Maitland Gaol’s creepiest stories

Brittany Herron -


Maitland Gaol plays host to some awesome events, such as the annual Bitter & Twisted beer festival and the recently announced Elsewhere: The Lock-Up. However, the historic site is also home to some very eerie history, so much so it’s believed to be the Hunter’s most haunted site. We took a look into some of the stories from the Gaol’s past, and trust us, it ain’t for faint-hearted…


When you mix harsh conditions with murders, rapes, suicides and hangings, it’s no wonder the former souls of Maitland Gaol are in a state of unrest.


Maitland Gaol was founded in the 1840s, and remained operating as a correctional facility up until early 1998. The criminal community considered Maitland as one of the harshest and toughest gaols in Australia, although ironically, it was security issues, and not the unbearable inmate conditions, that led to the gaol’s closure.


Aside from oppressive overcrowding, the inmates were faced with brutal forms of punishment in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including floggings with the ‘cat-o-nine tails’ and being locked between the secure grill and the solid outer cell door. The mental torment and anguish of past prisoners are still visible, scrawled on the cell walls…


Gruesome executions and public hangings…

A total of 16 men (13 for murder and 3 for rape) were executed by hanging at Maitland Gaol between 1843 and 1897, believed to be carried out at the front gates and back corner. The executions were public up until 1861, and crowds would gather to bear witness in a bizarre and macabre spectator sport kind of way. Bodies were often left hanging for up to an hour after death. May 1897 saw the last man hung at Maitland Gaol, Charles Hines, who was accused of raping his step-daughter, yet he proclaimed his innocence until he took his last breath.


A morbid escape attempt…

In 1980, a 5.5m long tunnel was discovered in Cell 7 of C-Wing. So the story goes, the inmate who informed the warden of the tunnel had his throat cut so viciously that his head swung back on his shoulders. His body was hidden in the tunnel, which was concealed from view with a sheet of plastic painted the same colour as the floor. It took two truckloads of concrete to fill the tunnel in.


Home to Australia’s most infamous serial killer…

Perhaps the most well-known story from Maitland Gaol is its housing of Ivan Milat – the notorious backpacker murderer. Milat was held in 5-Wing, the high security cell block designed for inmates who had committed heinous crimes or crimes against other inmates. The small grill opening over his cell had to be welded shut, as he had a despicable habit of filling cups with urine, faeces and other bodily fluids, and throwing them at the prison guards as they walked past.


Terrifying Satanic worship…

Arguably, the most disturbing story (albeit, not yet 100% proven) from Maitland Gaol comes from Cell 4 of C-Block, where an alleged devil-worshipping prisoner conducted Satanic rituals in his cell. Occult graffiti remains on the walls to this day. It is said that after forming a pact with the devil, the prisoner committed suicide by setting himself on fire. The poor guard who had the unfortunate job of cleaning up the aftermath was known to be a level-headed and happy family man. He was later found dead in a pool of blood in his bathroom at home, both wrists slashed by broken shards of the mirror he had smashed. Apparently, he left a message written in his own blood, stating he needed to kill himself to prevent the unleashing of Satanic forces. Supposedly, Cell 4 is kept padlocked shut to this day.


So, the next time you visit Maitland Gaol and you feel the hair stand of the back of your neck, hear the creaking of a heavy cell door, or get a sudden chill down your spine, don’t worry… It’s probably just the wind… Probably.


Maitland Gaol offer Torchlight Psychic Tours or Ex-Inmate Tours when you can experience the site’s creepy history first hand. They also do a fully locked-down sleepover, if you dare spend a night behind its bars! Check out more info here:


If it's on in Newcastle, it's on Newcastle Live

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.