Top 5 historical gems you must visit in Western Australia

From colonial haunts to moving WW1 memorials, these historical hot spots will bring WA's colourful past to life

4 mins

Fremantle Prison ( Prison (Shutterstock)

1. Fremantle Prison

If you arrive in Perth by ship, you will disembark in Fremantle. A short walk from the docks is the old, and now disused, Fremantle Prison. Several tours are available, each showing off a different aspect of the gaol. 

The ‘tunnels tour’ is a must if you are up to a bit of ladder climbing. It explores the water access tunnels dug by early convicts. The tour even includes a short underground boat ride. My ‘must do’ is the ‘torchlight tour’. A tour of the prison at night, complete with a few scary surprises. It’s a spooky excursion but a fascinating look at life in the historic prison. Top it off by standing in awe in the gallows room. More information

James Street (Creative Commons: Gnangarra)James Street. Guildford (Creative Commons: Gnangarra)


2. Guildford Historic Precinct

Further up the Swan River sits the town of Guildford. Guildford is one of the earliest settlements in the region. 

At its heart today is the Heritage Precinct, run by the Swan Guildford Historical Society. Looking back at early settlement times, a guided tour includes the Guildford Gaol and an example of colonial living with Taylor cottage. 

The museum collection in the courthouse includes garments, tools and all manner of essential items from the era. It is a real step back to Victorian times in Australia. More information

Hotham Valley Railway (Creative Commons: Nachoman-au)Hotham Valley Railway-Wizards Express (Creative Commons: Nachoman-au)

3. Pinjarra Historic Town and Hotham Valley Railway

A couple of hours south of Perth is the town of Pinjarra. There, the Edenvale Museum provides a great look back at life in the colonies in the eighteen hundreds. A home, schoolhouse, and farm machinery take you back to a simpler, but harder, way of life. 

While in the area take a short drive to Dwellingup, home of the Hotham Valley Railway. Take a steam train trip over the Darling ranges (May to Oct), or arrive on a Saturday night for a dinner trip aboard the Etmilyn Diner. The dinner trip employs an 1894 dining car and an earlier 1884 club car. Real colonial rail history. More information

National Anzac Centre (National Anzac Centre)
The exterior of the National Anzac Centre (National Anzac Centre)

4. Albany National Anzac Centre

Further south (about five hours drive from Perth) is the historic town of Albany. The recently opened National Anzac Centre is the pride of the region. Over 41,000 Australian and New Zealand soldiers departed from Albany when they shipped off to the First World War.

This memorial invites the visitor to follow one of over thirty selected soldiers through their wartime experiences. It includes documentation, pictures and personal reflections from the encounters. It is a moving experience, not solely for those with Australian and New Zealand ancestry, but for anyone whose ancestors lived through the horrors of WW1. More information

The Amity (

5. Brig Amity (Albany)

On Albany’s waterfront is a replica of the Amity. This vessel plied the waters around Australia during the first half of the eighteenth century. While a little earlier than the ‘Elderslie’ described in On Track for Murder, it provides an enlightened insight into conditions at sea in those early days of colonisation.

With realistic looking model sailors and believable sound effects, this is a true representation of sea travel from the era. I love to pause and imagine how tough life would have been on board such a vessel. 

tephen Childs is the author of On Track For Murder, a historical novel set in Western Australia. It is available online from retailers including

Main image: Old lighthouse keeper's house in Albany (Shutterstock)

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