March 22 - 28, 2020: Issue 443


North Head Quarantine Station, Manly: Some history - Governor Ralph Darling saved australians; saved australia

View of Quarantine Station from the hill, circa 1900. Item: e29526_0001_courtesy Dixson Library, State Library of New South Wales
Rock carvings including `Caledonien 98', `R.M.S. Himalaya', `R.M.S. Lusitania 1894' circa 1900. Item:  e29526_0002_courtesy Dixson Library, State Library of New South Wales
Times have certainly changed since Ralph Darling was in charge of a very young Australia – news this week that a cruise ship was allowed to dock in Sydney and people ill with coronavirus permitted to disembark has horrified citizens of this nation and this city. Four more are, apparently, also going to be allowed to dock and disgorge thousands of souls and possibly ill people into the metropolis. 

Governor Ralph Darling was the man whose Proclamation, Policy and Quarantine Act 1832 established a means to save people from an influx of diseases that kill.

Although much maligned through the harsh anecdotes of his tenancy as Governor, one must wonder how many original custodians would still be in Pittwater today, and how much of their local knowledge and language we would still have if a man like Governor Darling was in charge a lot earlier than he was – there were six Governors of New South Wales and Her Territories before him – why didn’t they enact quarantine strictures? Because of the worship of mammon – (or dollars, then £, for our younger Readers) - and the push to fill those boats with fare paying passengers. 

Beyond that, when mindful of his personal experience of losing his infant son Edward to whooping cough in 1828, a disease that came in on a ship, his reported ‘military like approach to all matters’, shows more in the light of that famous British ‘stiff upper lip’ and a solitariness rent by position and job; the seat duty commanded to be sat in, every day – even during times of huge personal loss.

Widely recorded as his response to cholera and smallpox epidemics in the ‘mother country’ being brought out by emigrants, anyone with a heart would point to the days between him sending that ship to Neutral Bay and the loss of his son as the core note in what would become, by 1832, the Act of Quarantine.

Successive waves of ships and the diseases some of their passengers carried first established a ‘lazarette’ in the form of the hulk at Neutral Bay in 1827; just opposite the fledgling colony’s epicentre – by 1828 the hulk had been shifted to Spring Cove, Manly and commenced over 150 years of North Head Quarantine Station.

On September 2nd 1829 Governor Darling introduced a Bill for An Act to subject Vessels arriving in this Colony, in certain cases, to perform Quarantine

The opinions of some regarding Darling was not the universal one in those treading their foot on the dusty pavements of a Sydney Town just 39 years old. His legacy, if he was too late to save the indigenous originals of Pittwater, is his actions and policies saved people, all peoples, and in doing so he saved Australians – and in fact you could say his actions and policies saved Australia itself.

This week a look into how illness in travellers was met with compassion and ‘lock downs’ saved disease from spreading by the establishment of Australia’s first Quarantine Station at North Head.

During 1789 a major epidemic raged in Sydney. Journals from the year prior to suggest that it was either smallpox or chickenpox, probably smallpox, which was present in some of those coming into contact with our indigenous peoples. In William Bradley's Journal 'A Voyage to New South Wales - 1786-1792', he records his Exploration Of Broken Bay, Pitt Water and the Hawkesbury' of March 1789 and in May of 1789, near Manly and on the harbour;

9 May 1789

9th. Falling to leeward of the North Head we made a trip with success and at 3 passed between the Heads. At 6, anchored in Sydney Cove where we found the Supply.

We found that a native man had been taken by force by Lieutenant Ball, commander of the Supply, for the Governor, it not being possible to persuade any of them to come amongst us. He was for some time kept with an iron about his leg and, when on board the Supply going down the harbour, he jumped overboard, but was taken up and prevented from joining his countrymen and old companions who were near. He was so well reconciled to his situation when we arrived that he was allowed to walk about by himself. His irons were taken off.

[Page 162]

When an old man and his child were brought up to Sydney Cove with the small pox out on them, soon after this old man, another native man was found in the same situation, with a child laying by him, both of which were brought up to the hospital. The native at the Governor's (Arrabanoo) met them without fear of the disorder, by which it was then supposed that he was ignorant of that disorder, or that he had had it and was recovered. The two men died before we arrived, but the children were then on the recovery.

From the great number of dead natives found in every part of the harbour, it appears that the small pox had made dreadful havoc among them. We did not see a canoe or a native the whole way coming up the harbour and were told that scarce any had been seen lately except laying dead in and about their miserable habitations, whence it appears that they are deserted by their companions as soon as the disorder comes out on them, and those who are attacked with this disorder left to shift for themselves. We judge this from their having been found not buried, in every part of the harbour. Some have been found with a child laying dead close to them and some, who have apparently used their utmost exertions to get at water, having been found laying dead between a cave and a run of water.

And from later that same year:
[Page 165]

17 June 1789

Wednesday, 17th. The Governor and party returned from Broken Bay. In the branch running to the NW out of the SW arm they discovered that an opening round an island, which had not been examined before, led to a fresh water river up which they went about twenty miles from the island at the mouth of it, when they were obliged to return for want of provisions to enable them to proceed.

When they gave up their pursuit they had 6 fathomss water and made use of it both for drinking and cooking. They met with but few natives and found some that died of the small pox laying near the path between Port Jackson and Broken Bay.

In a Cove of the southern arm they met with a woman who had just recovered but was so reduced and weak that she could not accompany her companion who ran away on the boat coming in near where they were. This poor creature crawled in among the long grass to hide herself and was by chance found in that situation. After having received every relief that could be given her, she became familiar as her fears subsided, but was not to be found when the boats came away. By Captain Hunter's Observation, taken near the inner South Head of Broken Bay, it appears to be 15 miles to the northward of Port Jackson.

Adams, Michael. (1793). Captains Hunter, Collins & Johnston with Governor Phillip, Surgeon White &c. visiting a distressed female native of New South Wales at a hut near Port Jackson Retrieved from 

Prior to his passing away, the Hon. Jim Macken, a champion of our indigenous peoples who knew every marker, mark and stone of the Guringgai peoples left intact on the western shores of Pittwater, stated he could see these indigenous peoples had left the estuary and surrounds quickly. His research pointed to the whole tribe being wiped out by this disease - all of them gone - decimated or fled. 

The Quarantine Station was established primarily to regulate the risk of disease importation through the migration of free and convict Europeans, and the arrival of merchant shipping. The complex operated as a quarantine station from July 26th, 1828 to February 29th, 1984. 

The concept behind its establishment was that, as an island-nation, the Colony of New South Wales, as it then was, was susceptible to ship-borne disease. Those who might have an infectious disease would be kept in quarantine until it was considered safe to release them. The initiative to begin some sort of quarantine arrangement began, as is often the case, with the person in charge, and able to do something, being directly effected by the distress of losing a loved one through disease. The first place a quarantine area was established in Sydney was at Neutral Bay:

BY His EXCELLENCY Lieutenant 
General RALPH DARLING, Commanding His Majesty's Forces, Captain General, and Governor in Chief of the Territory of New South Wales and its Dependencies, and Vice Ad-miral of the same ?> &e. &e. &c.
WHEREAS it is judged expedient, that the Schooner ALLIGATOR should be temporarily stationed or moored as a Lazaret, or Quarantine Vessel, in the Bay or Cove known by the Name of Neutral Bay, on the North Side of Port Jackson ; and that certain Children, who have recently arrived in the Ship Morley, and who are infected with the Hooping Cough, should be kept on board the said Quarantine Vessel, until the Medical Officers shall have declared it to be their Opinion that there will be no Risk of communicating the said Disease, which has been hitherto unknown in this Colony; NOW THEREFORE, I, the GOVERNOR, do, by Virtue of the Authority vested in Me, hereby declare the said Schooner or Vessel, called the Alligator, to be a Lazaret, or Quarantine Vessel, during the Time that she shall be so stationed or moored as aforesaid ; and I do hereby strictly prohibit all Persons whatever, from having any Communication with the said Vessel, while so stationed, without special Authority from Me, under Pain of being prosecuted with the utmost Rigour of the Law.
Given under my Hand, at Government-house, Sydney, this Twenty-second Day of March, in the Year of Our Lord One thousand eight hundred and twenty-eight,
"Ralph Darling" 

By His Excellency's Command,
Classified Advertising (1828, March 24). The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 - 1842), p. 1. Retrieved from

The Proclamation appointing a Quarantine, and commanding all persons to abstain from visiting the new Lazaret vessel (the Alligator,) is a most judicious instance of vigilant attention on the part of our Authorities, ' to the health and safety of the Colony. And the promptness displayed in the said appointment, demonstrates a vigour in the Government of the right sort, highly to be esteemed and lauded by all thinking persons. " DOMESTIC INTELLIGENCE. (1828, March 26). The Monitor (Sydney, NSW : 1826 - 1828), p. 5 (EVENING). Retrieved from 

We imagine that the Alligator will now be kept as a lazaret, or quarantine vessel, by the Government. As the intercourse with European vessels is growing more frequent, and as it is possible that some of the innumerable diseases which are the bane of the Mother Country may inadvertently become introduced to our shores, the precaution to be observed cannot be too great or pronounced too laudable. We hear that the measles have exhibited themselves latterly in one or two instances in town, which, with the hooping cough, if it once gained a footing, might soon disseminate destruction amidst our infantine population. No prison ship should be allowed to enter Sydney Cove, or Darling Harbour, if permitted to approach further up than Pinchgut Island, until it was ascertained that no European distemper, of an epidemic character, was lurking on board. Shipping Intelligence. (1828, March 28). The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 - 1842), p. 2. Retrieved from 

The isolation and strategic role of North Head was recognised in 1828 when the vessel, the Bussorah Merchant, was quarantined:

Shipping Intelligence. 

Arrivals - On Saturday the Cleopatra, Lieutenant Young, R.N. from Cork the 11th of February ; cargo, sundries ; 20 cabin and 1 steerage passengers. Same day, Bussorah Merchant, Captain Baigrie, from London the 27th of March, with 170 male prisoners, 4 died on the passage ; Dr. Dunn surgeon superintendent, Captain Daveney of the 57th regiment, Ensign Child of the 39th, one man of the 57th, and 30 men of the 39th, comprise the guard, with 6 women and 6 children. This vessel was put under quarantine the following day. The prisoners and guard are to be landed at Spring Cove as early as possible, and the Alligator was sent down on Friday to be converted into a quarantine hulk. Shipping Intelligence. (1828, August 2). The Monitor (Sydney, NSW : 1826 - 1828), p. 8 (AFTERNOON). Retrieved from

Too late!:

DEATH, — Yesterday morning, at Government-house, Sydney, after a very severe illness of the hooping cough, EDWARD, the infant Son of His EXCELLENCY the GOVERNOR. We feel assured that the whole Colony will unfeignedly sympathize with the GOVERNOR, and His afflicted and amiable CONSORT, in the distressing calamity with which Providence has been pleased to visit them. Family Notices (1828, August 4). The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 - 1842), p. 2. Retrieved from

On Friday, the Bussorah Merchant, from Spring Cove to Neutral Bay, where she is performing quarantine...Shipping Intelligence. (1828, August 11). The Monitor (Sydney, NSW : 1826 - 1828), p. 8. Retrieved from


It appears by the late Sydney papers, that on board the transport-ship Bussoreh Merchant, which arrived at Port Jackson on the 26th of July, several cases of the small-pox had occurred during the passage from England—a circumstance unprecedented since the formation of these Colonies. On the arrival of the vessel, a report thereof was made to His Excellency Governor DARLING by several Medical Officers, who had been sent on board for the purpose of enquiring into the circumstances. In consequence of the report these Gentlemen made, it was judged expedient that all communication between the ship and the shore should be strictly prohibited. The ship was therefor instantly removed to Neutral Bay, under quarantine, until the infection could be completely removed. This promptitude, manifested by General DARLING, called forth the most fervent commendation of the community. 

His Excellency issued (on a Sunday !) a Proclamation to the above effect, immediately after the arrival of the vessel. It seems that the whole of the prisoners were removed on shore, on a point of land ; but that neither blacks nor whites had been permitted within gun-shot of the ship, or of the encampment where the prisoners were remaining when the Phoenix left Port Jackson for this Colony. 

With respect to the hooping cough, it appears it found its way into the Colony about five months ago, on the ship MorleyThe Sydney Gazette of the 30th July says —

" This vessel was immediately ordered to undergo quarantine; but, alas ! that distressing distemper has introduced itself to almost every family in the country ; and the poor children, hitherto considered impervious to every European disorder, from the acknowledged pre-eminence and salubrity of our climate, have suffered, and are still suffering, the same intense misery which is the usual accompaniment of the hooping cough in England. Now, the small-pox is coma We scarcely think it necessary, from the alarm which has penetrated every parent's bosom, to advise those of our fellow Colonists, who are favoured with such interesting pledges, to lose no time in getting them innoculated, though we are sorry to be informed, at this eventful crisis, that there is no vaccine virus in the Colony. We trust that this will turn out not to be the fact.* 

Another number of the same Journal, of three or four weeks subsequent date, adds, that " The hooping cough is still making sad ravages amongst the infant population. Children are dying every day ! But it is conjectured, that the characteristic salubrity of an Australian Spring will impede its deadly progress." 

The Monitor, in reporting the death of the infant son of His Excellency General DARLING, after a severe illness of the hooping cough, says— 

"This disease begins to assume a more destructive aspect than at first. We trust the small-pox, if it finds its way from the Bussorah Merchant, will be arrested by vaccination. For the hooping-cough, there is no preventive,nor remedy, but a strong constitution and change of air."—

Thus much for the fine " characteristic salubrity" of the climate in New South Wales ! Not a year passes without some woeful calamity being experienced. This year, the People are visited, not only with extreme sickness and deaths in every direction, but almost with starvation ; for if it were not for the great shipments of wheat from Van Diemen's Land during the present year, the poorer classes in the great Colony of New South Wales would be literally starving—without a morsel of bread, wheat, or corn ! ! ! 

