Boggo Road Gaol – A Female Perspective – Number Two Division

A Female Perspective – Number Two Division

Boggo Road Gaol is remembered as a place of punishment for men.  It is true… It was.   But long before men were locked up here in Number Two Division it was a prison for women!

Planning for HM Prison (females) Brisbane (later known as  Number Two Division for women) commenced in early 1901.  It was found that the prisons for females in South East Queensland were suffering from a number of ailments; Overcrowding and poor facilities being the main complaints.

The Fortitude Valley Gaol, Toowoomba Gaol and the Roma Gaol, were old and decrepit, their facilities were simply too small or were insecure.   Ultimately though, it came down to financial reasons.   Repairs and extensions would have cost far more than the construction of an entirely new prison.

It simply was financially more viable too, for the prisoners all to be housed in one, new, modern prison.

Number Two Division, Just prior to completion October 1903.

And so it was, plans were drafted and a tender sought.  Messrs A. Lind and son was the successful bid.   Number Two Division would take some 18, 795 pounds and two years to construct.

Modeled on the already constructe HM Prison (men) Brisbane (later known as  Number One Division for men), it had specially constructed Warder and Wardress accommodation some of which, those of you with a keen eye will still be able to see today.

Wardress Accommodation 1903

Warders Accommodation 1903

Number Two Division was officially handed over by the construction team on the 6th of October 1903.  Sixteen ladies and their wardress Sarah Browne, moved in that afternoon.

In celebration of Queensland Women’s Week and International Women’s Day,  We are delighted to share the stories of Boggo Road Gaol from a female perspective.

This Sunday,  a special tour is being held in honour of Queensland Women’s Week.   A morning tea will be served at 10am with a bargain ticket price of $20 per adult ticket for the 11am History Tour!

So ladies, come along and join us!  Gentlemen bring along the ladies in your lives and lock them up for a couple hours!  This special event is bookings essential as places are strictly limited.

Book here to reserve your place!! You do not want to miss this!!


Can’t make it on Sunday?   That’s okay!  We have an event on Thursday 8th of May for International Women’s Day.

You can book here for that. Places for this event too are strictly limited and bookings essential


This article was contributed by Research Coordinator Sue Olsen as part of the ongoing research program for Boggo Road Gaol Pty Ltd.  The aim of the program is to bring to light and share articles relating to Boggo Road for the purposes of review and study.   Do you have a story to share or something you would like us to know about?  You can contact the research team here


From the Headlines… Leonard Cohen

Do you believe in the Bogey Man?

In the summer of 1933 ,  The residents of New Farm, Brisbane certainly did!  It was in fact… just a man.

Leonard Cohen – International Crook, housebreaker and gaolbird!

This week’s article tells the story of the remarkably bad housebreaker, Leonard Cohen.   The young man from Carlton, Victoria who served a short stint in Boggo Road Gaol!

Leonard  Cohen

Crime :  Housebreaker
Time Served : 13 months
1933 -1934

Admission Photograph – Leonard Cohen – Boggo Road Gaol 1933

Leonard  Cohen

Known Aliases:

Leonard Alexander Cohen, Robert Graham, Leonard Myers, Isadore Alexander Cohen.

Age:   28 Years

Native of:   Carlton, Victoria

Born:    1905

Arrival in State:    1932  Overland

From:    NSW

Trade:    Accountant

Religion:   Jewish

Education:   Read and Write

Height:   5 feet 9 1/2 inches (176cm)

Weight:   10 stone (63.5kg)

Hair:   Brown

Eyes:   Grey

Complexion:   Fair

Build:   Slight

Features:   Birthmark right lower forearm.


For forty- six days in the summer of 1933 New Farm was haunted by the Bogey Man.  Someone or something… was breaking into the homes of the good residents of New Farm and stealing all kinds of possessions.

