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St. Helena Island History Tour

Home > Brisbane > Boating | Escape the City | Tours | Walks
by Di Hill (subscribe)
I love writing, taking photos, travelling and enjoying life. I have a BA of Adult and Vocational Teaching and a Master of Arts (Writing). My business card says Writer, Traveller, Camera Addict, and Bamboo Fan www.dihill.com.au
Published July 15th 2021
The dark history of Brisbane
Just a short distance from the mouth of the Brisbane River sits St Helena Island a place of interesting Queensland history for it was the site of the colonial penal settlement between 1867 and 1932. The island is dotted with the remains of buildings of the prison. There are several boat tours to the island. I went with friends on the Cat O Nine Tails, which leaves from the William Gunn Jetty at Manly.

We chose a brilliant day to venture to the island despite it being mid-July it was pleasantly warm, the waters of the bay were calm, and there were no winds. The trip over to the island was pleasant and great for any budding camera addict. Sea birds love sitting on the rails of the jetty on the island, but they must have seen the boat coming, as they had flown away by the time we disembarked, but returned later, until we did!

St Helena Island, Cat O Nine Tails, Moreton Bay, history, prison,
Birds on the Jetty


It's quite a walk around the island to see the various places of interest - so wear comfortable walking footwear. Our Tour Guides told the stories of the island, the stories of the prisoners, life on the island and the long and fascinating history.



There was a large group of primary school students that initially made us concerned about how they would behave, but they were wonderful. They went on a slightly different tour to us - and towards the end participated in some role-playing, which we all enjoyed!

St Helena Island, Cat O Nine Tails, Moreton Bay, history, prison,
Old Prison Buildings


The island itself is very green and healthy looking. We didn't see any of the resident wallabies, but we knew they had done the tour earlier in the day!

St Helena, Swimming Pool, history, prison
Swimming Pool on St Helena


We learned of the connection of Napolean Bonaparte, the French Emperor and the island in Moreton Bay. We heard the stories of the prisoners on the island, visited the gravesites of prisoners and those of the women and children who died on the island.

cannon, St Helena, history
Historic Cannon - Great Story


There is so much to learn and the tour guides told so many stories, and it inspired me to do further research when I returned home. There are many sites online to continue your learning, and of course, visit a Brisbane City Library to source written words on this interesting history.
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Why? Explore historical Queensland prison island
When: Various Times
Phone: 1300 438 787
Where: St Helena Island, Moreton Bay
Cost: Various
Your Comment
These dark places from our past can be so interesting. It was pleasing to hear that school students were being taken to see things like this.
by Gayle Beveridge (score: 3|8441) 11 days ago
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