Look at this picture of woe and misery, and then talk of encouraging poor emigration to New South Wales ! Let the people in England send them to Van Diemen's. Land, (the Ireland of the Southern Seas) where the poor emigrants will not only find beneficial employment, but always plenty to eat,—fat mutton, beef, and pork, bread, and vegetables, all equal in quality to any in the world, and much cheaper than in England ! These are incontrovertible facts. To return to the small-pox and hooping cough. It should also be remarked, that these diseases are unknown in Van Diemen's Land ! A more healthy climate is not known in any part of the world; and we only regret that prejudice and other well known circumstances should mislead so many respectable emigrants just now to prefer going on to Sydney, instead of fixing themselves in this delightful Colony, unequalled for all the purposes of agriculture.

* We have much pleasure in stating, since this article was written, it comes to our knowledge that Dr. Gibson has innoculated three or four children within the last three or four days, and if success should attend the Doctor's attempts, there will be no want of the antidote to the small-pox," Small Box and [?]ooping Cough IN NEW SOUTH WALES. (1828, September 1). Colonial Advocate, and Tasmanian Monthly Review and Register (Hobart Town, Tas. : 1828), p. 42. Retrieved from

The "Bussorah Merchant" Item [B 25221]- courtesy State Library of South Australia

Although so much is recorded about Governor Darling 'officious manner', reading between the lines of this report inkles the impact upon him and his wife Elizabeth (known as Eliza):

His EXCELLENCY and Mrs. DARLING returned from their excursion to Wiseman's on Monday evening, and we have great pleasure in stating that HIS EXCELLENCY and respected CONSORT were much gratified with their interesting tour. The health of the GOVERNOR, which has considerably suffered from a close and incessant attention to public business, is not a little renovated by his short recess from immediate official life. The distinguished Tourists were extremely delighted with the enchanting scenery of the Hawkesbury, and more especially in the neighbourhood of Wiseman's. Mr. and Mrs. Wiseman, we are informed, were assiduous and anxious in their attention to their illustrious Visitors. We regret that the indisposition of His EXCELLENCY would not permit him to inspect the progress of the road on the left bank of the river, but he was pleased to express his satisfaction at the improvement which manifested itself on the right bank of the river, even since his former vi-sit; and His EXCELLENCY directed that some further improvements might be made which suggested themselves on inspection. 

The GOVERNOR'S small barge being in attendance, His EXCELLENCY took advantage of the beautiful expanse of water, and explored many of the picturesque branches of the river. We should be remiss in our observations were we not to notice that the loyalty and good feeling of the people conspicuously dis-played themselves in various ways, and by none more appropriate than that of discharging their musketry in honor of their Beloved Monarch's Representative as He passed to and fro. The settlers speak rather favorably of their crops, but it is apprehended that the harvest will considerably deteriorate owing to the recent sultry dry winds. Shipping Intelligence. (1828, November 19). The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 - 1842), p. 2. Retrieved from 

Elizabeth Darling gave birth to a son, Augustus, in October 1826 to Edward in 1827 (who died in 1828), a daughter, Caroline, in 1829, miscarried in 1830, and was heavily pregnant when she left the colony in 1831. Although the couple had 10 children, only three boys and four girls went home with them when they returned to England in 1831. Elizabeth was an amateur artist and some of ehr works are held by the State Library of New South Wales.

Eliza Darling, 1825 portrait by Artist John Linnell -

In Edward Smith Hall (March 28 1786 – September 18 1860) newspaper editor/owner of The Monitor, Governor Darling had a fierce critic who, alike some papers of today, didn’t hesitate to publish outright lies, slanders and libellous statements. Despite numerous land grants, and being let off various matters under Macquarie and having some good points, such as founding the Benevolent Society of New South Wales, later to be renamed the Benevolent Society, in 1813, and being the opening speaker at a meeting on December 5th 1816 for the establishment of a bank and subsequently being appointed cashier and secretary of the Bank of New South Wales in 1817, he had a vindictive streak towards those who opposed his unwarranted demands - such as being able to practice as an attorney despite having no licence, or leaving an 8 year old son alone on one of his huge land grants to 'manage the farm'.

He persisted in publishing his pronouncements on others and was duly the target of actions for libel brought against him, and, having been tried by a jury of military men nominated by the crown, he was convicted, imprisoned and fined. Hall continued to publish from gaol and had to defend seven separate actions, the fines amounting to several hundred pounds, and terms of imprisonment totalling over three years. However, on November 6th 1830, on the occasion of the accession of William IV, Governor Darling, one of his favourite targets, issued a free pardon to Hall. 

Six months prior to then, Hall had written to Sir George Murray a letter in which he made 14 specific charges against Darling, and he had succeeded in enlisting the aid of Joseph Hume, who took up his cause in the British House of Commons.

On October 1st 1831 Hall boasted in The Monitor that Hume had informed him that Darling was to be recalled. Governor Darling himself considered his recall was due to Hall's efforts, as he immediately wrote to Lord Goderich that anyone reading The Monitor would see that Hall's "triumph is complete". Goderich, writing to Governor Bourke on March 24th 1832, denied that Hall's representations had affected the question of the recall of Darling, but there can be little doubt that it had a strong influence on it and pursued this without pause. 

Hall's rancour towards Darling is reflected in numerous examples throughout the Darling Governorship years - these two, one published by him and another by a rival newspaper, give a small insight into the kind of silliness going on and how those who think they are accepted as speaking 'for the people' may need to listen to them on occasion - if only to confirm they still are:


Mr DEAR SIR, (Yes, Mr. Hall, though addressing you officially, yet, because I consider you the FRIEND OF THE COLONY; because I admire your inflexible, stern integrity, in checking the march of power, in fearlessly exposing the tyrannies of the Great (or rather, the would-begreat,) and in unremittingly upholding the cause of the people, to your own very great personal injury and risk; do I address you, " My Dear Sir.") 

His Excellency, Lieutenant-General Ralph Darling, the Governor, by and with the advice of the Council, (which is composed of His Honor, the Chief-Justice of the Supreme Court, Francis Forbes, Esq.; His Honor, the Lieutenant-Governor, Col. Charles Stuart, 3rd. regt. Buffs; the Venerable, the Archdeacon, Thomas Hobbs Scott, Master of Arts; the Colonial Secretary, Alexander M'Leay, Esq.; Robert Campbell, John M'Arthur, and Charles Throsby, Esquires. merchant and graziers)-has, as you are well aware, passed Two Acts, materially affecting the Press. Of these two Acts, the first I shall slight; all that I shall say thereupon, is—I am very sorry that it has passed. The second Act is the more immediate object of my letter, and to this Act I shall confine myself 

IT is a principle in tax-making, I believe, that one man shall not be taxed more than another. But this principle cannot be acted upon to the letter, because some men are r'cher than others; therefore, while a rich man, if he meanly, is taxed only as a poor man; yet, if he live according to his condition, inhabit a large house, keep servants and play at cards; exactly in proportion to the size of the house he may dwell in, to the number of servants he may keep and to the packs of cards he may expend, will his taxes be increased or diminished. And this is no doubt just : the necessities of life, are taxed equally all round; the superfluities must be taxed only where they are enjoyed. The principle, thus laid down, resolves itself into the theory—that no one man SHALL FEEL Taxation more than another. 

In England, land-holders, and house-holders, and cottageholders, cum multis aliis, are all taxed. And proprietors of newspapers are taxed; taxed four-pence upon every paper. Yet the tax on newspapers, is perhaps of all others, the most unpopular. Among the philosophers and the choice spirits of the age; among all those who desire the moral improvement of the human race, it is decidedly so. And therefore it ap pears to be the design of the Imperial Parliament of Great Britain, (which IS composed of great men) to reduce, very materially, this tax; and, by so doing, at once raise the profits of a most meritorious class of men, and spread the circulation of literary knowledge far and wide. 

IN New South Wales, (mark the difference, Mr. Hall) landholders, house-keepers, and the others, are not taxed. But in New South Wales, Mr. Hall, PROPRIETORS OF NEWSPAPERS ARE TAXED !—Now, answer me my friend, is the universal principle of taxation above-mentioned, at ALL regarded in this matter ?—at ALL regarded ? 

THE profits of our newspapers, (taking into due consideration, the very limited circulation, and the double or treble expenses of labour and materials) is not near those on English journals. But inasmuch as General Darling gets thousands in New South Wales, when he would get hundreds in England; inasmuch as preachers get employment in New South Wales, when they would never dream of it in England ; inasmuch as merchants get cent per cent in New South Wales, when they would as soon think of jumping over the moon, as to gain it in England; inasmuch as in a new country, thousands of miles from their natale solum, all people have a right to look for a better circumstantial situation, than in an old country; inasmuch as it is the object of every soul emigrating to colonies, to avoid taxation, ruination, &c. &c.— so ought the proprietor of a New South Wales journal, to have, at the very least, a profit double that which the proprie-tor of an English journal has.—But the reverse is the fact 

THAT august national assembly, THE BRITISH PARLIAMENT, THE KING, THE LORDS, AND THE COMMONS, to promote the beneficial effects of the Liberty of the Press, on an extended scale, contemplate, in the plenitude of their wisdom, the removal of an odious impost. The Governor in Council of New South Wales, a colony as yet untaxed, raises the said impost; the said impost being of such a nature, that, in all young countries, it has been the last one thought of. This impost, or tax, on newspapers, is unknown in India, Mr. Hall; in India, where, if restrictions on the Press be any where excusable, they are excuseable there. This tax is unknown though at the Cape of Good Hope, a Dutch colony, governed by my Lord Charles Somerset. This tax is unknown in Canada, Mr. Halls this tax is unknown in all British Colonies; all, all, save in the youngest, though, a the same time, the most English of any ! 

I GIVE the Governor in Council credit for meaning well to the Liberty Press. (Don't you, Mr. Hall?) He has certainly read the opinions of the greatest men of the greatest country in the world, upon the matter?—he has certainly the same object in view as hath the Parliament; but he thinks, no doubt, that, whereas in a country of centuries, it is deemed advisable for national welfare, to sink a tax; so, in a country of not forty years, it is advisable to levy that tax. 'Tis true, the British Parliament might have acted differently ; for where they take off a tax in England, they would give a bonus in New South Wales.—Not so the Governor in Council. 

BUT suppose—just suppose—that the Governor did not mean well to the Press; what follows must be the reason for levying a tax of four-pence upon every newspaper? What was the tax raised for ? Answer me, Mr. Hall, what was the tax raised FOR ? 

NEW SOUTH WALES ! I pity you ; from my soul I pity you. You number not forty years, and taxes, without a Representation, have commenced; commenced too, just where they should have ended. Mr Edward Smith Hall, I pity you ; you more especially. Mine, friend, is not the pity of con-tempt; it is the pity which I feel for the Patriot in distress; for him, who, in shielding his country, falls a victim to the lunges of oppression. I pity you, as the immediate sufferer of a heavy tax. I pity your ten children, (for report says you have so many) who are no doubt deprived, by the tax, of some hundred of pounds per annum. 

YOUR profits must be depreciated by the tax, considerably beyond FIFTY PER CENT! —FIFTY PER CENT!! May these sounds be handed down to posterity, to give mankind hereafter, a magnanimous hatred to the very word " Tax." May these sounds be re-echoed in the Parliament of Great Britain, till the "ayes" of the Patriots overwhelming the " noes" of Corruption, shall remove the tax, so that none of it remain ; and, may you, who are the respectable father of tens children—may you live to see the Enemies of Freedom fall before the Powers of Patriotism ! is the earnest prayer of, 

My dear Sir, 
Your Sincere Friend, 
Parramatta, May 6, 1827. 
TO EDWARD SMITH HALL, ESQ. EDITOR, SOLE PROPRIETOR, AND PUBLISHER OF "THE MONITOR." (1827, May 11). The Monitor (Sydney, NSW : 1826 - 1828), p. 8. Retrieved from 

Although this is an obvious taunt from a rival publication it also has a little of the now fully emerged spirit of Australia in it too - don't take yourself too seriously and don't try to pull the wool over people's eyes - Australians aren't foolish - just kind!:

Mr. HALL! Mr. HALL! you're an object of pity;
Your troubles are many, and varied, and great;
Your tale of distress is a tragical ditty,
And every good man should bear part of its weight.
Poor Mr. Hall!
For the cause of your country, you bleed like a
Your foes are so bitter, your motives so good;
The GOVERNOR acts like a merciless Tartar,
But still like a hero you always have stood.
Poor Mr. Hall!
Compared with that blockhead, the Government
You're as wise as an angel, and pure as the snow;
He's barren and stormy as Lapland's dread winter,
While you, like sweet summer, with bright beauty
glow. Poor Mr. Hall!
And yet--it's enough to turn any man crazy--
What favours are heaped on that pitiful elf!
He's stupid and dull, and confoundedly lazy,
And yet, I declare, he's loved more than yourself!
Poor Mr. Hall!
The Government Orders are sent to his paper;
But you, though so loyal and clever a man--
A sun, when compared with that poor blinking
Are left to procure them as well as you can.
Poor Mr. Hall!
And there's Mr. LAIDLEY, whose wants are so many,
Whenever he wants to buy mutton and beef,
Instead of allowing you even a penny,
With Advertisements crams the Gazette's pond'rous
leaf. Poor Mr. Hall!
Your love to your King, and your zeal for the nation,
Have all along burnt like a fire in your bones--
No man could have served them so well in your
Bear witness the Monitor's pillar of stones.
Poor Mr. Hall!
Your pen, like a dagger, has struck at each traitor,
Defending your country through thick and through
Your political merits could not have been greater,
Even though you had sought a fat pension to win.
Poor Mr. Hall!
It is true, you have not much admired the ARCH-
And have hammer'd away at his Ven'rable head--
But then you have served to the Church as a beacon,
Forewarning her children of what they should
dread. Poor Mr. Hall!
It is equally true, that to Governor DARLING
You have never appeared to he warmly attached;
And hence at his actions you always are snarling,
And all that he does you take care shall be watched.
Poor Mr. Hall!
But still it was cruel--O cruel exceeding!
To refuse your request for some acres of land;
It was, upon honour, a piece of ill-breeding,
Deserving the wrath of your pen-wielding hand.
Poor Mr. Hall!
There's Mr. M'LEAY, too, so far your inferior,
In talent, in years, and in zeal for the King--
Though in rank, to be sure, he is rather superior,
But rank, we all know, is a trumpery thing.
Poor Mr. Hall!
This Mr. M'LEAY can get fifty-four acres--
Though acres belonging, by right, to the Blacks--
While you and your friendsi, who would fain be par-
May cry till your hoarse, "O let us go snacks!"
Poor Mr. Hall!
But this, Mr. HALL, I regard as a trifle,
Compared with the grievance I'm going to relate;
It's enough, I am sure, any Patriot to stifle,
To see what misfortunes descend on your pate.
Poor Mr. Hall!
You have stood for your country as tall as a steeple,
And polish'd and firm as a pillar of brass;
And yet,--O it's monstrous!--the People--the
Have left you to wither like drought-smitten
grass! Poor Mr. Hall!
You have always stood forth, like a fellow of mettle,
Willi the Monitor club, for the People to fight;--
And, lo! while you're thumping, their foes all to
Away go the People, quite sick of the sight!
Poor Mr. Hall!
Now what can you do, in this bustle and hurry,
Your many and ruinous woes to redress?
O, I'll tell you--sit down, and address Sir GEORGE
And then print it all at the Monitor Press.
Poor Mr. Hall!
He, surely, will not be unwilling to listen
To tales so affecting as those you endite;
His eyes, while he reads them, with vengeance will
And he'll soon put your foes in a pitiful plight.
Poor Mr. Hall!
I must now, Mr. HALL, to conclude my epistle,
Say something to comfort your poor aching
Remember how Franklin "paid dear for his whistle,"
And don't any more act so foolish a part.
Poor Mr. Hall!
Be wise, and leave people to fight their own battles,
That you may in future keep clear of them all;
Care no more about them than about the black
For they only reward you with
"Poor Mr. Hall!"
And when the next Governor comes from Great
Be sure that you give him a punctual call;
Explain to him all that you've hitherto written,
And HE will reward you with--
For the present, I now say, Adieu!
And remain,
Your obedient,
Sydney, Dec. 5, 1828.

