Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Special Collections Fossickings 18: A question of quarantine

Our previous Fossickings post about Townsville’s 1900 plague outbreak prompted a reader’s question about what other diseases might have been treated in quarantine.  Typhoid was possibly the most common and James Porter’s “Discovering Magnetic Island” describes how individuals arriving on immigrant ships, and suspected of carrying typhoid or other diseases, were taken to Magnetic Island. In the very early days patients were left in the care of the Butler family – the first white settlers on the island.  Harry Butler and his sons would care for male patients at the western end of Picnic Bay while his wife and daughters looked after girls and women at the Hawkins Point end. In 1875 an official quarantine station was built at West Point and, at the time of the 1900 plague outbreak, was housing leprosy patients and some Pacific Islanders suffering from measles. As described in the earlier post, the first mainland quarantine facility, which housed plague victims in tents, was at Three Mile Creek. It seems that both the West Point and Three Mile Creek facilities remained in use until 1915-16, when the quarantine station at Cape Pallarenda was built, using material from the old West Point station.
The original route to the quarantine station was further inland, this photo shows the later construction of the coast road. North Queensland Photographic Collection ID 4323, T'ville Albums.
Cape Pallarenda continued to house infected crew and passengers of ships arriving in port, including a large number of smallpox cases from one ship. In 1918 thirteen Vietnamese meningitis victims were buried at the station, where their graves remain to this day. The final plague outbreak in the city occurred in 1921 with nine reported cases and four deaths. It is likely that at least some of these would have been treated at Cape Pallarenda.

Leprosy patients seem not to have been housed at any of the quarantine stations after 1907 when a leprosarium for all Queensland sufferers was established on Peel Island, in Moreton Bay. In 1940 Indigenous patients at Peel were moved north to Fantome Island. The leprosarium (or lazaret) on Fantome remained until 1973 and was the subject of a 2011 documentary film.

The Pallarenda quarantine station, which also served as an army hospital during World War 2 and the later Malay emergency, closed in 1973 and the following year became the first home of the Australian Institute of Marine Science. The land now forms part of Cape Pallarenda Conservation Park and the buildings accommodate Queensland National Parks staff and offices.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I shared this on Facebook - thanks Fossicker!