Image Sketch of Moreton Bay penal settlement, 1835 - item 2

TLF ID R8609

This detailed pencil sketch, attributed to Henry Boucher Bowerman, depicts Moreton Bay (Brisbane) penal settlement from present-day South Brisbane. The panoramic landscape view takes in the river in the foreground and existing government buildings necessary to a convict settlement, spread across the land behind. The buildings, including the commissariat store and the Commandant's house behind, are interspersed with fields and narrow dirt roads. A sailing vessel towing a tender is shown travelling up the river in the right foreground.

Educational details

Educational value
  • This is one of the earliest views of Brisbane from the south and forms, with other surviving drawings attributed to Bowerman, an almost complete picture of the penal settlement in 1835. Named after the governor of New South Wales in 1824, it housed secondary offenders - those who had re-offended while serving their original sentence at Port Macquarie, NSW. Moreton Bay was opened for free settlement in 1842, three years after the penal settlement closed.
  • The river was crucial in the final selection of the site for the penal settlement as it provided a means of transport, safe anchorage and fresh water. The drawing shows the town's location on a pocket of land with the river on three sides, which meant that anyone crossing the river could easily be sighted and stock contained. In addition, Indigenous groups, who had been a constant concern at the earlier sites at Redcliffe and Breakfast Creek, were not apparent.
  • The sketch shows some of the substantial buildings for storage, work and living that existed at the time. The gabled building in the left middle ground was the convict barracks. It was later used as the first Parliament House and then as the Supreme Court, before being demolished in 1880. The original commissariat store on the right and the windmill (which had a convict-driven treadmill at one time) on the hill at the left, still exist today.
  • The buildings depicted in the sketch indicate that authorities intended the settlement to be self-supporting. The first buildings were of slab and shingle, but the addition of a blacksmith's forge, carpenter's shop, sawpit, quarry and brick kiln resulted in more permanent brick and stone structures from 1826 under the direction of Commandant Logan (1791-1830). Seeds, trees, livestock and some skilled convicts had also been sent in the first cargo to establish farming.
  • Although the settlement is depicted as pleasant and pastoral, it was in fact notorious for excessive punishment and disease, particularly at the time of Captain Logan, who was murdered in 1830. The isolation of Moreton Bay was intended to control re-offending convicts and reform them through strict discipline, hard labour and harsh living conditions, but drought and increasing numbers of arriving convicts made difficulties for the settlement.
  • Henry Boucher Bowerman (1789-1840), to whom the drawing is attributed, served as deputy-assistant commissary-general at the Moreton Bay convict settlement from 1831 to 1835. His detailed and precise artwork was often used to accompany official reports. The commissariat store was used for the procurement, supply and distribution of essential goods and was sited by the Brisbane River to allow for the easy transfer of goods.
Year level

F; 1; 2; 3; 4; 5; 6; 7; 8; 9; 10; 11; 12

Learning area
  • History
  • Studies of society and environment

Other details

  • Author
  • Person: Henry Boucher Bowerman
  • Description: Author
  • Contributor
  • Name: State Library of Queensland
  • Organization: State Library of Queensland
  • Description: Content provider
  • Address: QLD, AUSTRALIA
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  • Name: Education Services Australia
  • Organization: Education Services Australia
  • Description: Data manager
  • Person: Henry Boucher Bowerman
  • Description: Author
  • Copyright Holder
  • Name: State Library of Queensland
  • Organization: State Library of Queensland
  • Address: QLD, AUSTRALIA
  • Publisher
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organization: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Description: Publisher
  • Address: VIC, AUSTRALIA
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  • Resource metadata contributed by
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organisation: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Address: AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
Access profile
  • Colour independence
  • Device independence
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Learning Resource Type
  • Image
  • © Education Services Australia Ltd and State Library of Queensland, 2013, except where indicated under Acknowledgements