All the important buildings are on the hill, which is why the cathedral is so close to the prison that from the exercise yard you can hear the bells. When they ring loud and long in the afternoon I know that a couple are being married. That’s when I say to the guards, put me back. Lock the door again. That’s when I go to the darkness and silence willingly. When low spirits weigh on me worse than chains. But when the bells ring slow and lonely like sledge-hammer strikes at the end of the day, and each strike floats and dies before the next, that’s when I feel a kind of happiness, as if I could have played my part if only I’d been free to do so.
I’ve just started a month long writing studio residency at the Old Melbourne Gaol . While writing in my 19th-century cell I’ll be posting a series of pieces inspired by the stories of this place.