When is a tree a herb? Behold the Bella Sombre.

Oozing out of the ground like a volcanic eruption is a fabulous, bizarre and unique tree. Except it’s not a tree, it’s really more a herb due to its herbaceous ancestors. It can grow up to 18 meters tall and have a huge umbrella shaped canopy, but its branches are spongy and easily broken. Welcome to the Bella Sombra tree Phytolacca dioica. If you’re looking … Continue reading When is a tree a herb? Behold the Bella Sombre.

Sounds of St Helena Island

Whilst on the island a few weeks ago, a pair of sea eagles came to greet us one afternoon.  Paula Peeters, busy sketching the bamboo stand, heard them calling and looked up into one of the hoop pines to see both sitting perched facing each other.  As a devoted bird lover, Paula automatically recorded them calling. Have a listen to her video: Perched high in … Continue reading Sounds of St Helena Island

Bamboo and butter – sketching the Superintendent’s Garden

The garden of the superintendent is one of the finest in Queensland. It is not large, but the collection of useful and ordamental trees is rich and varied; and the place is kept in splendid order. The cocoanut and English oak, and scores of trees of less extreme qualities flourish there. Mr. M’Donald and his good lady have a keen sense for plants of every kind that have … Continue reading Bamboo and butter – sketching the Superintendent’s Garden

What do a Carceral Archipelago, Bella Sombre tree, Moreton Bay convict and St Helena Island have in common?

There are times in our life when the stars align and everything happens just the way it should. This happened last week on St Helena Island, when historians, writers, artists, rangers, educators, authors and researchers got together to capture some of St Helena’s magic.  The loveliest aspect was that as a community we were so diverse, yet so driven by the same passion for the … Continue reading What do a Carceral Archipelago, Bella Sombre tree, Moreton Bay convict and St Helena Island have in common?

St Helena’s Hungry Jacks

Last week, I mentioned the return of McDonald’s to the island, a significant and exciting time and we certainly got a response from you all! In an effort to not show bias towards any particular fast food chain, today’s story is about Hungry Jacks on St Helena Island. Hungry Jack was on the island in 1868. And he caused issues. The stories captured by this … Continue reading St Helena’s Hungry Jacks

An Abundance of Oysters and a Load of Lime

I remember the boat in Moreton Bay in the late 1990’s, still chomping away at the coral reserves on St Helena Island, near Green Island. These were boats from QCL – Queensland Cement Limited, originally known as The Queensland Cement and Lime Company. They were doing what had been done there since the 1860’s, gathering coral and shells to make lime for cement. Operating in … Continue reading An Abundance of Oysters and a Load of Lime

Story of a landscape

I’ve written a lot about the clearing of the island during the first few years of the prison’s establishment. So today I’ll just post up some interesting paintings, drawings and photographs taken at various times in the island’s history, and your eyes can note the vegetation, the built and natural features and the changes over time. Each image is amazing in its own right. Seeing … Continue reading Story of a landscape

The last of the Tulipwood

Lauren was recently contacted by descendants of Warder Andrew Craigie, a warder appointed to St Helena Gaol on the 19th November 1867.  The conversation goes a bit like this: (Craigie) …have stories but don’t know what is true or false. (Lauren) We’ll try and sort it out…. (Craigie) … family has some wooden chests made from timber on St Helena. (Lauren) OMG! Do you have … Continue reading The last of the Tulipwood

Whittling away the hours

If I asked you to describe a wooden inlaid box, it might not be something that you can automatically envision. Nowadays, fashioning 2000 individual pieces of timber into an aesthetically beautiful and appealing pattern atop an ornament or furnishing is not how many of us commonly spend our leisure time. But on St Helena Island, the very earliest warders created their own unique pastime to … Continue reading Whittling away the hours

3 Scottish men and a world of adventure

Only a few people knew Samuel Olson at the end of his life. They described him as a crotchety and suspicious man, stone deaf, surly and living the life of a hermit in his home in Highgate Hill, Brisbane. (1) This was a long way from his beginnings on St Helena Island. According to the 1864 census, 12,551 people lived in Brisbane, Queensland. (2) By now, Brisbane … Continue reading 3 Scottish men and a world of adventure