Thursday, December 6, 2012

Out and about in Perth - Point Walter and Fremantle Prison

For all my talk of loving England, we do have some enjoyable local outings too. I have already talked about our recent visits to Rottnest Island and Walyunga National Park, as well as a day spa trip with my sister. Since we returned home two months ago, Mr Bite and I have also managed a leisurely walk at Point Walter and a tour of Fremantle Prison.

These outings were photographed on my phone, which is why I haven't posted about them before now. Plugging my phone into my computer is so very easy, and yet also so very hard. I finally achieved it this week, and have rescued six weeks of random, varied quality pictures. 


Point Walter is a jutting sand bar on the south side of Perth's Swan River. There is a play area and cafe near the sand bar itself, and then a cliff-side walk trail that extends back along the river. It is a renowned area for cliff jumping (in an adrenalin / sport sense, rather than a more sinister sense) and there are always plenty of boats moored nearby.


We visited not long after we got back from Europe, returning to the cliff-side walk  that we have done before. When I was growing up, my family did the walk quite often but it is a relatively recent discovery for Mr Bite. It is an easy walk with attractive views, making it perfect for a weekend afternoon.

Spot the Merman!

Fremantle Prison was a longer outing and one that required a little more planning. In fact, we have been meaning to visit the prison for about 2 years, so our tardiness would suggest that we didn't plan as well as we might have. I visited the prison on a school trip when I was a teenager, but Mr Bite had never been. It was a functional prison until 1991 and so the option of touring it is still comparatively recent.

Fremantle Prison - exterior of the men's block

The prison buildings and grounds form one of the more intact convict establishments in Australia, and became a World Heritage Site in 2010. There are four tour types on offer, the daytime "doing time" and "great escapes" tours, the night "torchlight" tour, and the underground "tunnels" tour. The daytime tours are $19 per adult and run for 75 minutes, while the others are more expensive and somewhat longer.

One of the consequences of the prison being in use until 21 years ago is that you can really imagine what it would have been like to be a prisoner there. The prison opened around 1850 and in the 140 years it was in use, housed a mix of high-risk / dangerous prisoners and low-risk / short-term sentence prisoners. I can't imagine that combination ever working very well. Comments from our tour guide suggested it was a challenging mix at times. 

Fremantle Prison - interior of the men's block

The areas where whipping and hanging occurred left me feeling slightly queasy, as such things always do. Those moments aside, it was a worthwhile tour and I was surprised to remember very little of it from my earlier, school-aged visit (suggesting that my memory is atrocious or that my teenage self didn't appreciate history very much).

Having done the prison tour, we had some time wandering Fremantle streets and shops. I have documented my enjoyment of Fremantle previously, and this visit was no exception. I restrained myself at the markets, but did see Irish moss, the vegan gelatin alternative that is so difficult to find in Australia. I have tucked that discovery away for future reference!

After our wandering, we bought afternoon snacks. Mine came from my favourite Fremantle food establishment, The Raw Kitchen Cafe. Both were items I have sampled previously, in the form of their green smoothie (banana + spinach +  ice) and the vegan chocolate mint 'bliss ball'. They were just as good this time around.


Mr Bite went for a more traditional snack from a more traditional bakery - a chocolate brownie. To his credit, though, he did try a sip of my green smoothie and admitted there was no 'green' taste to be detected. I may convert him yet...


In all, two lovely outings, and a reminder that Western Australia has plenty to offer even if we are a tad isolated and prone to very hot weather (except this week, when we are alternating hot weather with thunderstorms, to my delight).

What have you got up to in your home town / state recently?

26 comments:

  1. I took a friend on the Freo prison tour and found it really interesting. I will have to check out the Raw Kitchen next time I am down that way

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    1. Definitely do :) It isn't open on Mondays or Tuesdays but is a lovely place to relax and they do meals and raw cakes (that are incredible) too.

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  2. I love the idea of going through an old prison but if i got the chance I'm not sure how keen i'de be! I want to travel to Perth really soon. It's weird how we travel out of Australia but not in it. Well I don't. My bad luck!

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    1. I'm the same - I have been lucky to see most states at least once, but there is so much I haven't seen. I need to rectify that!

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  3. You live in a very beautiful area. The first picture looks like a postcard!I hope to be able to visit Australia someday :-)

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    1. I hope you can too! I have barely visited the US so we need to swap :)

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  4. Looks like a very pretty area. I find out prison's fascinating!
    hehehee i'm trying to convert my Mr too ;-)

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    1. I don't think I'll ever really convert him, but I always love when he tries things :-)

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  5. That first picture is just amazing..breathtaking!!
    I think I would have a difficult time hearing about things that go in a prison like whipping and hanging too. But very interesting!!

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    1. It is a bit of a tricky mix - interesting but also rather disconcerting. I guess history is often like that!

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  6. I've never been on a prison tour before and am sure I would find it a bit creepy but very interesting at the same time. We are planning a trip over to WA in Feb/March so I'll have to keep Point Walter in mind as it looks like a gorgeous place to take Ollie for a walk.

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    1. It would indeed :-) That's really exciting that you are planning your trip - will you be driving if Ollie is coming too? There are lots of nice places for dogs along the river actually, and sometimes places that dogs can go in the river, which tends to be well received by the dogs!

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  7. I've been meaning to go see the big prison in San Francisco next time I go...for some reason I'm fascinated by them! This one is now on my list to visit also!

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    1. There is something simultaneously eery and fascinating about prison history. I guess they're tied in with so much of our general history (well, in Australia at least). I hope you enjoy the SF one if you go :)

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  8. The only prison I've ever visited is the Melbourne Gaol where Ned Kelly was hanged. It's quite an eerie place. Certainly times were harsh in prisons back then. I like to explore the local area too. It's so much better than taking for granted what you have around you xx

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    1. It is indeed - and often I discover things I didn't know about despite living near them for 25+ years!

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  9. Soo, I tend to look at my fave food blogs when I need a break from writing the ol' dissertation. The chapter I'm working on now actually deals a lot with the violence that LGBT prisoners face during their incarceration. It's really brutal stuff....not all of that is a thing of the past. : (

    I'm just going to drool at your goji berry ball post now for a better "break." ; )

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    1. Oops, that was a poorly timed post on my part :S I can't imagine doing a dissertation on the topic - so very important, but I can imagine you really need those breaks. I hope the chocolate goji berry balls helped :)

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  10. I always get so excited when I see your posts about Perth! Those cliffs at Point Walter are beautiful and walking the boardwalk sounds like a perfect weekend activity, jealous!

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    1. You'll just have to come back to visit :)

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  11. i'm such a weirdo and find visiting prisons SO cool, there is Alcatraz (one of the more famous US ones) and i've been dying to go there. :)

    i want to go to perth one of these days...every time i see ur blog!

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    1. I'm glad I'm doing my bit for Perth tourism ;)

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  12. Fremantle prison must be one of my most memorable places I have visited in Australia - I visited it a year after it opened as a museum and it felt eery like the prisoners had just stepped out - I remember some of the artwork in the cells was amazing. You seem to get out and about a lot - maybe even with a view to not always being around Perth

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    1. I think after we got home, we made a concerted effort to do "things" to ward of the sadness at being back to normal life :-) Also, not having a small child might result in a bit more time!

      I imagine it would have been very eery visiting just after it opened - it still had that sort of vibe to it 21 years later. The artwork was amazing; it is still there.

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