Fremantle Prison was constructed during the 1850s. During Australia’s convict era it housed prisoners transported from England and Ireland. In 1886 the jail was handed over to the colonial authorities to house locally-sentenced prisoners. The prison closed in 1991. Today the historic building is preserved as an internationally recognized World Heritage Site. The former prison houses a museum with artifacts and artwork by former prisoners and hosts a range of exciting tours.
Wander through the Main Cell Block and examine the tiny living quarters. Take the Doing Time Tour for an in-depth account of the prison’s history. Learn about the hanging of serial killer Eric Edgar Cooke, the last man to face capital punishment in Western Australia in 1964.
See the gallows where dozens met their end and be spellbound by tales of daring escapes, both successful and otherwise, on the Great Escapes Tour. Stare up at towering walls topped with razor wire, the rifle range and gun towers as you hear about the prison’s most ingenious escape artists. The best story is perhaps that of an inmate nicknamed Moondyne Joe, who notoriously escaped straight through the limestone walls.
Book a Tunnel Tour and put on a hard hat to descend into the underground tunnels that once supplied the prison and surrounding establishments with fresh water. They were dug out by convicts sentenced to hard labor in the late 19th century.
Join the Torchlight Tour to explore the prison at night. Listen to frightening and brutal stories as you trek past the whipping post and into the morgue.
A whole different experience is the Prison Art Tour. Wander from cell to cell and through the Prison Gallery to see wall paintings left behind by inmates. Head to the Visitor and Convict Centers to gaze at important artifacts and read up on key events in the prison’s history.
The Fremantle Prison is located about 13 miles (22 kilometers) south from Perth and is accessible by public transport. It’s open every day of the year except Good Friday and Christmas Day. Check the website for tour prices and times.