The Old Mount Gambier Gaol, Mount Gambier

9 Reviews
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The Old Mount Gambier Gaol Reviews

The Old Mount Gambier Gaol is an exceptional hostel located on a quiet and safe street in the central area of this scenic country town. This hostel was a functioning English Prison from the late nineteenth century until a few decades ago, and was opened within the last few years as a hostel.

The Location

The hostel is located on quiet Margaret Street in Mount Gambier, South Australia, only a five-minute walk to the main street in the town. The area surrounding the hostel is very quiet and safe with plenty of shops, cafes, and restaurants nearby, as well as tennis courts and an outdoor aquatic centre next door to the hostel. Most of the local attractions are only a short distance from the hostel, including the famous Blue Lake and the cave gardens, which are both about a ten-minute walk. Other local attractions include volcanic craters, lakes, and underground aquifers as well as caves and a sinkhole. The town of Mount Gambier is halfway between Melbourne and Adelaide, right next to the Victorian border in South Australia, so it is an ideal stopover. The town provides the gateway to the Great Ocean Road, Grampians National Park, and the Coonawarra Wine Region. This hostel is best accessed by car as the public transport in regional Australia is not the best and it's only a short drive from the town centre.

Rooms and Bathrooms

The hostel contains a variety of rooms including twin, double, family, and mixed dorm rooms ranging from three to nine beds. The hostel is made up of several separate buildings that were the different cell blocks, which are enclosed by a fourteen-foot wall. The main entrance is the original wooden gate and it looks brilliant from the outside. Inside the hostel is just as good, with many original features kept in place to give it an authentic feel; it's clean and tidy too. The majority of the rooms are old converted cells, but there are a few rooms that are not for those that are a little squeamish. The rooms are cleaned before and after your stay and can be cleaned everyday if you wish.

We stayed in a double room, housed in the old long-term prisoners' cell block. The room is an old prison cell and still contains the original cell door. The room is pretty basic and includes a double bed, bedside tables, and en suite toilet as well as a small shelving unit to store clothes. The bed is very comfortable and there are plenty of pillows, linen, and blankets to keep you warm during your stay. The room is of an average size and the only downside is that the room is very cold. There is a small heating unit in there that the owner kindly put on prior to our arrival, which warmed it up for us -- this is a very nice touch.

The double room does have its own toilet and wash basin but there is a shared shower room in that part of the hostel. The toilet is in a separate room from the bed and is the original from the prison that has been restored. The shared shower room is very clean, tidy, and well lit, with several shower cubicles and two sinks with a large mirror above them. The showers are ok and there is a hook on the back of the cubicle door where you can hang your towel, as well as a bench inside the cubicle.

Common Spaces

This hostel has three main common areas -- the kitchen, lounge/TV area, and some outside seating as well as the old exercise yards and the gardens too. The kitchen is the cleanest hostel kitchen that we have ever been into, with all the amenities you would expect -- cooker, microwave, toaster, kettle, and a fridge. There is also a table and chairs as seating in the kitchen and it is of a good size. The TV room contains a couple of sofas, a large table, and a television. The TV is a little too small for the room -- it could really do with a larger one. There are two different outdoor seating areas, one next to the lounge and the other is located by the big exercise yard. The outdoor seating is a few tables and chairs as well as a couple of heat lamps. The hostel offers free Wi-Fi, guided tours of the prison, and ample car parking out the front. The atmosphere of this hostel is very friendly -- you will meet lots of cool backpackers who are looking to party.


Overall, this is an outstanding hostel that is very quirky and unique; by retaining the original features, it gives you a totally different hostel experience. The atmosphere is very friendly, its clean and tidy, and the owners are incredibly helpful.

Outside the hostel Reception building TV area Kitchen Old exercise yard Outdoor seating Double room Shared Bathroom Shared Bathroom

Basic but good

I stayed two nights and found the bed very comfortable, the sheets nice and crispy clean. The staff are helpful and friendly.

Age 57 | Australia

A cool place to stay

when the couple from the tower at mt gambier told me i should go there, i wasn't sure its a good idea. it was one of the best places i had on my trip. jamie and mel are very nice and helpful and it was awesome to listen all the stories about this location. the cells and beds are new and comfortable. if you are there go to the bar have some drinks, its just cool.


Ok so it's a bit basic, but it's a jail, what do you expect? What a cool experience! Don't drink too much or you'll have to get up to pee in the middle of the night and that is spooky.


