“We could go anywhere, we were only youngsters. We couldn’t go in the stockade, but if there was a warder with you, you could go in. My father’s job…at 9 o’clock at night, he used to go in to the prison and make sure everything was locked up and under control, and I’d go in with him sometimes… we’d go in the front Number 1 … Continue reading ‘We could go anywhere here, we were only youngsters.’ Bob and Fred Murrie.
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
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
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
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
“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
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
The count down is on until we grace the volcanic red soils of St Helena Island! Next week, we’re bringing a posse of people there to gather new and exciting images and information, that will provide the fodder for months’ worth of blogs. Lauren and I are ready to take lots of photos to go with the stories we have planned. My cousin Paula Peeters, … Continue reading What do you need to know about St Helena Island?
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’
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