Australia & Pacific Travel News

Abandoned prisons add a unique element to Australia tours

Australia tours are famous for a wide variety of reasons. Not only has the Land Down Under earned a reputation for its natural beauty, it also has bustling city life in tourist hot spots such as Sydney and Melbourne. While beautiful beaches and fast-paced metropolises are certainly appealing, Australia is also home to some unique landmarks in the form of abandoned prisons. These buildings may not seem like the first places you'd add to your itinerary, but they offer a piece of history you're unlikely to find anywhere else, CNN Travel reports.

Old Melbourne Gaol has become a large tourist draw since it was first converted into a museum in 1972. Before then, however, it was home to some of Australia's most notorious criminals. The building first opened its doors in 1845 and operated for more than 75 years before it was shut down in the 1920s. Among its most famous prisoners was Ned Kelly, who was executed more than 130 years ago for murdering three police officers.

The prison has more to offer than just a morbid history. Old Melbourne Gaol is also supposedly one of the more haunted buildings in Australia, something you can experience firsthand through the museum's night tour. You can also explore the prison on your own if you want to get a personal experience of what life was like during a stay in the prison.

Although ghastly goings on are one aspect of Old Melborne Gaol, the events are the central component of Port Arthur. Located on the southern tip of Tasmania, this UNESCO World Heritage site has not been occupied by prisoners since 1877, and today some of the main buildings stand as a testament to the harsh conditions they faced on a daily basis.

However, it's the guided tours of the nearby Isle of the Dead that have become the biggest tourist draw. Specifically, you should make a point to enjoy the Paranormal Investigation Experience, an adults-only late night tour that delves into the scientific causes behind paranormal activity. There are also tours given during the day that will certainly lend a spooky element to your tour of Australia you'll remember for months and years to come.

Recommended Tours

New Zealand Highlights

12 days from $3,876 pp*
Custom Private Tour
Value tour combining the highlights on both of New Zealand's Islands. Visit cosmopolitan Auckland and the cultural heartland of the country, Rotorua - then fly South and take in Queenstown, an alpine resort town set amidst towering mountains and serene lakes. Take in the breathtaking scenery of Franz Josef Glacier and continue by train to finish in Christchurch.
More Info

Australia Family Adventure

12 days from $4,272 pp*
Custom Private Tour
Designed for families or larger groups; including family oriented accommodations. This tour visits Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef, Ayers Rock, Melbourne, and Sydney.
More Info

New Zealand & Australia Grand Explorer

19 days from $6,498 pp*
Custom Private Tour
From hiking through the misty alpine forests of Queenstown, to making footprints in the rich red earth around the base of Uluru in the scorched Australian outback, you’ll experience all the extreme contrasts of the lands down under.
More Info
Kensington Advantage
Personalized itinerary with private guide & driver. Award winning value.
  • Personalized itinerary that fits like a glove
  • Full attention of your own private guide & driver
  • In-country offices for 24/7 peace of mind
  • Multi-award winning
  • 30,000 delighted clients

With the inside track on the new, the old, the off-the-beaten track and the out-of-this-world, you won't find a more knowledgeable team of destination specialists.

Meet Our Experts
Curators of extraordinary experiences, you won't find a more skillful team.
30,000 Delighted Customers
"Kensington, you've done it again...perfection!"

Don't take our word for it.
Here's what our clients say.

"Fabulous trip. Every aspect from the planning to execution was excellent."

Newsletter Subscription
Have our hand picked trips, news & specials delivered to you.
Thank you for signing up!

Your details have been received and processed successfully.
Travel + Leisure : World's Best Award 2014 Family National Geographic Traveler : 50 Tours of a Lifetime Travel Leisure Award 2015