You peer through the door into a cell and see a tiny room furnished with nothing but a backless stool, tiny table, and hammock serving as a bed. Your kids glance at you, wide-eyed and solemn-faced, as the guide leads you into a grim, bare excercise yard surrounded by high fences. You see an execution room with the hangman’s noose dangling ready, a whipping post and solitary confinement cells. But you also see amazing artwork some of the prisoners have painstakingly painted onto their walls. This is an astoundingly real and evocative glimpse into history and another side of life.
1 The Terrace, Fremantle; (08) 9336 9200
FREE ENTRY TO GATEHOUSE AND VISITOR CENTRE; GUIDED TOUR PRICES MID-RANGE TO HIGH COST
■ The Tunnels Tour (high cost) – a real adventure that includes paddling a replica convict punt through underground tunnels. The minimum age is 12 years.
The first British colonies in Australia were built by convicts who cleared land, worked the farms and constructed buildings. Settlers in the Swan River Colony (now Perth and Fremantle) tried to manage without convicts, but failed. The fi rst shipment of convicts was sent to Western Australia in 1850. The new arrivals lived in temporary accommodation and constructed their own prison, which opened in 1855. These are the buildings you see today.
■ The only way to experience the full prison is to take a guided tour, but you can see the prison gatehouse, find out some of the history of the prison and see some artefacts of punishment in the visitor centre.
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