"" Writer's Wanderings: Perth - Fremantle

Monday, March 15, 2010

Perth - Fremantle

Perth or more specifically, Fremantle the area at the mouth of the Swan River is said to be the city the convicts built. Many of the historic areas and buildings were constructed with convict labor. The convicts earned early release by working on the buildign projects.

We drove from Trigg to Fremantle and found a spot to park so that we could follow the walking tours that I had downloaded and printed out from Fremantle Trails. We started with the Waterfront Trail which took us from the port area where the ferries leave for Rottsnest Island and followed around the shoreline. It was a pretty walk taking in a couple of historic areas and buildings including the Round House, Western Australia's oldest public building. Below the Round House was a tunnel that was built for whalers to bring in their goods from their ships.

The architecture in the area was a strange blend of Victorian stone buildings and wooden structures that were an Old-West-meets-New-Orleans mix. The most notable of the latter was the Hotel Esplanade.

Our second walk was called the Convict Trail and was supposed to trace the impact of the convicts upon the city from where they were first brought ashore at the South Jetty (which is no longer there) to the buildings that were constructed by them--most of which are no longer there. In that respect the walk was a bit disappointing but along the way, we found some great pedestrian malls that were fun to walk through.

The Convict Trail for us culminated in a tour of the Fremantle Prison--one of the surviving buildings constructed by the convicts. The prison offers several different tours but because of the heat and tired feet, we opted to take only one. It was an hour and a half of extremely interesting and entertaining stories.

The prison was operative up until the early 90s when it was barely saved from demolition and now is Western Australia's most popular tourist attraction. One of the more interesting niches of the prison was the room with the gallows. Forty-four people were hanged there including one woman.
We had a third tour, the Discovery Trail, in hand but discovered that we had already seen most of what was on the map. With the heat and humidity (summer in Perth was not letting go), we opted to head back to our B&B to cool off and nap a bit. After all we are on holiday (that's vacation in Australian).

And lest I forget to mention it, Bob got his Aussie Burger with beet root at the prison's cafe. He's been looking forward to that for a year now as we were planning this trip. Guess those convicts ate pretty good.

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