The intruder completed his task quickly, quietly, while they were sleeping almost like a ghost. The residents were frightened and the police were hot on the trail of “The New Farm Marauder”.  His escapes were not so flawless. He left behind clues to his identity.

It was until the 18th of February when in the middle of the night Albert Klinger of Moray Street in New Farm heard a noise in his living room.   Calling the police, Constable Knitter arrived on the scene and found the cowering Leonard Cohen under the billiard table, clutching two of Albert’s  shirts!

Appearing before the police magistrate it wasn’t long before Leonard admitted to the three incidents in New Farm over the preceding month or so.

The prosecution was not done with him yet; the full career of Leonard Cohen was put on display.  You see… this wasn’t Leonard’s first time in trouble with the law!

Leonard was somewhat of an expert international crook and housebreaker.   Expert in the housebreaking… not so much in alluding capture by the law.


Leonard had a very troubled youth; his parents had a particularly violent marriage.  His mother left when he was just nine years old after an incident left her in the hospital.   A few years later she returned, but again the violence escalated and she left for good. In 1920, they were divorced.

Shortly afterwards, in the end of 1920, Leonard and his father left Australia to go to California… the land of dreams.  Or was it?   It seemed so, certainly at the start. A highly intelligent man, Leonard earned himself a good education and a trade as an accountant.  Perhaps it was the fresh start that they needed.

Four short years later, while living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Leonard found himself in trouble with the law.  He had burgled a home.  The judge wasting no time on the matter sentenced him to 4 years in the local penitentiary.   Three years zoom by, Uncle Sam, Not particularly fond of the young Aussie declares he should be deported at the conclusion of his sentence.  And so it was when released on the 20th of December 1928, after serving just shy of three and a half years he was sent back to Australia.

Admission Photograph -Leonard A. Cohen – Pentridge Gaol June 1929

A few short weeks after arriving home to Victoria,  He again found himself in trouble with the law.  It seems Leonard couldn’t keep his sticky fingers to himself!  Blaming the crimes on his “poor circumstances”  too seems to be a habit for poor Leonard!  Over the next couple months Leonard finds himself sentenced to a total of thirty-three months in Pentridge Gaol!

Again he was released in 1931, Travelling overland via New South Wales, again this time in Singleton, Leonard was in trouble.  This time under another alias Robert Graham!  I am not sure who he thought he was fooling.  His record was displayed before the judge and he received another eighteen more months to think about it.

You would think by now… he might have learned a lesson…  Not quite!

As we know, eventually Leonard found himself in hot water in Brisbane…  Hiding under a billiard table!

And so it was, When the magistrate saw the full list of convictions against him… he frowned… The decision was made. 15 months! With hard labour!  at Boggo Road Gaol!

Perhaps what is most strange about Leonard, Is not his crimes or the fact that he couldn’t seem to keep himself out of trouble!  It was after his release in 1934.  Leonard disappears, completely without a trace.  Perhaps he assumed a new name, or used one of his many aliases.  One thing is for sure. He didn’t grace the courts in Queensland again!  He disappeared… just like the ghost he tried to be while committing his crimes!


So…was Leonard a bad egg?  Or was he a victim of circumstance? That is a question for the ages!  You decide!


Want to know more about what life was like in Boggo Road ?

Well unfortunately we can’t ask Leonard…
he seems to have wandered off somewhere!



But! you are in luck! former prisoner Larry Campbell is on hand this SUNDAY to tell you all about life inside Boggo Road Gaol!

Larry too, was a Break and Enter man!   You can read more about Larry here 

To book tickets for this Sunday’s  Prisoner Tour click here 

Want to take a private group tour with Larry?  You can do that!  Click here for more information.


This article was contributed by Research Coordinator Sue Olsen as part of the ongoing research program for Boggo Road Gaol Pty Ltd.  The aim of the program is to bring to light and share articles relating to Boggo Road for the purposes of review and study.   Do you have a story to share or something you would like us to know about?  You can contact the research team here


From the Headlines…Escape!

