Queensland’s Ned Kelly

Walter O’Hara seemed destined for a life of crime from his early years.  He is understood to have spent 6 or 7 years at the Lytton Boys Reformatory and had previously been an inmate at the Nudgee institution for a short time.  During his 1889 criminal trial, he stated that it was “his intention to outrival the doings of Ned Kelly, as he was convinced … Continue reading Queensland’s Ned Kelly

The Wild Scotchman Part 2

St Helena Penal Establishment – Misdemeanors and Punishments   12 April 1870: Attempted escape. Punishment: James McPherson, Ross and Dyball were given 1 month’s solitary confinement while Howard, Gray and Devitt were given 25 lashes. 8 3   It seemed that James McPherson and his fellow escapees were to be punished in a way that would send a strong message to all other would-be escapees. … Continue reading The Wild Scotchman Part 2

The Wild Scotchman

James McPherson was an apprentice stonemason to the renowned Petrie family in Brisbane and a horsebreaker in Queensland in the 1860’s¹, but quickly realized the career of a bushranger would lead to a far more adventurous and colourful life.  Having not been paid for his work, and James took revenge by stealing two horses and headed to New South Wales, joining bushranger Gardener’s gang at … Continue reading The Wild Scotchman

Recipe for an excellent exhibition launch

Ingredients: 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. Time: Friday 22nd March 2019  Method: Prepare equipment well ahead of time, i.e. approximately 18 months. Turn up the … Continue reading Recipe for an excellent exhibition launch

St Helena Island Prison – Birdcage of the Bay

“Liberty is sweet. If you open the cage door, the bird is sure to fly out.” So said Frederick Hamilton, St Helena Penal Establishment prisoner and would-be escapee. He certainly flew… well, paddled at least, first in a bathtub and then a makeshift raft on his way to Fisherman Islands and ultimate freedom. With 200 yards to go, he nearly made it. The St Helena … Continue reading St Helena Island Prison – Birdcage of the Bay

Endings and beginnings – Part 1 ‘Amazing 2018.’

    There’s been a bit of a break since my last post. 2018 has ended and 2019 has begun in between that time, so I’ll devote this post to ‘endings and beginnings.’ Let’s celebrate the great things we have done last year and give you a little taste of the amazing things ahead for the St Helena Community in 2019. Last year marked the … Continue reading Endings and beginnings – Part 1 ‘Amazing 2018.’

World War 1 Soldier, St Helena Warder and St Helena Prisoner

Ludwig Leichardt Rowe was not the relative of Australia’s inland explorer Ludwig Leichardt, just his namesake. He was a St Helena and Boggo Road Prison Warder, a World War I soldier, a Policeman, a farmer, labourer and a driver, but he was dismissed from all his positions. He was a drifter. His wife called him a ‘rotter’ and a ‘cove who was always being sacked.’ … Continue reading World War 1 Soldier, St Helena Warder and St Helena Prisoner

‘Trooper’ Hills – one of the last men standing on St Helena Island

If people know you as ‘Trooper’ and not Frank, then your life’s work is already preceding you. There’s a fair few life-long soldiers in the ranks of the Soldier/Warders at St Helena Penal Establishment, with Frank ‘Trooper’ Hills being the prime example. Here’s a man who fought in both the Boer War and World War I and then came back to become one of the … Continue reading ‘Trooper’ Hills – one of the last men standing on St Helena Island

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

The first escape from the first family

History – it’s all in the detail. When reading the stories of St Helena, I look for the small, personal or unusual details that seem out of place in the broader account. These anomalies are the windows that allow me to glimpse the untold stories of the lesser known people. Today’s example includes an escape in 1866 that was announced by two tablecloths and a … Continue reading The first escape from the first family