The ultimate guide to Pentridge Prison

Pentridge Prison exterior shot

Danny Baggs

Posted May 25, 2023

Explore Victoria’s brutal penal past with a day trip to Pentridge Prison: Melbourne’s maximum-security, heritage-listed prison. Here’s what you need to know.

Pentridge Prison is one of Melbourne’s best historical experiences: a maximum-security prison that housed some of Victoria’s most violent and dangerous prisoners. Although part of the prison has been turned into a cinema, hotel and shopping centre, some of its roughest and toughest prison divisions have been restored and are open to the public for exploration via tours. Best of all, RACV Members save on Pentridge Prison tour tickets.

Here are all your questions about a day trip to Pentridge Prison, answered.

The ultimate guide to Pentridge Prison | RACV

Everything you need to know about Pentridge Prison

What is Pentridge Prison?

Pentridge Prison is a heritage-listed maximum-security prison that operated for almost 150 years between 1851 and 1997. It was a brutal prison that followed the ‘separate and silent’ system for almost 50 years, housing prisoners in cells for 23 hours a day and forbidding them from talking. The final hour was spent in ‘airing yards’: wedge-shaped exercise yards placed around a central observation tower known as a panopticon.

When the Melbourne Gaol closed in 1929, its prisoners were relocated to Pentridge Prison, which had become the main remand and reception prison for the metropolitan Melbourne area. Pentridge Prison also became the site of all executions in Victoria until the last prisoner to receive the death penalty, Ronald Ryan, was hanged there in 1967.

Living conditions inside Pentridge quickly became severely outdated. A fire was lit in the high-security wing in 1987 in protest, which killed five prisoners and subsequently closed the wing. By 1997, the prison had closed due to its inhumane conditions.


Pentridge Prison interior shot

Living conditions in Pentridge Prison were severely outdated. Image: Pentridge Prison

Isn’t Pentridge Prison a shopping centre now?

Pentridge Prison is now both a shopping centre and a restored prison. All its original bluestone buildings are heritage-listed by the National Trust Victoria and are being preserved. Its B and H Divisions have been restored and form the prison tour sites.

Much of the rest of Pentridge Prison has been renovated into the Pentridge Piazza and Shopping Centre, which includes a supermarket, restaurants, 15-screen Palace Cinema where RACV Members can use discounted movie tickets, retail shops, playground and hotel. It is also home to a block of apartment residences.

Where is Pentridge Prison? What are its opening hours?

Pentridge Prison is located at 1 Champ Street in Coburg, Melbourne. If you get lost, look for the Pentridge Clock Tower just off Sydney Road. You will collect your ticket or start your tour at the Warders Residence, located in the grassy courtyard just beyond the Clock Tower.

The prison is open Monday to Sunday from 10am until 6pm, with the last daylight tour departing at 4.30pm. Evening tours run Thursday to Saturday from 6.30pm until 10pm, with the last night-time tour departing at 8.30pm.


woman listening to headphones in Pentridge Prison

Immersive audio technology that features the voices of former Pentridge guards and inmates will accompany you through the cells. Image: Pentridge Prison

Can you tour Pentridge Prison? How much are tickets?

Yes, you can book in a tour at Pentridge Prison complete with installations, immersive audio and National Trust guides. There are three tours available: B Division, H Division and Night Tours. Immersive audio technology that features the actual voices of former Pentridge guards and inmates will accompany you through the cells as you explore a century and a half of history.

Pentridge Prison B Division Tours take visitors through various areas of the division closed to the public, such as the South Wing prisoners’ cells, the former Chaplain’s office, and the remains of the Panopticon airing yard. This 90-minute guided tour costs $35 for adults, $30 for concession, and $25 for child tickets.

Pentridge Prison H Division Tours take visitors into the dark heart of Pentridge, known by its inmates as Hell Division. Established in 1958 as a maximum-security unit, Hell Division remains one of the most notoriously brutal prison divisions in Australian history. This 90-minute guided tour costs $38 for adults, $35 for concession, and $28 for child tickets.

Pentridge Prison Night Tours uncover the deeper, darker stories from Hell Division for brave visitors who want to learn about Melbourne’s criminal underworld and infamous punishment systems. Accounts from both inmates and guards who were part of this high-security division will reveal the notorious tales that established H Division’s reputation as a harsh correctional facility. You’ll also be able to step inside the cells and rock-breaking yards for an intimate understanding of the harsh realities of life that the inmates faced. Night Tours cost $45 for adults and $40 for concession tickets; individuals under 16 are not permitted on this tour.

RACV Members save on Pentridge Prison tour tickets.


two women bathing in Peninsula Hot Springs pool

There are three different tours of Pentridge Prison available. Image: Pentridge Prison

Is Pentridge Prison suitable for children?

Pentridge Prison tours may not be suitable for children depending on which tour you attend. Children may attend B Division tours, but parental guidance is strongly advised. Children under 16 years old must be accompanied by an adult on H Division tours. Night Tours are reserved for individuals aged 16 years and above only due to its confronting themes.

How do I get to Pentridge Prison? Is there car parking?

There are many ways to get to Pentridge Prision. Use the arevo journey planner app to find the easiest and most convenient route.

If you’re driving, vehicles can park under the Pentridge Shopping Centre via Whatmore Drive. Parking is free for three hours and there are over 450 secure, accessible underground parks available. If you drive an electric vehicle, Pentridge has three EV charging stations located on Basement Level B1 of the car park.

Riding a bike? Enter under the Pentridge Clock Tower on Champ Street, where you’ll find plenty of bicycle parks plus a bicycle repair station.

From the CBD, you can catch the northbound Route 19 tram from Elizabeth Street, which runs past the Queen Victoria Market, Melbourne University and Sydney Road. Alight at Stop 34 (Bell Street & Sydney Road) or Stop 36 (Rogers Street & Sydney Road) for a short walk to Pentridge. Alternatively, you can catch the Upfield Line train from Flinders Street, Southern Cross, Parliament, Flagstaff or Melbourne Central Stations. Disembark at Coburg Train Station or Batman Train Station, both of which are just a short walk from Pentridge Prison.

Bus routes 526 (Reservoir to Coburg), 530 (Campbellfield to Coburg via Fawkner) and 534 (Glenroy to Coburg) all stop at Pentridge.


RACV Members save on Pentridge Prison tickets.
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