Let’s face it. No one really “wants” to go to gaol!

Imagine finding yourself locked up for say ten years… You have nothing but time to think about the outside world and how much you want to be in it.

For prisoners in Boggo Road Gaol nothing could be more true!

Escapes from gaol have made many wonderful Hollywood movies. But they are often stories of true life prisoner escapes from some of the most notorious prisons in the world.

Queensland’s most notorious gaol – Boggo Road – is no exception!

This weeks story is one of the prisoners that the walls failed to hold.  John ‘The Bird’ Dennis.

John Dennis

Crime: Break and Enter (Habitual)
Term : 5 years 9 months



John Dennis  “The Bird”

Known Alias:

Harold Peckman, Harold Bickman, Jack Simpson, John William Dennis, Peckman & Co, Alfred Peckman, Pickman, Kingsbury.

Age: 24 Years

Native of:  New South Wales

Height: 5ft 4 1/2Inches (164cm)

Weight : 10 Stone (63.5kg)

Build: Medium

Complexion: Dark

Hair: Dark Brown

Eyes: Dark Brown

Clothing:  Last seen wearing…Blue serge suit, Grey felt hat with black band, striped cotton shirt, collar and tie and black boots.

Escaped: 30th October 1924



John Dennis, A notorious B and E man from New South Wales with an accomplice had moved to Queensland with the express purpose of ripping off the good people of Brisbane.  He was convicted of seven counts of breaking and entering on the 18th of August 1924, each charge to be served concurrently. In a short four week run, they stole large quantities of valuable jewellery and personal effects, that they pawned.

During the trial John Dennis tried to convince the judge that they were poor and needed to commit the crimes to support themselves.  The Judge having none of it convicted each on the seven counts and declared them both habitual criminals.

Habitual criminals were treated more strictly than other prisoners and are not to be released from gaol until they prove that they have turned a corner into a law abiding life.

After the trial,  Dennis and his accomplice were transported to Boggo Road Gaol via the Black Maria (the usual mode of transport to and from the court) Where they were admitted and locked up in number two division.

Number Two Division Boggo Road Gaol

Shortly after admission, the clerk,  realised that an error had been made.  There was no photograph on file for John Dennis.  This must be amended.   So it was, on the 30th of August 1924 John Dennis under escort from a warder of number two division,  was taken through the visitor gate at the front of the gaol and marched across to have his photograph taken in number one division.  The distance between the two divisions was only short roughly 60 meters.

The ever wily John Dennis, however, had other thoughts in mind.  It was on the return journey that he made a break for it!  Dashing down the gravel forecourt onto Boggo Road, and quickly mixed himself in with the crowd.  The warder quickly attempted to catch him, but unfortunately tripped.  John Dennis had escaped.

For the next eight months, John Dennis nicknamed “The Bird” by the press, eluded the authorities who had looked for him high and low. He hid in Red Hill, in plain sight.  He had a wow of a time! He had drank in pubs, played snooker, visited the cinema and even had a romance with an usherette.

It was on a chance investigation by police that he was taken into custody as “Kingsbury”

Yesterday Dennis was arrested in a house at Red Hill, and he was brought before Mr. H. L. Archdall C.P.M., in the Police Court yesterday, and after evidence of arrest had been given, was remanded for a week.
The charge against him was that on October 30, 1924, in Brisbane, while in lawful custody under sentence of imprisonment, after conviction on an indictable offence, he escaped from such custody.
Detective James Corbett said that at about 7.45 that morning in company with Detectives Maloney, Cahill, and Sergeant Luck, he went to a house in Kew-street Red Hill, which was occupied by a man named Christopher Heidke. They entered the house and found the defendant standing behind the door of the front bedroom. Witness said to him “What is your name? What are you doing here?” The defendant replied “My name is Kingsbury, I’m hiding because my mother and father want me at Rockhampton.” He was dressed in a suit of pyjamas and an overcoat.
He was then taken to the C.I. Branch, where witness said to him “Your name is John Dennis. You are the man who escaped from the Brisbane Gaol last October.” When the warrant was read to him he replied “Yes.”Sub-inspector Head then asked for the remand.

