Took a stroll through the old Parramatta Goal, learning about some old history and some new.
Growing up in Castle Hill, only thirty minutes (or so) from Parramatta, I spent a lot of my years growing up around the Hills area hanging with friends at Parramatta, in the day and the night.
Avoiding as many main roads as possible for the drive into town and out of town, I would also take the back streets past the old Parramatta Goal, and often wondered about its past and whether I could take a tour through the old Goal and learn about its history. So, imagine my surprise when I found out that the Goal remained in operation, right up until it closed its doors in early 2011.
That means, all those years spent driving past, thinking about the history of the Goal and how interesting it would be to take a tour, the Correctional Centre, as it’s referred to in modern times, was actually still housing a variety of criminals. Mostly low level, but still, criminals.
And to add to the surprise of the nature of this place, there have been over twenty successful breakouts by inmates throughout its operation. With some being in the day, as well as night.
Due to the COVID-19 crisis, and ongoing pandemic issues associated with the spread still occurring across Australia, at present they are not holding any tours during the day of the Goal. However, they have just recently restarted their haunted nightly ghost tours which is run by an independent group called APPI Ghost Hunts (which stands for Australian Paranormal Phenomenon Investigators).
We were super lucky the day we went to investigate whether the goal was open for tours or not in the day. After spending a few hours walking around the old colonial Parramatta Female Factory, with the Goal just down the road, we decided to check in and see if there were any signs or information on the building to tell us whether the Goa, was open for tours or not.
At the gate, we found a gatekeeper, who was kicking back at a chair and table drinking a coffee. He came to the gate and we had a chat about the goal and the ghost tours, to which he has been on, and advised the tours for the day were not in operation at the moment due to COVID, and that the next available supernatural ghost tour would not be until August.
After finding out there was only two of though, he said he’d be happy to open the gate and take us on a little tour of the goal for an hour. Though it would be nothing like that of the normal tours, he assured he had a few stories to tell. So we parked the care and grabbed the camera equipment and accepted the offer for a private tour of the goal, by this amazing gatekeeper.
A quick rundown of the Goal, which is now referred to as the Correctional Facility for Parramatta by some. The goal ran right up until it’s closure in 2010, with it finally closing it’s doors in early 2011, with most prisoners being transported to other facilities in Goulburn, Newcastle, Parklea and even Longbay Prison.
When the Goal closed its doors and went for sale, the RSPCA showed interest, thinking it would make a great location as an animal refuge. However the condition of the goal meant that a lot of restoration needed to be carried out, so they opted out and the property went back up for sale.
After this occurred, the local Aboriginal tribe then took the council to court in a land rights despite, claiming as the land was there’s and taken by the colonist, they should have the right to take claim back over the land, at no cost and have ownership of any foundation thereby built on the land.
And they won, which is pretty awesome. So it is now officially Aboriginal land and owned, to which they allow independent and private organisation to run their historical day tours there, and then the APPI run their ghost tours at varying night throughout the month.
And our gatekeeper, well turns out he had a pretty intimate relationship with the goal, as he served six months there as an inmate for a petty crime. To which he explained most of the inmates at Parramatta were low level as all the serious ones were sent to Goulburn, Longbay and Newcastle.
For an hour, we heard small stories of his time in the Goal, and about the history also, dating as far back to it’s historical colonial history, to the more current era in the 2000s before it shut down.
Such a fabulous day spent, and to have our very own tour by someone who served there and had personal experience there was simply amazing. He was of course, half Aboriginal too, which made it even more interesting, as he shared a lot of history about the land, the inmates and some of the stones which were quarried by Aboriginals, who left beautiful intricate designs on the stones.
Unlike other historical goals I have visited, this one is fairly formidable upon history. And it’s overwhelming to say the least as you enter through the main gate. Surrounded by thick layered, high sand stone walls topped with razor like barbed wire, which is then surrounded by a replica outer wall to contain inmates.
The vibe is off the moment you enter, and I think that’s because there were no other tourists. So you immediately feel the emotions of what it would feel like if you had been sentenced here and this would be the only thing you’ll see for the next year or so.
Many historical goals around Australia you often enter the goal through a reception area and a shop front, where you pay to register for a tour, and often there is even a coffee shop for a quick drink before or after a tour. But nit here, you enter and step straight through the main gates into the holding portion of the centre, before moving on to the cells.
Is it haunted? I’m not sure, I didn’t pick up on anything, apart from little empathy from a bygone era back in the colonial days when I saw the conditions of the isolation chambers for some inmates. Either way, this Goal is a fascinating place to visit and I can’t wait until the tours are open again.
And if I’m feeling confident, I may even go on the ghost tour next month. Maybe I’ll check back then to let you know if I think it’s truly haunted.