Penal Colony

Convicts arrive

Brisbane

Watercolour painting of early Brisbane in convict days, 1835. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, Australia.

In August 1825 the barque Lalla Rookh brought the first 28 prisoners sentenced to Moreton Bay. They landed at Amity Point on North Stradbroke Island and ferried passengers and stores ashore in small boats. The convicts were serving a range of sentences, mostly three years, including runaways from Port Macquarie. One was a lifer.

Botanist and explorer Alan Cunningham noted the work was harder in Moreton Bay than Norfolk Island, because of the summer heat. All work was done by hand. There were no beasts of burden to lighten the load, even though Logan asked for 30 bullocks to set up a farm at Oxley Creek, 14 kilometres upstream, where he said there was ‘an extensive and fertile plain’.

Logan worked the men hard in the fields in an effort to increase maize production, their staple food. It was not the corn we buy now, but a hard, unpleasant ground meal. The convicts didn’t like it but it kept them alive. 

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