Eagle Farm Women's Prison

Project Type: Non-Aboriginal (historic) Cultural Heritage Assessment and Management Plan
Client: Tradecoast Central
LGA: Brisbane City, QLD
Everick commenced preliminary archaeological investigations at the former Women’s Prison site at Eagle Farm in 2005. The site was established as an outstation of the Moreton Bay Penal settlement in 1829, with the intention of making a major contribution to food production for the settlement. The initial male prisoners were replaced at Eagle Farm by female inmates by the mid 1830s, but site closed shortly after in 1839. The area was soon taken up for agriculture and the prison buildings were eventually demolished .In the early 20th century the Eagle Farm area began to be used for aviation, albeit in a limited capacity. With the outbreak of World War II, Eagle Farm developed into a major airfield, which was subsequently enlarged and upgraded in the 1950s. The airport closed in 1988. Despite a wealth of historic documentation, very little was known about the extent of the site which may remain intact. Early indications from the results of geotechnical testing indicated that the site had been buried beneath 250mm of fill, including asphalt layers of former airport runways and tarmac.

The objective of the investigations was to determine what and how much of the fabric of the original convict site remained and re-evaluating the cultural heritage significance of the site in the context of any material remains located. An addition focus of the excavations was to formulate appropriate strategies to document the site and to design appropriate mitigation measures. The works undertaken by Dr Richard Robins and Associate Historian Thom Blake included:

  • research and reviews of existing literature
  • archaeological excavations;
  • site recording and documentation;
  • artefact analysis and cataloguing; and
  • preparation of a Historic Cultural Heritage Assessment. 

The investigations determined that some fabric of the original site remains. This site, while still a protected heritage area, has been incorporated into a historic precinct as part of the Tradecoast’s Development Plans for the site. The site is now a park, and artefacts from the excavation have been incorporated into an innovative display centre designed to showcase the history of the site.

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