Old Darlinghurst Gaol

Even though I’ve been to the National Art School on countless occasions, and I’ve been on several history walks which have touched on its history as East Sydney Tech College, and before that as the Darlinghurst Gaol, I’ve never really had much knowledge of the change chronology. So when I saw something on Eventbrite a few months ago, very quickly I booked myself on a tour, which I undertook this morning.

And I’m glad I did. Our tour guide (who was EXCELLENT) spoke about the history of the buildings, explaining there had been significant changes in their use (gaol, tech college, art school), but many of the physical changes had been incremental. For example, the former morgue is now an electricity sub-station, but retains a skull-and-bones motif. Over the course of about eighty minutes, we visited many of the campus buildings, with comments reflecting both their past and present. These tours run monthly, and come highly recommended.

The old Darlinghurst gaol is one of Australia’s oldest and best preserved examples of colonial sandstone architecture, which over the last two centuries has transformed from a place of abject misery to one of Australia’s premier arts institutes. According to legend, the building is haunted by the restless ghosts of some of the 76 people who were executed at the gaol’s gallows.
Join us for a lively historical tour, shedding light on the fascinating history of the site and exposing the dark, hidden corners which aren’t usually open for public access.
Led by an expert historical guide, the tour takes approximately one hour and includes the historic Cell Block Theatre, the Chapel, the old Governor’s residence, the morgue, the flogging wall, the tunnel which was used to process and delouse prisoners and the site of the former gallows.
After the tour, guests will have an opportunity to enjoy the site, as well as the Hangout Café, a relaxing spot to recharge with lunch and coffee.
+61 2 9339 8744
enquiries@nas.edu.au

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