Superintendent, Inspector, pioneer and rescuer of shipwrecked survivors

I’ve been to Caloundra with my kids, losing ourselves for hours on the endless sandy beaches, being swallowed up by the waves as we glide and crash ourselves to shore in our best version of boogey-boarding or quietly observing the still rock pools. But I didn’t head to the pandanus tree monument in Queen of Colonies Parade at Moffatt Beach. I should have because I … Continue reading Superintendent, Inspector, pioneer and rescuer of shipwrecked survivors

Happy 151st Anniversary H.M.P.E. St Helena!

The prisoners on board the hulk ‘Proserpine’ thought they were building a Quarantine Station in 1866. Little did they realise that they we constructing the very walls that would be required to keep them safely incarcerated far from the general public of Brisbane. At this time, the Queensland Government was looking for a place to place prisoners from the overcrowded Brisbane Gaol. Placing the new … Continue reading Happy 151st Anniversary H.M.P.E. St Helena!

A diary account of the slave trade

The role of a pioneer Water Police officer in Brisbane in the 1860’s was never highly defined I suspect. Rather, whatever situation arose on a body of water, the Water Police were asked to attend. James Aird, newly appointed Water Policeman in 1863, (and later Warder on St Helena) first showed me this in his diary. As a member of the water police he also … Continue reading A diary account of the slave trade

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

When death changes history

Two deaths permanently changed our understanding of the many chapters of St Helena’s history. The arrival of Elizabeth Crompton’s death certificate and the obituary of her son Thomas did not fit into any known history of St Helena Island. Elizabeth’s death certificate revealed she had died and was buried on St Helena Island in 1865, as mentioned last week in ‘3 graves that can’t be found.’ … Continue reading When death changes history

5 graves that can’t be found

It’s lucky that there are two researchers in our team, because when one brain forgets, the other one takes over. After reading yesterday’s post, 3 graves that can’t be found, Lauren reminded me of a story that she knew of via another writer of Brisbane’s history. Historian Liam Baker has written a story of his ancestors “The Downfall Creek tragedy: a Brisbane murder lost to … Continue reading 5 graves that can’t be found

3 graves that can’t be found

Last week’s post ‘Robinson Crusoe on a Quarantine Island’ piqued a lot of interest. Perhaps people who know Moreton Bay can’t quite fathom how tiny Bird Island could possibly support 300 people, let alone a graveyard. Perhaps it’s the ‘Dark tourist’ in us that is fascinated by sites of death, particularly those where there is a mystery attached! The greatest mystery was presented to Lauren … Continue reading 3 graves that can’t be found

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