An exhibition examining the confronting history of the incarceration of Aboriginal people in WA opens today at Fremantle Prison.

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Painful history revisited
Aboriginal children and staff at the Moore River Native Settlement in 1930. Picture: Fremantle Prison

An exhibition examining the confronting history of the incarceration of Aboriginal people in WA opens today at Fremantle Prison.

Historic photographs show inmates at Fremantle Prison, Rottnest Island and Roebourne Gaol, as well as children incarcerated at the Moore River and Carrolup native camps.

There are also artworks by Aboriginal artists created while they were at Fremantle Prison, neck irons from Roebourne Old Gaol and rules from the Rottnest Gaol.

Aboriginals were sent to Fremantle Prison as early as 1856.

From the 1950s until 1991 between 30 and 40 per cent of prisoners in the jail were of Aboriginal descent.

Fremantle Prison also ran the infamous Rottnest Gaol and about 3700 Aboriginal prisoners were sent to the island.

The Wadjemup (Rottnest) to Walyalup (Fremantle) exhibition is at the prison gallery until July. Entry is free.

Aboriginal prisoners in chains outside Roebourne Gaol in 1896. Picture Fremantle Prison