Rob Johnson

Rob Johnson


    Fremantle Prison enters hi-tech era - 150 years after the first convicts

    1/06/2000 10:51 AM

    State-of-the-art technology will give people unprecedented access to areas of Fremantle Prison usually excluded from public view.

    Children from Lake Monger Primary School have been given a sneak preview of a new interactive display that takes users to no-go areas of the prison, such as the hospital, women’s cells, tunnels and residences located on The Terrace.

    The display will be housed permanently in a new $500,000 Visitor Centre, which is due to be completed later this year.

    Works and Services Minister Rob Johnson, who will formally commemorate the 150th anniversary of the arrival of convicts in Western Australia at a reception this evening, said the Visitor Centre would add to the prison’s attraction for locals and tourists alike.

    The Visitor Centre, which is being part-funded by computer giant Microsoft, will meet international and industry standards and allow Fremantle Prison to share information with other historic sites and museums around the world.

    Mr Johnson said Microsoft had also helped develop a new website, which allowed people to access a Convict Database.

    “This database is an invaluable resource for Western Australians who want to find out if they are a descendent of one of the convicts transported to the Swan River Colony,” he said.

    “The website also brings together a significant body of material covering the history associated with the prison.”

    The City of Fremantle has scheduled its annual Heritage Week to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the first convict arrivals at Fremantle on the 650 tonne barque ‘Scindian’ on June 1, 1850.

    They were the first of almost 10,000 convicts who would arrive in the Swan River Colony over the next 18 years. These men constructed much of the colony’s buildings and infrastructure - including Fremantle Prison.

    Contract and Management Services (CAMS), manager of the prison, has worked with the City of Fremantle to arrange a series of events designed to engage a cross-section of the public.

    Mr Johnson said it was important to harness new technologies, like the Internet, to keep the prison relevant for younger generations.

    “As one of Western Australia’s premier heritage sites, it is vital that we preserve and maintain the prison for future generations,” he said.

    “That also means harnessing new technology and ideas to make the site more accessible to a wider audience.”

    Media contact: Fran Hodge (08) 9481 3244