Port Douglas

Town Profile : Port Douglas

Port Douglas

 

We’ve visited Port Douglas three times and found all occasions to be quite pleasant.

 

The first time was for our birthdays in 2013, when we flew over from Darwin and met up with our friends and family, who flew up from Melbourne to celebrate with us.  It was a week of eating and drinking, late nights and plenty of injury, and it was during the peak tourism season so there were plenty of holiday makers around.  The second time was with the Troopy, as we began our descent down the east coast of Australia.  Tourism was still bustling in October but it just seemed a lot quieter without our mates around.

 

 

The third time was during our seven-month stint in Cairns.  We’d been playing trivia every week at the Red Beret Hotel and the prizes were vouchers for various places in Port Douglas.  After collecting a booty of vouchers, we put aside a day to drive up and use them.  Despite being warm and sunny, March is right in the middle of cyclone season, and one was expected to hit the coast in a day or two – Port Douglas was deserted.

 

We felt like we had the whole town to ourselves and had an amazing, action packed day that included a delicious breakfast at Cafe Fresq, shopping at various gift stores, a mind-blowing sandwich from the Little Larder, a walking tour around town, and a sunset dinner at the Yacht Club.

 

Port Douglas

 

Port Douglas is essentially a tourism town that can be fully experienced in a day or two.  If you can’t afford to stay at one of the lavish resorts and spend the rest of your time drinking cocktails by the pool, Port Douglas has a few budget accommodation options, including a YHA, and is a great place to base yourself while you visit the various attractions in the region.

 

Fast Facts

  • Port Douglas is #3 on Australian Traveller magazine’s list of Australia’s 100 Best Towns. It’s about 1 hour north of Cairns.
  • It is the gateway to two World Heritage listed areas – the Daintree Rainforest and Great Barrier Reef.
  • There have been several films shot in and around Port Douglas – Sniper (1993), Paradise Road (1997), The Thin Red Line (1998), Paradise Found (2003), Fools Gold (2008) and Nim’s Island (2008).
  • Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter, died off the coast of Port Douglas after a stingray shot its barb into his heart. He was filming a new documentary called The Ocean’s Deadliest.

 

History

The traditional owners of the area are the Kuku Yalanji people, and their country stretches from the Mowbray River to the south of Port Douglas to the Annan River just south of Cooktown.

 

Port Douglas was established in 1877 after the discovery of gold in a valley near the Mowbray River.  At its peak, it had a population of 12,000, with 26 legal and registered pubs and even a few opium dens!  The schoolhouse built in 1878 and it is the oldest building in the region and was still operating until the 1960s when it was closed due to lack of population.

 

Scandal hit Port Douglas in 1887 when Ellen Thomson was convicted of murdering her husband. She pleaded innocent but she and her lover were both sent to Brisbane where they were sentenced and hung.  She became the only women to ever be hung in QLD.

 

In 1911, a devastating cyclone hit Port Douglas and once it had past, two people were dead and only seven buildings were left standing.  The impact of the cyclone lingered for several decades, and the population dwindled to abound 100 people in the 1960s.

 

christopher_skaseWho would have thought that the town’s saviour would later be known as Australia’s most wanted fugitive and fraudster.  In 1988, Christopher Skase unveiled his new 5-star Sheraton Mirage Resort, which triggered a massive tourism boom.  Because of this, it’s said that Skase is responsible for reviving Port Douglas and thus creating a successful tourism-based economy.  He is also responsible for the relocation the St Mary’s Church from up on the hill to down near the water’s edge in 1988, because its position was on valuable real estate land!  The non-denominational church was originally built in 1880 but was flattened by that cyclone in 1911.  It was rebuilt and remained in its spot on the hill until Skase’s arrival.

 

These days, the St Mary’s By The Sea is a popular place to get married.  Port Douglas is a thriving tourism town with a population is around 3,200, but this figure can double during the tourist season between May and October.

 

Port Douglas 2015-03-18 053w

 

Places of Interest

There are a few things to do in town, such as browsing shops along the main street, having a drink and a meal at one of the pubs, or lazing on the best beach in town – Four Mile Beach. The sand at Four Mile Beach is so flat and firm, that many years ago planes were often landed on the sand.  There’s also a market on every Sunday in the park opposite the Courthouse Hotel.