John Dennis was returned to Boggo Road Gaol to serve out the remainder of his original sentence including the time that he was free.

It wasn’t long however,  John Dennis got it into his mind again that he wanted to be free. He had cleverly constructed a ladder made of strips of calico plaited together and a rope made of blankets knotted together. He apparently had secreted a hacksaw blade into his cell.  Using the blade he managed to cut through a one inch thick bar in the window of his cell, pushing it to one side squeezed his tiny frame through the 7 inch (18cm) opening he  had created, and lowered himself down on his blanket rope.  He had done it… or so he thought! Waiting for him at the bottom was a prison officer with a pistol pointed square at his chin.


This was the last of his “Great Escape” attempts.


John Dennis did indeed turn over that ‘new leaf’ .  He was released on conditional parole on the 9th of January 1931.  Having enough of Queensland, he eventually moved back to New South Wales to his family.





This Sunday, come behind the walls and gates and hear about some of the fascinating Escapes from Boggo Road Gaol.  Hosted by Director Jack Sim.

This is a rare treat!  Don’t miss out!  Get your tickets here

Have you visited our Gaol Shop?  Inside you will find loads of wonderful memorabilia.  There are also a number of publications on the Gaol and its prisoners, one of them in particular is a great read  Escape from Boggo Road – Volume 1 written by Director Jack Sim and Author Caroline Stevenson.


Prisoner Stories 2

Larry Campbell

Larry in his twenties.


 Theft, Shoplifting, and Break and Enter.

Cell D10

Larry with his sister. Aged 17

Larry became an orphan at 12 years of age and sent to relatives in Cunnamulla. A fringe dwelling rum drinking lot that gave him life lessons on rebellion. Running wild with young Aboriginal kids he pinched fruit, chooks and anything they could carry.

Larry at just seventeen years old was sent to Boggo Road Gaol. Placed in a cage with the notorious Slim Halliday and killer, Kel Langley( who shot a prison guard outside the gates of Boggo Road Gaol) 

In Gaol Larry received a topnotch education on the art of criminal enterprise. Shoplifter, Car thief, B&E man and eventual Boob Lawyer his inside notoriety bought him to the attention of the renowned ‘Kicking Squad’ after he bashed a prisoner for sexually assaulting a family friend.

Larry as tour guide 2017

Isolated for years after his release Larry was offered an office in the reception centre where he recorded his version of what had happened behind prison walls. After publishing his popular book, THE REAL BOGGO ROAD Larry came to the attention of the Gaol’s current management (Boggo Road Gaol Pty Ltd) and he was offered a position as a tour guide.

The Prisoner Tour has allowed Larry to give a different slant on life behind walls. The cell he occupied is opposite that of the infamous escapee, Slim ‘Slippery’ Halliday.

Larry now an older man is reaching the halls of learning with interested secondary schools and community groups coming to the Gaol  to hear his views on life inside the walls of Boggo Road Gaol. Larry is continuing to write about his time inside Boggo Road; his books can be purchased at the Gaol Shop.



For more information about Larry’s thrilling experiences inside Boggo Road, You can join him on our Prisoner Tour THIS Sunday!

Want to take a private group tour with Larry?  You can do that!  Click here for more information.

This article was contributed by Research Coordinator Sue Olsen as part of the ongoing research program for Boggo Road Gaol Pty Ltd.  The aim of the program is to bring to light and share articles relating to Boggo Road for the purposes of review and study.   Do you have a story to share or something you would like us to know about?  You can contact the research team here



Officers Stories 1 – Kevin Hayden

 Kevin Hayden

  Former Officer

  1976 – 1998

  Boggo Road Gaol

Kevin Hayden graduated into the prison service in 1976… Initially at Wacol Prison,  but soon he was transferred to the trouble filled Number 2 Division  – Boggo Road Gaol.

