Stunning Fremantle Shipwrecks Museum and old town

Fremantle Prison

Today, for the second and last time, we left the trailer for final service. This time it was some cosmetic fixes – the door in the refrigerator, straightening the screw in the leg, installing baskets for a pair of new cans at the back. 

Then, we finally had more time to explore Perth, and to be more precise Fremantle with its stunning Shipwrecks Museum and old town.

Fremantle – the historical old town

It was a sunny, warm day, so it was a perfect time to explore the old town. Fremantle is the birthplace of Perth and it is a city located at the mouth of the Swan River. Fremantle Harbour serves as the port of Perth.

Fremantle - the historical old town
Fremantle – the historical old town

It was the first area settled by the Swan River colonists in 1829 and it was declared a city in 1929 and has a population of approximately 25,000. We really liked the old city.

Hema’s HX-2 Navigator

Explore Australia with Hema’s HX-2 Navigator, the ultimate GPS system for on and off-road navigation.

Hema HX-2 Navigator

There are many historical buildings that create a nice atmosphere and in some streets, we could feel like in Europe. We visited a Round House, Fremantle Shipwrecks Museum and the most interesting Fremantle Prison.

Round House

We started our sightseeing from the oldest city building – a Round House built-in 1830. In the first years of the settlement it served as a goal for pioneers, and the attic was used as home to the mentally ill.

Fremantle - Round House
Fremantle – Round House

The hill on which it stands offers a beautiful view of both the city and the bay. The streets are narrow and everything is made of light coloured sandstone. 

Many tiny tenement houses have richly decorated facades. Fremantle has been largely restored. Sometimes I even wondered if they were old buildings or new ones built in the old style.

Fremantle Shipwrecks Museum

An elderly gentleman with whom we spoke before instructed us to visit the Shipwrecks Museum located a few hundred meters away. In the Shipwrecks Museum, there are artefacts from ships sunk in Western Australia. They also have a Batavia replica that we already knew from our Geraldton visit.

Fremantle Shipwrecks Museum
Fremantle Shipwrecks Museum

The Shipwrecks Museum building looked great from the outside, but what we saw inside exceeded our expectations.


In a huge hall, a fragment of the lower part of Batavia has been assembled from original, old wood connected with old black nails and sealed with goat hair pressed between the boards.

Fremantle Shipwrecks Museum
Fremantle Shipwrecks Museum – Batavia

The Batavia replica was really impressive. We have already seen the Batavia exhibition back in Geraldton, and now together with other stories from different shipwrecks, we could imagine perfectly how it was difficult to sail back in history.

Next to the ship, we found a skeleton which, according to scientists, came from Batavia. Human bones were found in 1963 on a small island in a shallow grave.

Fremantle Shipwrecks Museum
Fremantle Shipwrecks Museum

It was the skeleton of a 35-39-year-old man. He lacked his right foot and had a damaged shoulder blade. In addition, the back of his skull was also split open in the manner described in the report of the murder of Batavia crew members. Seeing it, we could really feel the spirit of those times. 

Another interesting artifact was the steam engine of another sunken ship, which laid in the ocean for almost a hundred years and now it is kept in the museum. 

Once it was recovered, enthusiasts decided to renovate it. Once restored they launched it and to everyone’s surprise, it worked again!

Fremantle Shipwrecks Museum
Fremantle Shipwrecks Museum

Fremantle Prison

Lastly, we went to visit an old Fremantle Prison. For starters, Perth had no convicts as the town was built by settlers. 

However, after two decades of development, the city urgently needed hands to work on building roads and buildings. The solution was, like in other Australian cities, convicts from England.

Fremantle Prison
Fremantle Prison

So, a huge Fremantle Prison was built with a beautiful entrance gate. The buildings were added to the prison walls on both sides, where the director of the prison, a doctor, a chaplain and several other officers lived.

Fremantle Prison
Fremantle Prison

All buildings from the original Fremantle Prison survived to this day and even after 165 years it makes a grand impression. Visiting this huge monument can take place only with a guide, which has advantages. You cannot get lost in the labyrinth of corridors and, above all, you can hear many interesting stories and anecdotes.

Tennis court in Fremantle Prison?

For example, the fact that the prisoners asked for a tennis court. The Fremantle Prison director agreed and the court was painted on the walking yard. However, there was no net, no balls or tennis rackets. 

When prisoners asked to get it, the answer was simple – you ONLY asked for a tennis court. The prison director had a wicked sense of humour.

Some of the cells were restored to their original appearance and we could compare the conditions of the prisoners over the last century and how they changed.

Fremantle Prison
Fremantle Prison – cell

The prison was closed in 1991 but we had an impression when we opened the cell door, we would see a man sitting on a bunk bed. 

We also had the opportunity to see the death cell and the room where the death sentence was carried out on 44 prisoners. The feeling was ghastly, I got goosebumps. 

Nell gave us a hard time as we had a boy her age in the group and the toddlers were so amused that we were unable to control them. I had enough after I noticed they were playing with the trapdoor gear on death row.

Fremantle Prison
Fremantle Prison

Car fixed, trailer fixed, Nell got new glasses – we are ready

On the way back, we picked up new glasses for Nell and our trailer from its last service. We can take much more diesel with us.

Our trailer is fixed again
All fixed – let’s go and conquer Great Central Road

The only outstanding issue was air conditioning in the car and we were ready to go.

Everything was buttoned up, plus a permit to enter the Aboriginal territory was acquired. Unfortunately, the air conditioning in the car was not fixed. They’ve been working on it all day and they didn’t manage to fit the parts, let’s hope they will finish it soon. 

To make things more interesting, it got really cold and it was raining. All three of us had a cold. It started with Nell and later spread to us. Despite the cold, Nell walks without shoes and in short sleeves. No brain, no pain.

Australia Longest Shortcut
Australia Longest Shortcut

Leaving Western Australia soon

We spent 12 days in Perth, 6 of which were used to repair our car and trailer. The weather didn’t spoil us either, and then we were sick. But that’s over now. We are finally heading inland. 

Even though we did not have too much time for sightseeing we still visited a lot: Perth Art Gallery, Western Australia Museum, Perth Zoo, Fremantle Old Town, Fremantle Shipwrecks Museum and Fremantle Prison.

The next day we leave Perth, and shortly after, Western Australia. I have a feeling that we have missed a lot. Due to our car problem we were seeing only what we could and not exactly what we wanted to see. 

I mean there were many 4WD tracks, beach driving, hidden valleys and many other things that we really wanted to see. We totally missed the southwest corner of Australia. I think it will be a great excuse for the future to come here again, but maybe this time from the opposite direction. 

Western Australia is a remote, beautiful state with many amazing things to see. I will definitely miss white sandy beaches, dramatic cliffs and colourful Ningaloo Reef.

Unfortunately, we are running late and have to get quickly on the other side of Australia. That’s why our next challenge will be the longest shortcut in Australia – 4,600 km across this beautiful country including 1300 km of unsealed Great Central Road.

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