TO MR. HALL. (1828, December 8). The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 - 1842), p. 2. Retrieved from 

Governor Ralph Darling left Australia in 1831, returning to England in 1832, where continuing pressure from political opponents led to the formation of a select committee to examine his actions in Australia, but the inquiry exonerated him, and the day after it concluded, he was knighted by the king in a dramatic display of official favour. The controversy in Australia may have contributed to the fact that he was not given any significant new military or political assignments, but further promotion and various honorific appointments did follow, and he was happy to devote much of his time to raising his young children - underlining once again the impact the loss of children to disease will have on one devoted to his children and what could and should have been in place prior to his governorship by the men who preceded him - fathers themselves and one most certainly a witness to the pandemic that robbed us all of our first peoples. 

The importance and future role of North Head was reinforced by the Bill first introduced by Governor Darling and finally passing in July 1832 - the Quarantine Act of 1832, which set aside the whole of North Head for quarantine purposes in response to the 1829–51 cholera pandemic in Europe, as much as smallpox and the devastating whopping cough. Available in An Act for subjecting Vessels coming to New South Wales from certain places to the performance of Quarantine. [28th July, 1832.] 

Following passage of the Governor Darling's Quarantine Act, 1832, in NSW, Viscount Goderich, British Secretary of State for War and Colonies, warned that quarantine was prejudicial to the trade of the kingdom and that the colony should be aware of the importance of "not aggravating by unnecessary restrictions the embarrassment inseparable from a strict quarantine on British Vessels". However, it stuck and has saved innumerable lives as a result.

This is how the Sydney Gazette shared what was in the NSW Quarantine Act of 1832:


Our attention has been called within these few days by several persons to the Quarantine Act, which passed the Legislative Council on the 28th ultimo, the operation of which, in the present state of its provisions, would, it is averred, impose a degree of restraint unnecessary in many instances, and in others involving even the lives of persons arriving in ships liable to its operation. We feel at all times obliged to those who take the trouble to suggest what may tend to the public good, and not the less so when, as in the present instance, we may happen to differ from them in the inferences they draw from their conception of things, because the discussion created by such means, if conducted with becoming propriety, ever tends to the disclosure of truth, and the subversion of fallacy, and leads therefore to that clear exposition of facts, upon which alone the judgment feels warranted in arriving at its conclusions.

That some precautionary measures are necessary to anticipate the introduction of infectious disease from without, has already been so earnestly dwelt upon in our columns, that we feel gratified in noticing the promptitude evinced by the Government in promulgating the measure. How great soever may be the diversity of opinion upon the question of contagion and infection, or upon the probability of the introduction of disease, or its malignity in this climate if introduced, there can be no question upon the expediency of providing before-hand against a possible danger, even if bearing a more ambiguous aspect than that of the pestilence to guard against which in particular the present Act has been framed - and it is in the very nature of measures calculated for the protection of one class or body against the aggressions of another, to be in some degree, more or less oppressive in their operation, and coercive in their enactments, yet their necessity ever frees them from this imputation, with those who regard the benefit of the community more than the interest of the individual, provided that the precautionary measures appear to be such as to produce the greatest degree of protection to the one class, with the least necessary amount of constraint upon the other.

For the benefit of those who feel no inclination to wade through the extraordinary mass of verbiage, in which it is thought necessary to legal precision, that such enactments should be enveloped, we subjoin an analysis of the Quarantine Act, from which it will be seen that every precautionary measure has been taken to prevent as far as heavy penalties will have that effect, all communication between ships arriving from places where cholera morbus has appeared, with any part of the community here, until measures have been taken to prevent infection. The Act provides,

1st. That all vessels, of whatever description, and all that they contain, animate and inanimate, which have come from any place, or communicated through any medium with any place declared by Proclamation of the Governor, with the advice of the Legislative Council, to be infected with cholera, shall perform quarantine on their arrival at any port in New South Wales; and that all vessels and their contents, which have in any way communicated with other vessels so circumstanced, either before or after their arrival in a port of New South Wales, shall also perform quarantine; and shall hold no communication, directly or indirectly with the shore, except in such manner as shall be prescribed by the Governor, with the advice of the Executive Council, to be notified by Proclamation.

2d. That it shall be lawful for the Governor, with the advice of the Executive Council, to make orders with regard to vessels arriving unexpectedly, or under suspicious circumstances, from places not already proclaimed to be infected, - or in case of infectious disease breaking out in the colony, to make orders for preventing it from spreading - or,

3d. To appoint, by proclamation, places where quarantine shall be performed, and lazarets where goods and passengers shall be detained.

4th. That commanders of vessels shall give every information required of them by the boarding officer, for the purpose of ascertaining whether infection may be expected from their vessels, under a penalty of one hundred pounds; upon receiving which, the boarding officer shall intimate to the commander whether his vessel is required to perform quarantine, and shall not conduct the vessel to any other than the place appointed for the performance of quarantine, under a penalty of one hundred pounds.

5th. That commanders of vessels liable to quarantine, shall deliver to the boarding officer their bill of health, log book, and journal, under penalty of one hundred pounds.

6th. That commanders shall conduct their vessels to the place appointed for performing quarantine, and permit no person to leave the vessel while in quarantine, under penalty of four hundred pounds; and persons leaving vessels in quarantine, may be forcibly compelled to return on board, and shall suffer imprisonment for six months, and forfeit three hundred pounds.

7th. That constables, or others, may apprehend persons leaving vessels in quarantine, and Magistrates may grant warrants for apprehending and confining them.

8th. That it may be lawful for the Governor, with the advice of the Executive Council, to issue orders for preventing all unauthorised communication whatever with the places appointed for the performance of quarantine, under penalty of two hundred pounds.

9th. That officers charged with orders respecting quarantine, neglecting their duty, shall forfeit two hundred pounds; deserting their duty, or permitting the abstraction of goods, or departure of persons in quarantine, or giving a false certificate of quarantine having been performed, to be deemed guilty of felony; or wilfully damaging goods in quarantine, to pay one hundred pounds, and full costs of suit, to the owner.

10th. That the due performance of quarantine shall be certified by the officer in charge, and this certificate when approved by the Governor, shall be a discharge from quarantine.

11th. That all goods liable to quarantine shall be opened and aired according to directions for that purpose, a certificate of this having been done, approved by the Governor, to be a release of such goods from quarantine.

12th. Falsifying a certificate in any manner, or publishing a false certificate, knowing it to be false, to be deemed felony.

13th. That persons landing any goods whatever, or receiving them when landed from a vessel in quarantine, shall forfeit two hundred pounds; or secreting goods for the purpose of landing, one hundred pounds.

14th. Forfeitures under this Act to be recovered in the Supreme Court, and to be given, two-thirds to the informer, and one-third to His Majesty.

15th. & 16th. To prevent vexatious actions against persons charged with the performance of duties under this Act.

The passing of this Act, it will be observed, is but the prelude to those details that embrace the times, places, and modes in which the quarantine is to be observed. The Executive Council are now prepared to act with vigour upon the first intimation of danger; and when we consider that an hour is sufficient to give the intimation, after the arrival of a vessel in the port, we do not perceive the force of the objections urged against the measure as it now exists. We view it as a first step or note of preparation against the evil day; and from the perusal of the third sections, we feel assured that the contemplated details of operation are of such a nature as will, in case of infection arriving amongst us, secure to our community the most efficient and least obnoxious methods of prevention of which the nature of the case will admit. ADVANCE AUSTRALIA Sydney Gazette. (1832, August 9). The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 - 1842), p. 2. Retrieved from

Soon after:



Sunday. — The Byron, from Calcutta, the crew so severely afflicted with the scurvy, that she still remains in Spring Cove, in quarantine.  ... SHIPPING INTELLIGENCE. (1832, October 27). The Currency Lad (Sydney, NSW : 1832-1833), p. 2. Retrieved from

Portrait of Ralph Darling, Governor of New South Wales, 1825-1831. John Linnell, 1825. Oil on wood panel. National Library of Australia - John Linnell  Linnell, John. (1825). Portrait of Ralph Darling, Governor of New South Wales, 1825-1831 Retrieved from 

This is how the newspaper in his new home recorded the esteem he was held in by those he left behind here - including at least one beloved infant sons' remains:


WE have much pleasure in being enabled to present our readers with the following official document well knowing that they cannot fail proving of particular interest to the inhabitants of Cheltenham; seeing that General Sir R. Darling has now become a resident amongst us. Our opinion of the persecutions to which the address refers is already upon record, as it is a source of infinite satisfaction to us as it must 'be to the-gallant General's family and friends, to perceive with what feelings of esteem the colonists of New South Wales still cherish the recollection of his past services, and echo the congratulations of their countrymen in Britain. 


The Address of the undersigned Civil Officers, Magistrates, Landholders, Merchants, and other Inhabitants of the colony of New South Wales. 

By a recent arrival from England, we have received the pleasing intelligence that the Committee of the House of Commons, appointed to investigate, the charges preferred against you to that House, had reported on the 1st of September last, that in the matters referred to them, your conduct was entirely free from, blame, and that in it there appeared nothing inconsistent with your duty as a public functionary, or with your honour as an officer and a gentleman. 

We have also learned, by the same opportunity, that on the following, day, our most gracious Sovereign, influenced by his own benignity and sense of, justice, had conferred upon you, a distinguished mark of royal favour, accompanied by most kind and gratifying expressions. 

Although fully prepared for these results by our knowledge of the circumstances of the case, of your unsullied integrity, and of the personal disposition of His Majesty, yet rejoicing sincerely in this ample fulfilment of our anticipations, we hasten to tender you our most cordial congratulations, that the persecutions by which you have been so pertinaciously and unjustly assailed are now frustrated and set at rest, we hope, for ever, and to assure you that you are still remembered, in the seat of your late Government with feelings of undiminished respect and esteem. 

That you may enjoy many years of happiness in the bosom of your family is the sincere wish of your most obedient servants. 

Signed by ten members of Council, fourteen of the Clergy, sixty-four Magistrates, seventeen officers of the civil Government, one hundred and ninety-seven landholders, merchants, and other free inhabitants. Sydney, New South Wales, January 23, 1836. 


Gentlemen, I must rest satisfied in the hope that you are assured that I feel as I ought on receiving the Address which you have done me the honour to. forward to me, as it is impossible for me to express the satisfaction I have derived from this kind and gratifying evidence of your sentiments. Emanating from so respectable a body of colonists, comprising the highest public functionaries, the clergy, magistrates, the principal landholders and merchants, and other free inhabitants, they cannot be too highly esteemed, while the knowledge you possess, that it is no longer in my power to serve you adds inexpressibly to their value. It is indeed impossible to appreciate duly, the kind and generous feeling of his Majesty, who, influenced by his own benignity and sense of justice, was led to bestow upon me at so eventful a moment the distinguished mark of his royal favour, to which you have in so appropriate a manner alluded. Being spontaneous, the honour was inestimably enhanced, and could only receive additional value by the promptness with which the occasion was seized of conferring it. The act was the King's, and to his Majesty alone am I indebted. 

The expression of your anticipation of the event, founded, as you are pleased to intimate, on a knowledge of the circumstances of the case and of my unsullied integrity, together with the assurance that I am still remembered in the seat of my late Government with sentiments of undiminished respect and esteem, afford me the most sincere satisfaction and beg you also will believe, that this gratifying and acceptable assurance is met by a reciprocal feeling of kind and grateful recollection of those, who, in their respective stations contributed by their conduct to give effect to my exertions for the welfare of the colony. To you gentlemen, who know me so well, it is unnecessary to say I had no other object. The prosperity and happiness of its inhabitants I considered as identified with it, and it appeared to me that these could not be more certainly or more properly effected than by upholding the religious and moral portion of the community, entertaining no doubt that, others would eventually be influenced and profit by the example.

I have now only to request that you will accept my best thanks for the kind assurance of your continued regard and good will; and I beg you will believe that it is my constant and earnest wish, that your adopted country may continue to prosper and that you and your families, in the different relations of life; may enjoy every happiness and blessing.. 


