Through the imposing entrance, explore the courtyards, halls and cells, but this goes only so far in trying to imagine the conditions, discomfort, pain and horror of being locked up in Fremantle Gaol as one of its original convicts in 1855 through to its closure in 1991. When we have toured the Gaol, the most noticeable thing has been the chill of the wind through the uninviting buildings housing the cells and the cells themselves, straight off the ocean. Damn cold in winter and I imagine unbearably hot in summer until “the Fremantle Doctor” arrives. (The Freo Doctor is a term used by us locals for the cooling breeze off the ocean which occurs during summer months in the south west coastal areas of Western Australia.)
When Mike was in his late teens, around 1975, he once attended at Fremantle Gaol for a weight-lifting competition where inmates were included in the competition. To this day, the memory of entering the facility with all the security and gates clanging and being locked behind him as he went through to the competition, sends shivers down his spine.
A couple of residences built next to the Fremantle Gaol:
No. 16 The Terrace: Constructed in 1855 and first occupied by Superintendent Thomas Dixon, it was later occupied from 1886 by the Resident Magistrate. By 1903 holding cells were built into the cellar to house prisoners arriving at Fremantle Gaol in the evening.
No. 18 The Terrace: The Surgeon’s Residence, built in 1856 housed the Surgeon Superintendent who was responsible for the health of the prisoners, managing the prison hospital and the Lunatic Asylum in Finnerty Street.
There are various tours available of the gaol and the tunnels underneath. It certainly is an interesting place to visit – but definitely not stay!