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Media Release
Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell

1 August 2005

Fremantle Prison WA's first National Heritage listing


One of Australia's most significant and intact convict sites, the former Fremantle Prison in Western Australia, has been officially recognised for its outstanding heritage value with inclusion on the prestigious National Heritage List.

It is the first place in Western Australia to be listed and joins 13 other important heritage icons, including the Sydney Opera House and the location of James Cook's first steps on Australian soil, Kurnell Peninsula on Botany Bay.

Making the announcement today, the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, said Fremantle Prison stood alongside Port Arthur on the National Heritage List as one of the most important convict sites in Australia.

The prison also would be included in an Australian Government serial nomination of convict sites for inclusion on the World Heritage List.

"Convicts who were sent to the Australian colonies for punishment played a major role in our nation's early development, bringing skills, strength and spirit to a new homeland. Although they did not come by choice, they helped build a nation," Senator Campbell said.

"Fremantle Prison is an important part of their story. Western Australia was the last colony to receive transported convicts in a period that reflected changing attitudes in Australia and Britain about the use of forced labour as a basis for expanding the Empire.

"The prison was built by convicts from limestone quarried on the site and the structure remains remarkably intact. Many of its features, such as the main cell block, perimeter walls and cottages, are virtually the same as when they were first constructed in the 1850s."

Senator Campbell said other aspects of the six-hectare site, including tunnels, graffiti-marked walls, murals and signs, provided tangible links and insights into convict and prison life in the 1850s through to 1991 when it ceased to be a prison.

"By including Fremantle Prison in the National Heritage List, I am ensuring that this place will be protected for future generations under the Australian Government's Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999," he said.

"Once a place of incarceration, Fremantle Prison is a now a popular tourist destination. It is a powerful and evocative place that stands as a testament to our nation's early years."

Places listed on the National Heritage List must be of outstanding value and importance to the nation as a whole. More than 94 places have been nominated for listing, including many natural, Indigenous and historic sites. For more information on the National Heritage List visit: http://www.deh.gov.au/heritage/national/index.html

Media Contact:
Renae Stoikos 02 6277 7640 or 0418 568 434

Commonwealth of Australia