Multi-million dollar prison makeover unveiled


Fremantle Prison has been on UNESCO’s World Heritage List since 2010. Image: Provided by Fremantle Prison.

Fremantle Prison will undergo a $12.6m makeover to secure the World Heritage Listed building’s future.

As part of the 2022-23 budget, set to be unveiled in June, the state government is also seeking matching funding from the Commonwealth.

Heritage Conservation Manager Luke Donegan said the funding is necessary to maintain the building.

“We’re dealing with major drainage issues and roof plumbing issues, the more moisture there is in the building the faster it deteriorates,” Mr Donegan said.

Along with the necessary maintenance, the funding will go towards fixing up the carpark and ensuring the site is accessible for people with disabilities.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the Fremantle Prison recorded 200,000 visitors annually.

That number has slowly been restored during 2021 and even more so in recent months following Western Australia’s border reopening on March 3.

The state government announced a further $12.6 million in funding on top of the $1.6 million already pledged in the 2022-23 budget for “critical maintenance”. Image: provided by the Fremantle Prison.

“There’s been days particularly during the school holidays where it felt like things were getting back to normal,” Mr Donegan said.

Originally built by convicts during the 1850s, the goal’s cash injection will help the site save on future costs down the road and prevent its original structure from further deterioration, officials say.

“It’s really important to get to a point where the building is stable, where you can freeze a building in time. Donegan said.

The state government’s funding boost has called on the federal government to match it, however Fremantle Prison still awaits the confirmed extra funding.

Mr Donegan said the Prison has been asking for the funding for a long time and asking “quite loudly.”

“A place like Fremantle Prison is important because it helps people understand the process and how our nation came to be and what the costs were to indigenous people and other people in our community.”

According to Mr Donegan, an economic study from nearly a decade ago found the site to have contributed around $34 million dollars to the Fremantle economy.

Fremantle MLA Simone McGurk welcomes the funding: “It is so important that we preserve and conserve this amazing place for the future.”