Cheltenham, December 9 1836 "

TO LIEUT.-GENERAL SIR R. DARLING, G. C. H. Sir,--Having this day signed an Address, congratulating you on the just and honourable termination of the late Enquiry into your conduct as Governor of this Colony, We beg in addition that you will do us the honour to allow your Portrait to be taken at our expense by some eminent artist, and placed by us in such a situation as may appear to u, to evince, in the strongest and most public manner the sentiments of personal regard which we shall always entertain for 

We have the honour to be, Sir, 

Your most obedient servants, 

Signed by 192 of the same Gentlemen who subscribed the Address. 

REPLY. Gentlemen,

Having replied to the Address which you did, me the honour to forward by Mr. James M'Arthur, it still remains for me to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 23rd of January last, expressing your wish that I will allow my Portrait to be taken at your expense by some eminent Artist, that it may be placed by you in such a situation as i8ay appear to evince, in the strongest and most public. manner, the sentiments of personal regard which you entertain for me. 

A wish, Gentlemen, so honourable to my public character as Governor of the colony in which many of you have for a long period' of time been resident, both previously to in my arrival and subsequently to my retirement from it, and so gratifying to my feelings as, an individual, commands immediate :compliance; and I trust I need not assure you, that this additional proof of your good opinion' and regard, will be cherished by me as it has been received, with the warmest feelings of unfeigned esteem and attachment.

I have, &'c. 
Cheltenham, December 9, 1836. 
GENERAL DARLING. (1837, May 11). The Colonist (Sydney, NSW : 1835 - 1840), p. 6. Retrieved from 

Up until the 1830s, the majority of ships requiring quarantine were convict transports, and being under government contract, the somewhat informal proclamation of quarantine by the Governor of the day was easy to enforce. One reason for the introduction of formal statutory regulation for quarantine in NSW in 1832 was the increasing rate of free immigrant vessels entering port. In 1831 thirty four immigrant ships had arrived, and this had increased to 63 in 1832. The captains of these free vessels were less ready to comply with such informal and ad hoc processes, thus a legislated requirement for all ships entering port to be screened for disease, and quarantined if necessary, was needed.

Another problem with the changing nature of the shipping entering Sydney was the increasing time constraints placed on the captains of commercial vessels, necessitating rapid turn-around in port-time wasted in port, and in quarantine, was income lost. The convict ships, under government contract, could be isolated for the period of quarantine with little added expense, but free commercial carriers sought demurrage from government for any delays it imposed. In part, the disruption to shipping caused by traditional quarantine practices led to the progressive move away from detention-based quarantine in Britain through the middle years of the 19th century.

The initial quarantine practice of housing the sick on board the vessel in which they arrived, was dispensed with after the experience with the long detention of the Lady MacNaghten in 1837, and the subsequent heavy demurrage claimed for that delay - and she wasn't the only one whose passengers were subjected to long delays in 1837. The Lady MacNaghten was an English barque of 553 tons, founded in 1825, which made numerous voyages to Australia, but remembered as the "Fever ship" for her 1837 voyage when one in six passengers died of illness either en route or shortly after arrival.

Billed as a "female emigrant ship", although the policy of bringing out women indiscriminately was being phased out in favour of family migration, the ship departed Cork on November 4th, 1836 with 412 emigrants. The Lady MacNaghten sailed from Britain to Australia non-stop, as was customary for emigrant ships. The first news to reach the outside world that anything was amiss was when the ship and HMS Rattlesnake, with Governor Bourke on board, made contact with her about 320 kilometres south of Port Phillip in late February 1837. Captain Hustwick passed the news to Captain W. Hobson that around 50 adults and children had died on board, mostly from typhus, and many more, including the ship's surgeon, Dr. J. A. Hawkins, were seriously ill. Assistant surgeon Bowler of HMS Rattlesnake was placed on board and the two ships went their separate ways. 

On February 26th the ship pulled in to Spring Cove, where she lay at anchor and those unaffected or recovering were ferried ashore and quarantined under guard. Their clothing and bedding was burnt and they were accommodated in tents, while those still suffering remained on board. Dr. Hawkins, who was on his first voyage as a ship's surgeon, died on April 2nd and was buried in the Quarantine Ground. Captain Hustwick had contracted the disease but recovered as did Dr. Bowler of the Rattlesnake. These three were popularly regarded as heroes; John Marshall, the London shipping agent whose duty it was to select prospective migrants and arrange their transportation, was the villain, dubbed "dealer in human flesh" for overcrowding the ship. Government regulations stipulated a maximum of 2 persons (including crew) for every 5 tons of Registered Burthen; Lady MacNaghten, of 550 tons should have carried no more than 334; she was carrying an equivalent of 336 adults, as well as children. Sixty-one Lady McNaghten passengers were lost, though possibly not all to typhus.

An open letter of gratitude was published on April 20th, and signed by 13 passengers, without the signature of John Lazar, who lost three children to the contagion, and was under-compensated for his wardrobe (he was a tailor and actor) which had been destroyed.

After that incident the sick were removed from their ships and housed ashore in tents, even during cold weather, while the ship was fumigated and scoured for return to the owner with the minimum delay. As a consequence of this decision the construction of permanent accommodation and stores buildings at the Quarantine Station at North Head was commenced.

Colonial Secretary's Office,
Sydney, 8th April, 1837.

HIS Excellency the Governor, has been pleased to direct that the two following reports received from the Medical Board, appointed to ascertain the present state of the health of the Emigrants in Quarantine at Spring Cove, and to report their opinion as to the propriety of releasing them, be published for general information.
By His Excellency's Command,

Sydney, April, 4, 1837. Proceedings of a Board of Medical Officers, on the ship " Lady Macnaghten," now in Quarantine; held by order of the Honorable Lieutenant-Colonel Snodgrass, commanding at
Spring-Cove, Port Jackson.
The Board having met and conferred with the Medical Officers in charge, on the various points referred to in the letter of the Honorable the Colonial Secretary, beg leave to report as follows, viz :—

1. With regard to the first point—" the present state of the health of the Emigrants ; " that there are this day, only seven cases of sickness amongst the children, inclusive of one girl, and all of them unconnected with fever ; that yesterday one child died of Marasmus, from long-continued Diarrhœa.
With regard to the second point ; it appears that the last case of Fever occurred on the 8th March, and was sent to the Hospital next day, since which time no new cases have appeared.
With regard to the third point, the Board have come to the unanimous decision, that as soon as the precautions indicated beneath are carried into effect, the sooner the Emigrants are released from Quarantine the better.

The Board recommend that every thing capable of being washed, should be again submitted to that operation ; all other clothing, either new or little used, should be subjected to airing and fumi-gation, under the directions of some responsible person ; and all old or suspicious clothing, together with the whole of the bedding, should be destroyed by fire.
J. V. THOMPSON, D.I.G., President.
JOHN LEWIS, Surgeon, 4th, or King's
Own Regt.
W. PARRY, Assistant-Surgeon, 4th, or
King's Own Regt.
J. ECKFORD, M. D., Assistant-Surgeon

Civil Hospitals.
Sydney, April, 7, 1837. The Medical Board which assembled on the Emigrants per Lady Macnaghten on the 4th instant, having re-assembled agreeably to the directions of the Honorable Lieutenant-Colonel Snodgrass, C. B., Commanding, beg leave to add to their former Report.
That it is their decided opinion, that the sooner the Emigrants now in Quarantine under the charge of Dr. Inches are released the better, as by remaining much longer in their present exposed situation, diseases not connected with the late fever, but of an equally serious nature, will be apt to develope themselves among them ; and that no case of fever having occurred since the 9th ultimo, they consider that this may be done with perfect safety to the public, after the precautions indicated in their former Report are carried into effect under the superintendence of Dr. Inches and Mr. Bolton.

With respect to the children and others now in Dr. Inches' sick Report, they are of opinion that they may be brought away with their parents or protectors with perfect safety to the public.
With reference to the report of the death of a child on the 6th instant, this will not invalidate their former opinion, as to the release of the Emi-grants ; as it does not appear, by the Surgeon's report, to have been at all connected with the prevailing fever.
J. V. THOMPSON, D.I.G., President.
JOHN LEWIS, Surgeon, 4th or King's
Own Regt.
WILLIAM PARRY, Assistant-Surgeon,
4th King's Own Regt.

QUARANTINE. (1837, April 12). New South Wales Government Gazette (Sydney, NSW : 1832 - 1900), p. 300. Retrieved from

In 1810, an area of 100 acres was granted to Richard Cheer. This grant was situated south of Ashburner Street. 

Following the Australian Quarantine Act of 1832, a Quarantine Reserve was established by the dedication in 1833 of all land within a quarter of a mile of the high water mark at Spring Cove. This reserve was extended in 1837 to include the whole of North Head to the southern boundary of Richard Cheers’ 100 acre grant.


By His Excellency Lieutenant-General Sir Richard Bourke, K.C.B., Captain-General and Governor-in-Chief of the Territory of New South Wales and its Dependencies, and Vice-Admiral of the same, &c., &c., &c.

WHEREAS, by a certain Act of the GOVERNOR of New South Wales, with the Advice of the Legislative Council, passed in the third Year of His present Majesty's Reign, intituled, " An Act for subjecting Vessels coming to " New South Wales from certain Places, to the " performance of Quarantine," it is amongst other things enacted, That it shall and may be lawful for the Governor, with the Advice of the Executive Council, from time to time, as he may think fit and expedient, by any Order or Orders notified by Proclamation, to appoint certain Stations or Places within the Harbour of Port Jackson, or within or near any other Harbour or Place within the said Colony, for the performance of Quarantine under the said recited Act, where all Vessels liable to Quarantine, and the Crew, Passengers, and Per-sons on board thereof, shall perform the same, and also, if necessary, to appoint Lazarets and other Places where the Crews, Passengers, and other Persons, and the Goods, Wares, and Merchandise which shall or may be on board the said Vessels, shall and may be detained and kept for the performance of Quarantine ; 

Now I, the Governor aforesaid, with the Advice of the Executive Council do, by this my Proclamation, declare and order that Spring Cove, within the Harbour of Port Jackson, and the whole of the land on the Northern Head of Port Jackson, bounded on the north, east, south, and part of the west by the sea and the waters of Port Jackson, and on the remainder of the west by a line from the west side of Spring Cove to Cabbage Tree Beach, forming the eastern boundary of Cheers's land, shall be a Station and Place for the performance of Quarantine, according to the several Provisions of the said recited Act, and subject to the several Rules, Regulations, and Restrictions contained therein, or in any Order or Orders which shall or may be made by me, with the Advice of the Executive Council, concerning Quarantine, and the prevention of infection ; 

And I do hereby strictly prohibit all Persons, not being themselves under Quarantine, or duly authorised for the purposes of necessary communication with Vessels under Quarantine or the Quarantine Ground, from going, under any pretence whatever, within Spring Cove, or the limits hereinbefore described on the Northern Head of Port Jackson, when any Ship or Vessel is performing Quarantine in Spring Cove, or any Persons, Goods, Wares, or Merchandise are undergoing Quarantine on Shore, within the said limits, under the Pains and Penalties prescribed by Law.

Given under my Hand and Seal, at Government House, Sydney, this Fifteenth day of July, One thousand eight hundred and thirty-seven.

By His Excellency's Command,

PROCLAMATION. (1837, July 19). New South Wales Government Gazette (Sydney, NSW : 1832 - 1900), p. 509. Retrieved from

Between 1837 and 1841, the New South Wales colonial government quarantined fifteen British and Irish ships, all for typhus. From the outset, and threaded through some of the old articles found to place to show what occurred from those earliest incidences of quarantine at Spring Cove, a distinction between those in 3rd and 4th class and those in 1st class becomes part of the story. This makes sense when considering how passengers were quite literally 'packed in like sardines' into lower deck sections, but also negates what must have been obvious by then, and has become more so in present times amid the spread of infectious diseases where any amount of contact over a prolonged period, such as a voyage, or an aeroplane flight from one place to another with air being circulated from one cabin to another, brings those aboard in contact with those infected and frequently is all that is required to spread an infection further - compare:

Original Correspondence,
To the Editor of the Sydney Herald.
Quarantine Ground, Spring Cove,
August 2, 1837.

Sir. - In your paper of Monday last, you were pleased to notice the regulations which we formed for our guidance during our voyage to these shores ; we return our sincere thanks for the high opinion you have expressed regarding them, and here we shall confine ourselves, our object being to offer an opinion regarding a notice which appeared in another column of the same paper, namely, "the John Barry has been released from quarantine, with the whole of the cabin passengers." But, Mr. Editor, there is nothing said of the principal part of the John Barry's cargo - the steerage passenger's; this may not surprise the people of Sydney, but it surprises us, that the cabin passengers should be released and we kept in bondage. 

You will, perhaps, agree with us, when you are told that it was in the cabin this disease first appeared ; this is a fact that cannot be denied, and it was those of our number who attended the sick beds of the cabin passengers who were first seized amongst us. There have been two deaths among the cabin passengers, thirteen in number, and among the three hundred and twenty-five steerage passenger, twenty-six ; thus the greatest mortality has reigned among the cabin passengers ; and there are not above four or five deaths attributed to the disease at present amongst us. As to the crew, although no deaths occurred among them, yet sickness prevailed to a great extent, so much so, that the steerage passengers were at times applied to for assistance, when not more than two or three of the watch were able to be on deck. And if this fever has prevailed most amongst the steerage passengers, to what is it to be attributed ? certainly not to them ; they were not aware that a contagious fever was raging among them, or they might have been more Cautious, But the hospital was open to visitors on all occasions, and families living in it; although it may be proper on some occasions for the husband to attend the wife and the wife the husband, yet in such a small place as the hospital in our ship there was not room for a constant attendant to each patient, yet such was the case, nor did it stop-here, for when a husband or wife was moved to hospital, the whole family followed, there they messed and slept; in fact it was their home night and day. It is thus the contagion has spread; in fact the fever has been chiefly among those who were in this way inhabitants of the, hospital. These errors were not unseen, nor silently submitted to, but remonstrance had no effect. This statement admits that there were persons amongst us imprudent enough to act so ; yet, Mr. Editor, you will be aware that the hospital was out of our bounds, and there our committee had no control ; therefore, no blame can be attached to us as a body, although it has been tried to shift it on our backs on the score of carelessness. We have also to add that the hospital was partly taken up by luggage belonging to the cabin passengers, which in a place so small caused great inconvenience. No one on board, either in cabin or steerage, knew anything of the nature of the disease; in fact it was trifling at the time we made the shore, and no one paid much attention to it; but how were we astonished when the surgeon reported "Typhus Fever;" yet free intercourse with the hospital was not stopped until it was loudly whispered that such was improper; so the morning after we anchored in Spring Cove, a placard was stuck on the hospital door, stating who should or who should not enter ; yet the same day when the bread arrived from Sydney, it was taken into the hospital, and from thence distributed to the healthy who were congregated around, and had to enter to receive it. 

