St. Helena Island’s Programs

St Helena Island is Queensland’s most historic island. This beautiful National Park is located four kilometres from the mouth of the Brisbane River and became Queensland’s first jail in 1867. The Island is rich in Australian history and has a fascinating and colourful past.

Here at the St Helena Island Education Centre we can provide five different tours of this colonial prison island. Be assured that all tours are conducted by National Park accredited St Helena tour guides*.

The educational tour options are as follows:


In the heart of Moreton Bay there lies an Isle

Whose ruined walls tell a tale of suffering and woe For these walls were once cells and this island a prison

Students encounter John Oxley escorting Governor Brisbane up river in 1824; John Finigan attempting to return to Sydney town in 1823; and a new migrant looking for work in 1953!

In 1997 professional actors were engaged by A B Sea Cruises for training as accredited tour guides by the MBEEC. These actor-tour guides (ably led by Daley Donnelly who has had considerable experience in the use of theatre in education in the UK) have developed a unique form of historical interpretation. Using participation, role and drama conventions the actor-tour guides bring to life St Helena prison in the year 1904.

Your students become engaged not by a series of facts and figures alone but by history itself! Witness your students participate in the unfolding drama, as they learn through their interaction with ‘people from the past’.

Your students become engaged not by a series of facts and figures alone but by history itself! Witness your students participate in the unfolding drama, as they learn through their interaction with ‘people from the past’.

CLICK HERE for comments by teachers that have undertaken an in-role tour. On some days we can provide a tour conducted in part by a Theatre Troupe member and partly by a guide who can present a tour with greater depth of historical information and/or trained in the natural features of the Island.

SOSE Table

St Helena Island’s history is inextricably linked to the human use of land. 2,700 years of Aboriginal use left St Helena ecosystems intact but with just 65 years of European land management, it suffered from intensive agricultural activities, over-use of groundwaters, rogue flora and feral fauna. Preserved forever now as a National Park, your students will see nature’s response to these ravages.

The Island sits in the Moreton Bay Marine Park which is under threat from a rapidly burgeoning population on its foreshores. St Helena is the closest island to the Bay’s biggest pollutant, the Brisbane River. It is also an important bird roosting site and attracts over 80 species of migratory waders annually.

Students will gain an appreciation of bio-diversity, apply the ecological footprint and take the steps to sustainability. Students will participate, receive meaningful messages and take away suggested solutions.

Tour content has been vetted by National Parks and Wildlife and the MBEEC. Eco guides have excellent knowledge of the environment and are also comprehensively trained in the history of the Island. Teachers will have the opportunity to discuss their needs and the tour content with the Eco guide prior to the visit.

Tours are available that combine elements of both the Ecotour and In Role History tour.

Note: These tours will concentrate on the environment and students will see, but not enter, the prison stockade.

To link to the site for the Wildlife Preservation Society of Qld (Bayside Branch) click on the following:

Wildlife Preservation Society of Qld (Bayside Branch)

SOSE Table

We can combine elements from some of our other tours to suit teacher’s varying educational objectives.

We have been told by some teachers that it would suit their educational objectives more closely if we could combine the elements of ourIn-Role History Tour with the topics from our Ecotour. We are able to do this with groups of 60 or more and can include specific tour components and topics of your choice.

There are no tours of St Helena Island that captivate the attention of your students more than our Historic Spotlight Tours at Night!

Departing Manly at dusk, students arrive at the Island after nightfall where St Helena Theatre Troupe members conduct a tour, walking through the darkened National Park to the Prison Settlement and ending with a visit to the Cemeteries. There is less of a view than with the day tour, but a lot more atmosphere!

A night tour is a great way of avoiding the heat and discomfort of summer.

Spotlight Tours run for four hours, can be conducted on any night of the week all year round. Depending on the time of year, return to Manly is usually between 9.30 and 10pm. As well as an educational tour in their own right, they have become very popular with schools on camps and as a year end activity.

For a small extra cost, supper or dinner can be provided.