[Perth 2013] Doing time @ Fremantle Prison

Saying goodbye is undoubtedly one of the hardest things to do – and we just had to do that when our stay at Merribrook Retreat drew to a close. It was a fantastic 4 days in the wild, being surrounded by trees and lakes, kangaroos and kookaburras. Unfortunately, our 4 days whizzed past and it was soon our last morning there.

Our last breakfast @ Merribrook Retreat. Look at the spread on the table!

Our last breakfast @ Merribrook Retreat. Look at the spread on the table!

Breakfast at Merribrook is always sumptuous. Richard and Lorraine, together with their assistants, whip up plates of mouth-watering delights for you to choose – ranging from freshly baked muffins to pancakes and an assortment of cereals for you to pick. I particularly loved their pancakes – done at just the right “fluffiness” and taste, and it goes extremely well with maple syrup!

Apart from the feast at the dining table, you get to order from a special menu your mains too. Here are just two dishes among the variety.

Scrambled eggs with mushrooms

Scrambled eggs with mushrooms

Poached eggs with bacon and baked beans.

Poached eggs with bacon and baked beans.

We had our breakfast, strolled back to the villa, and started packing.

Bye Karri Villa. It was a good 4 days with you.

Bye Karri Villa. It was a good 4 days with you.

Me and Kai with Lorraine - one of our hosts. Richard was, unfortunately, out to town. Oh yes, and that's Vee - the great dane!

Me and Kai with Lorraine – one of our hosts. Richard was, unfortunately, out to town. Oh yes, and that’s Vee – the great dane!

So after saying our goodbyes and penning a note of thanks in their guest book, we hopped on and began with our journey back to Perth. When we came down south, we stopped over for a night at Mandurah, and continued with our journey the next day. This time round, it’s all the way straight back to Perth – sheesh.

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Because we had the luxury of time and wasn’t rushing anywhere, we took a slow, relaxing drive all the way to Mandurah for lunch first. The journey took approximately 3 hours – it might have been slower though, if not for our bursting bladders calling out for the toilet! LOL.

Had lunch at Mandurah – no photos of Hungry Jacks though, it’s just the same as Burger King – and we continued on our 45 minute journey back to Perth.

Canning Bridge Auto Lodge along Canning Highway, Applecross

Canning Bridge Auto Lodge along Canning Highway, Applecross

For both periods of our stay within Perth city, we camped out at the Canning Bridge Auto Lodge. I got to know of this motel back in 2005 when my parents accompanied me over for the first three weeks of my college studies. Canning Bridge Auto Lodge (CBAL) is possibly one of the cheaper accommodations around in town, but is surprisingly clean and decent. I stayed back there with my friends when we went in 2009 too.

We got a Standard Motel Unit at AUD$160 per night, as we felt that we would be out and running most of the time, so there was really no point in getting a better unit like the One Bedroom Apartment or the Honeymoon Suite. Down side being the room is really small – no kitchenette, no bathtub, and it’s located on the ground floor. The good side being, it’s really cozy, and hey, I can park my car just beside my door!

Standard motel unit at Canning Bridge Auto Lodge

Standard motel unit at Canning Bridge Auto Lodge

But if there’s one thing I don’t like about this motel, it’s their beds. Their beds are beyond soft, and albeit it being comfortable when you first jump on it, it doesn’t really provide good sleep support for people (ok maybe it’s just me).

Anyway moving on, we went on to explore Kings Park at night. Kings Park is home to a mixture of grassed parkland, a mini botanical gardens and natural bushlands. It overlooks Perth city and the iconic Swan River and Darling Range. Kings Park is a must to visit if you are in town and want a panoramic bird’s eye view of the city.

Eternal Flame and the State War Memorial

Eternal Flame and the State War Memorial

The Eternal Flame and State War memorial at Kings Park also commemorates and remembers those who perished during the fight in World War 1 and 2.

Panoramic view of Perth City from the top of Kings Park

Panoramic view of Perth City from the top of Kings Park

Ok, so here comes the main content of this post – our visit to Fremantle Prison!

Fremantle Prison - built in 1850s and decommissioned in 1991.

Fremantle Prison – built in 1850s and decommissioned in 1991.

Fremantle Prison sits a corner in the suburb of Fremantle, and was previously used to house hundreds of convicts and sentenced-prisoners. It was built by convict labours back in 1850s, and later used as a gaol by the colonial government in 1886.

