On Friday 28 July, Year 4 students visited the St Helena Island prison in Moreton Bay, where they took on the role of inmates for the day. On arrival at the Manly wharf, we were all greeted by the staff of Cat-O-Nine-Tales tours, who had adopted the roles of prison warden, guard and prisoners. They immediately lined up our Year 4 prisoners and guided them onto the ferry, which then transported us to St Helena Island.
We toured the island in class groups, gaining valuable insights into life as a prisoner in the 1800s. The remaining structures allowed us to envisage the cramped, smelly conditions in which prisoners lived. The tour included visiting the remains of barracks, kitchens, exercise yards, the store shed as well as a museum. A solemn part of this experience was visiting the graveyards. It was interesting to learn that while life was hard and the working day was nine hours, prisoners were taught trades at which they became very skilful. Goods produced were sold and the prison ran at a large profit.
As part of the explanation of punishments, Kye Belloff was given the opportunity to demonstrate whipping with a cat-o-nine tales. This he did with great gusto. Special mention should also go to Avalon Pease, who took on the role of prisoner 31’s wife. She used her dramatic skills to model visiting rights given to prisoners’ families.
It was a fabulous day of fun and learning, greatly enhancing students’ knowledge and understanding of our HaSS topic, To the Ends of the Earth.
Amanda Wallis, Caitlin Sterry, Dana Anders and Robert Timms - Year 4 Teachers