With my parents time drawing to a close we had a busy weekend of trying to cram in everything that we had missed. As it was mum’s birthday we had got her an extra surprise gift which remained a surprise right up until the Friday night. (Quite a feat if you ask me!)
Our plan was to go whale watching on the Saturday morning, however the weather was not playing nice and with storms forecast for the Saturday we had to come clean and tell them about the trip on the Friday night in fear it would get cancelled.
As predicted this was the case! Disaster!
We took a detour to Cottesloe beach which is usually a beautiful beach, however with the bad weather it was freezing, wet and very windy!! Not the kind of weather you want to be out in!
Luckily the tour was able to shift us to the Sunday (very lucky considering my parents flight was early Monday morning!!) Not wanting to waste a day we headed down to Fremantle and visited the markets as well as the town which is quite different to anywhere else in Perth, the weather blew over and it actually turned out to be a nice day! We headed into Fremantle so we could take a trip to the Fremantle Prison, which is located right in the middle of Fremantle. Andy and I had wanted to take the tour’s for a while however knowing that my parents were coming over we held off so we could do it as a family. The prison was built by convicts sent here from England and became a lifeline for the people of Fremantle as they supplied the town with their clean water.
The prison is massive and had long been closed to prisoners, however to think that they got the prisoners to build the very walls which would keep them locked in is quite impressive!! The prison has tunnels running underneath which were dug out to use as a source of water. The prisoners had to work in horrible conditions and the work was never-ending. The prisoners built tunnels to hold enough water to supply the prison and once finished it was then decided that the prison could supply the whole town which lead to the prisoners heading back down to the tunnels to build even more tunnels to fit the needs of the growing town. Now, with the prison closed they conduct tours in the prison and down through the long winding tunnels telling of the dark history and why the prison was so vital for the survival of the town.
There are many different tours to pick from and as the prison is so big it would take a full day to get round all parts of it. We chose to do the tunnel tour and were led through the prison to the entrance of the tunnels where we got all kited up and safety gear strapped on. This was my only complaint about the tour…. the safety brief lasted WAY too long and you were left in a harness for AGES… this wouldn’t have bothered me if you were using it for the entire length of the tour however the harness was just for ONE ladder to get down into the tunnels . Felt slightly disappointing after the massive build up as it felt as though you were going to going on an insane adrenaline adventure! (I don’t think we even got the much of a safety brief when we went up the Via Feratta’s in Italy and THAT would have been justified!!) I know that this is probably compulsory with the health and safety laws however it just went on and on and on… and on!
Finally ready to go we went down in pairs clipping the harness on as we went and then changing the clip when you got to a new section, once down in the tunnels we were taken through all the different parts and you could really see how bad the conditions would have been to work in. You are unable to stand up straight (Unless you are my mum of course!) and being cramped over can get quite uncomfortable after a while…. and to think these people spent days on end like that!!! There was one corner ‘stand up corner’ where prisoners could, well…. stand up for a moment! If you listened hard enough you could also hear the traffic directly above you, would have been hard to hear if you were stuck down the tunnels building your way out knowing that you were actually technically outside the prison. However the prisoners rarely tried to escape as the punishments were severe, their legs would be shackled and heavy padlocks would be placed on the shackles. If you imagine having to move like this whilst your feet were underwater you can begin to understand why this was a punishment!!
Another part of the tour was on a boat going through the tunnels, this was actually very funny as they were not the easiest to steer and with Andy and Chris trying to splash each other… I ended up very wet!! The boat tour took us through the parts of the tunnels that were filled with water and stained from a diesel leak which eventually lead to the tunnels being closed down. However it was quite interesting to see how mold actually ate away some of the diesel to clear the place up and just how vast the tunnel system was!
Unfortunately you are not allowed to take any camera’s down into the tunnels so to try to describe the scene is quite difficult. I would defiantly recommend it, it is a great day out for a family and is a ‘wee’ bit of adventure in there for everyone not to mention quite a few good laughs that came out of the suits!!
With one full day left of my parents trip our big surprise was finally here (even if the surprise part was ruined thanks to the weather!) However after keeping it a secret for weeks even I was excited!!
Next stop Whale watching off the coast of Australia!!