Friday, September 28, 2007

Good excuse

Not blogging today. Just finished a great steaming pile of work and am about to go off for a liquid lunch with a mate.

After said lunch we will pour ourselves into the back of a van, giggling like fucktards, and be driven off for a Mystery Tour of the Hunter.

And it's a long weekend and all so come back on Tuesday.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Feast of flowers

Spring sprung a week or so ago. A few photos collected on brief respites from working and a few from last year. All are flowering right now.

Cherry blossoms

Pink cherry blossoms against the dark grey of the branches and the blue sky.


Taken at some flower show in Sydney. Proteas mostly, though that looks like it might be a yellow waratah in the left foreground there.

The big one like a pink fence around a white dome is a King Protea.

The small red one behind it is an Australian native. Weird bugger it is too, not a flower as such, just the last dozen leaves on the branch go red and have a stamen as the branch's final point. The yellow one on the left edge of the photo is the same thing only yellow.

Big Pink Flower

Another type of King Protea. Taken last year in Pearl Beach. Big bugger, as big as two fists.

White & pink bush

Charming flowers on a small bush at a block of flats somewhere on the Peninsula.

Purple & white daisies

A carpet of purple and white daisies. Love them.

Bank of pink azaleas

Azaleas. They're going a bit berserk on the Peninsula right now. Great heaps of them glowing in the morning sun.

Jasmine is going berserk as well, cascading over weathered wooden fences in a most delightful manner. The wisteria is just starting to come into bloom. Can't hardly wait for that. One of my all-time favourites.

Melaleuca flower

Could be Melaleuca squamea. "Erect shrub or small tree to 3m high with corky bark" says the book. Couldn't see the bark but the rest fits.

Grevillea acanthifolia or hookeriana

Grevillea acanthifolia or hookeriana. One of Device dear's favourite weirdo flowers.

Golden grevillea flowers

Its golden cousin.

Gymea Lilly

Gymea lily. This particular one is from West Gosford and fared rather poorly in the big storms of July. This is its before photo.

Speaking of sexy beasts

Gorgeous woman down at Whatsit Street this morning. A strapping lass, voice like steam train. She was ticking off this guy on her mobile, boyfriend or something and clearly a numb-nuts. He'd buggered up and she was giving him hell, pointing out his faults for the world to hear. I heard her from two blocks away and inside a shop and she wasn't even yelling, just raising her voice a bit and calmly listing his inadequacies. If she'd yelled they woulda heard her in Tassie.

From a girl like that, a knock-back would be almost as pleasurable as a shag.

Maybe she was having a go at the drug-fucked pisshead rail workers who appeared on YouTube. One of them appears to be from Umina.

Monday, September 24, 2007

On the inside

(Freo Prison again. Loved that place.)

Prisoner art Fremantle Prison

In the final year of the prison's life (1990) the prisoners were allowed to paint on their cell walls. These paintings area all prisoner art and it will come as no surprise to you that every single painting is of an outdoor scene.

Prisoner art Fremantle Prison

Prisoner art Fremantle Prison

Convict art Fremantle Prison

These drawings are from the colonial period. In the post-colonial period the cell was used as a broom closet. The drawings were found when a patch of paint was accidentally knocked off. There's Perspex over the walls now to protect the drawings from the grubby paws of tourists.

Convict art Fremantle Prison

The cell once housed a convict who had been trained as a commercial artist. 19th century commercial art training involved drawing certain classics over and over until you got them right.

Convict art Fremantle Prison

There in his cell he drew from memory, using whatever he had that would make a mark. How he kept the drawings hidden is an unsolved mystery.


Went off yesterday for a end-of-Dr-Who-season barbie and got a wee bit smashed and sunburnt. Other than that I've been head down arse up since I got back working. Another long day of it tomorrow then there might be a day or two off.

Bungalow alert

Railway Street Woy Woy

For sale. Railway Street Woy Woy. Dunno if it's been been sold yet so be quick. And if you buy it then do evil renovations to it, I know where you live.

Friday, September 21, 2007

On the outside

(Back to the nick)

Gatehouse & exterior buildings Fremantle Prison

Gatehouse of Freo Prison flanked by lovely old buildings used as housing for Governor, sky pilot, Surgeon and whatnot.

As they came up the hill towards it, prisoners can't have failed to notice the contrast between the bare stone of the gatehouse and the limed and painted buildings on either side of it.

Exterior building Fremantle Prison

All the exterior buildings of the prison were lovely. Their architectural style is Victorian Georgian (circa 1840-circa 1890) and the red-and-white theme is classic Freo. I love the simplicity of this style and I've always loved the red-and-white look of Freo.

