I’ve been a busy little bee the past couple of weeks. Working hard on getting some ticks on the board and pushing myself through the latest challenge in the Challenge Series. I did make the big call last week that I was aiming for 3 more ticks before the year is out…. I’ve also been dared to try and push it to 4…. But hey…. Baby steps. I’m good with 3! I’ll see.
So on that note I guess I should announce….
Oh yes, another big fat tick on the path to my thirties!
Yesterday I completed the Fremantle Prison Tunnels tour.
Initially I put this on the list because I have been wanting to go and do it for the past 11 years since it opened, yet haven’t driven myself the 30 minutes to go and bloody well do it! One of those “If I put it on the list then I’ll actually do it” type things. Little did I know that I was going to be a lot more challenged than I initially expected. This keeps happening…
I woke up late Monday morning after a post night shift nap and we were off on our merry way. A little fatigued but excited none the less. When booking, the prison warn you about medical conditions, issues with confined spaces and other mumbo jumbo. No concern, she’ll be right! Right…
We have a pretty hilarious guide named Tristan who makes the experience almost a game with all his terrible dad jokes and epic side burns. Shout out to Tristan! We are run through safety and historic videos and then we suit up! Oh yes, there is a sperm suit.
None of the talk of the 20 metre descent to the tunnels has clicked with me. Obviously we have to get down there some how… Maybe I’m trying to ignore the idea of it? Maybe I’m magically no longer an acrophobe (google it)… I guess I imagined a narrow tunnel ladder to get down… No way to fall… I don’t know what I expected to be honest because as soon as I saw the actual ladder we were going to go down, I started contemplating how much of a good idea this really was! Turns out I am actually pretty terrified of heights… AKA acrophobia… Thankful that me and my other half were going down together, facing each other, I made the move, all harnessed up, to the ladder.
I deliberately don’t look the entire way down, but the very art of getting on to the ladder sideways, with a fear of heights, is, erm, interesting. My feet feel like lead and certainly don’t want to drag off of the steel beam that my right leg is on or off the metal grate under my left. How the hell do I get my hands to a point where I am climbing down a ladder when the hand rail is there and my feet are here… I’ve got to let go of something…. What do I let go of first…? Foot? Hand? Ugh!
A little panic sets in!
Every single muscle in my body is on high alert. I can feel the palms of my feet and hands sweating with nerves. I am holding the rungs so tight I am almost rigid. I make my way down ‘foot foot hand hand foot foot hand hand’ stopping on every single rung with both feet before attempting the next. Within the first few steps my little train thing (I wish I could remember the name of this excellent safety device but I cannot, the little thing that connects my harness to the ladder…. Anyway…) gets caught and I feel tears well in my eyes at the idea of having to take a hand off of the ladder to get it moving again! It seems I got the dodgy one that catches every couple of rungs, either that or I am simply descending too slow and rigid and scared…. The encouragement of the man in front of me and his help to free up the little train along the way help me make it to the bottom. Hands calloused tremendously from clinging on for dear life. “Wow I know you said you didn’t like heights, but I didn’t realise it was so bad” he says. Ha! Well, now ya do.
Knowing that I’m going to have to ascend the ladder back to the surface at some point, I contemplate how liveable these tunnels are just in case I chicken out… That’s a problem for future Erin. Off we trot.
You look around the inside of the tunnels and straight away you can tell this was the work done by hand. Pickaxe and manual labour. Prison labour. It’s fascinating to learn about the when and the why of the tunnels, and the prison in general. These guys had it pretty damn rough. The tunnels having been built for fresh water in a time when it was scarce. Well, actually lets be real, this is Australia and fresh water just isn’t very plentiful. These prisoners built the tunnels ad pumped the water. By hand. One man working in such extreme conditions lost his life doing the job. Insane. Many others got sick and injured no doubt!
To get around the tunnels on foot you’re crouched down and watching out for your head. Mine having made contact with the ceiling of the tunnel too many times to have kept count! Pretty thankful for the hard hats when you’re as uncoordinated as me! 11 years in the mining industry and this is the first time I’ve ever actually had a use for the hard hat on my head!
You row yourself around the watered parts of the tunnels pretty much just around in circles. Is pretty incredible to see the crystal clear waters that fill the underground voids down there! The tunnels are so narrow that we ended up giving up with the oars and dragging the little boat along by pulling on the limestone!
A good hour and a bit underground was a good escape from the hot and windy Fremantle afternoon. A bit of a history lesson and an experience you just don’t have everywhere.
Unfortunately the only escape was straight back in to the prison grounds. Looks like I’m climbing the ladder again! It was much less terrifying on the way up! Maybe because there was a light at…. Never mind.
Anyone living in Perth who hasn’t done said tour, I absolutely recommend!!! The heights and claustrophobia is real though, the warnings are legit, be mindful! If you’re an entertainment book holder you’ll get 25% off. We didn’t realise this until after we booked, ameteurs, worth it none the less.
On that note there is of course photos and bad hard hat hair, it happens. Unfortunately you can’t take your cameras down the hole, that just adds to the enjoyment of being in the now, I think. You’ll have to settle for me looking excellent in coveralls. Oh yeah!
So what does one do after they’ve ticked another one off the list? Head straight to the new licenced Bathers Beach in Freo of course, Australia’s first licenced beach. Why the hell not!
7 down, 3 in progress, 3 booked in for the coming months…. It’s looking damn good! My mind skips ahead over the list and I realise there are a good few more heights related items on there….
Climbing Gloucester Tree.
This fear of heights had better piss right off then!!
Until next time xxx