Fremantle Prison is one of the largest surviving convict prisons in the world today. It is also the most intact of all Australia’s convict sites.
- One of 11 historic sites that form the Australian Convicts Site World Heritage Properties
- A convict barracks “The Convict Establishment’ built between 1852 and 1859 to hold 1000 men
- Nearly 10 000 convicts passed through the ‘establishment’ between 1850 and 1868
- A prison until 1991
- One of the largest surviving convict prisons in the world today.
Fremantle Prison is one of the largest surviving convict prisons in the world today. It is also the most intact of all Australia’s convict sites. That’s why the Western Australia’s government has a long-term conservation plan to ensure the Prison’s preservation as an important historical and cultural attraction for future generations.
Fremantle Prison holds exceptional cultural heritage significance not only for Western Australia but also for Australia’s settlement history and international colonial history.
Sustaining history, culture, and art
A place of universal value, Aboriginal heritage and archaeology, Fremantle Prison is protected and maintained by a Heritage Management Plan. During 136 years of the continuous operations numerous adaptations and extensions were made to the existing buildings, and new structures were also built.
To maintain its authenticity and integrity, since it ceased penal operations in 1991, Fremantle Prison has been carefully conserved.
Unique Historic value
The prison’s Main Cell Block, Perimeter Walls, and three of the cottages on the Terrace have barely been altered from when they were built in the imperial convict era. As a result, Fremantle Prison is a unique and historic example of the worldwide history of colonial settlement in the 18th century, where convict labour built the British empire. Original form, graffiti, murals, signs, notices, and recent evidence of use is maintained and offers an authentic tour experience.
When it comes to the conservation of the site, all projects are guided by recognised heritage architects and builders. Research into appropriate traditional materials and methods is undertaken and recorded, consistent with the Prison’s conservation policies. Each project uses materials compatible to the original build, such as limestone of similar properties, quarried locally and limestone mortars. Traditional tooling methods are also used.
Where reconstruction is not feasible to ensure the character of the Prison is retained, construction of like with like is employed.
Connecting with Aboriginal culture
The Fremantle prison has two objectives in sustaining Aboriginal culture and history of the site. One is to identify, record and communicate the story of Aboriginals at the prison, the other to identify and record the first nation story of the land before English settlement occurred.
The Prison Collection and Artworks
A significant collection of items left behind by prisoners or excavated through archaeological projects is maintained by the prison. Prisoner art, including works on canvas, board, and paper; graffiti; murals in cells; on yard walls, and in the chapels is also highly valued, including frescoes drawn by convict James Walsh.
Record management is key to the prison’s sustainable management. This includes digitised convict records from settlement to recording all conservation projects in detail to preserve historic knowledge.
Creating a sustainable visitor experience
Management of this cultural attraction demonstrates leadership in the innovation and activation of heritage sites. Venues on the site are available for Business Events, with options for professional catering and chartered transport to the site. This ensures integrity of the venue is maintained and catering is local.
Tours that connect visitors to the sustainability of the Fremantle Prison
All the tours that connect visitors to this incredible Cultural Attraction of Australia touch on the history and conservation of the Fremantle Prison. Your guide will walk through the significance of the prison and its history. Explore the original buildings and observe their authenticity. Take a guided tour of Prison Art, or uncover life in the prison on a True Crime or Torchlight tour. Observe the original site from the cells to the underground labyrinth of Tunnels.
QTAB Sustainable Tourism Accreditation