Fremantle Prison closed its’ doors in 1991 after 136 years in operation. If prison walls could talk they would tell tales of hangings, floggings, dramatic convict escapes and prisoner riots. When it closed, surprisingly the conditions of the prison cells were not any better than when it first opened in 1855, i.e. no running water or toilets, and it was cheaper to build a new prison than to renovate the old. Soon after it’s closure Fremantle Prison became a slice of Swan River Colony history and is now a place where visitors can explore. As well as general prison tours (Doing Time or Great Escapes) there are Torchlight Tours, which incidentally are NOT ghost tours, and for the more adventurous, Tunnel Tours. The latter delves down to 20 metres beneath the prison where you explore a labyrinth of tunnels on foot as well as in a replica convict punt. It’s a fine change from the usual walking tour. At the entrance to the complex is the Convict Cafe that has both indoor and outdoor seating. I wish I can say that the Devonshire Tea is as impressive as the Tunnel Tour but I can’t. The sultana scone is fine, with plenty of juicy sultanas and a slight crispy outside. To me, an ordinary scone can become extraordinary with the help of some good quality jam and cream. Unfortunately the Convict Cafe fails to deliver, with a Kraft portion-controlled jam and sickly sweet synthetic cream from a can.
Tea: A Lipton’s tea bag served in a coffee cup with hot water.
Overall: No doubt the highlight of the prison is not the Devonshire Tea but the history and myriad tours.
Location: 1 The Terrace, Fremantle WA 6160 Ph: 08 9336 2659 www.fremantleprison.com.au
Reviewed March, 2015