Oz: Fremantle Prison Tour

My week can be summarized by the fact that the most exciting thing to happen to me was receiving my external hard drive in the mail. I suppose shopping in Perth with some of my mates and ordering some mushroom and rocket pizza Thursday night should top that. It has been a slow week for me, getting back to classes after a week off and returning from an interesting outback trip.

Sierra and I in Perth

The last activity in which I participated before the outback trip was the Fremantle Prison Torchlight Tour, and I only briefly mentioned it, so I wanted to explain a bit more about its history and the tour. The Fremantle Prison, originally named The Convict Establishment, was erected by English convicts between 1852 and 1859. The limestone that constructs its walls was quarried right on site, and the first cell block was inhabited by 1855. It was used as a maximum-security prison up until 1991, despite it being deemed an uninhabitable unit about a century prior.

Entrance to the prison

The life of inmates revolved around routine. Each day usually consisted with waking up quite early to start a day of work with intervals of eating minimal food. Prisoners often learned traits such as metal and wood work, tailoring, shoe-making, painting, and other trades that could be used once they were released back into society. Fremantle Prison was one of the first maximum security prisons to provide free reading material, its library holding over 10,000 books. Art classes were also offered, and there is still artwork in the prison left from inmates. Religious activity was encouraged at the prison and was seen as an instrument of reform.

An original 4 by 7 foot cell

Life at the prison was absolutely atrocious with dirty living conditions, bug-infested food and constant danger to one’s life. The tour focused on this aspect of life, and the guide definitely tried using this to spook us. On the tour, we saw the maximum-security cells, the solitary confinement cells, the yards, the bathroom convicts would first enter to be stripped and cleaned, prisoner artwork and the morgue. There were two “inmates” who startled most of the crowd when they jumped out at random times, but I thought it was a bit corny. I think the most morbid part of the tour was when the guide was making jokes about hanging where many people were hung. The scariest part, for sure, was when Nicole and I entered the “most haunted cell” together, because I thought the guide was going to shut the door on us.

Sierra trying out an old punishment

It was an entertaining and informative tour. I had always wanted to go on a nighttime prison visit, so I am glad I got to check that off my list!

(All information received from Fremantle Prison)


2 thoughts on “Oz: Fremantle Prison Tour”

  1. Interesting! I understand that criminals in England were sometimes given a choice between jail in
    England or life in Australia. Is that true?


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