Thursday, July 28, 2011
Underground in Fremantle: The tunnels tour
Look! I got a certificate! Not only that, it was for something extreme. I'm not normally good at extreme things (you won't ever read a post about me bungee-jumping, I can assure you) and perhaps I shouldn't be comparing this adventure with throwing yourself off a bridge, but still ...
Anyway, recently I went back to Fremantle Prison and for the first time, took their Tunnels Tour. This is totally different from their daytime tours and torchlit evening tours through the prison itself. This one involves climbing twenty metres straight down into a set of tunnels which were dug by prisoners as part of an attempt to supply the prison with fresh water (which, incidentally, worked for a few years until they made the water table sink ... and so began Western Australia's sad history with water).
Once you're "down below" you spend most of the time in a two-person boat bumping your way through tunnels and learning all about the tough time prisoners had digging them, as well as hearing the traffic rumble way above you (if everyone's quiet enough) and seeing the long, long roots of trees reaching down into the tunnel. Our guide was fantastic - both knowledgeable and funny, which I consider to be an important combination for this kind of work!
The tour begins with slightly scary warnings about the physicality and concerns about participants with a fear of heights or claustrophobia, but in reality, it was pretty harmless. Well, except for the fact that my arms ached for days after pulling myself back up the ladder at the end of it all! I thoroughly enjoyed myself and definitely highly recommend adding a Tunnels Tour if you make it to Fremantle Prison (in addition to a daytime or evening tour - they're totally different!). And no, they certainly did not pay me to say that. It's just a heap of fun and interesting as well.