Trial Bay

While visiting the rellies down south, hubby and I visited Trial Bay Historic Gaol. Built of pink granite, the gaol was established in 1876 as a public works prison. Later the gaol accommodated WWI prisoners of war.

Trial Bay Gaol

Trial Bay Gaol

From within the complex, the blue sky is about all the prisoners would have seen of the outside world.

From the guard tower

From the guard tower

Even if the prisoners had managed to escape, there was no where to go.

Trial Bay Gaol 2009 (4)

From within a cell

The natural light outside the cell doors would not have been visible. A small “window” at the rear of the cell, just below the ceiling would have let the only natural light in. The cells were tiny and suffocating. Surprisingly, some of the cells still  had original motifs on the plastered walls. Sadly it was difficult to see any original graffiti since it has mostly been obliterated by more recent graffiti. The earliest I saw was the 1940’s, well after the gaol was decommissioned.

The "silent" cells

The "silent" cells

The "silent cell" corridor

The "silent cell" corridor

By far the eeriest place in the complex was the “silent cells”, a small cell block where “trouble makers” were sent to contemplate their wayward ways. Though the silent cells are identical in size to the main cells, this would not have been a desirable place to be; the silent cell block is positioned away from the main building. It’s lonely and cold and the message is clear: behave or suffer.

While wandering through the complex I was aware of the way sound resonated here and when I closed my eyes I could almost imagine I was an inmate, listening the afternoon rattles of the prison: The inmates settle to eat their evening meal, the smell of the bakehouse drifts across the compound and is snatched by a quick sea breeze, guards shout directions to prisoners, to each other, and sometimes seemingly to the sea itself, a coughing fit emanates from the hospital building and is joined by shouts of distress from the silent cells. Beyond the walls I can hear birds calling each other home, cicadas begin to trill. In here a bloke can get a decent meal after a hard day’s work and at night dream of some place else, anywhere else but perched on this retched cliff.


About Sharon

Writer, bibliophile, dreamer and student of everything
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