Do you love a little history and looking at old buildings? You can’t get much older than The Round House, in Fremantle. This unique building, the first permanent building erected in WA, is found overlooking High Street and Bathers Beach.
Built as the Swan River Colony’s first gaol, it was completed in January 1831, so it’s almost 200 years old! The tiny jail consists of just eight cells and the jailer’s living quarters, which all open onto the round central courtyard. There was a good reason for this shape and configuration, it’s so all areas are visible from a single point.
The small jail soon wasn’t big enough to cope with the amount of prisoners in the growing colony, so the Fremantle Prison was built by convicts and opened in the 1860’s.
The view from the Round House across Bathers Beach is stunning. A cannon is fired daily at 1 o’clock.
This is to coincide with the dropping of the time-ball. In 1900 the Round House was used as a site for a signal station with a time-ball and time-gun. Each day the volunteers hoist the time ball to the top of a tower and at precisely 1 PM, drop the ball and fire the cannon. These signals were used by ships captains to set their chronometers.
Guides are on hand with lots of interesting tit-bits of information. One guide was “sentencing” children to time in the stocks. It was fascinating to hear the crimes and punishments of people centuries ago. It was also a brilliant photo opportunity to get my grandson in the stocks!
Afterwards, be sure to have a wander around the old cottages, where you can find an art gallery.
Next time you’re in Fremantle, be sure to make a stop at the fascinating Round House.
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