Escape to Fremantle Prison

Fremantle was the first port of call for many of those unfortunate British prisoners who were sent to the colony of Western Australia as part of their punishment.  And, out of all of the prisons in Western Australia, Fremantle had a reputation for being the harshest of them all.

Almost 10,000 convicts arrived by ship in Fremantle from 1850, and it was they who were responsible for building this notorious gaol.  In fact, the building is the largest convict built structure in Western Australia, and the most intact convict establishment in the whole of Australia.

The imposing sandstone walls of Fremantle Prison housed the worst of the worst for 136 continuous years, before being decommissioned in 1991.  It was a maximum security prison, in which the gallows ended the lives of 43 men and one woman.

Today, the prison still takes people in, but they are free to leave whenever they like as the prison has become one of Freo’s most popular attractions.

There are four prison experiences from which to choose, and an `All Tour Pass’ is the most cost effective way to do them all.

The `Doing Time Tour’ takes you on a journey back in time as you explore the main cell block where you can get some idea of the wretched life led by the inmates.  Visit the whipping post, gallows and solitary cells to get some idea of what it must have been like to have been incarcerated in this hellish place.  On the other side, you see some of the amazing art works that were created by the prisoners to see some also got inspiration from their confinement.

The `Great Escapes Tour’ shows you that some inmates were not at all overawed by the gaol and did their best to get over the walls and razor wire to find freedom on the other side.  Learn about Western Australia’s most famous bushranger Moondyne Joe, himself an escapee, and marvel at his escape proof cell.    

The `Tunnel Tour’ is one of the most unusual prisons tours you could do anywhere, and was even featured on TV’s The Amazing Race.  This tour is slightly perilous and there are several conditions attached before you can attempt it; mainly that you must be fit and able, do not suffer from heights or claustrophobia and you are prepared to do a mandatory breath test for alcohol.  The tour involves donning hard hat and overalls and descending on a narrow ladder 20 metres to a labyrinth of tunnels, some of which you trek on foot, and others you access by small boat.

At night you can join a `Torchlight Tour’ which is as entertaining as it is gruesome as you hear stories of loneliness, pain and punishment.  There is a warning for this tour – it is not for the faint hearted, but if you are up to it, you will have the time of a prisoner’s life.

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