Based in the centre of Beechworth, on Priory Lane standing proudly amongst the tree-lined streets is The Old Priory. Built by the Brigidine Nuns (from Ireland) in stages, but the first part beginning in 1887, eventually closed in 1978. After the closure it was run as an environment centre until the Bell family took possession in 1986 and have for the best part since then, proudly been restoring this grand and historic old lady.
It has a wonderful old school feel about it, reminiscent of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, even down to the dormitory rooms with full length windows with beds uniformly placed. The ceiling height is way, way above you. I’m sure you would lie in bed at night and just stare up at the vastness wondering why so far above. The views across the landscape from these rooms to town and the hills beyond are magnificent. Beechworth itself is no slouch when it comes to history, which includes HM Prison Beechworth. This outstanding example of a panopticon prison is architecturally significant, especially the granite walls. It incarcerated some notorious characters such as Ned Kelly, the Kelly Gang, and Kelly’s mother, Ellen. The prison opened in 1864 and only closed in 2004. You can see why Beechworth and the Old Priory would be a popular place for school groups with all this history literally on the doorstep.
The Old Priory has numerous large grand old rooms, including a function hall with stage, several large recreation rooms, several dining rooms with kitchens, parlour rooms, reading rooms (with crackling open fires) and of course the massive dormitory rooms. Enough accommodation on site for sleeping 200. You don’t necessarily come to the Old Priory to experience outdoor facilitator lead games and activities (although they do have a number of outdoor areas, access to school yards etc.) you come to soak up the atmosphere this grand old lady exhumes and to experience an exhaustive list of activities Beechworth and the surrounds has to offer. It is a great place to just go and stay, even as a small group if you find yourself in Beechworth for a night or two.