H.M.Pentridge Prison’s ‘C’ division, where Ned Kelly was held captive, was demolished back in the early 1970s but the prison continued to operate until 1997, housing Australia’s most notorious ‘bad guys’ and infamous criminals.
Considering the paths that many individuals took to end up in the ‘College of Knowledge’, it should have been difficult to feel sorrow over the demolition of ‘H’ division in 2014. Yet many did, as it seems common throughout the world for its people to share a curiosity towards their nation’s outlaws.
Given the modern day roots of Australian settlement, perhaps there’s an even more nostalgic connection to their penal history heroes or villains.
Among the prestigious list of inmates, including hard man Mark ‘Chopper’ Read, gang boss Joseph ‘Squizzy’ Taylor and escapee/author of Shantaram – Gregory Roberts, to my mind, one man stands out as Australia’s most iconic – Ned Kelly, and it was his story that I wanted to depict in our Victoriana escape room.
Building the Ned Kelly themed escape room
In January 2016, as I scavenged the scrap yards of Melbourne looking for materials that I could upcycle into an authentic looking 1880 escape room set I had no idea I’d be breathing new life into a genuine piece of Pentridge Prison history – a prison door from the demolished H division.
It’s impossible for me to know how many desperate souls gazed at my new door, but I suspect that many, if not all, would have considered the possibility of escape beyond it.
Many other doors had found their way to becoming somewhere for collectors to rest their coffee mugs in the mornings, mine would become yet another symbol of a desire to escape.
As I began to peel back the story of Ned Kelly in my escape room research, I also took my own peek back in history. With some careful application of paint stripper, I journeyed back beyond the innocent baby-blue paint that had recently been applied to my steel time capsule.
Clearly psychological advances have been made in recent years demonstrating to Prison Wardens that colour tones to soothe a baby to sleep is more fitting for prisoners than the scarlet red you’ve wave to enrage a bull.
Perhaps wishful thinking, but I had hoped to reveal at least one scratched message from a life beyond the bars.
As disappointed as I was to draw a blank, I considered that if I had been smart enough to smuggle a sharp object into my cell, for self- defence or otherwise, I’d probably not have advertised it by etching my story onto the cell door.
I hereby sentence you to 60 minutes!
Undoubtedly, what now lies beyond this ‘H’ block gateway is the most fun this door could have wished for.
In Chapter 3 – The Last Stand, you must gather your gang and journey back to 1880 to capture the essence of Ned Kelly’s courage.
You will have only 60 minutes to evade the Victorian Police as you follow in the footsteps of Australia’s most infamous outlaw.
You do not need to play Chapters 1-3 in sequence, but you must complete them all before you are ready to take on the eagerly awaited freezing escape room: Chapter 4 – A Grimm Finale.
Suitable for players of all ages, families or experienced Escape Room professionals, Chapter 3 – The Last Stand is as authentic a ‘prison break’ game as you could ever hope to find. Importantly, it will also take you one step closer to entering the Snow Queen’s kingdom and taking on the most anticipated immersive escape game that Australia has ever seen.