This morning we woke at around 8.30 and Ethan had already been dropped off by Donna and was sitting in the front room with Kev watching cartoons. Joe said that he wanted to go and get some things from the shops so we took Ethan with us too. Joe and Ethan ran into the shops and came out with some milk shakes in cartons that you have to shake up until they go thick needless to say that they shook them most of the way back to Kev’s before they opened them. We sat at Kev’s while Joe and Ethan drank their shakes, ate some chocolate and watched some more cartoons.
Kev then said that we should head off to Freeyo (Freemantle) prison otherwise we may not get back in time to see the Eagles in the Aussie rules football so we all jumped into the car. The trip to the prison only took around 30 minutes and when we go there a tour was leaving in 5 minutes so we bought our tickets and waited for the guide.
When the guide came along he was very odd looking, he had a big moustache and looked as though he’d waxed the end to stick up. First we were taken into the book in area, this was the area that the prisoners would have been taken into. He said that the prisoners would have sat in the very seats that we were sitting in but that it was ok as they had cleaned it first J. The guide told us that this was the biggest convict build prison in the southern hemisphere. The prison was shut in 1991 and all the prisoners were transferred to a prison out in the bush. The prisoners, we were told, didn’t like their new home as before they were in the middle of the city and could hear the traffic and people talking on the other side of the wall but in the bush they could here nothing. The guide also suggested that the main reason that they preferred this prison was that it was next door to the local Australian rules football ground and that they were able to hear the games on the weekend.
The guide took us through the kitchens where we were shown the Knife cupboard and how the prisoners would have to give the guard on duty their name badge to obtain a knife to use on their days work. We were told that working in the kitchens was the best job in the whole of the prison as the workers had access to hot food throughout the whole of their shift and that they were also inside away from the elements (a luxury that most other inmates did not have).
We were taken out into the parade ground where we could see how tall the wall was from the inside and the guide pointed out the different wings and what they were all for. He then pointed out the gun towers that the guards would look out from and the church. He pointed out a mark on the window of the church and asked what everyone could see, Joe said Santa thinking that he was going to say Jesus but he said that it was the face of a woman. Emma said that she couldn’t see it.
We were then taken into the first exercise ground, this we were told could have up to 150 men in each area with one TV and a small shelter in each ground. The guide asked us who we thought would be the person in control of what was on the TV, yes the biggest toughest guy in the block. ’And if he wanted to watch sesame street all day then that’s what everyone watched!’
The guide took us through to one of the wings and showed us around some of the cells, these were set out so that we would be able to see what it was like from the time that the jail opened until it closed. He also showed us one of their toilets (a bucket) which was shared by two men, 14 hours a day and said that this was used right up until they closed in 1991. Several cells were open to viewing and were decorated as they would have been through the different eras of the prison. We had a look through the cells the only things that really seemed to change were the beds. The first was just a basic metal frame and looked like it would have been better to sleep on the floor. In the last room there was a bunk bed so that friends or relatives could share and a radio but we were told that it would only pick up two channels.
We then walked up one of the three flights of stairs and were informed that the ‘suicide nets’ were only installed in the late 60’s and that although they stopped things hitting the floor they didn’t stop the contents of the buckets hitting anyone walking on the ground floor. He said the guards soon learned to walk under the cover of the stairs and walkways.
The guide then showed us into the church and pointed out the ware on the stairs entering into it asking us to think why this was so, we all thought that it may have had something to do with last rights but were wrong. It was because it was the only place that the male prisoners and female prisoners were in the same room, they were separated with the ladies upstairs looking down on the men. But he said that the ladies still liked to say Ahhh-men (think this was his attempt at a joke).
We were then taken to another wing of cell blocks that were the scene of a riot where prisoners took over the wing and managed to start a fire using the bedding from the cells. The fire trucks were unable to get in through the front doors as the trucks were too big and by the time they got the equipment in most of the roof of the wing was gone causing thousands of dollars worth of damage.
