Queensland’s Ned Kelly imprisoned at St Helena Island

Strength of character often means having qualities such as resilience, determination, consistency, focus and passion. If this definition is applied to many of the prisoners within the St Helena Penal Establishment, many of them clearly display strength of character. Prisoner Walter O’Hara had all the above qualities, giving him every opportunity in life.   I believe if Prisoner Walter O’Hara’s drive, tenacity and determination was … Continue reading Queensland’s Ned Kelly imprisoned at St Helena Island

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

The good oil – St Helena olives

I remember being on St Helena Island in the late 1990’s, when an olive expert gave advice to severely prune the trees in the olive grove. These had been growing without any expert tree care for around 80 years and were huge, rambling, messy things that still bore fruit and thrived no matter what. Ranger Paul brought out the chainsaw and did as was advised… … Continue reading The good oil – St Helena olives

Endings and beginnings – Part 2 ‘Exciting 2019’

You know it’s the beginning of a new year when there’s school age children everywhere you go, and the Australian Open tennis is playing and it’s Australia Day. For The St Helena Community, the new 2019 year hasn’t seen us reclining on a banana lounge. In fact, we’re hard at work building and creating projects that were only a thought bubble a year ago, and … Continue reading Endings and beginnings – Part 2 ‘Exciting 2019’

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.’

The desert dwelling Heathcocks

ST. HELENA PENAL ESTABLISHMENT. PRISONERS FED ON SOUR GROG, CONFINEE’S COMPLAINTS. The instructors are supposed to be tradesmen when they are appointed, yet there is the warder/baker instructor who came to St. Helena in April, 1913… Then the sour bread started, and since last year there has been more sour and raw bread than ever has been known in the history of St. Helena… It … Continue reading The desert dwelling Heathcocks