Home of the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron, the Manly Harbour Village overlooks the largest, man-made marina on Australia’s east coast, and is renowned for the quality of its seafood restaurants. On the southern reaches of Moreton Bay, Manly invites you to hop on a barge or hire craft for a spot of whale watching, to hand-feed dolphins, careen down some of the world’s highest sand dunes, or visit St Helena Island. Under the guardianship of the Queensland National Parks and Wildlife Service, St Helena preserves the ruins of a notorious detention centre. Built from a combination of locally-hewn stones and hand-made bricks, the first centre opened as a quarantine station in 1866. Within a year, it had been converted into a colonial prison once damned as ‘the hell hole of the South Pacific.’ At its peak St Helena held 300 prisoners in strict security before it was downgraded to a prison farm in 1921 and eventually closed down in 1933. Seven kilometres off-shore from Manly, the island was Queensland’s first historic national park. Access is by guided tour only.
The Manly area may have been occupied by Mipirimm people. They lived a semi-nomadic lifestyle with several campsites within their area and adjacent islands.
The coast and river provided abundant seafood. Pandanus, bangwall (fern root) and small mammals and birds were hunted, particularly the flying foxes on St Helena Island, where inter-tribal feasts and corroborees appear to have taken place.