Next we were landed to cut trees and cover them with tarpaulins, to protect us in some measure from the weather ; we had only the scanty beds served to us on board the ship to lay below us, and the cold ground for a bedstead ; some were fortunate enough to get some boards from the ship to lay below them. Our covering protects us from the heavy dew, but would be a poor protection against a heavy fall of rain, and none against the severe cold during the night. This sudden change from a crowded ship to the great exposure of an open tent, has produced among us colds and rheumatism to an alarming extent. On the other hand, the cabin passengers had all the comforts of a warm and, dry bed on board the ship at night, and the pleasure of terra firma during the day. Now, Mr. Editor, on the score of humanity, which ought to have been released first ? On the score of infection, we have already said something, and we will add more. The cabin passengers, as also the crew, were unrestrained in their intercourse among us on shore ; some of them were about the hospital every day ; part of the crew were on shore every night; on Friday night some of them slept on shore ; on Saturday most of the cabin passengers spent the day in close intercourse with us, and on Sunday they were released from quarantine. It is true one family was sent back ; but were the others (among whom are some of our number as servants) not as likely to carry infection into the Colony as the healthy among us? We will mention no names, but there is one among the cabin passengers, whom we considered bound to us by a tie too strong to have permitted him to leave us in a desert on the Holy Sabbath. We are, Mr. Editor,

Your obliged Servants,


Per John Barry. Original Correspondence. (1837, August 14). The Sydney Herald (NSW : 1831 - 1842), p. 3. Retrieved from

With that of 100 years later:

Strathaird Goes Into Quarantine

Above: Stewards In one of the liner's launches taking stores ashore from the Strathaird to the quarantine station at North Head. Some of these atewords were left at tho station to assist the passengers. At right: These passengers from the first-class section were able to leave the vessel. They were brought to Sydney by ferry and discharged at Pyrmont wharves. Strathaird Goes Into Quarantine (1938, April 1). The Labor Daily (Sydney, NSW : 1924 - 1938), p. 1. Retrieved from

The same year the above was published in The Colonist, this appeared in Mr Hall's paper regarding the John Barry, another ship quarantined at Spring Cove, Manly - the two ships passengers must have looked across the water at each other prior to being landed to be housed in tents in bitter August winds:


To the Editor of the SYDNEY MONITOR. 

Quarantine Station Sydney, August 23 1837. 

We noticed an article which appeared in the Gazette of the 15th instant; this article states, that our letter signed 'The steerage passengers per John Barry,' which appeared in the Herald on the 14th was the production of a single Individual; so far as regards; the penning of the letter, this is right, but if the correspondent of the Gazette means that that letter contains the opinions of one Individual only, we beg leave to contradict it, a majority of the steerage passengers having those opinions represented therein, the article alluded to farther states, that the individual in question has gained his passage by an imposition. We are at a loss to know how far this may be correct, as there has been none of our number that have been called on to exercise his profession and failed, we are therefore bound to treat this as an, unfounded base insinuation. 

'In other papers we have a statement setting forth that a superior class of mechanics, than can be found In Dundee, are to be found in Leith or Glasgow thus throwing a stigma on us who sailed from Dundee per the John Barry; the public will of course be aware that the author of this statement cannot pretend to be a judge, or it he does, he has had no means of judging ; this being the case we shall save ourselves the trouble of an explanation, and assure ourselves, that a discerning public will give it only the weight is deserves, while we assure them that none of us engaged to come to this Colony without providing ourselves with the Implements necessary for our several professions, We did not wait until we were at sea, to examine our tool chests, and then complain that we had not the articles necessary for our purpose. We did this while we had the power of making up any deficiencies, which will enable us to bear our part in our several avocations with our  brethren in the same lies, as that from Leith, Glasgow, Edingurgh, or London, or any other town in Europe. As to the cleanliness of the tween decks, we can only say that where 325 individuals, the one half of whom were children, were crowded together in a space of about 100 feet by 27, it would be preposterous to expect that that space should remain very long clean and if bones or bread, had at times been thrown down on the deck by children, it should have been unnoticed, as they were not left long there, seeing that the deck was well cleaned every morning and swept after every meal - we have no means of knowing to what extent cleanliness may be carried on onboard ships with prisoners, but we are convinced that no emigrant ship of the same size and the same number of people on board, could possibly be kept cleaner that was the John Barry, and we hope we will not be considered as taking to much credit to ourselves for our regulations, when we state that they were most effectual. in this respect, and that none but our own Committee, had or took much trouble on the subject, we may add that our upper deck had more the appearance of a farm yard than the deck of a ship. Goats, pigs, and poultry, running loose about it, caused it to be in a very dirty state; this being the case it was no wonder the 'tween decks never remained long clean. The circumstance of our being allowed a free passage having created a feeling of importance to us, is a matter entirely inexplicable unless it has been stated for the purpose of exciting the risible faculties of the public. We always felt our own importance most, when we put our hands into our pockets and paid our way, it is then we conceive ourselves more independent, and had we paid our passage, the language used to us, on some occasions would have been different; or-as to its being preferable for the agent, who selects, to come out with the Emigrants, we believe such would have been the case in this instance. Dr. Boyter is a gentle man for whom we have the highest respect, (as may be seen by our farewell letter to "The Land o'Cakes" published in the Dundee Advertiser. The letter from a respectable quarter in the same paper with the above requires a few remarks. We might be wrong in supposing that the Typhus fever first made its appearance in the cabin, but that an individual in the cabin was ill, and his two attendants, one after the other, were seized in the same way will surely not be denied; there was some talk among ourselves of its being a contagious disease, and of the propriety of moving the afflicted. from among us, and when the sound of typhus fever broke upon us as a thunder-bolt, it may not be wondered at, that we considered the cases above alluded to as its commencment. The seamen having been, In some degree, unhealthy, is admitted. As regards the relieving the crowded parts of the ship, by permiting healthy persons to live in hospital, there was no part of the ship more crowded than another, 'the berths behig fitted up in exact regularity in two tiers on each-side the ship, from stem to stern, and admitting that the hospital was the best ventilated part, it ought to be so, and its being so, can form no excuse whatever for crowding it with healthy persons, as if there was no contagious disease, this. was surely a ready way to cause one. 

The change from on board the ship to tents had, we still aver, an alarming effect on the health of many of our number-that it has not injured us so much as at first our fears anticipated, we readily admit, and confess ourselves thankful that such is the case. That all who choose to take the trouble could and did get boards from the ship's fittings is not true we were told that the carpenters would take down the fittings, and they would be equally divided on shore under the inspection of the Doctor-this was not done, and when the boards came ashore, some got too much, and others none, and we were not all supplied until boards were sent from Sydney. As to the individual referred to, who refused to move to the high ground he had taken a deal of trouble to fit up a place for his family as comfortable as circumstances would permit, and as six or seven families (favourites) were to be left on the low ground; he very naturally supposed that the health of his family would run no greater risk than theirs; it must also be remembered that the houses on the high ground that were finished were all occupied, consequently this individual would have had again to go to work, and put up a place for his family, which, as he had no tent, was (as far as regarded trouble) a matter of some consideration ; this individual, we can prove. took his berth in one of the houses before the floor was laid, or the roof on, and took up his habitation there as soon as finished - that he endeavored to persuade any party to resist orders is false, but we do net pretend to fight the battle of individuals; all we wish is that the correspondent of the Herald and Gazette would declare himself, and give the individual an opportunity of defending himself. That we are all mechanics or agriculturists, and may be useful to the Colony, with the exception of one, is true, although we may differ widely from the correspondent of the Herald as to the exceptionable one. 

Mr. Editor,- With our sincere thanks for your patience, we shall conclude; and if we be drawn further, the fault will not be ours ; we have only to add, we are prohibited from holding our meetings as we were wont, and not knowing how far the quarantine laws might justify us in breaking orders, we have adopted the plan of signing our names, which are here annexed. We are, Mr. Editor, Your most obedient servants, George Dunbar - James Thompson Alexander Paterson - Robert Smith Alexander Edward - William Garnie- George Mudie - David Balid - John Finlay - James Lamond, sen. Charles Watt - John Hunter McKay - Andrew Eggo - Alexander Rodger - David Faquharson - James Baillie - John Duff - Charles Crawford - Thomas Richardson - James Wallace William Andrews - Rob. G. Hozge James Lamond jun. - Donald Gum - David McBenth - James Melsun - Alexander Crawford - John Gillitly David Butler - James Stewart. John Miller - James Beatton Robert Anderson - William Finlay James Dewar - James Ferrier -John Alison - William Nairne. John Clark - Alexander Duncan - David Swan SIGNED BY FORTY ONE. 

[The above forms but a moiety of the epistle sent us for publication. The parts omitted were not " frivolous" nor "vexatious," but plain and sensible reasoning and statements, and the omission is owing exclusively to our want of room.-Ed. SYD,. Mon. " Quarantine. (1837, August 28). The Sydney Monitor (NSW : 1828 - 1838), p. 2 (EVENING). Retrieved from 

The John Barry was a three-masted merchant ship, convict transport, and immigrant transport built in 1814 at Whitby, England by John Barry for his own interests. She arrived in Port Jackson on July 15th, 1837, controversy preceding her, and filled with Scottish Emigrants, in comparison to another ship sent out with Irish Emigrants, under a slightly different arrangement, and bringing Scarlet Fever and Typhus with her:

From David Boyter, Esquire, Surgeon, Royal Navy, to the Honorable the Colonial Secretary.

Dundee, October 24th, 1836.

Sir,— I had the honor to transmit you, for the information of His Excellency the Governor of New South Wales, an Letter dated 14th October, enclosing a Copy of the Instructions I had received from Lord Glenelg. At that time I was unable to say much as to the success that was likely to attend my efforts in the selection of Emigrants. I have now, however, the satisfaction to report that I have on my list of applicants at least sixty Families ready to embark, and all of that description that will prove most useful to the Colony, being principally Mechanics of the preferable class, , viz.— Masons, Joiners, and Black-smiths. I addressed a letter to Lord Glenelg, urging the necessity of being permitted to offer a Free Pas-saga instead of a Bounty, as I know the Government of New South Wales found it impossible to recover money from Emigrants after their arrival in the Colony, and referred His Lordship to Mr. M'Pherson's evidence as given before the Committee appointed to report on these matters. I have this day received an answer that "Lord Glenelg docs not think it advisable to make any alteration in the Instructions under which you are acting, so far as it relates to the Bounty, without further experience of the necessity of some modification." I have stated this day in reply, that I am still under the necessity of holding out to Applicants that the Bounty offered is equal to a Free Passage, as it would be impossible for me, without the whole estimates and expenses of chartering a vessel, to say what sum the Emigrant may be liable for; and I am quite certain that most of those who are disposed to Emigrate on the present occasion will rather, remain, where they are than become bound for any amount whatever; and as to paying before embarkation, it is quite out of the question, as few, or none, have any money to advance. This Port has been long famed for a superior class of Mechanics, and is at this moment in the most prosperous state with regard to trade and enjoyment; it is therefore necessary that some unusual inducement be held out to people, and as His Lordship's Letter expresses that "some modification may take place on further experience of the necessity," I hope his Lordship will view the present case in that light, and allow me to act on the Governer Sir Richard Bourke's recommendation of offering a Free Passage. I also requested to be relieved from that clause in my original Instructions which required that that the age of Married Couples should not exceed thirty. In Scotland early marriages are not as common as in England, and finding that the greater number that applied to me were rather above that age, I made the necessary representation, which His Lordship granted, and extended the time to thirty-five years, which I conceive of great importance to the success of this undertaking. If His Lordship complies with my remonstrance regarding a Free Passage, I have every reason to believe that by the 10th of December I shall have as many engaged to proceed as will require a ship of five hundred tons. From the numerous communications I receive from all parts of Scotland, I am of opinion that a most useful Class of Emigrants may at any time be procured if an offer of a Free Passage is made, and I am much afraid if His Excellency's views on that head are not acted upon, my success is very doubtful. I shall continue from time to time to communicate to you, for the information of His Excellency the Governor, the progress I make in this service. I have the honor to be, &c, : DAVID BOYTER, M. D. From David Boyter, Esquire, Surgeon, Royal Navy, to the Honorable the Colonial Secretary. (1837, June 13). The Australian (Sydney, NSW : 1824 - 1848), p. 2. Retrieved from 

From David Boyter, Esq. Surgeon, Royal Navy, to the Honourable Colonial Secretary 

Dundee. Dec. 2 1836 

Sir,— I have the honor to acquaint you, for the information of His Excellency the Governor of New South Wales, that I have now received Instructions from The Lord Glenelg, Secretary for the Colonies, by a Letter dated November 24, 1836, by which I 'am authorised to offer a 'Free Passage' to a certain class of emigrants desirous of proceeding to New South Wales, in conformity with the original Instructions I received from His Excellency on' my departure from that Colony. In all my former communications to His Excellency, I stated that the Lord Glenelg had adopted a system of bounties, instead of a ' Free Passage,' which was found not to answer, and In consequence of my Reports on the subject,- His Lordship has In the mean time adopted that plan which is recommended in my instructions. I shall now lose no time in fulfilling the object of my mission, mid shall adhere as rigidly to my instructions as circumstances will admit. I have no doubt in my own mind of being able to collect as many useful mechanics as will require a ship of 500 tons, and to have them embarked by the middle of January, 1837. 

