Boggo Road Now

Brisbane’s Boggo Road heritage prison opened in the 1880s and closed in the 1990s. During that time it developed a reputation as one of the more notorious prisons in Australia and there are many stories to be told about it. You can read about this history on the Boggo Road Gaol website.

The former prison was successfully run as a heritage venue by not-for-profit groups such as the Boggo Road Gaol Historical Society (Inc.) from the mid-1990s to 2005. They initiated guided tours, museum exhibitions, various hospitality events such as weddings, and also music and drama performances at the site before it closed during construction of the nearby Ecoscience Precinct.

Boggo Road temporarily reopened under a controversial private management model in 2012, under then-premier Campbell Newman. This made it the only major heritage prison in Australia to be run for private profit (not-for-profit bodies successfully manage award-winning sites such as Old Melbourne Gaol, Fremantle Prison, Old Dubbo Gaol, and Port Arthur).

The recent situation at Boggo Road has seen:

  • Access prices among the most expensive in Australia for similar sites.
  • The site being very much underused, standing empty for most for the week.
  • No voice for professional historians or First Nations people in historical interpretation at the site.
  • Disregard for sensitive cultural issues (e.g., cells where Aboriginal men died in custody during the 1980s were used for commercial ‘ghost hunts’).
  • The prison being presented more as a ‘haunted house’ than a serious and important social history site.
  • Public History organisations being prevented from accessing the site.

Boggo Road is currently closed again, and it is hoped that a more respectful, creative and community-focussed management model will be implemented when it eventually reopens.

Boggo Road Gaol 2005
‘The Circle’, Boggo Road, 2005.

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