Wanted: Water Police Warders

Employment opportunities 1864: Brisbane Water Police – Variety of positions Two boats’ crews, each numbering five men, including the coxswains. Report to Mr John McDonald, Inspector of the Water Police, Port of Moreton Bay Requisite personal skills:  Flexibility to work at any hour of the day or night. Be prepared to reside aboard the Prison Hulk ‘Proserpine’ at the mouth of the Brisbane River. Ability … Continue reading Wanted: Water Police Warders

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

Robinson Crusoe on a Quarantine Island.

You probably saw the fascinating article this week about research into people buried on Mud Island in Moreton Bay. This could not have arrived at a more opportune time, as over the last few weeks Lauren and I have been researching a previously unknown death and burial on St Helena Island (more on that next week!) Added to that, our old friend Warder James Aird – … Continue reading Robinson Crusoe on a Quarantine Island.

1 night and 21,000 years on Stradbroke Island

Minjerribah is the indigenous name of Stradbroke Island in Quandamooka, or Moreton Bay, Queensland. I’ve heard it means ‘place of mosquitoes’ and there is many a night that will reveal in full force the appropriateness of that name. But I’ve also heard it means ‘place of the sun’ in the Jandai language and that’s totally appropriate too. Middens on the island indicate the presence of … Continue reading 1 night and 21,000 years on Stradbroke Island

The oldest continuous culture in the world today

This week’s fortune was to take a tour with an Aboriginal guide, Ben, in the Botanic Gardens. He spoke sincerely and passionately about our obligation to care for the land “When we take care of the land, the land takes care of us.” He also spoke of his pride in being a voice of all that had been before him; strong, determined people, their connection … Continue reading The oldest continuous culture in the world today

‘Book of Past Scenes and My own experience Among Blacks In the Wild Bush of Australia’

Eating possum and kangaroo would have been as far removed from Warder James Aird’s 22 years of life in Scotland as could possibly be imagined. On arrival in Brisbane in 1864 – as one of the men in ‘3 scottish men and a world of adventure,’ – James Aird found himself in a wild, strange frontier into which he unhesitatingly threw himself into.  James had … Continue reading ‘Book of Past Scenes and My own experience Among Blacks In the Wild Bush of Australia’

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