Geraldton Heritage Complex
For 160 years these buildings bore witness to the highs and lows of human existence, serving as both hospital wards and prison cells.
Once called The Depot, it was created in 1856 when seven pensioner guards and twenty convicts arrived at Champion Bay to establish a convict hiring depot. They built the first structures including the Old Gaol (1863) now the only surviving building from the original precinct.
The stampede of gold, and statewide agricultural expansion in the 19th century, made Geraldton a major town and port.
The Depot grew along with it and in 1884 Victoria Hospital opened to the sick, operating as a hospital for 80 years until cramped conditions and crumbling buildings forced services to relocate to the newly built Geraldton Regional Hospital in 1966.
The prison expanded into the vacated buildings until 1984 when the last inmates were relocated to the newly built Greenough Regional Prison.
Though their time as a prison and hospital are over, the buildings continue to serve the people of Geraldton with a range of community support services and tourism and commercial activities.
In 1988 the site reopened as ‘The Bill Sewell Community Recreation Complex’, in memory of the 1958-74 serving Member for Geraldton who was a driving force behind the new regional hospital.
In 2021, it underwent another name change; Geraldton Heritage Precinct, Ngurra Barlunggu. After receiving a Regional Economic Development grant through the Mid-West Development Commission to carry out landscape works, building conservation and new wayfaring signage, the National Trust sought to review the area’s name on the basis that it was no longer consistent with the place’s uses, or its layered history. Consultation with tenants and the broader community led to the adoption of Geraldton Heritage Precinct.
Aboriginal consultation, facilitated by Bundiyarra Aboriginal Community Corporation, researched a suitable name to reflect Aboriginal connections to the place. The name ‘Ngurra Barlunggu’ was agreed through this process. It means ‘hill camp’ in the local Wilunyu language.
The site is open to the public 7 days a week. Building opening times vary.
- Cnr Chapman Road and Bayly St, Geraldton WA
- (08) 9321 6088
- Check out the Old Geraldton Gaol Craft centre Facebook page for opening times and more information.
- Join the local volunteers for a guided tour of the complex and the museum departing from the Old Victoria Hospital (Victoria House) every Tuesday and Thursday.
- Lions community markets are held on the second Saturday of each month by the Geraldton Lions Club 8am until 12noon.
- A small museum operates out of the front rooms of Victoria House, run by the Ex Victoria-Hospital Staff Association.
- Buildings on site are leased to community and commercial tenants, for leasing enquiries please contact Geraldton Property Team on 9920 4111