They're all government buildings still, except the B&B on the end I think. They're now used by crowds like Greening Australia and other government sub-departments. And they've got a lovely view from the 1st floor of the footy oval (directly opposite across the road) and out to sea (Gage Roads).

Exterior building Fremantle Prison now a B&B

Former prison officer housing at the end of The Terrace and the Knutsford Street/The Terrace corner of the wall. Now a B&B. Would be a pretty good place to stay in Freo. Nice and leafy and 2 blocks from the action. Not bad inside neither.

Exterior building Fremantle Prison

The Surgeon's house, up the Fothergill Street end, where Moondyne Joe got out, next to the old stables. That's the old stables to the right.

The Surgeon's house is not limed or whitewashed like the ones up around the gate and you can see the beautiful golden colour of the aging limestone. The green on the veranda is the British Racing Green usually associated with Federation buildings.

Couple more photos

Ta, Michael for inspiring the title of today's post. Nicked it out of the theme song to that old Prisoner show off the telly. My Nana was addicted to that crap fine piece of televised socio-anthropology.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Mucking out

Prisoner intake Fremantle Prison

The indignity starts here.

Get yer gear off, stand on the H and grasp yer knees while the warder puts the latex glove on.

This is the intake area of Freo Prison, built in the 1940s, used until 1991.

Your particulars were taken down, you were photographed, made to strip, cavity searched, deloused in the showers through that white door on the right, issued a green shirt and trousers and a slop bucket, and banged up.

(The bloke in the Driz-a-bone is the tour guide. And an otter*.)

Division interior Fremantle Prison
Interior of One Division or Two Division

Muster was at 7AM. You had 15 minutes to get dressed, grab your razor and your slop bucket and stand by your door.

Prisoners' cell toilets Fremantle Prison
Left to right: 1850 to 1960s, 1970s, 1970s to 1991.

Yer looking here at the toilets used by convicts and prisoners in Fremantle Prison from its opening 1850 to its closing in 1991.

The one in the middle is a chemical loo, introduced in the 1970s. Wasn't a huge success. The prisoners either smashed them up or drank the chemicals.

After the fiasco of the chemical toilets in the 1970s, it was back to the bucket system. The only upgrade was from metal to plastic.

You and yer slops bucket and water bucket spent 14½ hours of the day and night together in a cell, and God help if you pissed in the wrong one at 3AM.

Division 2 Yard Fremantle Prison
Division Yard

After muster you marched into the division yard with your razor and slops bucket, emptied the bucket into an open drain and had a wash and a shave.

The yard was where you stayed all day, rain hail and blazing bloody heat. In the yard there was an open drain. You emptied yer slops in there and it was also the daytime dunny. Buckets were cleaned by the new guy.

This is Two Division Yard, dining room and outdoor bathroom. You spent your day in it with around 100 other men plus one warder in that mesh cage in the back right hand corner.

The roof wasn't added until the 1980s or '90s so you got wet in winter and roasted in summer. Behind the camera are the drinking trough, the open drain-cum-toilet, the slops buckets cleaning spot and the wrecked plumbed dunnies of the 1970s.

Other than your morning shave and wash behind the earholes at the trough, you got 3 showers a week, in one of them big open-plan tiled mass shower thingies. Like the one on Oz but with half-wall stalls. Mind you, 3 showers a week was a fucking luxury compared to the convicts, they got a bath once a week. Christ.

1970s portable chemical toilet Fremantle Prison

In the 1970s portable chemical dunnies (toilets) were put in cells and plumbed dunnies were built in the yards, against the back walls. Trouble was the prisoners either rammed things down them, smashed them up or, and I'm quoting the guidebook here, "drank the chemicals". Hopefully before someone had weed---I think we'll stop that train of thought right there!

So the cell dunnies were confiscated, the yard dunnies were stopped up with concrete and the slop buckets re-instated until the prison closed in 1991.

The plumbed dunnies in the yards had half-doors. This was so the warders could see if there was one bloke in there or two or three. But of course if the bloke in there stood up, another bloke could easily reach over the top of the door and give him a hand. Thus proving that horny blokes with time on their hands are more inventive than blokes who design prisons.

In the women's part of the prison, which housed up to 16 prisoners, things were about the same. Except that some prisoners were pregnant when they came in so you had stinking nappies and screaming sprogs to add to the delights of being banged up. After a bit the babies were taken away and handed over to relatives of the prisoner or made wards of the state.

Yard Warder's loo Fremantle Prison

Warders on duty in the main yard were allowed to pee. Provided they didn't take their eyes off the prisoners. So their loo was in the middle of the yard and had windows all round. On the other hand it had shelter and shade and wasn't a bucket. Sheer luxury.