 

If you are interested in learning about the town and the area, we recommend going on a K-Star Walking Tour.  Kevin is really knowledgeable about the geography, history and flora in the area and it’s a great introduction to tropical Queensland.  Alternatively, hire some electric bikes; an easy and super fun way to get around town.  Prices start at $20 for 2hrs.

 

Port Douglas

 

As we said earlier, Port Douglas can be explored in a day or two, but it is a great place to station yourself while you explore the surrounding wonders.

 

Cape Tribulation

Located within the Daintree Rainforest, Cape Tribulation is a headland that was named by Captain Cook after his ship was damaged on the Great Barrier Reef.  It was named so because it was where Cook’s troubles began, but despite this, it is a wonderful beach to visit.  On the road to Cape Tribulation are various cafes and ice creameries which certainly don’t hurt to visit.

 

Cape Tribulation

 

Mossman Gorge

Due to efforts to conserve this naturally beautiful place, a regular shuttle bus that runs from the Mossman Gorge Centre is the only way to visit the Gorge.  It has a relatively low fee and does allow multiple trips on the day of purchase if required.  We recommend exploring the walking trail before having a dip in the cool waters.

 

Mossman Gorge

 

Flames of the Forest

This is a very indulgent experience for special occasions only.  Enjoy a gourmet meal in a romantic atmosphere of illuminated trees while being serenaded by a wonderful performer.

 

Flames of the Forest

 

Bloomfield Track & CREB Track

For the off road enthusiasts, check out the two tracks that go through the Daintree.  We only did a small portion of the CREB Track before turning around to follow the Bloomfield Track.  Our brakes weren’t in great shape at the time and we had been told by locals that the Bloomfield Track was the safer option – plus, there were a few bush fires around and we needed to put safety first.

 

CREB Track

 

Food & Drink

There are heaps of places that offer a great feed in Port Douglas.  For a decent coffee, check out Moonshine Bay and while you’re there, browse through all of the colourful things in the shop.  Moonshine Bay uses coffee from Four Mile Roasters, local coffee bean aficionados who have a great little cafe called Origin Espresso.  Located in the backstreets away from the hustle and bustle of the tourist-ridden main street, sip a quality coffee while sitting on hessian sack milk crates and contemplating which baked treat to eat next.  Very Melbourne…

 

 

Many of the good cheap eats in Port Douglas are on Grant Street.  The French toast at Cafe Fresq is delicious, all the food from Menu Thai Restaurant is incredible and for a late night snack after the pub, go to Get Ya Kebabs for a juicy meal.  However, one of our favourite places was an award-winning bakery…

 

Mocka’s Pies

Not only do they have a great selection of pies, including Kangaroo and Crocodile Laksa, but they are absolutely scrumptious.  Mocka’s regularly participate in the Official Great Aussie Pie Competition and their pies win medals every year.

 

Mocka's Pies

 

On The Inlet

This restaurant is a little on the pricey side, so it should probably be put aside for special occasions, but the food is quite good and they have a resident groper called George… and by groper, we mean fish, not pervert.

 

The Little Larder

This place is a popular spot amongst the locals and visitors alike.  They do a wicked breakfast and cup of coffee but the main attraction is the ‘serious sandwiches made by chefs’.  We had lunch here and our lives are ruined because all future sandwiches will never be as good as the sandwiches we had here! Check out our post about this excellent food outlet…

 

Port Douglas

 

Off The Track

There is a wicked food joint on Warner Street, just behind Coles.  They have an awesome selection of gourmet burgers, including beef, pork, chicken and vegetarian, and each burger comes with a little pile of perfectly cooked chips.  They also do breakfast and can brew a very nice Lavazza coffee.

 

Port Douglas

 

Port Douglas Yacht Club

For a more local experience, you must visit the PDYC!  This open air bar and restaurant is a great place to meet friendly locals and watch the sun set over the estuary.  We enjoyed a delicious and well priced dinner that included fresh, crisp chips and a lovely side salad.  Their chicken parma is juicy and thick with all the correct toppings, and they also offer Cargill steak.

