Archive for February 11th, 2011

Freedom in Fremantle

11 February 2011

Contributed by Joanne McEntee

In 1829 a new settlement was devised by the British in Western Australia. Under the governorship of Captain James Stirling, the Swan River Colony was established as a ‘free’ colony – unlike the penal settlements of New South Wales, Norfolk Island, and Port Arthur. Two main sites of settlement developed within the colony: the state’s capital Perth and the port city of Fremantle. Due to adverse climatic conditions and inhospitable lands the population of the area remained low. In order to rectify this and to assist with the development of the region a petition was sent to the British Government requesting that convicts be sent in order to provide much needed cheap labour. The first ship carrying convicts arrived at Fremantle on 1 June 1850. Over an eighteen year period over 9,700 convicts were transported to Western Australia. The last ship – the Hougoumont – arrived 9 January 1868 carrying 280 convicts. In 1991 after 136 years of incarceration and punishment Fremantle Prison was officially closed. A year later the prison began its development as one of the State’s major historic heritage sites. In July 2010 Australian Convict Sites were included in a list of seven cultural sites newly inscribed on the World Heritage List.

For tourists, Fremantle Prison offers a wide ranging and varying experience. Read More