Finding the fatigue of going about the country, added to an extensive correspondence with appellants, fully occupied my time, I was obliged to resign into the hands of Government the chartering of a vessel, as well as all contracts connected with this service at the same time I shall consider it my duty to look into the manner in which these matters are conducted, and report my observations accordingly.

I have the honor, &o. DAVID BOYTER, M.D. Royal Navy. From David Boyter, Esq. Surgeon, Royal Navy, to the Honorable the Colonial Secretary. (1837, June 13). The Australian (Sydney, NSW : 1824 - 1848), p. 2. Retrieved from 


Dr. Boyter's Emigrants were to sail for this Colony in the above vessel some time in March.- We perceive from a Dundee Paper that a member of the late Emigration Committee, a Mr. Parker, had been endeavouring to run down the character of the John Barry, and her accommodations, but without success, as the Secretary of the Admiralty, on the appearance of Mr. R.'s statement, published that ' she was fit to carry a dry cargo to any part of the world,' and that she was 'in every respect, both as to safety and accommodation, a most desirable vessel for the purpose.'* This attempt of Marshall's Gang is therefore happily defeated, and no doubt the John Barry will have no difficulty in making up her complement, and sailing at the time appointed. THE JOHN BARRY. (1837, June 27). The Australian (Sydney, NSW : 1824 - 1848), p. 2. Retrieved from 


2, p. m. — Since the meeting of the Council broke up this morning, we have been favoured by an Hon. Member with correct intelligence from the report made and investigation of the subject, which has just taken place, to lay before our readers and the public, there is no occasion for alarm ! Two cases of Scarletina were discovered in the early part of the voyage, which of course spread — but was got under, and ultimately disappeared. Several deaths of children took place; but it is clearly proved from a bowel complaint, no doubt attributable in a great degree, if not entirely, to the salt meat rations of themselves, or of their mothers, if infants at the breast. The typhus fever has also shown itself. On the 1st of May, and on the 10th instant, deaths occurred. There are about six cases of Typhus, but in the very mildest form; and every hope is entertained that they will soon yield to medical treatment ashore. Every necessary precaution is adopted. The Governor is just gone on board, with the Harbour Master ; and it is thought that the passengers, 310 in number, will be permitted to land immediately. THE JOHN BARRY. (1837, July 15). The Sydney Times (NSW : 1834-1838), p. 2. Retrieved from 


We are happy in being enabled to state, from an authentic source, that the alarming reports current in town relative to a violent and dangerous fever raging without foundation. A medical board went to the quarantine ground yesterday, where the John Barry is lying, and the Executive Council has been summoned to meet this morning to receive their report, which is of the most favorable description. The following is a correct account of the deaths on board since her departure from Scotland; three adults, two men and one woman, and twenty two infants, whose deaths are attributed to their mothers living upon salt provisions; one of the infants died since the vessel has been in harbour. The John Barry, Captain Robson, left Dundee on the 25th March with 312 Emigrants on board, under the superintendence of David Thompson, Esq. R.N. Her detention in quarantine, it is expected, will not be longer than a week.

The Adam Lodge, Captain Mayne, has not brought us later English intelligence than already reported. She is the first arrival with emigrants under the new regulations. We regret in having to state that as many as twenty-two out ninety five infants have died on board during the passage which has been made in 106 days. The emigrants consist of 83 males, 81 married and 20 unmarried females, and 195 children, making a total of 379, under the care of A. Osborne, Esq., R. N.

By the Gem from Launceston, we learn that the Elizabeth, and steam ship James Watt, had arrived previous to her sailing. The brig William, and barque Commodore may be hourly expected from Hobart Town. The James Watt, Elizabeth, Sea Witch, and William Wise may also be daily looked for from Launceston.

The following passengers arrived by the schooner Success, Captain Leslie : -Mrs. Howarth, Mr. John Donnelly, Mr. John Legerwood, and Mr. Wm. Lake. THE SHIP JOHN BARRY. (1837, July 15). The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 - 1842), p. 2. Retrieved from 

As can be read, there were tents only for those aboard the John Barry at Spring Cove, North head Quarantine Ground and Station, although a day after they arrived we can read:

The John Barry. 

His Excellency, the Governor went down in his barge to Spring Cove on Saturday, and took the necessary measures for landing the emigrants from the John Barry. The pilot cutter has been hired to convey the guard daily to and from the quarantine station, and the revenue cutter has been placed to superintend the regulations. A gang of men was employed yesterday morning in taking down the wooden houses to the Market Wharf, for the purpose of erecting them on the beach at Spring Cove. We hear the cases are not of a serious nature, and there is but little doubt that by the precautions which are being taken, and a plentiful supply of fresh provisions, the disease will soon be eradicated. The John Barry. (1837, July 17). The Sydney Monitor (NSW : 1828 - 1838), p. 2 (EVENING). Retrieved from 

The Adam Lodge. - The whole of the Emigrants have been landed from this vessel at the Dockyard, and we are glad to find that with but a few exceptions, they were immediately engaged.

The John Barry - This vessel has been declared in Quarantine, and we regret to add that the houses for their reception have not yet been completed, but are however actively in preparation. SHIP NEWS. (1837, July 18). The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 - 1842), p. 2. Retrieved from 

Compare the difference in what was experienced by these two ships:



The emigrants by the ship Adam Lodge express themselves in terms of the highest satisfaction, in reference to the kindness and attention they experienced from the Captain and Superintendent throughout the voyage to this Colony. The utmost harmony prevailed on board ; and altogether, we are told, the lengthy passage (in point of distance, we mean) was performed in as pleasing a manner as could be expected under the circumstances. There can be no doubt that the statements which have, from time to time, been made public, with respect to ill-conducted emigrant ships, have had a very injurious effect at home, and, as a consequence, have been detrimental to the Colony, by deterring decent persons from undertaking so long a voyage. Doctor Osborne and Captain Mayne, therefore, deserve the thanks of the public for the general gratification they have afforded on this occasion ; and as the Superintendent is entitled under the regulations, to a gratuity, we are of opinion that none would be found to object to the liberality of the government being exercised in a present to the Captain, as an encouragement to others who may, hereafter, be employed in a similar service. The Adam Lodge is a beautiful ship, and will proceed from here to India, where a cargo awaits her. SHIP NEWS. (1837, July 20). The Sydney Herald (NSW : 1831 - 1842), p. 2. Retrieved from 

SATURDAY, JULY 22, 1837. Alick Osborne, Esquire, R. N., Surgeon Superintendent of the Ship '' Adam Lodge"' with Emigrants from Ireland,— called in and examined -I was employed by the Colonial Government in March, 1836, to go to Ireland and select emigrants, and bring them out to this Colony. I accordingly proceeded in that month, and arrived in London in the month of July, and in Ireland, in August 1836; but did not receive my final instructions from the Colonial Office, Downing-street, till November. I experienced no difficulty whatever in procuring the number of emigrants I required, under the instructions on which I acted; the terms which these instructions enabled me to propose, were most satisfactory to them; namely - a free passage for themselves and families, paid employment for one year certain, guaranteed by the Government, on their arrival is this country. The description of persons to whom I was authorised to offer these terms, were mechanics of the following descriptions; viz: blacksmiths, masons, carpenters; joiners, bricklayers, and stone-cutters. To laborers, and other individuals, I was authorised to offer a free passage only ; employment not being guaranteed to them by Government. 

Some disappointment may occasionally be experienced by the agent, from individuals changing their minds, when the ship was nearly ready, and this must be obviated by introducing a few beyond the specified number, and should any of these be thereby disappoint-ed, they would have the first offer by the next ship. Small farmers possessing little capital, with their wives and children, and young single women, their relatives ; and single men, as laborers, could be procured to almost any extent. 

I was authorised to charter a suitable vessel, on the part of Government, and I did charter the Adam Lodge, a first-class British built ship 597 tons, with a height between decks of about seven feet. The owner furnishing the provisions of prime quality at £6 10s., per head, according to the annexed scale for adult males and females, rating children in their portions specified in the Passenger-Act. In this agreement, were included rations, bedding, wine, medicines, and medical comforts. We also issued potatoes, at the rate of six pounds per week, to each adult, in addition to the rations, and the owners were compensated by the consequent saving of bread. The issue of potatoes continued from the 29th of March, the day we sailed from Londonderry, till the first of June, and was of the utmost advantage to the Emigrants. 

The number of the Emigrants embarked was about 86 married men, 86 married women, 30 single women, and 200 children, equal to 287 1/2 adults, estimated according to the Act of Parliament, and which was thirteen less than the number the ship might have taken, according to her tonnage, independent of her crew, and which, of course, caused the rate of expense for each Emi-grant to be higher than it would have been, if the number had been complete. This deficiency in numbers is accounted for by my instructions from the Government precluding my entering one individual beyond the prescribed number the ship could take, lest disappointment to each individual should ensue; whereas on this point, the Emigrants had no compunction at disappointing me ; I adopted the precaution, however, of making every candidate deposit £2, as a security for his appearance, to be returned to him on his arrival here, which accordingly has been done, and it forms a most convenient fund for their immediate expenses in the Colony, which otherwise they would probably have had some difficulty in meeting. Notwithstanding the high rate of freight at which the Adam Lodge was engaged the sum of £18 for each adult, and in the proportion for children prescribed by the Act, will fully cover all the expense of their pas-sage, but not that of my agency and superintendence; and taking the average rate of freight (according to an official document) paid by the Admiralty for the last four years at £ 4,1os., it will make the cost for each adult only £16 10s. In answer to the question of the committee I beg to say that I am not to be allowed to reckon the time I have been employed on this service, as time for increase of pay in the Royal Navy; and my daily allowance of 10s. 6d., will scarcely cover one moiety of my actual expenses, exclusive of my loss of time for which I am to receive no compensation. Of the Emigrant's embarked, only three adults died of apparent disease;, two of consumption, and one of pleurisy; two others sudden death — asphyxia ; twelve infants marasmus, or general decay of nature, one of croup, four of worms, and six of influenza, none of which diseases are in my opinion attributable to the confinement in the ship, or to the provisions. The scale of rations hereto annexed, is in my opinion nearly perfect, unless, that I think pease and cheese might be omitted, and oatmeal substituted for flour, in perhaps, Irish and Scotch ships. The rules adopted by me for the preservation of order, and cleanliness, when not voluntarily submitted to, were enforced by mulcting the offending parties of a portion of their rations and comforts, for a period proportioned to the offence, and I found the power, thus assumed by me, sufficient and ample for all, salutary and necessary control over them. SATURDAY, JULY 22, 1837. (1837, August 18). The Sydney Monitor (NSW : 1828 - 1838), p. 4 (EVENING). Retrieved from 


We regret to inform our readers that the hopes entertained of the early release of the emigrants by the John Barry, are not likely to be speedily realized. The news received from the Quarantine ground on Tuesday, were of the most gloomy description. From some unexplained cause, the disease had suddenly assumed a more malignant character. Several deaths it was understood had been reported, but from the unaccountable mystery with which the colonial government have thought proper to envelope the affair, we cannot speak with certainty on the subject. Several new cases of Typhus fever are reported, and among the number seized, we regret to perceive Dr. Neale, R. N. the Surgeon sent down by the Government to take charge of the Quarantine station. It is deeply to be regretted, that no step has yet been adopted by the Authorities to relieve the anxiety of those who have friends and relatives among the passengers, by the publication of authentic information; the more especially as we can perceive no benefit that can possibly result from withholding such intelligence. Since writing the foregoing, we make the following extract from yesterday's Monitor:

SIR -I regret extremely that I have been disappointed so long of the pleasure of calling on you, and delivering a letter which I have from your father. I am now as ignorant of the time we may be relieved, as I was the day we came here; indeed, there is less hope now than there was then. It is a great pity for me to keep your letter; and, if you will drop me a line to satisfy me that your direction is unaltered, I shall forward it to you immediately on receipt of the same. Oh, if the people in Sydney knew our condition, they would certainly do something to get us out of this. It was a shame to relieve the cabin passengers, who are now patroling the streets of Sydney, among whom are those who first had that disease we are now confined for, and keep us in this confinement. The fact is, if we are not relieved soon there will be few to relieve; the extremes of cold by night, and heat by day and the great exposure to both which we endure, is doing great things in the way of increasing distress. Two more of our number died last week and some more cases are now reported. It is a bad job, and badly managed, but we are paying dearly for it. I am, sir your obedient servant,

PS--I have been acquainted with your father these some years, and am very anxious to see his son. I hope the time is not far distant.

Quarantine Station, Spring Cove,

August 7th, 1837. THE JOHN BARRY. (1837, August 10). The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 - 1842), p. 2. Retrieved from 


In another portion of our paper appears a letter from an emigrant by the John Barry, and in The Herald of Monday there also appears a letter from a large proportion of the male emigrants by that vessel, confirmatory of our conjectures regarding the authorship and veracity of a communication which appeared in The Herald of the 14th, and in The Monitor of the 10th instant. It is to be regretted that an individual who has only obtained a passage to this Colony by practising a fraud on the funds of the Colonists through means of their Agent, should strive to render himself so conspicuous. We trust the hints he has already received as to our knowledge of his character, and pretensions, will have a salutary effect on his turbulent dis-position.

We are indebted to the kindness of a gentleman at Spring Cove, who has furnished us with the following report of the state of the hospital at the Quarantine station, the correctness of which may be relied on. The anxiety of many on shore who have relations or acquaintances on board, without means of communicating with them, may be easily conceived; and it afoords us much gratification to be able to furnish our readers with a correct report of the progress of the disease. We feel much obliged to our correspondent for his kind offer to furnish us with a report as occasion may offer: -

Spring Cove, August 19. STATE OF THE HOSPITAL.

Number of cases of Fever,--two of these fresh cases this morning...... 9 Convalescent.. . . .. 11 Deaths--None since the 15th August. THE JOHN BARRY. (1837, August 24). The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 - 1842), p. 2. Retrieved from 

Dr Neale, R.N., is still ill weeks later:


We regret to inform our readers that we have received authentic intelligence from Spring Cove, informing us that Dr. Neale, R.N., who was sent down by the Government to superintend the sick in hospital there, had himself been attacked by Typhus Fever. The kindness and unremitting attention to the sick which Dr. Neale has ever shewn, and the fearlessness of danger with which he exposed himself to infection in the discharge of his duty, have endeared him to all among the Emigrants who are susceptible of gratitude. We trust that the next information from Spring Cove will bring us the welcome intelligence of his recovery.