I started in the service because I wanted better job security and a career.  My father was an officer in the prison service and had encouraged me to apply when my job prospects were not too good.   I worked initially at Wacol Prison and then went on to Boggo Road a little later.

My first impression of Boggo Road was it was an absolute nightmare.  I couldn’t believe how outdated the place was.  The whole place was filthy.  There were rats bigger than cats and Number Two division was just putrid.  There was no sanitation in place there. The conditions for inmates and officers alike was barbaric.  Everyone was frustrated beyond belief.

The trouble there all came to a head in 1988,  and a series of riots took place. These times were the most frightening to say the least. Conditions at Boggo Road Gaol had become unbearable and many officers left the job.  I stay on,  It was difficult.  But it was my job, a job I needed to keep.

After the investigations into the conditions into the gaol.   The report recommended a number of changes and two div was closed for good.

It really was a blessing when the government closed down two division.  At one stage there, there was three inmates in each cell which made tensions very high.  We had rooftop protests, fires and all kinds of  other problems.  It was bad, really bad.

Rooftop Protests

When Boggo Road eventually closed completely,  I went back to Wacol Prison where I proceeded to work my way up the ranks.  In 1998 I decided that my time inside was up.  I moved to the Gold Coast to start a new life. I had officially resigned after 22 years service.

I was proud to have served as a prison officer and made many friends through the job, Officers and Inmates alike. It is a difficult job and sometimes it gets a bad wrap.

Want to hear about what life inside was really like?


Former Officer Kevin Hayden is the guide for our Officer Tour this month!  You can come along and take a tour with Kevin where he will tell you all about his time inside Queensland’s most notorious prison.  These tours are restricted to persons over 15 years.  Some stories may upset or offend younger guests.   For more information please click here

Were you a former officer? inmate? Do you have a story to share with us?  You can contact our research team here




From the headlines…Patrick Kenniff

Patrick Kenniff

Over the past few months we have talked about the bushranger Patrick Kenniff who was executed in old number one division Boggo Road Gaol on 12th of January 1903, 115 years ago this past week.



Patrick Kenniff

This article we share here today outlines the end of the life of Patrick Kenniff but also the extraordinary lengths that the community went to in order to prove him innocent right up until the last moments.

So let’s back track a little…

What happened?

Patrick and his younger brother James Kenniff were charged with the murder of Constable George Doyle and Stationmaster Albert Dahlke at Lethbridges Pocket.

The Kenniff brothers, being expert horseman were also experts at stealing them.   Wanted for the theft of a horse, they were pursued by Constable Doyle, Stationmaster Dahlke and an aboriginal tracker named Sam Johnson.

Corporal Sam Johnson

After days of hard riding, they came across the brothers in camp; where they managed to overpower and arrest them.  Tracker Sam Johnson was sent to retrieve handcuffs from the constable’s horse, when suddenly shots rang out, Sam fearing for his life went off for help.

A later search party found the constable’s horse wandering through the scrub and the burnt remains of the constable and station master in its saddlebags.  The brothers were tracked down again and following a shootout, both were captured and tried for murder.

Throughout the trial Patrick maintained his innocence and was denied his final right to appeal to the Privy Council in London, by the Judge Samuel Griffith.

The day of execution..

A great deal of agitation was going on in the streets surrounding the gaol.  Titters and tatters on every street corner.  By the time the gaol gates were reached there were hundreds of men, women and children waiting for the dreaded moment to arrive.   The Women’s Christian Temperance Union (W.C.T.U) and other religious organisations had tried in vain to secure the commutation of the death sentence.  They too now had to wait.

The Prison Bell Tolled

Patrick was sent to the gallows of Boggo Road Gaol, protesting his innocence to the very last. His final chilling words were saved for one man, the Chief Justice, now Sir Samuel Griffith: “I am as innocent as the judge who sentenced me.” He was swiftly executed by the deathly accurate, Hangman Samuel Hudson.

