In between the mainland and North Stradbroke Island, Moreton’s most famous, are smaller islands laid out across the bay. These islands are close enough to Brisbane that lots of the residents commute to the town on a daily basis.
Coochie Mudlo Island is named after the Aboriginal word for red rock because of the red cliffs .There are sandy beaches too. Coochie has a village feel and calm waters make for a superb family swimming spot and boating area. Dine at Matthew Flinders Cafe and admire bay views from every table. Matthew Flinders landed on the island 200 years ago and there is a re-enactment festival each July. Regular passenger ferry and barge services leave from Victoria Point.
In the Southern Bay Islands, Macleay Island has a population of about 2500. Russell Island is the biggest of the Southern Moreton Bay islands with a population of over 3000 people and is becoming increasingly popular as a weekend retreat or retirement destination. It has shops, a supermarket, and cafe and there are holiday homes to rent and a hotel. You may walk the entire way around Lamb Island as it’s only 2km by 1km but has very large views. Kangarra Island is the smallest of the inhabited islands and is a quiet spot with no shops so go prepared with your individual picnic. There are dozens of smaller islands too which you will notice for those who go boating in the area but be prepared with good maps and safety equipment.
Essentially the most interesting island, historically, is St Helena Island. Once the hunting ground of local tribes, the island took its name from a parallel drawn with the exile of Napoleon Bonaparte to St Helena in the South Atlantic “in 1828 an Aborigine named as Napoleon was dumped here after he became too troublesome for the jail at Dunwich on North Stradbroke Island.
St. Helena was turned into a penal colony, forty years later, when the mainland prison became overcrowded. The Reforests were cleared for lumber and to stop escapes, gardens were planted, and houses were built. Prisoners were taught trades and paid for the work they did. In 1933 the last of the inmates left. During it’s 65 year run only 3 prisoners had escaped. Today, you’ll be able to tour the Island and visit the Deputy Superintendents home, as well because the stone houses that when belonged to the prisoners. These homes have been became museums stuffed with photographs from the prison era.
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