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Fremantle Prison was decommissioned in 1991, and subsequently reopened as a historic public tour site in 1992. Wow. A short span of 1 year to move out the prisoners, touch up the foundation works and open it for public tours?

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We had to pass through steel security gates (of course, now defunct) to get into the buildings. Kinda made me feel depressed when I was looking out from within – the feeling of isolation and captivity when you are in there as a prisoner. Of course, choyyyy touch wood.

Behind the walls of the building

Behind the walls of the building

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Our tour brought us around the prison, showing us the cell types (I mean, how the cells’ living conditions improved – not types as in Superior Suite, Luxury Suite and Presidential Suite -.-), the compounds including the kitchen and gym yards, and even the gallows.

A typical example of a cell

A typical example of a cell

Huge boilers in the kitchen

Huge boilers in the kitchen

Apparently, being sentenced and directed to work in the kitchen was unarguably one of the best jobs one could ever ask for. You get to eat as and when you wish (ok maybe not that often), and most importantly, you get to see what goes into your food! According to our guide, there was an instance of viral outbreak and of course, fights when they discovered someone had been dumping human faeces and rats into the food. WTF.

Fremantle Prison Chapel

Fremantle Prison Chapel

Convicts and prisoners had to attend mass too – the prison had two churches, one Catholic and one Anglican. The photo you see above is the Anglican chapel, with the ten commandments etched behind the altar.

The uniqueness of this chapel compared to the rest of the prison stems from the fact that there are no grills on the windows. Noticed that? Apparently, the guy in charge long long ago wanted the convicts and prisoners to “feel free in the presence of God” just for that little while, although the harsh fact remains that they’re behind bars.

Till date, this Chapel is one of the many attractions up for hire within Fremantle Prison – and to a much surprising note, there are still couples renting this chapel for their wedding! Our guide made up some corny joke about “prison chapel being like marriage… jail sentence… life sentence…” you get the gist of it.

One of the many outdoor toilets around.

One of the many outdoor toilets around.

The whipping post

The whipping post

The whipping post is one of the more feared places in the entire prison (duh right?). Once the sentence is due, the prisoner is tied up with his legs spread apart and whipped on his buttocks. And mind you – you know how we hear of caning in Singapore being done in parts (e.g. not all 24 strokes are administered in one session), this is the exact opposite.

50 strokes means 50 strokes continuously unless the doctor certifies that you are about to drop dead.

Wtf again.

And apparently, for heavier and more severe olden day sentences, they will cane you until your ass blossoms, send you to the hospital for recovery, and bring you back for a second serving of the cane. Ouch. But fortunately, nobody has ever died on or because of the post, although I’m sure most of them would rather.

Then, we went on to the most disturbing part of the prison – the gallows.

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I don’t recall it being so open the last time I visited Fremantle Prison in 2005, but perhaps it has changed. You know how it works, the tying of prisoner, praying for him, covering his head, and clank… good bye buddy. The gallows hut is rather dimly lit, possibly to create the atmosphere, but I must say it has this certain strong sense of eeriness in it. If you are unable to take it emotionally, the guide will advise you to stay out and wait for the tour to resume.

Oh and they said the noose is still the same old noose as before. Unchanged. I don’t know whether to believe it -.-

So that marked the end of our Fremantle Prison tour.  There are many types of tours available – we did the basic one that lasted an hour and a half, but for the more adventurous ones, there are longer tour packages available and even night walks and tunnel crawls! You can check the various packages out here.

Fremantle Prison
1, The Terrace
Fremantle
Western Australia WA 6160

Opening hours:
Mondays – Sundays: 9 am to 5 pm

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We headed back for a quick shower and rest, before we joined Cheryl, Herman and Eunice for a visit to my college Geography teacher and her husband – Mrs and Mr Kurian. It was certainly good catching up with them, reminiscing about old times, and of course, them exposing all my embarrassing moments to my wife -.-

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Well, that’s the end of our day at Fremantle Prison! Stay tuned for the final part of our Perth travelogue, where we bring you up close and personal with the kangaroos and koala bears at Caversham Wildlife Park!

Ciao!

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Catch up on our Perth travelogue here:

Part 1: Our first day there
Part 2: Exploring Fremantle and Perth city
Part 3: Down south @ Seashells Resort Mandurah!
Part 4: Merribrook Retreat @ Margaret River!
Part 5: Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse & Chocolate Factory!

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