Sunday, April 24, 2011

Fremantle Prison

We spent the afternoon at Fremantle Prison.  This is one of Australia's World Heritage listed Convict Sites.  Fremantle Prison was built in the 1850s using convict labor and initially served as a convict barracks.  In 1886, it became a prison for Western Australia.

The prison was built from limestone which was quarried on-site.  It housed prisoners until 1991.  We took a guided tour, "Doing Time."  This was a fascinating tour looking at life inside the prison.  Stepping inside, the prison seems straight out of "Shawshank Redemption" with tiny single cells.

The prison has a beautiful chapel.  Behind the altar are painted the Ten Commandments.  These were painted in the mid 19th century using Aboriginal techniques for making the paint.  The murals remain in remarkable condition.  Of note, the 6th Commandment has the unique phrasing "Thou shalt do no murder" rather than the traditional "Thou shalt not kill."  The latter phrasing was thought to be hypocritical for the prison because capital punishment was still in use.

The prison cells never had running water!  Prior to closing in 1991, prisoners were given painting supplies and allowed to paint their cells.

Fremantle Prison is a fascinating site, one of the better tours we've been on in Australia.

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