Going back to the immigration agent in Perth who recommended I go to the zoo... Also on his list of "must-sees" was taking a tour of Fremantle Prison in the dark.
"It's by torchlight," he said. "It's really cool."
At first I thought, "WOW! I would get to hold a torch! FIRE!!!!" But then, after I looked up the prison and the tour online, I realized it meant "flashlight." That didn't make me change my mind from wanting to go, however. So when at my hotel I asked my concierge to book me a spot in one of the bi-weekly tours.
It's a bit of a ways to get to the prison. The subway does go there. But it was very convenient for me to simply pop into a cab outside of my hotel. (And coming back later that evening, after 9pm, a cab was the right call for a lady traveling alone.)
I got there just as the Sun was setting, and a good 45 minutes before my tour started. But it allowed me to grab a coffee in the trendy streets of Fremantle, just down the road from the prison... As well as capture a nice shot of the entrance to the place.
The tour started at 7:15pm. The Sun had set, and it was quickly getting dark. We were given mini "torches" to use (and keep) for the tour, and our tour guide gave us a quick explanation of the rules and what to expect for the evening.
His name was Simon. He was cute and funny. Not all of the tour guides were cute AND funny. (We passed the other groups touring as well.) So I felt my "travelers luck"* was responsible for this.
The outside of the prison was gorgeous as night turned up for us. It was built in the 1850s, by the prisoners themselves. And it was in service till the early 1990s.
It's weird to know that just until about 20 years ago, this "maximum security" prison, that is right in the middle of a town, was housing the worst of the worst in Western Australia.
Over the 140 year history of the prison, there were a handful of executions. All done by hanging...
We got to see the actual place where seven men and one women were hung during that time. The last execution had been in the 1960s.
We also got to see the cell blocks, quite a few of them, where inmates were housed. The showers, the toilets, the yard... All a part of the tour. So was the morgue, where executed prisoners and those who died while incarcerated were taken.
We got to look in the solitary confinement quarters... The kitchens... And see the "slop buckets" that were used by prisoners, as none of the cells had toilets. Yep, even as indoor plumbing and a new century dawned, the prison cells were not updated with toilets.
(But then, who am I to talk? I peed in a blue bucket in Antarctica. And had to throw toilet paper in the trash - rather than flush it - in the Amazon jungle.)
The tour lasted about 90 minutes, and was populated with a few ghost stories. It was worth the trek out to the town of Fremantle.
*Travelers Luck: I seem to be getting a bit of this - for which I am grateful! I've had rows to myself on long haul flights. I've been able to catch cabs easily. I avoided mosquito bites in the jungle. I could go on and on.