Some poor bastard fell off Woy Woy railway platform on the weekend. "He was struck by a southbound freight train moments later and killed instantly," says Central Coast Live.

18 years old. Jesus. My sympathies to his family.

* Otter. Hairy bloke. Related to bears. Bears are chubby hairy blokes. But not all chubs are bears. Otters are never chubs but always bears.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Sexy beasts

"Other guest stars in Torchwood's second series include former Buffy and Angel star James Marsters whose character is set to have a "horny and violent" sexual encounter with Captain Jack..."

Welcome back, sex drive! Albeit briefly.

And while we're on the subject of shagging, I wouldn't mind being in the middle of a Doctor/Jack Harkness sandwich, or a Jack Sparrow/ Elizabeth Swan one, or a Brangelina one for that matter.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Freo Asylum

Yep, while I was in Freo I visited my father in the nut-house then I visited another nut-house just for the fun of it.

Fremantle Lunatic Asylum cnr Finnerty Street & Ord Street Fremantle

Fremantle Lunatic Asylum. Started, finished and used in July 1865, finished up as a nut-house when the last of the nutters where transferred to the Claremont Hospital for the Mentally Ill.

Built by the same convicts who built and lived in Freo Prison. Local limestome used again, architecture style Victorian Tudor/Dutch Colonial (circa 1840 - circa 1890). Same as the old Fremantle Boys School below.

Fremantle Lunatic Asylum cnr Finnerty Street & Ord Street FremantleFremantle Boys' School Adelaide Street Fremantle

Same architectural style, same convicts. Freo Boys is the one on the right.

It's on Adelaide Street in Freo, opposite the Catholic church, right in Freo.

Freo Boys was built in 1854 and finished up as a school in 1958, with the last of the students from there and the girls' school new door (Princess May) sent off to new John Curtin High School up the road. (John Curtin was named after Australia's wartime Prime Minister.)

Freo Boys was also requisitioned during the way, by the navy. Freo was felt to be under threat from the Japanese forces and the students of Freo Boys and Princess May were shipped off to schools in the suburbs.

Back to the Asylum

The first official nutters in Freo were ten convicts. They were shifted from the nick to Scot's Warehouse in November 1857. Can't get any info on Scot's Warehouse but ten bob says it was some old wreck of a building down near the harbour.

The Asylum was only used as a nut-house for 40 years. There was a couple of suspicious deaths in the Freo Asylum in the early 1900s and that seems to have been the catalyst for closing it down. A nice new building with a less forbidding name, the Claremont Hospital for the Mentally Ill, had been built in the suburbs and the nutters were all shifted there from 1905 to 1909.

Fremantle Lunatic Asylum cnr Finnerty Street & Ord Street Fremantle
Inner courtyard, Arts Centre half

1909 to the outbreak of WWII in 1939 the old Asylum was a homeless women's shelter. In the war it was the HQ of the American forces in Australia "during which time the majority of the complex fell into disrepair".

Fremantle Lunatic Asylum cnr Finnerty Street & Ord Street Fremantle
Back of the Arts Centre, used as the logo of the Fremantle Arts Centre Press

After the war it was used for this, that and the other until it restoration started in 1970. Since then it's been housing the Fremantle Museum & Arts Centre. They've got half each, with the old cell and the haunty bits being mainly in the museum's half.

Haunty bits

Someone called Scotty puts it succinctly: the "Old Fremantle Asylum [is] reputably haunted as fuck."

Mainly it's the old cell and an upstairs passageway in the museum part and the big painting studio upstairs in the arts centre part.

You go up this endless fucking staircase to get to the painting studio. Haunted Australia tells us the staircase induces feelings of dread in some people and the ghosts are a former inmate bunged in there by her husband for no good reason and a former warder.

Fremantle Lunatic Asylum cnr Finnerty Street & Ord Street Fremantle

The passageway is the territory of the former inmate. She's supposed to have jumped out of an upstairs window and killed herself after her baby was taken away from her.

When I was a wee thing rumour had it there was a poltergeist who moved stuff about in the storage room next to the studio. On a primary school excursion to the museum we were allowed into the old cell. Predictably, the door shut of its own accord and one poor bugger wet his pants. (I swear it wasn't me!)

Freo Museum
WA Register of Heritage Places
Publicly available records on the Freo Lunatic Asylum

This morning was shit for photos and pretty ordinary for walkies. This afternoon is shaping up nicely. Nice bit of wind and the sky's clear at the moment. It's s'posed to blow a gale. I'll be out in it pretending me balcony is the prow of the Titanic.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Nick

Fremantle Prison entrance
(Fremantle Prison entrance)

Did a tour of Freo Prison while I was in Freo last week. It closed as a prison in 1991 and opened again in 1992 for tours and stuff.