 

Port Douglas

 

Information & Accommodation

The Port Douglas Tourist Information Centre is located on the main street at 23 Macrossan Street, or you can visit these websites: http://www.tourismportdouglas.com.au/ or http://www.pddt.com.au/

 

Port O’Call Lodge YHA – 4 green star eco-lodge.  To make a reservation, call 07 4099 5422 or email portdouglas@yha.com.au

 

Cape Tribulation YHA – nestled deep within the Daintree rainforest.  To make a reservation, call 07 4098 0030 or email capetribulation@yha.com.au

 

Port Douglas

 

 

$100 Day

$100 Day : Perth

$100 Day

 

Perth is such a beautiful city and we were determined to experience as much as we could during our $100 Day.  The original plan involved catching the train in, but due to the Kwinana Freeway widening project, the entrance to the carpark for Bull Creek Station was closed and we were sent on a deceitful detour to NOWHERE.  After a few laps of the ‘burbs, we decided to drive in and figured that the money we would have spent on public transport can be contributed to petrol.

 

We drove into the city and started with Northbridge before heading into the concrete jungle…

 

1. Parking in Northbridge

$3.00

2. Walk around Northbridge and Perth Cultural Centre

Free

3. Visit the WA Museum

Free

4. Drive to Kings Park and explore the gardens

Free

5. Catch a CAT bus into the CBD

Free

6. Lunch at Mama Tran

$22.00

7. Window shopping at the Perth Malls

Free

8. Two lattes from Standing Room Only

$7.60

9. A bienenstich from Miss Maud’s Pastry Shop

$2.80

10. A pint of Swan Draught at the Grosvenor Hotel

$9.50

11. Two tickets to the Perth Mint tour

$30.00

12. Check out the Bell Tower

Free

13. Catch the CAT bus back to Troopy

Free

TOTAL SPEND

$74.90

 

As you can see, we spent less than $100 and had an awesome time exploring the city.  When we got to Northbridge, we found a limited parking spot and figured we could walk around within the allotted timeframe.  If we wanted to experience Northbridge properly, the best time to come back would be in the evening anyway.

 

The Red CAT bus service into the city from Ord Street was clean, air conditioned and punctual!  By the time we got into the CBD we were famished and Juz’s heart was set on pho.  We found Mama Tran but it didn’t meet her standards, even though it was tasty.  The assembly line style service didn’t appeal and Dave’s serving of pork with rice was very small and unsatisfying.  This would never happen at Pho Hung in Preston VIC.

 

 

We made our way over to the eastern end of the city via the Perth Malls and got a coffee from the highly recommended Standing Room Only.  It was another small shop that is designed to pump out take away coffees for busy city livers/workers.  Dave spoilt himself to a sweet treat at the pasty house in Miss Maud’s Swedish Hotel and a pint at the pub before we went on the Perth Mint Tour – the most expensive thing of the day.

 

For a full city profile on Perth, go here…

 

Kings Park

City Profile : Perth

We rolled into Perth stinky and weary after travelling up through Margaret River, Bunbury and Mandurah.  Our first stop was Dave’s cousin’s place located in the beautiful suburb of Palmyra.  This spot gave us the perfect opportunity to experience and explore Fremantle and the Sunset Coast.  After two weeks, we moved over to historic Guildford to spend some time with one of Dave’s old Melbourne mates, and this location put us a short drive away from Armadale, the Perth Hills and the Swan Valley.

 

The view of Perth from Kings Park

 

During our stay, we found it easy to navigate around town – the traffic wasn’t dense and the roads were well labelled and the Swan River is a great landmark to follow. The one thing we had to be wary about while driving around Perth were the other drivers – everybody seemed a bit lost and unsure about which street to turn down!

 

Fast Facts

  • Also known as the City of Lights, Perth is the capital city of Western Australia and the fourth most populous city in Australia.  It is also the most isolated capital city in the world!
  • It is the sunniest capital city in the world with an average of 8 hours of sunshine every day of the year and the ‘Fremantle Doctor’ is the most consistent wind in the world that blows in from the west between midday and 3pm almost every day of the year.
  • There are about 1.74 million people living in the Perth metropolitan area and around 1500 people move to Perth every week
  • Perth came 9th in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s August 2012 list of the world’s most liveable cities.

