Bathurst Correctional Centre

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Bathurst Correctional Centre
Penitentiary Batrurst, NSW Australia.jpg
The hand-carved sandstone gate and façade of the Bathurst Correctional Complex
Bathurst Correctional Complex is located in New South Wales
Bathurst Correctional Complex
Bathurst Correctional Complex
Location in New South Wales
LocationBathurst, New South Wales, Australia
Coordinates33°25′04″S 149°33′30″E / 33.41778°S 149.55833°E / -33.41778; 149.55833Coordinates: 33°25′04″S 149°33′30″E / 33.41778°S 149.55833°E / -33.41778; 149.55833
Security classMedium / Minimum
Opened7 June 1888 (1888-06-07)
Former nameBathurst Gaol
Managed byCorrective Services NSW
WebsiteBathurst Correctional Centre
Building details
General information
Technical details
MaterialSandstone and brick
Design and construction
Architecture firmColonial Architect of New South Wales
Official nameBathurst Correctional Centre
Designated2 April 1999
Reference no.00806

The Bathurst Correctional Centre is a heritage-listed medium security prison for males in Bathurst, New South Wales, Australia, 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) west of the central business district. The facility is operated by Corrective Services NSW, an agency of the Department of Attorney General and Justice, of the Government of New South Wales. The Complex accepts felons charged and convicted under New South Wales and/or Commonwealth legislation and serves as a reception prison for Western New South Wales. A minimum-security cellblock, known as X Wing, is located outside the walls of the main part of the gaol.[1] It also detains males on remand: in 2005, over 20% of Australia's prisoners were on remand.[2]

In 2014 it was reported that between seven and ten female offenders were being housed in the Complex each week.[3]

The current structure incorporates a massive, heritage-listed hand-carved sandstone gate and façade that was opened in 1888 based on designs by the colonial architects, James Barnet and Walter Liberty Vernon.[4][5] The complex came to national prominence during the 1970s due to a series of riots by inmates protesting over living conditions. The complex is listed on the (now defunct) Register of the National Estate and on the New South Wales State Heritage Register since 2 April 1999 as a site of State significance.[6]


Correction facilities were first established in the Bathurst town centre in circa 1830, as the Bathurst Gaol,[7] adjacent to the Bathurst Court House, also designed by Barnet. As sanitary conditions at the town watch house deteriorated, a new gaol was built to Barnet's designs.

The gaol was proclaimed on 7 June 1888, and built at a cost of just over 102,000 pounds. The hand-carved sandstone gate at the new gaol featured an ornate sculptured lion's head holding a key that is a Victorian symbol designed to impress wrongdoers with the immense power and dignity of the law. Legend has it that when the key falls from the lion's mouth, the prisoner are allowed to go free.[5] The new building which contained 308 cells and "commodious workshops" was complete and partly occupied in 1888. This was one of a number of gaols rebuilt or enlarged in this period, the purpose of which was to commence the program of 'restricted association' of prison inmates. The Governor of the Bathurst gaol reported on restricted association as follows:[7][8]

"The restricted treatment for male prisoners has been in vogue for the past seventeen months, and has worked in every way satisfactorily. The prisoners are more obedient, and there is a marked improvement in the discipline; several of them have on many occasions told me that they would not desire to return to the old system. On the 11th December, the new treatment was introduced into the female division, under the supervision of the Comptroller-General for Prisons everything passed off satisfactorily, and ever since has worked well. A few days afterward the whole of the prisoners, by yards (when mustered for dinner) desired me to thank the Comptroller-General for his kindness in placing them under the treatment, stating that they were grateful for the concessions allowed to them in the way of reading and light at night."

Marble cutting and polishing provided works for the prisoners between 1893 and 1925. The gaol accommodated the tougher and more experienced prisoners until 1914 when the gaol then catered for the "previously convicted but hopeful cases". During WW1, rural industries such as dairy, pig-raising, market gardening, hay and fodder production were established. During WW2, the gaol was used as an internment camp for some 200 German and other "enemy aliens". In 1957-62, a new cell block was built outside the gaol's wall with accommodation for 94 prisoners. In 1974, riots at the gaol caused much damage to the main buildings.[8]

The gaol generally accommodated prisoners where they "were deemed amenable to reformative influences" up until 1970 where the gaol was reclassified as a maximum security prison.[7]


The Bathurst riots and Bathurst batterings were a series of violent disturbances and reprisals that occurred at the gaol in October 1970 and February 1974. The second outbreak of violence led to the partial destruction and temporary closure of the prison, and ultimately to a Royal Commission into the State's prison system.

