Writing just for the fun of it! from Perth, Western Australia
Published August 31st 2011
Many people I know have commented on Perth's lack of history. Granted we are a young nation, but if you look hard enough you will find a fascinating colonial past. These are 5 of the best historical locations around Perth city, with a little history on the side.
1. Perth Barracks Location: western end of St Georges Terrace, Perth CBD
History: The Perth Barracks Arch was originally built to house the Pensioner Guards, a special force brought to Perth to keep the convicts in check. After several changes of hands, in 1966 the wings of the barracks were demolished in order to make space for the new Mitchell Freeway. It was the public who saved the remaining arch from demolition. Since then, there have been several attempts by the politicians in parliament house to have the Arch torn down, as it spoils their view down St Georges Terrace. Why visit?: Now safely situated in Perth's History, the Arch is a reminder of our own fascinating convict history, and the need to preserve such buildings.
2. The Round House Location: Arthur Head Reserve, Phillimore St, Fremantle Age: 180 History: The Round House was the very first public building built in Perth, just 18 months after the colony was founded. It was a gaol, to hold any unruly convicts.Used until 1886, it then became a police lock up until around 1890, after which it served as accomdodation for the Water Police, and then served as shipping storage. Why visit?: the Round House is the oldest public building in Perth, and tells a story of a new colony in a foreign land. For information about visiting, see this website.
3. New Norcia
The Benedictine Monastery still remains in use
Location: approx. 132 Kms north of Perth City
History: New Norcia is a mission founded in 1846 by two Benedictine Monks. It was intended to be
a fully self-sustainable Christian town. The site became an Aboriginal mission until 1900 and then a school until 1991. Since its conception the town has seen several wars, the great depression and drought.
Today New Norcia remains an incredibly beautiful monastic town, and a fantastic source of history between the original inhabitants of Australia and its colonial immigrants. Many of the original
buildings remain in service, still producing wine, bread and other food goods.
Why visit?: Although the town is a distance from Perth city, it is well worth the day trip. In spring the 150 year old
monastery is surrounded by wild flowers. The monks are always hospitible, and their home-made produce beats any supermarket. For more information on visiting, see this website.
4. The Perth Mint
Location: Hay Street, East Perth
History: In the late 1800's Western Australia became the centre of a gold rush, particularly
around Kalgoorlie in the outback. As a result, the Perth Mint was founded in 1899. Raw gold found around the state were taken to the Mint to be melted and refined to make gold coins. During its time the mint created around 106 million gold sovereigns.
When England abandoned the use of soveriegns, the mint then created Australia'svery own currency, plus gold billion bars.
Why visit?: The Perth Mint remains a fascinating museum to Australia's gold hunting era. It is also now Australias
oldest still-operating mint. To find out more, visit here.
5. Fremantle Prison
Location: Hampton Road, Fremantle
History: The first prisoners, convicts from overseas colonies mostly, were moved into the prision in 1855.
The prison remained in use as a jail until 1991 after prisoner riots brought the prison into the spotlight. During its extensive opperating period, the prison saw break-outs, riots, floggings, and hangings which would forever spark visitors imaginations about ghosts and paranormal experiences.
Why visit?: the prison remains an extremely well preserved museum to our troubled past. A tour around the property reveals the gruesome little details about life in a prison, including the hanging rooms (rope still intact).
Night time tours, and underground exploration into the hidden tunnels are all part of the experience.
Visit this website for more information.
Thanks to conservation efforts, the prison still looks like it did when it was built in the 1850's