Today marks the 30th anniversary of the closure of Fremantle Prison as Western Australia’s maximum security facility.
To commemorate this milestone, Fremantle Prison is offering visitors a rare opportunity this afternoon to explore the award-winning tourist attraction and only built World Heritage site in WA free of charge.
The celebration community event ‘Fremantle Prison: 30 Years Unlocked’ includes free entry to the prison and honours the historic decommissioning of the prison and its conservation.
Built by convicts between 1852 and 1859, the prison ceased operations in November 1991 and reopened as an attraction two months later in January 1992.
In the 30 years since its closure, the prison has undergone significant conservation projects to protect its architectural and social history.
As part of the continued conservation works, a $700,000 contract has been awarded today to a Perth-based Aboriginal company, paving the way for local jobs, supply and trade contracts.
Kardan Construction will undertake conservation works on the Main Parade Ground to level the ground surfaces for visitors, repair drainage and protect the area from further damage.
New compliant electrical, hydraulic and fire services will also be installed, with all garden beds in the northern half of the Parade Ground lowered to redirect the stormwater away from surrounding buildings, and the main road and footpaths will be resurfaced.
The works are part of a $1.6 million McGowan Government initiative funded through the WA Recovery Plan to keep our economy strong and keep people in work.
Heritage conservation projects at Fremantle Prison have already provided ongoing and new employment, training and apprenticeship opportunities, with up to 22 new employees and subcontractors expected to work on the Parade Ground contract.
Since 1991, a number of structural conservation, repairs and upgrades have been undertaken at the Prison which has also been added to the UNESCO World Heritage List, become an award-winning tourist attraction and hosted numerous concerts including Missy Higgins, Icehouse and Birds of Tokyo.
Free entry to the Prison will start at 1pm today with a traditional smoking ceremony in the Parade Ground. Visitors can explore the Main Cell Block ground floor, engage with specialist conservation and museum staff and experience evocative retellings of prisoner experiences.
Visit https://fremantleprison.com.au for more information about ‘Fremantle Prison: 30 Years Unlocked’.
As stated by Heritage Minister David Templeman:
“Fremantle Prison is such a significant historical site to share with the world and today’s celebrations are an invitation for Western Australians to visit and rediscover the stories that these buildings hold, as shared by many staff and former inmates over the past 30 years.
“Our $5.5 billion WA Recovery Plan continues to provide a pipeline of employment, learning and business opportunities for Western Australians, in particular enabling essential conservation works to one of our most valued heritage assets and supporting outcomes for Aboriginal people.
“These contracts have provided immediate job opportunities and are a solid investment by the McGowan Government in the protection and conservation of this iconic place of architectural and social history.
“We are committed to ensuring the longevity of this fantastic facility with these latest conservation works set to unlock the potential of Fremantle Prison to attract and host larger events in the space in the future.”
As stated by Fremantle MLA Simone McGurk:
“Fremantle Prison is a wonderful landmark in Fremantle and brings many visitors to our city.
“It is a remarkable living monument to times past and it is fantastic to see it continue to be preserved into the future.”