If these walls could talk, what stories would they tell? Lie down and listen in...

Using a former prison cell as inspiration, documentary theatremaker Roslyn Oades and local musician Eliza Hull have created an intimate listening experience exploring the dramatic layers of story embedded in the Ulumbarra Theatre site. This atmospheric building was formerly the old Bendigo Gaol (1860-2004), and pre-European colonisation, the site was a significant meeting place for the first nations people of the area, the Dja Dja Wurrung.

Twenty Bendigo locals with a direct connection to the Ulumbarra site were interviewed for this project including: traditional owners, the ex-prison community and current theatre staff. 

CELL 26 draws on interviews, field recordings and original composition to create a compelling 30 minute site-specific audio-documentary about incarceration, scars and transformation. Visitors to CELL 26 are invited to put on headphones, lie down on a prison bed and listen to the real-life voices of those who were here before them.

“The layers of story at Ulumbarra are incredibly powerful – you feel it as soon as you step into this beautifully converted prison building. The old Bendigo Prison was only decommissioned in 2006, so the lived experience of the gaol is still very present in the community; and with two striking scar trees marking the Ulumbarra entrance, the traditional owners of the land are very visible too. It’s certainly a dramatic location for a theatre. As a documentary maker I could have made three documentaries from the many moving first-hand stories we collected. The hardest part has been the editing.”  - CELL 26 director, Roslyn Oades

Produced by Performing Lines & Capital Events Bendigo



Creator, director & editor: Roslyn Oades
Composition & sound design: Eliza Hull
Audio mix & mastering: Jono Steer
Site design: Helen Morris
Featured voices: Charlie Allen, Sharon Brose, Rodney Carter, Jack Charles, Racquel Kerr, Mickey Levis, Colleen Morley, Tony Morley, Howard Nathan, Peter Pritchard, Peter Sullivan, Abe Watson & John Woodman


Playing now - CELL 26 launched at Ulumbarra Theatre in December 2017
CELL 26 is currently open to the public and free to experience in a preserved prison cell (cell no.26) at Ulumbarra Theatre, Bendigo during venue opening hours. For information on access times please visit the Ulumbarra website  


Special thanks to the generous interviewees who contributed to our research: Charlie Allen, Sharon Brose, Letitia Burton, Rodney Carter, Jack Charles, Bill Conroy, Courtney Conway, Kevin Dole, Jim Evans, Phil Hansen, Eliza Hull, Russell Jack, Racquel Kerr, Mickey Levis, David Lloyd, Colleen Morley, Tony Morley, Howard Nathan, Dale Pearce, Peter Pritchard, Peter Sullivan, Ben & Joseph Van Dillen, Abe Watson, John Woodman and those who prefer to remain anonymous. Thank you also to: The Dja Dja Wurrung Corporation, Bendigo Historical Society and the helpful staff at Ulumbarra Theatre.

CELL 26 was created as part of the Performing Lines tour of Hello, Goodbye & Happy Birthday for Road Work. This project was supported by the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria; the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body; Performing Lines and the City of Greater Bendigo.