Freedom in Fremantle

September 6, 2009 · 10 comments

“Put all your posessions in the bag, including clothes” The prison officer barked at the new recruits, “and sit down on the bench”. Alex and Robert did not have a chance against the 4 baton armed prison officers as they were issued their new clothing for their new home.

A full moon shines over Fremantle prison

A full moon shines over Fremantle prison

It is 6:30pm on September 4th, 1975. Moonlight lights up Fremantle prison as the new recruits line up outside with fellow inmates missing the evening meal matching the clothing style of other inmates.

Not helped by being marched through the kitchen area. They are hungry, tired and depressed coming straight from court to face the first day of their punishment, a bank robbery gone wrong.

The prison guards do a head count before locking the prisoners up for the night, everyone is there. Fremantle prison finished basic construction in 1855 after the need for a large prison increased as the previous jail was a wool shed and the renamed from Convict Establishment to Colonial Convict Establishment in 1866.

Alex and Robert join inmates for the head count

Alex and Robert join inmates for the head count

There is little break out attempts out of this high security prison these days, ever since the razor wire topping the walls replaced barbed wire. One man attempted it, after beating an officer and stealing a ladder from the tool shed, however the razor wire caught him in, cutting into his skin and ripping his clothes, the more he moved, the more it tangled him up scarring every revealed skin surface. The dried blood which dripped down the walls left an impression on the inmates contemplating escape the next day who had to clean it up. Freedom was that bit further away now.

The daunting high walls and razor wire are the only sights inside the prison grounds

The daunting high walls and razor wire are the only sights inside the prison grounds

The new inmatess realised why they were in this certain group, the rest of the prisoners here are known trouble makers, and along with the new recruits these guys had to watch the ‘cat o’ 9 tails’ whipping punishment to tame them. Each ‘tail’ having sharpened glass or steel in it, so instantly drawing blood, pulling the whip back, the blood from the whipped prisoner splattered Alex and Robert, knowing they’d be on the recieving end if they were to cause trouble too. The prison doctor stopped the activity after 17 of the 25 whips were completed; the prisoner passed out. However the salt poured in the wounds to help seal it up woke him up screaming in pain, he would recover in the doctors infirmary and when healed would complete the remaining 8 whips of his punishment.

The new recruits were then shown the gallows for intimidation purposes too, they would not be recieving this punishment, their crime wasn’t enough to justify it. Fremantle gallows (added to the prison in 1889 and the only legal place to execute in the colony and later the state) took 44 lifes throughout its time, including 1 a woman whos crime involved sulphuric acid and her step children. Capital punishment was outlawed in 1984 in Australia.

The final punishment at Fremantle Prison

The final punishment at Fremantle Prison

The prisoners are escorted to their cells with the door slamed shut and locked behind them. They struggle to get asleep amongst all the shouting and intimidation from other convicts. A suicide prevention net lining the roof of the first floor adds to the depressing atmosphere.

Entrance to Fremantle Prison

Entrance to Fremantle Prison

A new day arises for the prisoner, he scribes ‘II’ into the wall with his nail to represent the start of his second day here. He looks through the bars in his tiny window his attention towards the Australian flag blowing in the wind, a country originating from a sending prisoners over from Britain, sighing from his lack of freedom with the thought ‘One day I’ll be out of here and this place will be a tourist attraction’.

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Alex September 7, 2009 at 5:44 AM

Good post bro, lots of information. I think I will go and redo my post with more facts!

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Candice September 9, 2009 at 6:41 PM

Prisons creep me out, and you’ve done a good job of capturing this creepiness. Remind me never to be a criminal.

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Richard September 11, 2009 at 1:21 PM

I love the atmosphere. You really brought out a sense of hopelessness in the (imagined?) prisoners. Thanks for a great piece.

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AdventureRob September 11, 2009 at 4:16 PM

Thanks for comments :)

I went on a prison tour with my friend Alex (first to comment on here) so wrote this piece as we were the criminals on our first day through the prison when it was active.

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neha September 23, 2009 at 3:54 PM

i love the photos you’ve added to the post. especially the second one. completely creeped me out!

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Jill Browne September 25, 2009 at 4:49 AM

Enjoyed (?) this article. The question mark is because it’s a subject that isn’t ever going to be “enjoyable”, is it? But I was intrigued as I have visited Port Arthur and the Melbourne jail, and there are similarities.

The pictures…I swear the lights flickered in the third one and the clouds moved in the first. I loved the first three pics.

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AdventureRob September 25, 2009 at 2:04 PM

Thanks for comments, I appreciate every one of them.

I guess it’s not supposed to be enjoyable, but it was a big part of life for some people, I suppose all jails have the same goal so similaities are to be expected.

Happy to see people are enjoying the photos, they were all long exposure and hand held, I need a tripod to improve the quality!

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tempo dulu January 13, 2010 at 6:27 AM

Wow – great story and pics. Little sympathy for the prisoners though – they are in there for committing crimes.
.-= tempo dulu´s last blog – Who has the best prison cell in Indonesia – Schapelle Corby or Artalyta Suryani? =-.

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AdventureRob January 13, 2010 at 11:36 AM

Thanks, I think this is still the only post like this on my site with the fictional story to explain the place. I should try it again some time.
.-= AdventureRob´s last blog – Mid-Week Photo Essay: Adelaide Zoo Part 1 =-.

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Angel Adams May 3, 2010 at 5:09 AM

you really have the talent to capture what is beyond what the naked eyes can see…
.-= Angel Adams´s last blog – Egyptian Style Furniture =-.

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