Just ten short minutes later.

 The gates opened and the Hearse containing the remains of Patrick Kenniff made its way through the crowd.  Some 60 vehicles of all kinds and some 400 people were in the cortege to the South Brisbane Cemetery. Something quite unusual in the respect to the gaol funeral of executed prisoners.  When the cortege reached the cemetery it was found that there were considerably over a thousand people present.  

The Rev. Father Baldwin took up his stand at the grave and read the usual Roman Catholic service over the dead. It was an intensely solemn and-earnest-service, and as the body was lowered into the grave hundreds of the spectators began to weep.

Altogether, it was a most remarkable spectacle, one that has probably never been witnessed here before.

James Kenniff

So what happened to James Kenniff?

James’s life was spared, but he was sentenced to life imprisonment with hard labour; eventually becoming a cook in the prison kitchen. Being released in 1914, he refused visitors and lived out his life alone. Some say he was the one who pulled the trigger. He took this secret to his grave. He was the last bushranger in Queensland.

This story is still one of Queensland’s most enduring mysteries. It is the subject of numerous written and visual publications.  Most recently it was the subject of one of the episodes of LAWLESS a Foxtel Australia Production filmed in part at Boggo Road Gaol.

I link here a number of articles relating to the case for you the reader to peruse and decide for yourself.

Was Patrick Kenniff…Guilty or Innocent?


Want to hear more amazing stories about life inside Boggo Road? Our experienced guides would be delighted to lock you up for a while! Visit us for our History Tour

Do you want to make your own movie or documentary inside Boggo Road Gaol? Did you know you can? Click here  

This article was contributed by Research Coordinator Sue Olsen as part of the ongoing research program for Boggo Road Gaol Pty Ltd.  The aim of the program is to bring to light and share articles relating to Boggo Road for the purposes of review and study.   Do you have a story to share or something you would like us to know about?  You can contact the research team here

Prisoner Stories 1

D16 – One of the many cells Zim would call home

“Zim” Arthur Sully

Ex Prisoner


Armed Robbery

Time served

14 Years 9 Months

1977-1984 and 1986 – 1992


D16, E3, E7, E24 and F25



Arthur Sully known as Zim was born in Tubu, Papua New Guinea (then an Australian territory) to an English father and a Papuan Mother.

His father having been in the British Navy and part of the Pacific War had settled in Papua just at the end of the Second World War.

Zim was raised in Tubu up until he was ten years old.  Having made a few trips to Brisbane, his father decided to relocate the family in 1970, Papua having moved towards becoming an independent state (officially granted in 1975).

On a holiday to Brisbane in 1968 the family were residing at Venner Road in Annerley.  Driving down Annerley Road one morning, riding in the back of the family car a then eight year old Zim spied Boggo Road from the top of the hill.

Dad! Is that a castle? Who lives there?  His father simply replied: Son, that castle belongs to the Queen, and you don’t wanna go there!


Little did he know, less than ten years later Zim would be visiting “The Queen’s Castle” for the very first time…

Zim describes himself as an adventurous kid not having ever been much for watching TV or indoors activities.  He had learning difficulties as a child, what we would now be known as ADHD. Though back then there was no such thing.

The adventurous kid found himself outside all the time. Never being out of trouble in school, He was fidgety and just didn’t want to be there. In fact, he didn’t particularly want to be in Australia at all.  He never understood why the family had moved from a peaceful, beautiful spot to the big smoke.  Really, it was complete culture shock.

Zim started rebelling, and before you know it, got swept up in the wrong crowd. He began stealing bikes at school. Not really knowing what he had got himself into, he was smoking and drinking at a young age and generally playing up.

First Conviction

Zim was arrested at 17 years of age having tried to snatch a purse from a lady. She fell and received injuries. His first charge was Robbery with Violence. He was subsequently convicted and was to sentenced serve seven years in Boggo Road.