 

 

History

The area was first inhabited by the Noongar people for over 40,000 years and the first documented European sighting was made by Dutch Captain Willem de Vlamingh and his crew in December 1696.  While they didn’t stay long, de Vlamingh named the river after the black swans that swam in it.

 

Over 100 years later, Captain James Stirling established the Swan River Colony and once a camp was settled, convicts were sent over as cheap labour to help with the construction of infrastructure. In 1856, Queen Victoria declared Perth a city and its perpetual growth hasn’t stopped since.

 

 

Weather

We were in Perth for about 6 weeks and in that whole time, it only rained once, and it was a magnificent thunder storm.  The Mediterranean climate sat between 25 and 35 degrees with the occasional cloudy sky, but it was always safe to assume that the day was going to be bright and sunny.  It probably explains why Perth residents love outdoor activities.

 

Points of Interest

Kings Park

Over 300 native plants and 80 bird species within 4.06 square kilometres, Kings Park is the largest inner-city park in the world and is visited by 6 million people each year.  There are heaps of walking paths to explore the flora, or you can sit by the State War Memorial and soak in the spectacular view of the city and river below.

 

 

After a relaxing picnic, we followed the Lotterywest Federation Walkway over an elevated bridge that overlooked the old Swan Brewery before climbing the DNA Tower.  Afterwards, we went over to the Synergy Parkland for a coffee and to watch the kids play on the playground located on an island in the middle of the pond.

 

The botanic gardens are only a small portion of the park, with the majority being untouched bushland. It is a popular venue for art installations and live concerts, and we while we were there, they were setting up and doing sound checks for the Sarah Blasko concert with WASO by the Pioneer Women’s Memorial that night.

 

 

 

The Swan River

The city was built around this beautiful river and many activities are enjoyed in it, such as sailing, swimming and kayaking.  We hung about at Point Walter, a great family location with plenty of lawn for picnics under the Norfolk Pines.  The calm waters were perfect for snorkelling and Juz found heaps of hermit crabs as she swam between the black swans.

 

 

 

Perth Mint

Western Australia’s Heart of Gold, the Perth Mint is Australia’s oldest operating mint.

 

It all started in 1892 when two Victorians, Ford and Baily, found a 16kg nugget near Coolgardie.  Once the Gold Rush began, the population of the area doubled within a year, and doubled again the next year.  So much gold was discovered that they needed somewhere to process it, so construction of the Perth Mint began, using limestone from Cottesloe and Rottnest Island.  It was in possession of the British Empire until 1970 when it was handed over to the Government of Western Australia.

 

 

We did the Guided Tour so that we could see the Guinness World Book of Records’ largest coin made of 1 tonne of gold and the world’s largest gold bar exhibition, as well as Australia’s biggest nugget collection (LOL!).  The tour starts at the ‘Prospectors Campsite’, which is a re-creation of a campsite from the 1890s when thousands of people with gold fever walked the 600km from Perth to Coolgardie to find their fortune.

 

After a leisurely stroll through the exhibition, we found a seat in the original melting house and watched the traditional Gold Pour demonstration in the original melting house.  The gold pourers have to pile on the protective gear – layers of wool, aluminium and Kevlar with an apron and shoulder length gloves – as you do when you’re dealing with glowing hot molten gold that’s 1300 degrees Celsius!  We were fascinated to find out that the 6kg gold bar he was playing with was worth $300,000 and that same piece of gold has been melted and poured seven times a day for over the last 20 years!  Since the melting house began operation in 1899, gold dust has accumulated in the brick walls and ceilings over the years.

 

 

Western Australian Museum

Museums are one of the best places to go to when you’re in a capital city.  Entry to the ongoing exhibitions is usually free and is a great way to learn about natural and social history, geology, the story of the local aboriginals, meteorites, megafauna, dinosaurs, native plants and animals.

 

 

The museum building is heritage listed and actually used to be the old Perth Gaol until the museums establishment in 1891.

