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Jen Goes to Prison (Again)

The houses on Tim's farm were all made with bricks actually mixed and fired on the property and there are a couple of the outbuildings that were used for the aboriginals - Tim says that there are aboriginals still living in Brookton that used to live in those buildings. Every bit of this country was hard won and you can't swing a cat without hitting something with a long line of history attached to it. As a Canadian it's a really strange feeling, we've just not been around long enough and we didn't really "utilize" our natives the way the Aussies did.

(Saturday, March 20)

Saturday morning Heidi made us all pancakes with some of the maple syrup I brought from Canada (you know it's real maple syrup when the label is in french and english) and hopped in the car to head down to Fremantle (Freo). We stopped at a roadside fruit market to pick up some things and then headed into Perth to stop at Cottesloe Beach to see the sculptures. I had thought they were sand sculptures but turns out it was more of an art show. Sadly, I did some fucked up thing when I transferred the pictures over to the computer and so lost every single one of them...... nothing really exciting there except for the large blow up sperm... must remember to be more careful in the future so I don't lose any more.

I've decided I quite like 'tours' if only because you learn so much more than if you're just wandering about gawking at everything. One who doesn't want to be a 'tourist' really misses out on all the great history and information. I found that when they asked everyone where they were from, I always made a point of saying WESTERN Canada and the tour guides always made a comment about the French which wasn't my intent really - it's just such a large country I thought I should make the distinction between one side and the other. It may also have been influenced a little by the way the West feels that the federal government discounts us. Regardless, I don't identify with Eastern Canada at all - I am firmly a BC/ prairie girl.

The gentleman who took us on the tunnel tour was fantastic. Not a lot of pictures there either as we weren't allowed to take our cameras down with us. It's surprising, especially here in Western Australia, how much this country owes to the convicts.

Fremantle was just about at the end of their ability to survive when they appealed to the government to send out the convicts who then built the(ir) own prison. At the end of their sentences they were given the option to stay on as part of the community. The prison itself, which we didn't tour, seemed super interesting as well. It did it's duty for the convicts, then became just a regular prison for the locals and was actually operated as such until 2001.

It's of note here to say that one of the guides at the prison was super attractive and had been to Canada, as he put it... where every Aussie goes - Banff. Cause, yanno..... see previous post.

It was stinking hot down in the tunnels, 20 m down, and I had expected to feel a lot more claustrophobic but I didn't notice at all the tons of rock pressing down on us. The tunnels led out past the prison walls and we could hear the traffic above us at one point.

So, back in the day, all the convicts came to this dry stinking hot place, built their own prison and then tapped into the limestone to provide themselves with water. Turned out that there was lots of yummy water down there so they then dug these tunnels to access more of it and ended up supplying the town of Freo as well. We were all togged up in Tyvek suits and went down 20 metres, wandered around a bit and then hopped in little two-man boats to paddle down the tunnels. At one point they turned off all the lights and we floated about imagining what it would have been like to carve these tunnels by hand - solid dark - no ambient light at all - stinking hot, bare feet in water up to the knees for 8-10 hours a day. And to think, Bon Scott could have ended up here (he was processed through the prison but sent somewhere else). I pity the poor bugger who had to spend 12 hours a day at the bottom of the hole hand pumping the water up 20 metres until they got coal -fired pumps.

After coal fired pumps, they switched to electric? and at some point and along the way the petroleum company began using one of the tunnels/pipes to transport their oil. Which of course, eventually leaked into the surrounding limestone and polluted the water. They've found this funky kind of fungus that will eat the petroleum so that's all over the place sucking it up and then it needs to be scraped off but you can still see and smell it down there, floating on the water and leaking out the walls.

You should go look it up on Wikipedia - it's very cool. The walls in the prison around where the pumping systems are have some pretty cool (and pretty old) graffiti on them - the Irish fighters left their mark as well as some other convicts I can't remember at the moment.

Anyways, that's the update of the prison day - we headed home and Yeti bbq'd some lamb chops up for dinner and gave me a demo of his super cool radio controlled car. Of course I'm writing this on March 28th but we went to the prison on Saturday the 20th so currently I am all checked out of the hotel in Brisbane and have foregone my bus reservation to hang about on the deck to catch a ride with Sandy Ghandi - a stand-up comedienne who lives in Byron Bay and who lured me into riding with her by pointing out I could smoke in the car! I've got a couple hours to wait for her to come back from an interview for the paper so I'm endeavoring to catch up on some of my writing as I'm falling seriously behind.

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