His first few minutes inside the gaol were just as you would expect – one of complete shock. First moment out of the prison van he was made to face a picture of the Queen and salute (Zim had never seen a picture of her before) so he had no idea what he was doing.  The prison warders, having none of this, immediately labelled him a potential trouble maker; where, he was just a kid, with no idea!

First placed in the boys’ yard, he was soon taught a few lessons! Though being a cheeky kid, he certainly figured out how best to keep from doing as much as possible.

My first eighteen months inside, I basically carried a clipboard around, I bluffed my way past guards asking to go to this section or another, for a particular “job” I never actually was meant to be doing any of those things. Eventually, they caught up with me though and I got into quite a bit of trouble for that one. I ended up being put in a yard with some of the “worst” trouble makers until I begged a guard to give me a job.  My first official “job” inside was in the tin shop. Task number one was to make 500 rubbish bins. You know the ones with the little foot peddle! I had no idea what I was doing.  Thankfully some of the other older inmates quickly sorted me out… and taught me a few things.

I learned a lot from those blokes, but the best thing I learned was to play the guitar. I didn’t much like the card games, I referred to them as “Bored games” I found them boring.  I made a request for a guitar, I loved music.   It was denied.  I tried again.  – It only took me three years before I was finally granted a guitar… under the condition that it was only played in my cell. I suppose this was around 1981. Of course, I was a rule breaker and quickly figured out how to get my guitar into the yard.  I never actually knew how to play the guitar, but some of the other inmates taught me a few things. And I quickly picked it up.  I still play the guitar to this day.


Zim was released in November 1984. It was a complete culture shock. Brisbane had changed so much.  “It had electric trains!  It was certainly not the town I knew.”

Second Conviction

He didn’t stay out of trouble for long. Having difficulty getting back on track and finding a job, Zim quickly found himself in with the “wrong crowd” once again.  He and a mate decided they should get some serious money and get out of town.  This began the first of ten bank robberies.  They stole a car, held up the bank, went on the run, dumping the car and hiding out.  One after the other, they quickly got a name for themselves. Eventually they lead police on a chase and shoot-out that would rival a scene out of any Hollywood movie. Thankfully no one was injured.

He was tried and convicted on five of the ten charges against him (the others failing due to lack of evidence).  He received a sentence of 10 years for each of the first four and 12 years for the final charge involving the shoot-out with police.

As I was tallying it up in my head… I was thinking… that’s close to 60 years!! Holy hell! And then the judge ordered that they be served concurrently.  I sighed a breath of relief and was sent off again to Boggo Road

My second stay inside was different. There were drugs, and the prison itself was going through lots of riots, troubles and protests. I was there for all of them.  I unfortunately became involved in drugs and had a heroin addiction. It was everywhere. Drugs came in over the walls, in through the mail; and were even brought inside by people. Heroin was cheaper and easier to get inside than it was on the street.  The easiest way for anything to come in… and therefore the best job you could have is the reception store.  Just like in the movies, there was an underground prison economy. But, for the most part I tried to stay away from all that.

I was in both divisions of Boggo Road. Number 2 gaol was harder for the officers to control and therefore the easiest for us to move stuff around.  I was moved around a lot in 2 Div.  My cells were, D16, E3, E7, E24 and F25 as well as time in the dormitories. We had the night cans, and the showers were just as they are now, in the yard.  It was a filthy, horrible place to be for sure.


Zim was moved from Boggo Road Gaol when it closed and released from Woodford Prison in 1993.

I served a total of eight years and five months of my sentence, and have been clean ever since.  I learned a lot while I was inside, perhaps more than I ever would have out in the free world.  Boggo Road taught me so many lessons.

