During the years of St Helena Island Prison operation only prisoners, guards and their families experienced life in the stockade. Visitors met prisoners in a hot, mosquito-infested building known as the ‘birdcage’. Queensland State Archives have curated an exhibition, Birdcage of the Bay, offering glimpses of life inside the walls of St Helena Island Prison.
The Moreton Bay Environmental Education Centre team were fortunate to go behind the scenes of this extraordinary exhibit. Thanks to Phil Manning for bringing this historic site to life. Birdcage of the Bay uses virtual reality, touchscreens and an escape room to recreate the prison stockade. Original documents and artefacts from the Queensland State Archives collection show the extent of the prison establishment and stories of life as a prisoner.
We look forward to utilising ideas and technology from this exhibition into St Helena Stories. Our Year 5 St Helena Stories program immerses students in a theatre-in-education experience exploring life during the prison years. Stories of prisoners come to life on St Helena Island, allowing interrogation into how societal attitudes influenced the lives of the men incarcerated in the prison.