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Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Fremantle, Western Australia

Fishing Boat Harbour

Fremantle Town Hall

43 men and 1 woman were executed by hanging in this room. The last hanging was in 1964

Fremantle Prison

Cell blocks

Church of England Chapel

Flogging Triangle - the last flogging was in 1943

Aboriginal inmate's artwork

Serial rapist's artwork

Maritime Museum

Art Gallery

Today, Fremantle is one of the most beautifully preserved port cities in the world. Situated on the south east side of the entrance to the Swan River, it was named after Captain Charles H. Fremantle. On the 2 May 1829 he arrived in the HMS Challenger and officially took possession of Western Australia in the name of His Majesty King George IV. One month later Captain James Stirling arrived with the first 68 free settlers. They established a settlement on the Swan River and the Port of Fremantle was born.

Fremantle Prison was a huge undertaking and was built by convicts from limestone quarried on site. The new colony was very small so they asked the British Government to send convicts to provide cheap labour to build the new settlement. Captain Edmund Henderson arrived with the first 75 convicts on 1 June 1850. So the convicts had to build their own prison which took seven years to complete.

In the early days, Fremantle port had strong unions and a Trades Hall opened in 1904. Gangs of 'wheat lumpers' were employed to weigh bags of wheat and manually load them onto ships at Fremantle. When the influenza epidemic broke out in 1918, they refused to unload a ship they believed hadn't been properly quarantined, scab labour was brought in and a bloody battle ensued. A unionist was killed when the police intervened and he was given a martyr's funeral. So many people turned up for the funeral, they formed the longest procession ever seen in Fremantle's history.

Fremantle was a very busy and colourful port during the second world war. There were American, British and Dutch sailors off the submarines that were based here to patrol the Indian Ocean. All our diggers were coming home from the war and Fremantle was their first port of call. Not surprising then that prostitution flourished and black market goods were in high demand.

Fremantle today is a very attractive city with lots of history and many charming old buildings.