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Fremantle Prison Tunnel

Last Updated: April 19, 2024 Perth
Tripadvisor Rating 4.5/5
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Google Rating 4.7/5
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avatar By Sam Baldwin

The Fremantle Prison Tunnels are a labyrinth of underground pathways built by prisoners 20 metres below the prison. Go deep (literally) into the history of one of Australia’s most significant heritage-listed buildings and discover what hard labour in prison looked like.

1 The Terrace, Fremantle WA 6160, Australia

What?

A network of tunnels in Fremantle Prison provided fresh water to the prison facility and later to Fremantle town. The prisoners dug these tunnels as part of their convict labour.

The tunnels shut down in 1910, but water irrigates the prison gardens.

Only one-fourth of the underground labyrinth is walkable. Water submerges the rest of the tunnels, and you’ll have to go around them in small boats. The ceiling is not very high, tree roots are coming down them, and you must bend a little to walk through them. Plus, these tunnels are highly confined, but before you tackle claustrophobia, you must overcome any fear of height because you’ll need to get down an 18-foot ladder system to get to them.

The Story

Tourists nowadays descend to the tunnels while being clipped to the ladder system. But the convicts, back then, had no hint of a safety system. The digging was primarily manual, and prisoners worked eight-hour shifts six days a week. The ceiling of these tunnels is not tall enough to stand up, so convicts spent their entire shifts bent down.

One of the duties involved standing at the top of the shaft and manually pumping water throughout the day. In 1896, a steam pump on Swanbourne Street pumped 4.5 million litres of water from the tunnels daily, thus relieving prisoners from manual pumping.

warm lighting at dark Fremantle Prison Tunnel photo by Ghostieguide
Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Fremantleprisontunnels.JPG

Did You Know?

What Are Fremantle Prison Tunnels Famous For?

The tunnels under the Fremantle Prison are famous for their “weirdness.” The experience of climbing down 20 metres of ladder, then walking bent through narrow tunnels, and taking tiny boats to go through a disorienting labyrinth underground can be unnerving yet highly adventurous.

No maps or landmarks help you navigate, but propelling a boat through well shafts and timber supports feels like a raw, authentic, and unique experience.

How To Get There?

The Fremantle Prison is a 22.5 km drive from Perth CBD. The nearest stops are South Tce Fremantle Markets, Hampton Rd Before Knutsford St, Queen St Before Adelaide St, High St After Stirling St, and Adelaide St After Queen St.

Bus and train lines include:

Nearby Parking And Cost

Paid car parking is available outside Fremantle Prison, named The Terrace, accessible via Fothergill Street.

Another larger parking is at the bottom of Fairbairn Ramp via Parry Street with a fee starting at $2.40 per hour.

Nearby Attractions – Make A Day Of It!

Explore the history of Dutch exploration of Australia in Fremantle’s best museum.

Experience the magic of sunset in Western Australia by hopping on the Ferris wheel in Esplanade Park, Fremantle.

Top 3 Closest Hidden Gems – Recommended By Adventure Clues

Destination Distance
Art Series at Adnate Hotel 20.2 km
London Court 20.3 km
Wolf Lane Bar 22.2 km

Your Hidden Gems Itinerary

  1. Start your day at Fremantle Prison Tunnel.
  2. After exploring the tunnel, head to the Art Series at Adnate Hotel, for a unique and artistic experience.
  3. Visit London Court, and marvel at the unique architecture and explore the hidden shops and cafes tucked away in this charming arcade.
  4. Conclude your day by taking a leisurely stroll to Wolf Lane Bar, and enjoy the eclectic atmosphere and perhaps savor a refreshing drink or snack.

Exploring the hidden gems in Perth offers a well-rounded experience, from the vibrant atmosphere to the historical significance. This itinerary allows for a diverse exploration of Perth’s hidden gems, offering a mix of culture, history, and local ambiance.

Best Eateries Around

Famous for its huge warehouse-style setting, long benches, and lamb ribs.

Its seaside terrace is perfect for a beer while looking over the majestic Indiana Ocean.

Entry Price

The Fremantle Prison tunnel tour costs $65 for an adult. You can add a prison tour of your choice for an extra $10.

map of Fremantle Prison and tunnel photo by Evad37
Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Fremantle_Prison_map.svg

Final Thoughts

Discover the historical labyrinth of tunnels beneath Fremantle Prison, Western Australia, built by prisoners and now offering an underground tunnel tour to explore this intact convict establishment, showcasing the penal history of the region in a world heritage-listed site.

Unearth the mystery of crimes and the lives of convicts with a thrilling adventure 20 metres below ground. Choose Perth Scavenger Hunts by Adventure Clues to explore Australia with a twist!

FAQs

Delve into more details about the historical significance of Fremantle Prison, and understand the physical demands of this unique journey into the past.

What is Fremantle Prison and why is it significant?

Fremantle Prison is a former Australian prison located in Fremantle, Western Australia. It’s not only a significant historical site in Perth but also a World heritage site. The prison was built in the 1850s by convicts and was used until 1991. It’s widely recognized for its vintage architecture, which has been preserved for generations to appreciate a bit of local history.

Why are the Tunnels popular?

They are a vast underground network of tunnels. These underground tunnels served as a water supply line for the prison. Whether you’re exploring the tunnels on foot or taking a tunnel tour, they provide a unique journey through history.

What is the Tunnel Tour all about?

A Tunnel tour, like the popular Time tour with Brett, involves a guided exploration through the tunnels where you learn about the history of the Fremantle Prison, the convicts that built it, and their experiences working in the tunnels. This tour offers a unique sense of adventure and history.

What should I expect on a Tunnel Tour?

The Tunnel tour starts at the Gatehouse, from where you’re taken to the Main Prison and finally into the tunnels. Equipment such as a helmet, paddle, and ladder are provided as you descend via a shaft into the warm tunnels.

How physically demanding is the Tunnel tour?

While the Tunnel Tour adheres to strict Safety Standards, it is quite physical. The tour could be challenging if you have a fear of heights. It demands physical fitness due to ladder climbing, bending, walking on uneven surfaces, paddling in boats, and dealing with warm tunnel temperatures, potentially claustrophobic conditions, and lengthy duration.

Sources

https://fremantleprison.com.au/history-heritage/history/a-brief-history/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Architecture_of_Fremantle_Prison

https://australiatravelquestions.com/attractions/fremantle-prison-tunnels-tour/

https://perthgirl.com.au/fremantle-prison-underground-tunnel-experience/

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