The Catalpa Memorial
The Wild Geese Memorial commemorates the escape of six Irish Fenian prisoners. The memorial is a statue depicting six wild geese in flight, the design of which was initiated by an Irish-Australian Perth citizen, the late Francis Conlan, whose name is also recorded on the memorial.
At Easter 1876 six military Fenians, political prisoners, escaped from Fremantle Gaol via Rockingham, just south of Fremantle. They were Robert Cranston, Thomas Darragh, Michael Harrington, Thomas Hassett, Martin Hogan, and James Wilson. In 1869, one of these political prisoners, John Boyle O`Reilly, escaped from a gang building the road between Bunbury and Busselton, and got away to America. On O`Reilly`s recommendation, the ship Catalpawas purchased and refitted. Captain George Anthony was a New England whaling skipper. Arrangements had to be made for agents to travel from the United States to Fremantle, to enable them to spend several months preparing for the escape, which took place from Rockingham Beach on Easter Monday, 17 April 1876. The fugitives and their rescuers were pursued by the water police in their sailing cutter and by the armed
pensioner guards in the steamer Georgette, which fired her cannon at the Catalpaeliciting Captain Anthony`s famous response: “That`s the American flag. I am on the high seas. My flag protects me. If you fire on this ship, you fire on the American flag.” Six wild geese had flown to freedom into the west.