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As we drove into Freemantle, I was struck with awe at the beautiful lime stone buildings and Victorian Architecture. We parked the car and walked down South Terrace, which on a Sunday morning was bustling with the brunch crowd, the old buildings surrounding us reminding us of the city’s early beginnings. Freemantle was founded in 1829 and was primarily a port where convicts where detained. In fact, a number of the city’s structures were built by convict labour. One of the most impressive convict structures in Freemantle is, Freemantle Prison.

Freemantle Prison Gates


Freemantle Prison was built by convicts between 1852 - 1860 and served as a maximum-security gaol up until 1991. The prison is now open to the public with guided tours, which run every day. I did the ‘Doing Time Tour’ gives you a good overview of the prison. We were taken through the main cellblock to see the tiny cells where the prisoners were kept.
Cells
Tiney cells men called home for years


Inside the main cell block



From there we were taken to the exercise yards where the prisoners spent all day come rain or shine. There was not enough shelter or seating for all the prisoners using the exercise yard so it was not surprising that this was an area where a number of fights broke out between prisoners during the day. We saw the gallows, which remain although I do not think anybody has actually been hung at Freemantle Prison since the 1960s. Throughout the tour, the guide recounts endless stories of life within the prison walls.
The most amazing thing to me is that prisoners were still being kept in these conditions in Australia in my lifetime. If it was in the 1800s I may think, ‘Oh how terrible thank goodness we don’t do that anymore’ and move on, but it was happening in Australia in my lifetime.
The prison is open every day except Christmas Day and Good Friday. Tours leave half hourly from 10am.
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If you love good food and fine wine a trip to the Margaret River Western Australia could be just what you are looking for. Located just three to four hours drive from Perth the Margaret River is renowned worldwide for their premium quality wines.
Apparently there are around 200 vineyards in the region unfortunately I did not get around to seeing all of them. We spent two days driving around the area tasting wines (the driver spitting them out of course). Ashbrooke Estate and Amberley Estate are the two vineyards that have stuck in my mind. Amberley Estate not only has some lovely wines to taste they also have friendly staff, fabulous grounds and a lovely restaurant. Ashbrooke estate does not have the restaurant but the cellar door staff are friendly and they know about their wine, and seem very passionate about it, (their Verdelho is excellent if you can get it – 2007 is sold out).
A visit to the Margaret River Regional Wine Centre is well worth it to try some of the wines from smaller vineyards that do not have their own cellar doors. They will also freight a crate of your favourites to you at a reasonable price. It is worth comparing their freight prices with the individual vineyards.
Palandri Estate was a bit disappointing they are a big vineyard and the staff all seemed very bored. They only had their cheap $11 bottles available for tasting which were frankly dreadful. I am not sure why some vineyards only have their cheapest wines for tasting and then expect you to take a leap of faith and buy their more expensive range. This is the only vineyard that I didn’t actually buy anything from.
Once you are done with tasting wine check out some of the food places. One that I personally think is worth a visit is Margaret River Nuts and Cereals. Their cereals you can buy throughout Australia, but they also have a selection of nuts that are great, my personal favourite are the smoked almonds. The owner is passionate about food and loves thinking up new nut recipes. I will definitely be keeping an eye on his website!
Those with a sweet tooth haven’t been forgotten either. The Margaret River Chocolate Factory has a great selection of chocolate, although I have to admit I was a bit disappointed with it myself. I consider myself an expert in this area, and I am happy to spend good money on fine chocolate. I like to try something new and different, and nothing really jumped out at me here. In terms of quality vs. value, my opinion is it wasn’t great value.
One sweet shop that may be worth a visit though is the Candy Cow. They make their own fudge, and you can try before you buy. They also have a selection of chocolate that is of equal quality of what you can get at the Margaret River Chocolate Shop but a lot cheaper.
Once you have eaten and drunk your fill around the wine region you can relax at one of the many lovely beaches. Margaret River is known for their surf beaches but there are also a number of quiet beaches where you can spend the day relaxing or perhaps having a picnic accompanied by your favourite wine!
Food wine, surfing or relaxing The Margaret River is a beautiful region to spend some time.

Gnarabup Beach
Relax at the beach after a hard days wine tasting

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