Top Ten Prisons to Visit

Fremantle Prison, Western Australia
Fremantle Prison, Western Australia
Razor wire lining the exterior of Western Australia‚Äôs Fremantle Prison (Fremantle Prison)

2. Western Australia's Fremantle Prison
In the 1850s convicts worked for their meal—and their bed. Western Australia's Fremantle Prison was built solely by convicts, and during construction deep underground tunnels were carved out to bring in water from a limestone aquifer nearby. This fresh water was better than what was on hand in the town's center and soon began being pumped and delivered by hand to the nearby colonies and ships docked nearby.

These tunnels are now open for tours, but only after putting on the provided boots, overalls, hardhats, and safety harnesses and descending down a series of steel ladders to the damp, dark, and overly crowded tunnels below. The dreary daily life inside these prison walls becomes very evident in parts where visitors are forced to hunch down and walk due to the low tunnel ceilings. The tour includes climbing into a two-man canoe and paddling through areas of the tunnel system that is submerged in water.

If you prefer terror over severe discomfort then take the evening Torchlight tour, an hour-and-a-half jaunt through the sparse living conditions of prisoners up until 1991, using only a flashlight to show the way. Most visitors wisely choose the "Doing Time" tour that takes aim at providing a real-life look at what Australian prisoners faced at Fremantle, including the solitary-confinement cells, exercise yards, prison chapel, prisoner-created artwork, whipping posts, and the gallows used for the reported 44 executions that took place there.

Before setting free, visit the Convict Café, boasting a menu far and beyond any real prisoner's meal. If taking the Tourchlight tour, invest in the Tourchlight dinner package, a meal of Turkish bread and handmade dips, fish filets, and chicken parmigiana.


Best Hotels in Fremantle

$144-$240
Average/night*
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#1
Esplanade Hotel Fremantle - by Rydges
$299-$367
Average/night*
Not Yet Rated

#1
Pier 21 Apartment Hotel
$209
Average/night*
Not Yet Rated

#1
Tradewinds Hotel Fremantle

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