THE RYDGES POST
Darwin’s historic heritage site, Fannie Bay Gaol, opened for business in September 1883 and closed as a prison in September 1979. It is now a worthwhile museum, and you can easily soak in the ambiance of what it would have been like as an inmate.
The original building comprises Blocks A and B containing six cells, and a kitchen and a wash house. The Infirmary was added in 1887 and contains the gallows installed for the last executions held in the Territory in 1952. Romanian immigrants, Jerry Coci and Jonus Nopoty take this role in history when they were hanged for murdering a taxi driver.
Gallows were constructed especially for the execution, in the infirmary. A pit was dug into the floor at one end of the building, with brick walls either side to support the beam. A small trapdoor and flight of steps led down into the pit for the doctor to examine the bodies after the drop. The prisoners were held in wire cages at the other end of the infirmary prior to the execution.
There was a separate cell block for female prisoners (added in 1928), a watch tower, a "native section" for Aboriginal prisoners, a kitchen mess building, a remand section and two maximum security wings that were added during the 1950s, probably because the gallows had been retired.
The gaol is open from 10:00am to 3:00pm daily (closed Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Years Day and Good Friday). Admission is free and there is wheelchair access.