 

The Bell Tower

A design that blends the old with the new, the Bell Tower was a Millennium Project built to house the Swan Bells.  Twelve of the 18 bells come from St Martin-in-the-Fields Church in London and date back to the 14th century.  They were given to the State of Western Australia during the 1988 bicentenary celebrations, and since then, another six bells have been added to the collection, coming from London, Westminster and one commissioned by the WA government.  The tower is 82.5 metres high and since it’s opening in December 2000, over 1 million people have visited.

 

 

Engraved padlocks are attached to the chain barriers around the Bell Tower.  They’re known as Love Locks that are engraved with names, fixed to public structures and represent eternal love.  This custom started near the Great Wall of China and has spread throughout the world.

 

Northbridge

Appropriately located just north of the city, Northbridge is a hip and vibrant part of Perth with heaps of bars, clubs, and pubs – perfect for a pub crawl!  There are also lots of cafes and specialty shops, as well as a Vietnamese strip with a few restaurants.  Nearby are the WA School of Art, Design and Media, the State Library of Western Australia and the Museum.

 

 

We were lucky enough to be invited to a night out in Northbridge and went to the Brisbane Hotel on Beaufort Street.  The venue was pretty wanky and the drink prices were out of control but the atmosphere was electric so we had a great time anyway.

 

Out with mates in Northbridge

 

We also checked out Brass Monkey Hotel, one of the iconic pubs in Northbridge, before having a stroll around the block to check out the nightlife on James Street.

 

Leederville

With so many eateries and cafes packed into such a small area, the centre of Leederville bustles with energy, especially during lunchtime and when the sun goes down.

 

 

Juz went there for a quick work lunch and thought it was a really funky little space.  Zambrero was the food of choice – a Subway-style outlet that dishes out Mexican food with heaps of flavour.  As you move along the assembly line, you pick your ‘style’ which is either a burrito, taco, quesadilla or in Juz’s case – a bowl.  Then you pick you filling of slow cooked, tender meat, salsa and sauce and before you know it, you’re eating a tasty meal that is relatively fresh and healthy.

 

 

Afterwards, we went to a popular coffee shop called Greens & Co.  Bright, colourful and breezy, this cute little café is filled with colourful couches, laminated paper globes and artsy types who probably spend most of their time here reading the paper and playing board games.  There is a cabinet filled with enormous cakes and they know how to pump out the coffee, even though they’re a little confused about what a long macchiato is…

 

Information & Accommodation

Western Australian Visitor Centre – 55 William Street – 9483 1111

Fremantle Visitor Centre – Fremantle Town Hall, William Street – 08 431 7878

 

Perth City YHA300 Wellington Street, 08 9287 3333.  Check out our post on the Perth City YHA.

 

Getting Around

Transperth provides public transport to the Perth metropolitan area and includes buses, trains and ferries.  As with most public transport systems, you are going to need a ticket to ride, and a valid Transperth ticket can be used on all modes of transport.

 

The public transport is divided into 9 zones and your fare is calculated by how many zones you travel through. Also, depending on how many zones you travel through, your single ticket can be valid for two or three hours.  2-Section Tickets are also available for short trips of up to 3.2km but you can’t transfer between services with these tickets.

 

 

There are two types of ticketing systems in Perth:

  • SmartRider is the electronic ticketing system.  The SmartRider cards can be purchased for $10 from any Transperth InfoCentre or at various newsagencies around the city.  Once you have the card, you need to add a minimum of $10 before you can use it to travel.
  • Cash Tickets can be purchased from the driver of buses and ferries or at Ticket Vending Machines at train stations.  A DayRider ticket costs $11.

 

There is also a Free Transit Zone for CAT buses and a SmartRider Free Transit Zone for trains within the Perth city boundaries. We found the CAT busses to be extra useful for travelling into the city from the outskirts of town.

 

For more information, visit the Transperth website.

 

 

The Fremantle Prison

Experience : The Fremantle Prison

One of the things that we got heaps of recommendations for was to visit the Fremantle Prison.  It’s a historically rich gem that opened in 1855 and during its 136 years of operation, it housed over 350,000 convicts and prisoners.