Since I have been released, I have been involved in various community orientated projects. Mostly, I am working with former prisoners and youth on back to work programs and drug rehabilitation.  I am a sought after public speaker in political circles and university programs talking about life inside prison, and the ongoing drug problems. My life has since been researched for a Philosophy PhD Thesis. Prior to all that the only public speaking I had done was that I had been part of the debating team at Boggo Road; in 1982 we actually won the B Division Championship. I find it amazing that a kid that never finished the 9th grade can possibly be talking to people at a University. Boggo Road taught me to talk like that.

After serving parole, in 1999, I went back to Tubu.  I was welcomed into to the village. It was overwhelming. I had served my time, and now I was home.

Tubu has many problems, just like other places in the world. But the one that stood out to me the most was that none of the kids could speak English. They had no school to teach them. In the last eighteen years I have helped to build a school there. I am proud to have a house in Tubu.  I feel like my life has come full circle.


I often get asked, Zim, if you could turn back time, would you do anything different?  The answer is truthfully “No, I wouldn’t.  I believe that everything that I have done or that has happened in my life happened to bring me where I am today. I believe I was meant to help people.

As I said before, I think Boggo Road taught me a lot more than I would have learned in the free world.  I only want to give back.  I will continue to work with people with drug addictions and people that have been released to help bring back peace in the community.

This interview was completed by Research Co-ordinator Sue Olsen as part of the research program being undertaken by Boggo Road Gaol Pty Ltd.  The primary goal in completing these interviews is to make these stories available to the wider community for review and study. Parts of these stories are also used to bring authenticity to our tours and publications. Want to submit your story?  You can do this via our website! Click here.

Want to see what the Gaol was like from a Prisoner’s perspective? Join us on one of our Prisoner Tours.  Click here for more information, times, dates and availability.

From the headlines…..A Bright Day for Prisoners!

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year from everyone here at Boggo Road Gaol!

We hope that 2018 is a safe and prosperous one for you all.

A new year brings new things!  Look out here for some new articles and interesting tid-bits over the coming weeks!  We are excited to continue creating new and exciting experiences for our readers and our guests.   So that said…

Ever wonder what did the prisoners in Boggo Road do on New Year’s Eve?

Safe to say there was no champagne or fireworks!

But what did they do?

Read on to find out!

From the headlines…Daily Mercury: Monday 3rd January 1938 Page 6.


“BRIGHT DAY FOR PRISONERS” Daily Mercury: Monday 3rd January 1938 Page 6.

James Francis Whitney




BRISBANE, Jan. 2. — Community singing in which the long service men joined with zest was a feature of the New Year party given In No. 2 prison of Brisbane gaol on Saturday afternoon. Archbishop Duhig was present.

The Comptroller-General (Mr. J. F. Whitney) welcomed the Archbishop, and thanked the Roman Catholic chaplain, Father J. Butler, and his sister, Miss Butler, for arranging the party.

Archbishop Duhig commended the Government and the Comptroller-General for extending humane treatment to prisoners, ‘which, he said, was’ more beneficial than the old system of durance.

Archbishop James Duhig

The community singing was led by Mr. E. Sheridan. Mrs. Sheridan played piano accompaniments and marches, and Misses Nancy and Babe Bridges and Mr. Clifford Bridges Introduced varied entertainment. Refreshments provided by Miss Butler were distributed. The huge hamper contained 1000 home-made, cakes, 301b of peanut toffee, and seven cases of fruit.

Archbishop Duhig spoke to inmates individually, and wished them a happy New Year.

Mr. R. Rapson, acting superintendent of the gaol, supervised the arrangements.

Want to hear more amazing stories about life inside Boggo Road? Our experienced guides would be delighted to lock you up for a while! Visit us for our History Tour

This article was contributed by Research Coordinator Sue Olsen as part of the ongoing research program for Boggo Road Gaol Pty Ltd.  The aim of the program is to bring to light and share articles relating to Boggo Road for the purposes of review and study.   Do you have a story to share or something you would like us to know about?  You can contact the research team here

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