Response from the accommodation:

This review is reviewing a previous business "Jail Backpackers" that existed at the premises before we began our business here. Our business "The Old MOunt Gambier Gaol" commenced in Oct 2010 and unfortunately cannot delete any previous reviews, even if they apply to a completely different business.

This hostel was all my partner and I needed for the two nights we had in Mt. Gambier. The rooms had an authentic jail cell feel and you couldn't help feeling a bit spooked by the eerie experience. I enjoyed the staff and this accommodation. I also enjoyed Mount Gambier and I plan to come back again.


Response from the accommodation:

This review is reviewing a previous business "Jail Backpackers" that existed at the premises before we began our business here. Our business "The Old MOunt Gambier Gaol" commenced in Oct 2010 and unfortunately cannot delete any previous reviews, even if they apply to a completely different business.

We arrived at the hotel and waited around for a long time for somebody to show up so we could get a room. The staff knew we were coming and yet they weren't there for us. The bedroom was in poor condition. The kitchen was absolutely empty and the whole place was deserted not one person was around. For $52 a night for two people it was awful. They even expected us to make our own beds. The room didn't even have any windows! We decided not to pay the money because there were no people, no staff, no food, no windows, no mirrors, no pillows and a crazy painter who talked to himself.


Response from the accommodation:

This review is reviewing a previous business "Jail Backpackers" that existed at the premises before we began our business here. Our business "The Old MOunt Gambier Gaol" commenced in Oct 2010 and unfortunately cannot delete any previous reviews, even if they apply to a completely different business.

I found the owners quite friendly. One of them and I spent a fair part of an evening amusing their hyperactive dog Milka. It was an interesting experience staying in a cell (no need for air-conditioning even in hot and humid weather), the bathroom was basic but functional, and the kitchen was fantastic. The bedding was clean. I do plan to stay here again, as my stay in Mt. Gambier was all too short to get in all the attractions.


Response from the accommodation:

Review for previous business "Jail Backpackers", NOT "The Old Mount Gambier Gaol"

This was one of the worst experiences I had in a hostel in my six months in Oz. Rude, rude, rude. I can handle a bit of dirt, but not poor treatment. DON'T STAY HERE!

Jessica Cave

Response from the accommodation:

We would just like to point out that this guest review was actually before we started our business. Our business "The Old Mount Gambier Gaol" began in 2010. Therefore this review is directed to the previous accommodation business that was here. They were called "Jail Backpackers".

More reviews...


The Old Mount Gambier Gaol is truly a unique and unforgettable experience. We are a one of a kind accommodation facility that provides history, charm and the wow factor. Established in 1866, the gaol ceased operating as a functional prison in 1994 and has since found new life as an accommodation facility and function and event centre.

We created our business in 2010. Our gaol journey began with a vision to turn an old debilitated building into a vibrant community asset. Our vision has always been to create an atmosphere that is warm, inviting and both community and family focused.

We, along with our two young boys, own and operate our family business. We provide accommodation all year round for individual travellers, school camps, and sporting or community groups. We also provide self-guided or guided tours throughout our historic facility.

Location and Contact




Address: 25 Margaret Street, Mount Gambier, South Australia, Australia

The Old Mount Gambier Gaol is listed on the following booking sites:

Not listed at Hostelworld Not listed at HostelsClub


Website The Old Mount Gambier Gaol Mount Gambier
Phone Number: +61 (8) 8723-0032
To add or correct information for this listing, please use the Listing Correction Form.

Facilities and Amenities

+50 Traveller

Digital Nomads

Family-Friendly Hostel

Quiet Rest

Airport Pickup


Luggage Storage


Wi-Fi in Lobby/Commons

Towels ($1.00)

BBQ Grill


Book Collection/Exchange

Credit Card Payments

Hot Showers


Lounge Area

Movie Library/Rental

Outdoor Seating

Pool Table

Power Point/Sockets in Rooms


Table Tennis


Entirely Non-Smoking

Lockers in Rooms

Wheelchair Accessible

Wi-Fi in Rooms

Service Animals


Genders: Males & Females

Max. Age: All Ages

Min. Age with Parent (private room): All Ages

Min. Age without Parent: 18

Checkout: 10:00 (10 AM)

Curfew: No Curfew

Lockout: No

Maximum Stay: 3-4

Minimum Stay: 1 night

Open Dates: All Year

Reception Hours: 5pm - 9pm

Size: Medium (30-60 beds)


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