St Helena Island free eBook

Our first eBook is finally available! This year has seen a lot of “firsts” – setting up the ‘St Helena Community’ blog, finding new stories, including original sketches of nature on the island and finally discovering new historical research focussed on the St Helena Island prison. I’m excited to constantly explore new means of recording and sharing information, and this week it’s no exception. On … Continue reading St Helena Island free eBook

Sounds of St Helena Island

Whilst on the island a few weeks ago, a pair of sea eagles came to greet us one afternoon.  Paula Peeters, busy sketching the bamboo stand, heard them calling and looked up into one of the hoop pines to see both sitting perched facing each other.  As a devoted bird lover, Paula automatically recorded them calling. Have a listen to her video: Perched high in … Continue reading Sounds of St Helena Island

Bamboo and butter – sketching the Superintendent’s Garden

The garden of the superintendent is one of the finest in Queensland. It is not large, but the collection of useful and ordamental trees is rich and varied; and the place is kept in splendid order. The cocoanut and English oak, and scores of trees of less extreme qualities flourish there. Mr. M’Donald and his good lady have a keen sense for plants of every kind that have … Continue reading Bamboo and butter – sketching the Superintendent’s Garden

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

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

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

‘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

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