Name change[edit]

Between 1992 and 1993, the name of Bathurst Gaol was changed to Bathurst Correctional Centre.[7]


Bathurst Gaol, circa 1888

Bathurst Gaol is composed of a square compound with a gatehouse and two watch towers located at the far corners. The Governor and Deputy Governors Residences are located outside the main compound walls. Internally the (now demolished) chapel formed the focus of the gaol. Four cell ranges and the cookhouse radiated out from the chapel. On one side of the chapel forecourt was the totally separated female compound. On the other side was the male hospital.[8]

Bathurst and Goulburn gaols were almost identical in plan. Goulburn however remains more intact.[8]

Notable prisoners[edit]

  • Rodney Adler (2005–06) – disgraced Australian businessman and former company director[9]
  • Jim McNeil (James Thomas McNeil) (1935-1982), (1973–74)  – violent criminal who became better known as the 'prison playwright'

Heritage listing[edit]

Bathurst Gaol is significant as one of two model prisons designed by the Colonial Architect's Office in the late 1870s and early 1880s; as an indication of advances in penal architecture in the late nineteenth century; for its continued use as a gaol.[8]

Bathurst Correctional Complex was listed on the New South Wales State Heritage Register on 2 April 1999.[8]


Inmates at the Centre may be employed in Corrective Service Industries (CSI) food services, the commercial laundry, technology/packaging and packaging business units[10]. Inmates can also do general ground, horticulture, cleaning and building maintenance work on and outside the complex.

CSI also operates the Girrawaa Creative Centre[11], employing around 15 Indigenous inmates at a time. The program is aimed at developing inmates' artistic skills while creating Aboriginal artefacts for sale. Pieces such as boomerangs, paintings, coasters, clapsticks and didgeridoos are produced for sale to the public directly from the gallery, online[12], to government agencies, and to wholesalers.

See also[edit]

  • Stir, 1980 film loosely based on the riots at the prison in 1974


  1. ^ "Walkabout - Bathurst". Archived from the original on 28 August 2006.
  2. ^ Australian Institute of Criminology. "Corrections". Retrieved 24 November 2014.
  3. ^ "Bathurst jail exceeds operating capacity as women are locked in mens prison". Western Advocate. Sovereign Union of First Nations Peoples in Australia. 4 June 2014. Retrieved 24 November 2014.
  4. ^ "Bathurst". Historical Towns Directory. Australian Heritage. 2012. Retrieved 3 January 2012.
  5. ^ a b "Bathurst Gaol". The Bathurst Town and around website. Web things. Retrieved 3 January 2012.
  6. ^ "Bathurst Correctional Complex". New South Wales State Heritage Register. Office of Environment and Heritage. Retrieved 15 September 2017.
  7. ^ a b c d "Bathurst Gaol (1830-1992) / Bathurst Correctional Complex (1992- )". State Records. Government of New South Wales. 2009. Retrieved 3 January 2012.
  8. ^ a b c d e f "Bathurst Correctional Centre". New South Wales State Heritage Register. Office of Environment and Heritage. H00806. Retrieved 2 June 2018.
  9. ^ Mitchell, Alex (19 June 2005). "Adler moved to Bathurst prison". The Age. AAP. Retrieved 3 January 2012.
  10. ^ "Bathurst". Retrieved 12 December 2018.
  11. ^ "Art Behind Bars". Retrieved 12 December 2018.
  12. ^ "About Us - By Indigenous". Retrieved 12 December 2018.


CC-BY-icon-80x15.png This Wikipedia article contains material from Bathurst Correctional Centre, entry number 00806 in the New South Wales State Heritage Register published by the State of New South Wales and Office of Environment and Heritage 2018 under CC-BY 4.0 licence, accessed on 2 June 2018.

External links[edit]