It was used as a nick for nearly 140 years. Convicts built it in 1850s. It was a limestone hill. They had to quarry the limestone by hand then build their own prison out of it. Talk about yer cruel and unusual punishment.

However, this limestone was pretty soft as rock goes, as Moondyne Joe demonstrated in one of his escapes.

Moondyne Joe
(Only known photo)

Moondyne Joe was a bushranger. He was born in Wales about 1827, transported in 1853 and carked it in 1900. He stole horses and chooks then gained greater fame as an amateur escapologist.

He escaped 4 times from Toodyay nick (pron. Too-jay) then got transferred to Freo and bunged in a cell made specially for him. We looked in it on the tour. Lined with jarrah (very hard Australian wood) and a jarrah door and all of it with iron studs driven in every few inches. Get out of that you scoundrel, said the Governor (words to that effect anyways), and I'll pardon you.

Righto! says Moonie and starts planning escape number 5. Then the Guv goes and helps him by setting him to breaking rocks up in the corner near Fothergill Street with a warder watching him.

Thing is, the rocks he breaks aren't taken away every night. Fresh ones are brought every morning and he's made to stand in the same place every day, on the pile of rocks he's reduced to rubble. This goes on for a bit and the pile of rubble gets higher and higher and eventually all the warder can see of Moonie is his hat. But he can hear him whacking away at the rocks and that's enough to know he's still there.

Fremantle Prison wall The Terrace nr

Thing about that is, the rocks he's breaking up are the same rocks the wall is made of. You know where this is going right? Yep, Moonie starts whacking the wall between whacks of the rocks. The wall's a few feet thick but Moonie's got arms like a fucking blacksmith after a few months of whacking rocks and he covers the hole up at night and starts on it again every morning.

So the inevitable happens one day. The whacking stops. After a bit of grumbling the warder clambers up the pile of rubble and there's Moonie's hat perched on the end of the sledgehammer, a hole in the wall and Moonie's buggered off.

He was out for two years that time but eventually got nicked again breaking into a wine cellar. Of course he said to the Guv, you can't hold me you bastard, you said I'd be pardoned if I got out of that bloody cell. Yeah but, says the Guv, you didn't get out of that bloody cell, did yer? You got out through the bloody wall so it doesn't count! Sucks to be you, huh?

No more escapes this time. He sat there like a good boy until they let him out in 1871. Then he went straight, worked as a carpenter and got hitched. But there was no happy ending for Moonie. His missus died in 1893 and he went into the poorhouse (home for the destitute) then off to Freo Asylum just up the road from the nick. He popped off in there in on August the 13th 1900.

Moondyne Joe at the Australian Biographical Dictionary (Straylyan version of Who's Who)

Freo Prison's website

Monday, September 10, 2007


Last month my father moved into a small but well-upholstered room in a Home for the Incurably Bonkers.

In his last few months of freedom he made some peculiar financial decisions. One of these was buying a swamp. It's worth a tenth of what he paid for it. The bloke who sold it to him is not afraid of letters from solicitors (lawyers) and possesses many fine examples. I went over to look the bastard in the eye and inform him of my intention to pursue the matter till hell freezes over.

Hopefully that'll be the end of it. Flying back and forth across the country on tedious legal errands does not thrill me to the core. Let's look at some of the photos I got while I was there.

Xanthorrhoea spikes

Xanthorrhoea AKA grass tree.

We had one of these in the backyard when I was a kid. Ours must've been impotent or summat because it never flowered, poor bugger.


There you go. Can't remember if this was two very close together or one with a double trunk.

Base of Xanthorrea flower

Base of flower in amongst the leaves.

The flower spikes are anything from a metre to 3 metres long, usually about 2 and as thick as a can of Red Bull. They look soft but are really hard and prickly. Green means they're not in full bloom yet. They go soft and creamy yellow when they're in full bloom.

The spines (leaves) are about a metre long (3 feet), 3-6mm wide (1/8th inch), easy to snap, diamond-shaped in the cross section. A handful makes a great whip but you get yer eye poked out reaching in to break them off.

Trunk of the Xanthorrhoea

Fallen trunk of a Xanthorrhoea. Glorious colour inside, no? It's hollow up the middle and made of strange flat spines.

Couple more Xanthorrhoea photos

Kangaroo paw flowers

Kangaroo paw flower. Anigozanthos manglesii its proper name is. Grows to about knee height and in small clumps.

Kangaroo paw flower

The red and green one is the most sought after. There's a yellow one as well. The texture is soft and velvety.

Blue sky this morning and a bank of grey cloud coming over now. The kookaburras were laughing again. My inbox is full of improbably named persons who want to tell me their volume exploded and a mate sent this amusing photo of two cocks and a ball.