Transportation exhibit at Fremantle Prison shows the harsh realities of convict life

The Transportation exhibition at Fremantle Prison. Photo: supplied
The Transportation exhibition at Fremantle Prison. Photo: supplied
The Transportation exhibition at Fremantle Prison. Photo: supplied
The Transportation exhibition at Fremantle Prison. Photo: supplied

SEPARATED from their family, subjected to brutal punishments and with no chance of returning home, that was the reality of convict prisoners whose experience will be on display at the Transportation Exhibit at Fremantle Prison.

The exhibition, which opened yesterday, will focus on the convict system across Australia, marking 150 years since the arrival of the last convict ship the Hougoumont.

Fremantle Prison heritage conservation manager Luke Donegan said the exhibition would include personal stories from convicts.

“We focused on convict stories and experiences from 11 of the Australian Convict World Heritage sites,” he said.

“The stories will be about why they were sent to Australia, what was their experience, how it impacted them.

“Every convict had a life and family that they left behind when they were sent.

“The exhibit is not just about the people who came to Australia but the families left behind.

“One of the stories is about John Boyle O’Reilly, an Irish prisoner who escaped to America.”

Mr Donegan said there would also be a range of objects and artefacts from the era.

“One of the key objects was a convict waist jacket called Magpie Coat Uniform which prisoners punished for hard labour wore,” he said.

“The uniform was designed to make them stand out when they were working in the community.

“A flogging post used for punishments and a copy of the Wild Goose which is a newsletter that convicts wrote.”

Heritage Minister David Templeman, who recently found out he had convict ancestors, said the exhibit provided an insight into the lives of the convicts.

THE DETAILS

WHAT: Transportation Exhibit.

WHEN: 8 January for one year.

WHERE: Inside the Fremantle Prison Gatehouse.

WEB: http://fremantleprison.com.au/whats-on/transportation/