We then walked back down to the ground floor, on the way down Ethan jumped up and grabbed the level above and hung at the bottom of the stairs blocking the way down for the people behind, leaving about 30 people waiting to get down the stairs (we all found this quite funny but don’t think that the people waiting did). Kevin gave that growling whisper that parents quite often do when their kids are naughty in public telling Ethan to get down now. But Ethan couldn’t, he was stuck! Kevin had to climb up and grab hold of him in the end.
In the lower cell’s we were shown the cell of the one of the people who was given paints to paint the inside of the cell when they knew that they would be moving the prisoners to a new prison. In here covering all of the walls were brilliant paintings of things like the jungle with kangaroos, massive sailing boats and open fields. In the middle of all of these pictures was a portrait of a man in a cell reading a book. It was rather poetic and looked like the painter had a great skill at painting.
After this we were taken into another yard which had the flogging post at one side. The guide told as that the people carrying out the flogging were actually called fladulators. He also told us a story of a prisoner that tried to escape, he was caught and his punishment was 25 whips to the back. After the first 6 the mans back was bleeding, after the 10th he was scared for life. When he got to the 17th the doctor who would stand by told them to cut him down. The man was taken to the hospital wing and allowed to recover. When he did recover he was taken back to the flogging post to receive his last 8 blows!
We were then shown into the solitary cells, these were inside a block right by the flogging post so all these men had to listen to all day were the cries of other prisoners. Ethan sat on the stool in the cell, he said he’d hate to be in there and that he felt like he couldn’t breathe. We took him back outside to get some air.
Then we were off to the place where prisoners were hung, back went capital punishment was allowed. There was two rooms looking onto the platform and 140 men had been hung there. It felt very strange to be standing in a room where so many people had died. Ethan was standing towards the front, right by the railings over the platform. We were standing slightly further back but when Ethan started to climb through the railing to get a closer look Joe ran forward and dragged him back by the foot!
After this we headed back out to reception, Kevin was getting a little jittery about the time, he didn’t want to miss the game J. We headed back to Kev’s house and on the way stopped off at the supermarket to grab some sausages to sling on the barbie. When we got back Kev fired the Barbie up and we all sat down to sausages sandwiches and football. Ethan wasn’t too keen on watching the game and kept trying to change the channel to cartoons. Emma told him that if he does it again Kevin’s head will explode, he left it alone after that.
During the game Donna came over with Matt and Caleb to collect Ethan. Whilst everyone was sitting down Emma noticed that Caleb was missing so got up to go and find him. She went out into the garden and caught Caleb just as he was climbing back over the wall from the boatyard next door. She asked him where he’d been and he said ‘just over the wall and straight back, are you going to tell my mum?’ Emma said she wouldn’t but if he did it again then she would.
Soon after Donna and the kids left and Kevin and Joe continued to watch the game whilst Emma had an afternoon nap. The West coast Eagles won by 8 points so it was a close one. The game was made more interesting as several fights broke out between the players.
As the game was finishing Emma woke up to see the end. She then gave Brendan a call to let him know that we’d be popping over. Kevin decided to come too so we drove 20 minutes to Brendan’s house. When we arrived Brendan was out the front clearing the truck. He’d been given a kids climbing frame from a day-care centre he had done a job on and the kids were pestering him to put it up. We went into the backyard where Tate was eating his cereal, or more feeding the dogs as he hardly got any in his mouth. Kian was poking Brendan with a screwdriver. We didn’t stay too long as Christine, Brendan’s wife, was trying to get the kids bathed and cook dinner and we thought we were holding them up. Also kev was pretty tired and he had work the next day so we headed off.
When we got back we all sat down and watched Crank 2. After this we ended up staying up late watching Bear Grylls. We said goodbye to Kev as we wouldn’t be seeing him the next day and then headed off to bed.