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About St Helena

Park alerts

No current alerts for this park. See alerts for all parks.

Getting there and getting around

St Helena Island is 7km north-east of Manly, a suburb of Brisbane, and 45 minutes by boat. Regular ferry services depart from Manly and New Farm. See the tourism information links below for details. The Moreton Bay Environmental Education Centre operates its own service to the island for school groups. Book through the centre—contact details are listed under tourism information links.

Private boats may be moored off the island. Consider the tides when anchoring in shallow water.

The southern corner of the island is open to the public without a tour guide. The rest of the island, including the prison ruins, is a restricted access area and entry is by guided tour only.

Wheelchair accessibility

There are wheelchair-accessible toilets on the island. The grassy paths and crushed coral roads around the island are not easily accessible for strollers or wheelchairs. Contact the park office for further information about accessibility.

Park features

St Helena Island National Park contains the ruins of the State's first penal settlement, which operated here from 1867 until 1932. Remains of the prison stockade include the bakery, workshops and underground tanks. Beyond the stockade are the stone ruins of warder accommodation, a sugar mill, lime kiln, jetty and Queensland's first tramway. The vegetation today is an interesting mix of the original vine forest, remnants of beautifully landscaped gardens, and former crops such as olive trees.

Middens and shell scatters show that for thousands of years, Aboriginal people visited the island seasonally, harvesting flying-foxes, dugongs and shellfish.

Wetlands around the island are a haven for migratory wading birds. The surrounding waters are protected in Moreton Bay Marine Park.

Camping and accommodation

Camping

There is no camping at St Helena Island National Park.

Other accommodation

There is a wide range of holiday accommodation in Brisbane. For more information see the tourism information links below.

Things to do

Guided tours and events

The Go Back in Time program provides exciting and innovative ways to visit and experience some of the premier heritage sites in Moreton Bay. A wide range of activities and events are available, including annual festivals, cannon firings and guided tours of colonial prisons, forts and quarantine stations.

The program has a strong educational focus, with many activities using theatre-in-education techniques designed to fully engage students' imagination. To ensure a high quality program, all activities and tours are accredited and developed in conjunction with Education Queensland.

For contact details for all tour providers see the tourism information links below.

Walking

Short walking tracks to several historic sites at the southern end of the island are accessible without a tour guide.

Access to the restricted area, including the prison ruins, is by guided tour only.

Picnic and day-use areas

A picnic area with toilets, picnic tables and a shelter shed is provided on the southern end of the island. Information on guided tours, walking tracks and access restrictions is available at the shelter shed.

Things to know before you go

Essentials to bring

It is recommended that visitors bring a hat, sunscreen, walking shoes, insect repellent and drinking water.

Opening hours

The national park is open during daylight hours—camping is not permitted.

Permits and fees

According to tour operators.

Pets

Domestic animals are not permitted in St Helena Island National Park.

Climate and weather

The Brisbane region enjoys a mild, subtropical climate. The average daily temperature range is 22 to 30 degrees Celsius in summer and 12 to 22 degrees Celsius in winter. For more information see the tourism information links below.

Fuel and supplies

There are no supplies on the island. Fuel and supplies are available in Brisbane. For more information see the tourism information links below.

Staying safe

For your safety and to protect the ruins, please stay behind the rope barriers. Please read the guidelines on safety in parks and forests.

Looking after the park

Your help is needed to preserve the park and historic ruins for generations to come. Please follow these guidelines while visiting the park.

  • In order to preserve the historic sites, access is restricted to some areas of the island. Fines apply for entering the restricted access area without a tour guide.
  • Help to protect the fragile ruins. Do not touch any structures, as the rock crumbles easily.
  • Everything in the national park is protected.
  • No rubbish bins are provided. Take your rubbish home with you to help keep the island free from pollution.

See Caring for parks for more information about protecting our environment and heritage in parks.

Park management

St Helena Island National Park, established in October 1979, was Queensland's first historic national park. The Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service works toward preserving the ruins and artefacts from further degradation and accurately presenting the park and its history to visitors.

A Management Plan for St Helena Island National Park will be prepared in the future.

Tourism information links

For all educational enquiries, please contact:

Moreton Bay Environmental Education Centre
www.moretoneec.eq.edu.au
PO Box 373, Wynnum QLD 4178
ph (07) 3906 9111
fax (07) 3906 9100
email

For more information on St Helena Island, please contact:

Queensland prison and Penal History Association
www.qppha.com.au

Brisbane’s Living Heritage Network
www.brisbanelivingheritage.org

For more information about activities, tours and accommodation in the Brisbane region, please contact:

Brisbane Visitor Information Centre
www.visitbrisbane.com.au
Queen Street Mall, Brisbane QLD 4002
ph (07) 3006 6290
fax (07) 3006 6250
email

For tourism information for all regions in Queensland see Queensland Holidays.

Further information

Contact us

St Helena Island National Park
PO Box 293, Wynnum QLD 4178
ph (07) 3393 4647

Last updated
30 January 2017