Apr 09

Old Melbourne Gaol

When I was in Melbourne I was conveniently staying across the street from the Old Melbourne Gaol and since I’ve visited many a jail in my day, I thought this would be interesting. Although I found the experience a bit pricey, it was a good museum.

The museum includes Melbourne’s oldest prison, the historic Magistrate’s Court and former Police City Watch House. While you can visit the prison section at your leisure, the rest of the museum is by guided tour. Tours start every hour or two and are included in the price of admission. If a tour is not starting when you arrive you can simply tour the prison until the tour starts and finish where you left off when the tour is over.

Inside the Gaol

The prison section has 3 floors of prison history. Everything from the history of woman in prison to more contemporary and famous prisoners of the Australian system. They had some very interesting stories of prisoners, those who were falsely imprisoned, to their most famous prisoner, Ned Kelly. There is also an extensive history of hangings in Australia.


I did not visit the Magistrates Court, I didn’t even realize it was an option while I was there, but it also has limited hours so it may not be available to all guests. But, I did enjoy my tour of the Watch House.

The tour of the Watch House is done by the “Sergeant” on duty. He starts out by giving us all cards explaining who we are and what we did to get put in gaol. It opened up a good conversation about the common crimes that people were brought in for. Public drunkenness was common for men and there were many ladies of the night visiting…

While there we got to experience what a proper search would have been like (minus the touching), but it was enough to remind you of how much it would have sucked to be arrested. Next we got to see the overnight cells were prisoners were kept in darkness for 8-10 hours a night. We got to experience a couple minutes of it, and it was also unpleasant. But prisoners were allowed into the yard during the day, an outside yard, that they couldn’t leave, no matter the weather. Oh, and it looked like it could hold 20-30 people comfortably, but it would hold over 100 during the weekend.


We did get to see the “rubber room” and the cell for the special prisoners, they had their own yard, conveniently next to, and only separated by a fence from the regular yard. Not that much better of an experience. At the end of the tour they had a fun little feature where you could make your own mug shot, or get a picture of yourself at the goal. It was a nice (though expensive) touch at the end of the tour.

Overnight Cells

The Old Melbourne Gaol was an interesting and informative experience. I think the experience is best for kids around 10 or older and adults who enjoy a bit of history or have an interest in jails or law enforcement.






Feb 05

Colorado History Museum

After gallivanting through the state of Colorado I finally finished with a day in Denver, a rainy day in Denver.  It was time to visit museums.  My first stop was the Colorado History Museum.

The museum is only a few months old and was recommended by my friend and Trip Advisor.  While I thought the museum was better geared towards children, it would certainly appeal to adults too.  For children I would suggest middle school age, plus or minus a year or two.

The museum told the stories of the early Colorado settlers, skiing, Native American’s, Japanese and a few more topics.  It’s a self-guided tour with a variety of video and wall card things to tell the story.

 As much as I enjoyed the museum, it is geared towards a younger crowd who will have fun while being educated.  But adults can also have some fun and learn too. They may find themselves skipping one or two smaller pieces or exhibits as they’re obviously designed for kids. But otherwise they’ll be able to fill and hour or two in this museum. Words of caution though, there are quite a few school groups during the week. Although they are well managed by the staff, you may find exhibits getting over run at times.


Dec 06

USS Arizona Memorial

A few years ago I went to visit the USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor.  It’s one of American’s best memorials and if you’re in Hawaii is a must see.  But I found a lovely story on YouTube that makes the memorial even more wonderful. I thought I would share this in honor of the anniversary tomorrow.

If my embedding didn’t work, you can watch on YouTube.

Feb 25

Churchill’s War Room

While in London I visited the Churchill War Rooms – a museum dedicated to the underground bunker that Churchill and the British government used during WWII.  This museum was recommended to me by family friends and I have to say it was a good fit.

Before and after going here I heard wonderful things about the museum and it was wall set up.  I will caution thought that I was by far the youngest person going through the museum, I think everyone else had lived through WWII. 

The set up of the museum gave an idea of what it would have been like to be down in the bunker for long periods of time (I work in an office without windows so I undertood that part of it already).  there was an authentic feel to the museum with the use of actually and period pieces.  The only thing I didn’t like was that some of the maniquines made the museum feel a little cheesy. 

I would recommend this musuem to others visiting London, particularly if you are interested in history.  I’m not sure I would put it on a 1 day itinerary, but probably a 2 or 3 day + itinerary.  There was another part to the museum, about Churchill himself.  I opted to skip that part as I was getting hungry and he wasn’t my primary interest in visiting.

Nov 24

Pilots and technology

In my surgery recuperation I was watching a show from one of the History channels (how many are there now?) about runway incursions – almost accidents.  They highlighted the 1977 crash of a KLM and Pan Am 747 – the deadliest crash in aviation history, a story of how a dozen little things happen to make a gigantic crash, it’s terrible and didn’t have to happen.

But the crash did happen and it had lead to some improvements to prevent such crashes from happening again.  The show moves on to talk about some of the technology to prevent crashes.  I have to admit I watched parts of the show 3 times because I kept falling asleep, so I don’t remember what any of it is called.

-There are changes to runway design/layout – such as making taxiways that do not go through runways.  Takes a lot of money and 10-15 year until completion of such a project.
-Then there are red lights they can put in runways that will go on when a plane is going on a runway so that other planes know not to cross – costs lots of money.
-Technology that monitors planes and when it sees a possible incursion redirects the planes (or maybe just 1 plane).  From the show I thought this was starting to be used, but then they said no on is using it, so not sure what the story is.  It does cost a lot of money though.

Then I was reading a blog post which mentioned the whole Ryan Air wanting to get rid of co-pilots.  I had heard some pilot talk about how that might not be as crazy as it sounds with the new technologies coming out, it feels weird, but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong.

But back to my thoughts about the technology that identifies incursions and redirects planes.  I was resisting, I mean, doesn’t the controller know better (possibly the guy who didn’t realize it was happening in the first place).  Uhhh, ok, the computer knows which way it’s directing planes and is giving everyone the same message.  Hmmm.  I remember watching some other show about plane crashes where the controller gave bad information and didn’t correct an incursion.  I’m leaning towards the technology (and you should only know how technology hates me lately).

I’m switching back to Ryan Air’s plan to get rid of co-pilots.  While it still doesn’t feel right, I think if the technology is there, maybe it’s not such a bad idea.  Most plane crashes have to do with human error, if we get rid of the humans wouldn’t we reduce the chance of a crash?

In the meantime, wear your seatbelt on the taxiway, it’s dangerous there!