Crime and justice at the old melbourne gaol


Australian Tourism Hall of Fame

The former facilities of the City Watch House and Magistrates Court 1 hold a significant place in the heritage of Melbourne's first law and order precinct. Opening them to general visitation for the first time was going to be challenging, particularly when we wanted the experience to be as immersive and interactive as possible.

The Aim

Our aim was to stir the conscience of visitors, to have them consider how they would want to be treated should they suddenly find themselves arrested and charged.


All stories were based on real events. This was a considerable undertaking involving interviews with all tiers of the justice system: offenders, lawyers, social workers, justice advocates, judges, magistrates and court reporters. Historic cases were also investigated.

The Show

In the City Watch House, actors were trained, scenery set, soundscape recorded and 16 monologues filmed. Sound points delivered intimate moments between prisoner, lawyers and coppers.

Visitors now experience being processed as a criminal, being locked into cells, then 'herded' across the narrow laneway to plead their case to the 'presiding judge' (who is actually a volunteer visitor) at the Magistrates' Court.


In the Magistrates' Court, interactive courtroom dramas were created that asked for participation from visitors. Several addressed education curriculum. They included a drama about the first woman hanged in Victoria, a culpable driving case about an 18 year old, and one about the Koorie sentencing court. Many more have been created since.

Creative Hat Interpretation

Interpretation management of drama re-enactments, interactives, executive director of film, devising the courtroom structure, courtroom drama education programs, soundscape, training, research, interviews .... and lots more. Production included a cast of many.