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The Stephensons of Mt Gambier believe they are the only Australian family living in an old prison

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When James and Melissa Stephenson were handed the keys to Mount Gambier’s old prison in 2010, they closed the doors for 18 months.

“It was horrible, it really was … It just felt really sad and heavy,” Mr Stephenson said.

In the decade prior to them moving in, the heritage-listed site had been a halfway house and hostel for the town’s homeless population.

“Every square metre of the jail was used to house junk, [there was] animal faeces, there was a lot of drug use in here,” Mrs Stephenson said.

Black and white photo of an old stone prison with doors opening onto a courtyard
The early days of The Old Mount Gambier Gaol.(Supplied: City of Mount Gambier Council)

Nevertheless, the Stephensons believed they could transform the premises into a successful hotel as well as a beautiful family home in which to raise their three…



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