The Australian steamer belonging to Mr. Manning, went down the Harbour yesterday to Spring Cove, and returned the same evening, bringing with her all the healthy Emigrants by the John Barry leaving at the Quarantine Station about fifty individuals only, comprising the whole of the sick and those lately convalescent.

The Hospital now contains but four or five patients still suffering under fever, but, all mending rapidly. No new case of fever has occurred since the 29lh of August. In a short time we anticipate the remainder of the Emigrants will be released from their disagreeable situation.

Since writing the above, we have seen several of the emigrants just arrived from the Quarantine Station, and have learned to our unqualified surprise and astonishment, that they were told to shift for themselves. We had understood that the wooden buildings lately erected in the rear of Government House, were intended for the accommodation of emigrants on their arrival, but we presume His Excellency means to reserve them in future for the use of the convicts. The news of the treatment received by the John Barry passengers from the Go vernment, will, doubtless, prove a strong antidote in Scotland to the poison the Government House journal alleges Major Mudie's book is calculated to disseminate. THE JOHN BARRY (1837, September 9). The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 - 1842), p. 2. Retrieved from 


THERE seems to be some under-current at work in the management of the Immigrants by this vessel, which we confess ourselves totally unable to comprehend. Immediately on their arrival in the harbour, late in the afternoon, they were told, on application to know where they were to go, to Dr. Osborne (who, although not yet Gazetted, acts as Immigration Agent for the Port of Sydney), that "the town was before them, to shift for themselves." The plan only partially succeeded, for several of their number recollecting that the Government had entered into an agreement with them, through Dr. Boyter, before leaving Scotland, resolved not so easily to relinquish it, and were at last, after some demurrage, pointed out the place which had been erected for the accommodation of Immigrants on their arrival, and which had previously been occupied by the Irish Immigrants of the Adam Lodge.

The Immigrants by the Adam Lodge were, within two days of their arrival, set to work for the Government, in accordance with their agreement, at the current rate of wages in the colony ; but the Government, why, we know not, have declined ratifying their agreement with the Scotch Immigrants, and refuse to give them employment unless they consent to work at piece-work. The injustice of this is obvious, even had not the distinction made in the treatment of the Irish and the Scotch Immigrants been invidious. But newly arrived in the colony—ignorant of the nature of the climate as it affects the workman, and unacquainted with the quality of the stone, it is impossible that they can be adequate judges of the rate at which they should be paid. Surely Sir Richard Bourke cannot mean, by his treatment of these men, to induce them to send home such accounts to Scotland as will effectually prevent any future importation of Emigrants from that country.

Some of the Immigrants finding, that in consequence of the rejection of all tenders lately made for public buildings, and the entire cessation of private buildings, caused by the present inordinately high prices of materials, work could not be obtained in the employment of private builders, for any large portion of their number, have reluctantly consented to comply with the unjust demands of the Government, and are now actually engaged at the new jail, on piece-work, making very little more by their labour, than they could have obtained at the harbour of Dundee. Others however have resolved, and very justly in our opinion, not to submit to such treatment, but to compel the Government to fulfil the agreement entered into before leaving Scotland.

We can never wish to see public buildings erected otherwise than by contract open to public competition. In no other way can they be managed with ad-vantage to the public. We do not, consequently, wish to see the Government undertake the erection of public works, merely that they may be enabled to fulfil their agreement with the Immigrants, who may be introduced to the Colony under the present system ; but, as the Government have, by refusing to accept the tenders for the erection of public buildings, offered by private contractors, put it out of the power of the Immigrants to obtain other employment, we cannot but think it sufficiently paltry in its representatives to attempt to take advantage of that circumstance to over-reach Immigrants who have ventured among us on the faith of an agreement entered into with the accredited agent of a British Government, the honour of such a Government they had ever had reason, till now, to consider untarnished. THE JOHN BARRY. (1837, September 16). The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 - 1842), p. 2. Retrieved  from 

Demurrage is a charge payable to the owner of a chartered ship on failure to load or discharge the ship within the time agreed.

The John Barry.

We copy the following letter, addressed to the Editor of the Evening Mail; it will show that, in future, the female emigrants for New South Wales (for having no money to pay for their passage, we shall have no more sent to Van Diemen's Land) are not likely to be treated worse than prisoners, for, assuredly, the public manner the statement is made, of the unseaworthiness of the John Barry, will have its effect upon the proper authorities :—

"SIR,—The jealousy with which you have ever watched over emigration, renders it unnecessary for me to apologise for troubling you with a few remarks on the manner in which a large body of emigrants are about to be sent from Scotland to New South Wales.

The Admiralty, at the desire of the Colonial Office, has lately chartered a vessel called the John Barry, to convey emigrants collected and selected by Mr. Boyter, a gentleman sent home for that purpose by Sir Richard Bourke. As the number of persons proposed to be put on board amounts to 300, I think the utmost caution ought to have been observed in selecting a ship, and that none but a vessel of the first class, (A I) should have been taken up for the service. With regard to the John Barry, I believe it to as good a ship of its age (not teak-built) as can be found in our mercantile marine, but the question is not whether it is a good ship of its age, but whether it is the fittest ship that could be found to carry a cargo of human life. I shall show that it is a ship which ought not to be employed in such a service, and I assert that no vessel of such age and such character ought to be chartered for the purpose. By reference to Lloyd's Register, I find the John Barry was built at Whitby, in 1814 ; that it stands Æ I; that in 1828 it had new top-sides, and part new whales ; in 1834 a new deck and large repairs, and in 1836 some repairs, and was doubled, felted, and coppered. It will probably be argued that these numerous repairs qualify the ship for the service, but one moment's reflection on the subject will convince the most sceptical that a vessel which has required such repairs cannot be so sound as a younger and equally well-built vessel.

It has been admitted, (even by Lord John Russell in the House of Commons,) that none but A I ships are fit to be employed in the conveyance of convicts to New South Wales, and that the vessels employed in that service were not such as ought to have been chartered. Why, then, should a vessel of the same character as the ships which have been wrecked with convicts on board, be chartered to carry out emigrants ? Why should persons of a class superior to convicts be sent to New South Wales in ships inferior to those now employed in the convict service ?

The John Barry strongly resembles in character the unfortunate Neva, wrecked about two years since, when unhappily so serious a loss of life was sustained. The Neva was built in 1814, and had large repairs in 1826, and also in 1833, and in 1834 further repairs were executed, and she was then partly new decked. The John Barry was also built in 1814, and has also been extensively repaired at different times, and had a new deck in 1834. The John Barry is therefore two years older than the unfortunate Neva was at the time of her loss. It was stated that the Neva instantly went to pieces on striking the ground. Would not the same fate attend the John Barry were she in a similar situation?

It will probably be said the precaution of having the vessel surveyed has been taken ; but what weight can be given to the opinion of surveyors who reported favourably on the state of the Amphitrite, lost off Bologne, in 1833, the George the Third, lost in D'Entrecas-teaux Channel, in 1834, and the Neva, in Bass's Straits, in 1835 ? Sad experience—a loss of about 600 lives, with three ships—tells us that a better class of shipping ought to be employed to carry large numbers of human beings. Humanity demands that none but the best ships of the highest character shall be employed to convey 300 persons from one hemisphere to the other.

I have communicated with the authorities at the Colonial Office on the subject, and I am sorry to say that an appeal even to their humanity had no effect, except to make them endeavour to shift responsibility from them-selves to the Admiralty ; but inquire at the Admiralty, reference is made at the Colonial Office. Thus between the two public offices the shuttlecock is kept flying, and well will it be if it can be kept up until the game is over, and the emigrants landed in safety at Sydney.

Having thus shown that the ship in point of character is not such as ought to be employed for the service, I will now call your attention to the total want of system evinced by the parties employed to conduct it. The 'tween decks of the John Barry are fitted for the reception of the emigrants, consisting of men, women, and children ; a bulk-head is erected just before the hatch, and another abaft the mizen mast ; between these bulk-heads, men, women, and children, four in each berth, are to be huddled together, in a space about 90 feet long by 27 feet wide, ventilated by ten scuttles (holes nine inches by six) in the sides of the ship. The state of the atmosphere with 300 persons in such a confined space will be scarcely bearable in the cold latitudes ; in the tropics it will not be endurable, and the more especially as the other accommodations are so shamefully arranged as it is possible to be.

I do not wish to raise any factious objection to any system devised with a good intention ; but I think, Sir, you will agree with me that in this affair there is error somewhere.

I shall not offer any observations on the disgusting scene which will ever be present on board this ship, but I feel convinced that as little modesty will remain in the bosoms of females as there will be of morality in the breasts of men exposed to such a scene for five months.

The introduction to New South Wales of a virtuous population is much required ; but if emigration be conducted in this manner, it will be strange if a virtuous population can be introduced.—

I have the honor to be, sir, yours very obediently,


A Member of the late Emigration Committee." "Lincoln's-inn, Feb. 17, 1837." The John Barry. (1837, August 8). Colonial Times (Hobart, Tas. : 1828 - 1857), p. 5. Retrieved from 


Our attention has been directed to a letter which appears in yesterday's Herald, purporting to be the united production of the steerage passengers who arrived by the John Barry, and who still remain at the Quarantine station at Spring Cove. We should have been disposed to express our regret at observing such a spirit of turbulence among the emigrants, had we not been assured that the letter is the sole production of an individual who rendered himself somewhat conspicuous by his grumbling, discontented spirit on the voyage, and who obtained his passage on the John Barry, by practising a successful imposition on Dr. Boyter, the emigration agent at the port of Dundee. Under such circumstances it would, we think, have been quite as well for this individual to have kept himself quiet, lest perchance it should be suggested to the government here, to make a few enquiries as to the claim he has to the character under which he has come out.

We should have been disposed to show some attention to a letter containing statements supposed to emanate from "the steerage passengers per John Barry," had it not at once appeared that the writer's object was not to obtain an improvement in the accommodations of which he complains so bitterly, but to grumble because the cabin passengers are not as miserable as himself. What confidence can the writer expect will be placed in his statements, when he avers at the outset, that which the public know to be a falsehood. It is well known on shore, that it was not in the cabin that the disease first appeared, that in fact, the typhus fever never made its appearance in the cabin at all. It is well known also that of the two deaths in the cabin, the first was occasioned by scarlet, and the next by brain fever.

No one could more willingly lend their aid to alleviate the discomforts under which the emigrants by the John Barry labour than we should, but it is to be regretted that they should allow a discontented grumbler like this man to represent them all. A reasonable person would think it was enough that he himself was necessarily subjected to such inconveniences, without wishing that others should be compelled to participate in them. THE JOHN BARRY. (1837, August 15). The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 - 1842), p. 2. Retrieved from

The 'Letter' published on August 28th is replied to through this illumination, while further research on some of the passengers backs up his claim through finding that many of them could not read or write, let alone sign a letter, even though the sentiments expressed in it may have been held by them:

To the Editor of the Sydney Gazette.


You will oblige me by giving insertion in your paper to the following notice of a letter which appeared in The Monitor of the 28th ult I would have sent it to the Editor of that paper with the request that it might be allowed a place in his paper, but that I feared it might have met the fate of one I sent to the- Editor of The Herald, where, in place of its being printed at length, a garbled extract was made from it, with the excuse that as much of it had been copied as could be useful.

You, Sir, formed a perfectly just opinion of the several letters which have appeared in the public prints, relative to the treatment and management of the emigrants by the John Barry, - they have been the production of one individual, to whom not a little perhaps of the calamities that have visited the passengers by that ship may with justice be ascribed, as I shall by and bye endeavour to show. Among the names attached to the letter in question, appears that of the author of it, but near the latter end, thus wishing to make it appear that he had no more to do with it than any other individual, whereas nothing is more certain than he has the credit of every word in its composition. The tree is known by its fruit. The mode of getting these effusions of ill will is as follows : -

After a day or two of intense application, divising which vague rumors are afloat as to what is coming, at length it is announced that the mountain has produced its mouse- it is then carried by his group of ragamuffin followers from tent to tent to obtain signature, when, by means of sneers, sarcasms about not sticking up for rights, being turncoats, &c, and other acts of intimidation, a few signatures are reluctantly obtained. It is then dispatched as coming from the body of emigrants. In the case of the last letter he has outwitted himself-he had expected that the number of signatures would be given, and not the names themselves; whereas it is now found he has had recourse to his old trade of fraud, if not forgery, several persons declaring they neither signed the precious document themselves, nor gave permission to any one to do so for them. If I am not misinformed there are names of children among the number.

It would have been strange, as it would have been discreditable to the respectable emigrants if they could not have expressed their sentiments without having recourse to the HEAD of a FOOT man, who has no right to be amongst them; but in truth he is regarded by them as a worthless, pestilent fellow, who his been a cause of annoyance to all the better disposed, both on board ship, - but especially since landing. Indeed, he has kept the place in a ferment for some time back. I daresay you will agree with me, that a more mischievous, - a more dangerous character than a practised demagogue orator, with a brazen assurance and disregard for truth, not to be surpassed even in this Colony, could not be introduced among a body of men such as emigrants,- many of them ignorant, but whose evil passions are not the less easily excited on that account. The restraint of quarantine necessarily produced a state of irritability of mind the most favourable for the machinations of such a character, and he has not failed to avail himself of it, and accordingly every one here in authority has been exposed to more or less annoyance.

It is a curious fact, which I state on good grounds, that the staunchest supporters of this man, and consequently the most discontented, are like himself, as ignorant of the trades they professed when they obtained a passage in the ship, as they are of Hebrew ; they are there-fore, like himself, guilty of fraud upon the Colonial fund.