 

The Fremantle Prison at night

 

The Gatehouse is where you enter and prior to the prison’s closure in 1991, it was all that the public knew of the maximum security prison. These days, visitors can wander in and out and check out the art gallery, gift shop, visitor centre and café, but the best way to see the prison is on one of the great tours they offer.

 

We did all the tours – each one telling a different story – and we learnt so much about the history and inhabitants of the prison, how it was built, the riots, the executions, and the daily life behind bars.  It was an amazing experience and we highly recommend a visit to the Fremantle Prison.

 

HISTORY

The history of the Fremantle Prison is the most fascinating thing about the prison – how it was built, how the prisoners lived, were punished, and died, the riots they started and the spooky stories from the night officers.

 

It all started with a severe labour shortage within the Swan River Colony in the early 1800s.  Because of the collapsing infrastructure, many were heading east to New South Wales and Tasmania for greener pastures and a better life and by 1840, only 6,000 settlers remained.  In the meantime, the British Government was dealing with overflowing prisons so a deal was made to send some convicts over to Australia.

 

During the 1850s, thousands of convicts arrived for labour to build the roads, bridges, buildings and helped to establish the colony as a permanent settlement. They also built their own house – The Convict Establishment – and it is the largest convict-built structure in Western Australia.  Carved out of a limestone hill, the establishment was completed in 7 years and in 1855, the first convicts moved in.  A few decades later, an onsite reservoir was built by convicts using around 200,000 bricks. It holds 1.5 million litres and fed the prison and half of Fremantle before a diesel spill in 1988 seeped into the reservoir and contaminated the water.

 

 

Over time, the Convict Establishment needed to start letting colonial offenders into the prison, particularly when the Gold Rush of the 1890s saw an influx of crime. During World War II, the prison acted as a military detention centre.

 

The prison was finally decommissioned in 1991 and reopened in 1992 as a cultural, historical and educational attraction.  The Fremantle Prison was added to the National Heritage List in 2005 and gained World Heritage status in 2010.

 

THE CELLS

During the Doing Time Tour, they had set up a row of cells in one of the divisions to demonstrate the evolution of living conditions over 136 years.  We strolled from room to room, amazed by the simplicity and lack of space.  We definitely wouldn’t have wanted to be inmates in this prison.

 

From when the prison started in 1855, cells were 1.2 metres by 2.1 metres and included a hammock, stool, fold down table and a poo bucket.  By the 1860s, poor plumbing led to drippy pipes and insect infestations and in 1870 a Royal Commission recommended that the size of the cells be increased, so they doubled the size of all the cells by removing a shared wall between two cells.

 

 

Oil and kerosene lamps were replaced by electricity in 1907, and in the 1950s, hammocks were replaced by simple, metal frame beds, which were then replaced with bunk beds in the 1960s.  In the 1980s, power points were installed in cells so prisoners could plug in electrical goods like small TVs and radios.  Poo buckets were never replaced by flushing toilets… ever.

 

Painting and drawing on cell walls was strictly forbidden up until the final year of the prison’s operation.  There was one exception to this rule – Pegleg Pete, who was incarcerated for brutally violent crimes against women.  He was allowed to have the artistic outlet of painting on his cell walls because it made him noticeably calmer and more compliable.  Here are a few images of his cell, as well as another cell painted by another aboriginal inmate, and drawings from James Walsh’s cell.

 

 

Riots were a rare but furious occurrence and usually broke out over the poor conditions.  In 1968, prisoners were sick of food covered in maggots and grease so they made demands for a prison menu and sweets.  When the Superintendent refused, the prisoners rebelled, but the situation was diffused fairly quickly.

 

The last riot in the prison happened on a 42 degree day in 1988.  Two prisoners were carrying buckets of boiling water for afternoon tea when they suddenly poured the water over a few prison guards.  The guards were taken hostage and the prisoners started to burn things, which eventually set the jarrah wood roof on fire.  The fire brigade was stalled because their trucks couldn’t fit through the gates of the prison, and after 18 hours and $1.8 million worth of damage, the prisoners backed down and released the hostages.

