Recipe for an excellent exhibition launch

Snuggle up in the egg chair to begin the Virtual Reality journey into a digital St Helena Prison Stockade.


100 history lovers, many talented Qld State Archives staff, St Helena Community members, Qld Parks and Wildlife Rangers.

Equipment required:

The latest digital technology including a 3 Dimensional model of the St Helena Prison Stockade, Virtual Reality Headset, gaming controls, Digital Touch Table and TV screens.

QSA lauch Digital Touch table
Manipulate the digital Touch Table  to reveal all aspects of the history, people and stories of St Helena Island.


Friday 22nd March 2019 


Prepare equipment well ahead of time, i.e. approximately 18 months. Turn up the heat a few weeks before to add extra flavour, colour and intensity. 

Mix all ingredients together immediately as they blend easily.  Let the mix bubble and froth by itself – no further effort required until Morning Tea when a sprinkle of biscuits and tea is all that is required.

Cook for 2.5 hours to allow browsing, speeches, food, conversations and interaction with displays to be completed.

QSA lauch crowds
Well over 100 people attend the Birdcage of the Bay launch. Standing room only!

Of course, I’m not far from accurate here. What a fabulous day to launch an excellent St Helena exhibition ‘Birdcage of the Bay.’ It was standing room only as people came together to admire the display in the foyer of the Qld State Archives. It was also excellent to see people trying the new 3D digital walk through in the prison stockade, via gaming controls, watching the videos and finding great information and images via the digital touch table.   

QSA launch Phil and 3D stockade
Qld State Archives Project manager Phil Manning offers advice on ‘walking’ through the stockade via gaming controls. For some it’s easier than for others!

Lots of praise has to be sent the way of Phil Manning the Project Coordinator, Lauri the 3D digital expert who started the whole idea and who gave us such an amazing, innovative way to interact with history and St Helena, Elysha the event coordinator and Chris the film man who did such an excellent job of the videos. If you haven’t headed down and you want to look, I highly recommend it. You have until September!

QSA launch Belinda speech
Belinda Daly, St Helena Community, contributor of much of the historical research material for the exhibition.

I got to stand up and speak at the official celebrations, and I can’t remember what I said, but at least I was enthusiastic and passionate. (I was called a ‘treasure’ at the end, which I will take as a compliment!) But enthusiasm was a part of everyone else in the room, as after the speech was over myself and Lauren were mobbed with people wanting to find out more about St Helena Island and their particular area of interest.  Personally, it was amazing to realise how many people in the room had a personal connection to St Helena Island in some way and also how equally passionate they are about the island.

Some, like Timna, were people who had made enquiries about her ancestor Warder Ben Rudhall, and it was lovely to put a face to the email! Many others were new faces with new enquiries that we will be following up. Still more were part of ongoing workshops at Qld State Archives that will be occurring while the exhibition is running until September, so keep a look out for those.

QSA launch Belinda Lauren Daley
Ranger Daley Donnelly, Lauren Penny and Belinda Daly all feature in the videos within the exhibition, where we share our stories of the the island’s history.

If anyone didn’t get to speak to us, please email via this site and we can take things from there. And if I handed you my contact details, just email and we and begin your search. But beware! There’s now a cue of excited people so please be patient.

Birdcage of the Bay logo

Featured Image: Keys from St Helena Penal Establishment, on loan from the Royal Historical Society of Queensland.

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