family pass (2 adults & 2 children): $ 10.00
- Children under 6 years: free
- Free entry on Australia Day
- Free parking beside the Gaol and across the road
- Disabled access toilets
The Newcastle Gaol Museum Facebook page is a great way to keep up to date with all the current news and happenings at the museum. Please follow the link and like our page to find out more!
History of the Gaol
Originally the police barracks and stables were located at the old Toodyay townsite (now West Toodyay). On a map of 1851, a lockup is shown. When the townsite of Newcastle was gazetted in 1861 the existing convict hiring depot was converted for use as a gaol. Cells were mainly used for petty criminals and overnight confinements for rowdy hotel patrons!
Work commenced on a new gaol in 1862, opposite the Police Station in Clinton Street. Government architect Richard Roach Jewell designed the Newcastle Gaol. It was constructed from materials from the original lockup, using convict labour. Because of the unskilled labour it took much longer to finish than anticipated, and the result was a smaller gaol complex.
The gaol was completed in 1865. It consisted of warder’s quarters, a courtroom, exercise yard, kitchen and storeroom, and nine cells. The largest of these cells was used for the incarceration of Aboriginal prisoners, and was fitted with an iron bar along the bottom of the wall. The walls were made of granite and iron stone, with the joints sealed with mortar. The courtyard walls were capped with terracotta bricks which were rendered and covered with broken glass.
In 1879 the building was declared a Public Gaol, and used as a common lockup for the Avon Valley region. Although tenders were called for in 1905 for alterations and additions, no record of such works has been found. In fact Newcastle Gaol ceased operation as a gaol around 1904. On 24 July 1907 Newcastle Gaol was discontinued as a public gaol. A new lockup across the road was designated the new gaol.
Following its closure as a gaol, the building was rented as a dwelling. In 1924 it was transferred to the Trustees of the Public Education Endowment. It was occupied during the 1930s by the Dorrizzi family. When the Dorrizzis left around 1940, the building fell into disrepair through non-use.
In 1960 the Western Australian Tourist Development Authority supported its restoration for use as a museum. The Old Gaol Museum was opened on 7 October 1962 by Industrial Development Minister, Charles Court. It is the longest operating regional museum in Western Australia.
In 1996 the Old Gaol and Police Station Complex was entered on the permanent register of the Heritage Council of Western Australia’s Register of Heritage Places.
- Colonial life – transplanting a European culture onto an ancient land
Small displays in individual cells
- Moondyne Joe – convict, outlaw, capture, legend
- The Dorizzi’s – a memorial to brothers who once called the gaol home
- Growing up in Toodyay
- Law and Order – criminals and policemen
- Trades (being developed) – carpentry, wheelwrighting, blacksmithing
- Historical textiles – fashions of the colonial period
- A cell with few comforts – how it might have been for a European prisoner
- Audio-visual presentation in the “Native Cell” where Aboriginal prisoners were crowded into a single cell
- Love and Scandal (1 November 2014 – 24 April 2015)
- 19th century police stables
How to get there
- By road - go past historic Connors Mill (next to the Visitors Centre) on Stirling Terrace and take the next turn left into Harper Street. Go under the railway bridge then turn left at the T junction. Follow the road around the bend and then straight across the crossroads into Clinton Street. Newcastle Gaol is on your right a little way up the hill.
- By rail – A 5-10 minute walk. Turn left on leaving the station building; follow the road around the bend and then straight across the crossroads into Clinton Street. Newcastle Gaol is on your right a little way up the hill.
Copyright Google Maps
Joseph Bolitho Johns, Western Australia’s best known bushranger, was arrested for horse stealing in the Toodyay district in 1861 and remanded to the Newcastle Depot Lockup. Joe escaped from his cell by breaking the lock and scaling the wall: he stole the Resident Magistrate’s horse, saddle and bridle, and made off into the surrounding bush. On his subsequent recapture he was trialled at the Supreme Court and sentenced to three years in Fremantle Prison. Read about some of Joe’s exploits at the Fremantle Prison website.