 

FAMOUS PRISONERS

Moondyne Joe

In 1848, Joseph Bolitho Johns was convicted for stealing bread, several cheeses and some bacon and was sentenced to 10 years.  After a few years in UK prisons, he was shipped over to Western Australia and arrived in Fremantle in 1853. He served two years before being released for good behaviour and he went to live in the rugged bush in the Darling Range, in an area the Aboriginals called Moondyne.

 

In 1861, Joseph was found guilty of stealing a horse and got locked up in jail, only to escape with the stolen horse using the magistrates bridle and saddle to ride off into the night.  He was caught the next day and sentenced to three years.

 

After a few more escapes and recaptures, Moondyne was transferred to Fremantle Prison where an inescapable cell was built especially for him – stone walls lined with jarrah sleepers secured with over 10 nails.  Funnily enough, he managed to escape again while doing stonework in the yard and disappeared for two years before being discovered, drunk as a skunk sipping stolen wine in the cellar of Houghton Winery in the Swan Valley.

 

After a few more escape attempts, he was finally given a conditional pardon in 1873 and became a respectable stockman and carpenter and married in 1879.  About 20 years later, he was admitted to the Fremantle Asylum for senile dementia and died in 1900.

 

James Walsh

Convicted in 1852 for forging a request for goods, he was sentenced to 15 years and transported to Australia, arriving in Fremantle in 1854.  After 5 years in the convict establishment, he was conditionally pardoned, but reconvicted four months later for forging a one pound note and got another eight years.

 

During this time, he decorated his cell with the most intricate drawings, covering them up with porridge and whitewash so he wouldn’t get punished for marking his cell walls.  His cell was on display and the drawings reminded us of those from Michelangelo and Leonardo – just beautiful!

 

THE TOURS

There are four tours available – Doing Time, Great Escapes, Torchlight and Tunnels.

 

We loved the Doing Time Tour!  It gave us great insight into how the inmates lived their lives inside the prison.  From the initial processes of strip, shower and search which was jovially demonstrated on Dave (assume the position!), to living in the small cell, punishment and the final walk to the gallows, we were shown how the prisoners spent their days.  If you prefer break out stories, the Great Escapes Tour reveals all the grand plans and opportunistic escapes of both convicts and prisoners.  Learn about famous inmates like Moondyne Joe and the Fenian convicts, and marvel at the bravery and determination, or the foolishness and silly mistakes.

 

 

For a real spooky experience, come back after dark for the Torchlight Tour and walk around the prison grounds in the dark.  Probably not the best choice if you’re afraid of the dark, ghosts, scary stories, cold shivers running down your neck or unexpected surprises that make you scream.  The amount of times Juz jumped and grabbed onto Dave during this tour was just funny.

 

The Tunnels Tour is perfect for the adventurous types and goes 20 metres underground into 1000 metres worth of tunnels that were built by the prisoners.  Juz was a bit squeamish about going underground so Dave did this tour on his own and he loved it!  The tunnels are only accessible by boat and Dave got to share the lead boat with the tour guide, Karl.  At one stage during the tour (you’ll know when you get to it!) Dave and Karl heard a kafuffle behind them and stopped to allow the rest of the group to catch up.  A few seconds later, they appeared – one group ended up backwards while another group had lost their oar, which was later found in someone else’s boat.  One of the great features of this tour is a plaque that commemorates convict labour.  It is the only plaque that celebrates the hard work that the prisoners did, and it’s deep down in the tunnels.  This tour is best suited for the physically fit who aren’t afraid of heights or enclosed spaces.

 

 

THE ESSENTIALS

The Fremantle Prison is on The Terrace and is open 7 days a week from 10am and it is an absolute MUST for anyone visiting Fremantle.

 

The space is also available for functions and events such as receptions, Halloween parties, art exhibitions, murder mystery nights and Christmas Parties.  It can also host weddings because the prison chapel is a bonafide, consecrated church – just in case you’re interested in starting your life sentence in at the Fremantle Prison.

 

Phone: 08 9336 9200

Website: www.fremantleprison.com.au

 
Read what other travelers have to say at TripAdvisor

 
We had the best time at the Fremantle Prison