The notorious prison where convicts were transported from Britain since the 1850s before housing local prisoners all the way up until 1991.
Built all the way back in the 1850s, Fremantle Prison has its origins as a gaol built to house convicts transported from England and Ireland. It was not until 1886 that it was handed over to local authorities for home-grown prisoners, with whom it remained until it closed over a century later in 1991. Today the building is a World Heritage Site, housing a museum containing all kinds of artefacts and artwork, and a great place to go and learn more about crime and punishment through history.
You can start off by visiting the living quarters in which prisoners once lived in the Main Cell Block. The Doing Time Tour will give you a great insight into the history of the prison, including the hanging of serial killer Eric Edgar Cooke through to the last case of capital punishment in Western Australia in 1964.
On the Great Escapes Tour you’ll hear stories all about the daring bids for freedom made by old prisoners, whilst looking out at the huge walls, the rifle range and the gun towers. Listen out for the incredible story of Moondyne Joe who managed to escape straight through the prison’s limestone walls.
Take the Tunnel Tour to go deep underground and explore the routes that used to supply the patch with fresh water, dug out by those convicts who’d been sentenced to hard labour. To explore the prison at night and hear some brutal stories from the whipping post and the morgue go on the Torchlight Tour.
For a rather gentler take on the old gaol take the Prison Art Tour, on which you’ll get to see some of the paintings produced by inmates in former times. At the Vistior and Convict Centres you can also see artefacts and find out more about the history of Fremantle.
Located about 22 kilometres south of Perth, you can reach Fremantle Prison on public transport. It is open all year round except for Good Friday and Christmas Day, but it’s best to plan ahead and check the attraction’s website to find out more about all the tours on offer.