In looking over the signatures, I noticed the names of several, who, if they really concurred in the sentiments of this fellow's letter, deserve to be classed among the most base and heartless emigrants that ever lived ; - I can only compare them to those curs we some-times meet with, who are of a disposition so malignant, that after accepting the morsel offered, will snap at the hand that presented it. It is universally known among them, that my time was most unremittingly-most anxiously occupied in attending to the sick, and the general welfare of the whole body of emigrants ; that I expended of my private stock, to the value of not a few pounds ; that I begged from the cabin passengers, and contracted a debt with the master of the ship, for articles not furnished by the Government. One instance I shall mention, that may tend to show how unpleasant the situation of Surgeon of an emigrant ship may be, as well as the disposition of some of the parties for whom the Colonial funds have been expended. I was a few days ago called to attend a woman in her confinement -the sixteenth that has occurred on board and on shore ; that all have recovered well, and under circumstances of discomfort, may evince there was no lack of attention on my part. While I was affording that assistance her situation required, how do you suppose the husband of this woman was employed ?-in going from tent to tent canvassing for signatures to his party coloured friend's letter.

You may suppose the effect of frequent harangues upon the benefits of self-government (that is, acknowledging no superior), the propriety of sticking up for rights, &c., would not tend greatly to keep up wholesome restraint, or rules enforcing cleanliness, &c. ; and accordingly, what might have been expected, followed. My advice (for I must not give offence by saying orders), my prophetic warning were alike attended to, that is, were little regarded. Every man of candour among the emigrants will ac-knowledge that I was constantly urging the necessity of greater cleanliness, and often predicted that fever or even the plague would certainly break out among them.

Painful as it is to me to hurt the feelings of many respectable men among the emigrants, I must declare that Typhus Fever on board the John Barry (as every where else that it appears), was the legitimate offspring of DIRT; and that had my advice been attended to, that disease would never have appeared.

I have already extended this to too great length. I shall therefore not enter into the question, whether the metropolis of Scotland, the populous and wealthy City of Glasgow, or the small seaport of Dundee, be the most likely place to furnish good mechanics; nor shall I trouble myself to notice any of the false-hoods in the letter I have alluded to. I shall only in conclusion state, that the great majority of the emigrants are respectable men, and, I believe, first rate tradesmen. The masons will leave a favourable specimen of their handywork in the obelisk erecting here. The carpenters have not had the opportunity of shewing what they can do. I must also say, there are some whose passage to the Colony may be thought rather a dear purchase (and I trust they will soon have the opportunity) to judge for themselves.

I am,
your obedient Servant,
D. THOMPSON, Surgeon, R. N.
Spring Cove, August 31, 1837.

To the Editor of the Sydney Gazette. (1837, September 5). The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 - 1842), p. 3. Retrieved from 

The John Barry finally leaves Sydney:



September 5.—Success, Leslie, master, for Hobart Town, 90 logs cedar, 61 packs 104 oil casks in packs, 23 casks beef, 1 box cheese, 1 cask butter, 1 crate earthenware, 10 bundles hoops, 16 bags maize, 2 hogsheads brandy, 40 tons coals, 20 sheep, 1 cask rivets. 

6.—John Barry, 525 tons, Robson, master, for Hokianga, 1 bale blankets, 1 cask British goods, 1 cask sugar, 9 bales 5 cases slops, 2 cases muskets, 1 case earthenware, 1 hogshead porter,1 half-pipe Cape wine, 1 case shot, 1 case umbrellas, 1 case cigars, 3 coils rope, 2 barrels flour, 2 kegs tobacco, 20 kegs gunpowder. 

7.—Dublin Packet, Leathart, master, for New Zealand, 3 puncheons rum, 6 kegs tobacco, a quantity of whaling gear, 50 tons oil casks, 8 casks bread, 16 casks flour, 3 tierces beef, 4 chests tea, 28 bags sugar, 14 hogsheads porter, 10 dozen wine. 

7.—Harlequin, 71 tons, Anderson, master, for New Zealand, 60 tierces salt, 32 kegs gunpowder, 3 casks ironmongery, 1 barrel gin, 9 kegs 10 baskets tobacco. 

9.—Ann, 273 tons, How, master, for South Seas, whaling stores. 9.—City of Edinburgh, 367 tons, Thompson, master, for London, 472 casks sperm oil, 31 bundles whalebone, 1 keg ambergris, 591 ox and cow hides, 35 bales wool, 1 box papers. EXPORTS. (1837, September 14). The Colonist (Sydney, NSW : 1835 - 1840), p. 7. Retrieved from 

There was always a close link between the requirement for quarantine and the ebb and flow of sea-borne immigration; and the growth of the Quarantine Station from the 1830s parallels the changes in immigration policy and practice. The other major influence was the imperative to limit disruption to the increasingly commercially-sensitive shipping industry. From the outset of the Quarantine Act of 1832, Spring Cove at Manly, named for the spring of water flowing there, was utilised as somewhere far enough away from the town of Sydney to prevent the spread of infectious diseases.

Collin's Flat - near Spring Cove Item a280004h from Album: Sydney Harbour : views of Middle and North Harbour bays and foreshores, including Quarantine Station, North Head, ca. 1870s - courtesy State Library of NSW

As the dominant headland of the harbour, North Head was of importance in navigation from the time of the First Fleet. By 1809 navigational plans were showing an obelisk, located in what was to become the Quarantine Station precinct, presumed to have been used as a channel marker for vessels negotiating the Sow and Pigs Reef. A 10-metre-high (33 ft) obelisk still exists on this site, which may be the original or a replacement. 

It is not the sole obelisk shaped item on the site - this memorial stone has a particularly poignant message:

9. AN OLD RELIC AT NORTH HEAD QUARANTINE STATION AT NORTH HEAD. This was put up by members of the crew of the ship Constitution in 18558. QUAINT INSCRIPTIONS ON THE CLIFFS NEAR THE QUARANTINE STATION.  The inscriptions were left by crews of ships which here been in Quarantine. SYDNEY AND THEREABOUTS: EXHIBITION TENNIS AT RUSHCUTTER'S BAY TENNIS GROUND; SCOUTMASTERS' CAMP AT MIDDLE HEAD; AND RELICS AT THE QUARANTINE STATION, NORTH HEAD. (1923, June 9). The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 - 1946), p. 60. Retrieved from

A memorial stone for passengers and crew of the ship, Constitution, who died either on passage to Australia, or following arrival in May 1905, while the passengers were in quarantine - photo by and courtesy Sardaka

The, at times, humanising experiences of quarantine in 1837 and 1838 prompted a review in the colony of the organisation and conditions aboard immigrant ships. The final report, arising as a NSW initiative, pricked the sensitivities of the British emigration officials, but nevertheless had positive outcomes. The review indicated that there was insufficient checking of the health of the emigrants before boarding; there was insufficient concern with diet during the voyage, especially for the needs of children; and that the formula of three children equalling one adult when allocating food and berth space aboard required reconsideration, as it led to excessive number of children in cramped spaces, with inadequate food. Finally it indicated that the surgeon-superintendent aboard ship required more authority to regulate and promote good health and good order among the emigrants.

The subsequent reorganisation of the system resulted in interviews and medical checks on would-be emigrants before embarking them; vaccination for smallpox of all emigrants; the signing of undertakings to follow the directions of the surgeon-superintendent on voyage and better definition of his role and powers; improvements in diet and hospital accommodation aboard; and moves to prevent overcrowding.

The rate of mortality improved dramatically. In 1840 the death rate for children fell from one in ten to one in seventeen, and that for adults also fell. With the improved conditions the rate of quarantine declaration of immigrant ships also fell in 1840, from three ships out of 43 in 1839 to one out of 40 in 1840. However, there were still some with many fleeing Europe and the United Kingdom due to a typhus epidemic, the potato famine of Ireland and the commencement of the waves of immigrants seeking a better life by heading to the goldfields of Australia from the late 1840's on.

Colonial Secretary's Office,
Sydney, 24th January, 1838.
A FEW cases of TYPHUS FEVER having occurred on board the Minerva, His Excellency the ACTING GOVERNOR, with the advice of the Executive Council, has deemed it necessary to place the Ship, Crew, and Passengers under Quarantine, according to Law, of which all Persons are hereby required to take notice accordingly.
The boundaries of the Quarantine Station at Spring Cove are specified in a Proclamation dated 15th July, 1837, 
By His Excellency's Command,
QUARANTINE. (1838, January 31). New South Wales Government Gazette (Sydney, NSW : 1832 - 1900), p. 87. Retrieved from

Colonial Secretary's Office,
Sydney, 23rd August, 1841

SOME cases of Fever having occurred on board the ship Eleanor, his Excellency the Governor, with the advice of the Executive Council, has deemed it necessary to place the Vessel, Crew, and Passengers, under Quarantine, according to Law, of which all Persons are hereby required to take notice accordingly.
The Boundaries of the Quarantine Station, at Spring Cove, are specified in a Proclamation, dated 15th July. 1837.
By His Excellency's Command,
QUARANTINE. (1841, August 24). New South Wales Government Gazette (Sydney, NSW : 1832 - 1900), p. 1131. Retrieved from

Colonial Secretary's Office,
Sydney, 22nd February, 1853.

SEVERAL cases of Typhus Fever having occurred on board the Ship "Trafalgar," His Excellency the Governor General, with the advice of the Executive Council, has deemed it necessary to place the vessel, crew, and passengers under Quarantine according to Law, of which all persons are hereby required to take notice accordingly.
The Boundaries of the Quarantine Station, at Spring Cove, are specified in a Proclamation, dated 15th July, 1837.
By His Excellency's Command,
(1853, February 25). New South Wales Government Gazette (Sydney, NSW : 1832 - 1900), p. 396. Retrieved from

Immigration dropped from 1842 due to the economic recession in the colony, as the decline in land sales had reduced the pool of funds earmarked to support the migration scheme. Immigration was at a standstill from 1842 until 1848, and only one ship was quarantined in this period. The resumption of immigration in 1847-48 led to a review of the adequacy of the Quarantine Station, but no real increase in accommodation resulted.

The arrival of the Beejapore in 1853, with over one thousand passengers, at a time when the Quarantine Station could accommodate 150 persons, triggered a new building phase. As a temporary measure, the hulk Harmony was purchased and moored in Spring Cove as a hospital ship. The Beejapore was an experiment in trying to reduce migration costs by using two-deck vessels, and the outcome was judged not to be a success. Fifty-five people died during the voyage, and a further sixty two died at the Quarantine Station, from the illnesses of measles, scarlet fever and typhus fever. The majority of the passengers and crew had to be housed in tents. The biggest impetus for change came not so much from a concern about poor housing, but rather a concern for the morals of the married women and the "200 single women let loose in the bush" that represented the undeveloped station at that time. The resulting changes to the station, besides the use of the hospital ship, included the construction of a barracks for the single women in the former Sick Ground, surrounded by a double fence with a sentry stationed between them, to prevent communication with the women. Two new buildings were built in the Healthy Ground, each to house sixty people, with verandahs for dining. The original burial ground was levelled and the grave stones removed to the new burial ground, thus further removing the burials from the view of the Healthy Ground. Eight quarters were also built for the Superintendent.

Emigrant Ship Arriving off Sydney Heads- Oswald Brierly, 1883, Item: a128894h, courtesy State Library of NSW

From the 1860s to 1890s

The downturn in immigration during the economically stagnant period of the 1860s, triggered by the colonial government cancelling the regulations to provide assisted passage to migrants in 1860, limited the use of the Quarantine Station, and the willingness of the government to spend money on its upkeep. As a result of this downturn between 1860 and 1879 only 138 immigrant vessels arrived [compared with 410 between 1840 and 1859], and of these 33 required cleansing at the Quarantine Station.  In the same period 29 merchant or naval vessels were quarantined, but again mainly for the cleansing of the ship rather than the landing of diseased crews.

The run-down Quarantine Station had become unsuitable for passenger quarantine, and particularly for first and second class passenger accommodation, by the time the Hero was in need of quarantine for smallpox in 1872. The passengers were kept aboard the ship, because the station could not adequately house them. The inadequacy was further publicised during the quarantine of the Baroda in 1873, when first class passengers had to do their own washing - poor things! Well-connected passengers ensured that government attention was focussed on the shortcomings of the Station accommodation. As result, a new group of First Class accommodation buildings were built in the Healthy Ground.

A Scarlet Fever epidemic (1875-76) that caused 600 deaths in Sydney and 1600 statewide, again saw people paced in quarantine.

Quarantine Station at North Head, Item a280009h from Album: Sydney Harbour : views of Middle and North Harbour bays and foreshores, including Quarantine Station, North Head, ca. 1870s - courtesy State Library of NSW

Dunkeurs [Dunckeurs ?] Cottage, Quarantine Item a280008h, from Album: Sydney Harbour : views of Middle and North Harbour bays and foreshores, including Quarantine Station, North Head, ca. 1870s - courtesy State Library of NSW

As steam navigation became more common, the costs of delays to shipping schedules by quarantine became more pressing. By the 1870s the detention of a steamer could cost from £20 to £300 per day, and shipping agents and owners could not see why Australia was not following Britain's lead in abandoning quarantine regulations. In response the Assistant Health Officer was based at Watson's Bay from 1882, to reduce delays in inspection. The Shipping Owner's Association also requested the provision of Asiatic accommodation at the Quarantine Station, a better supply of water there, the supply of a steam launch to take supplies to the quarantined ships, and printed instructions for Captains of quarantined vessels.

the Smallpox epidemic of 1881–82

At 2.50am on April 29th 1881, the steamship Brisbane under the command of Captain J Beddell, arrived in Port Jackson from Hong Kong. The journey had taken just over three weeks. On board were 106 Chinese men in steerage, plus cargo which included oil, preserves, tea, cigars, opium and rolls of matting. The Brisbane proceeded to North Head, the site of Sydney's quarantine station, with a case of smallpox on board. The smallpox victim and several other men were transferred to the hospital ship Faraway, while the remainder stayed on board the Brisbane until the captain was granted pratique (health clearance) by the quarantine health officer some weeks later.

On May 25th, three weeks after the Brisbane's arrival, Dr Haynes G Alleyne, chief health officer and head of Sydney's quarantine service, was notified of a possible case of smallpox. The infant daughter of On Chong, a Chinese merchant from Lower George Street, had come down with fever and a rash, prompting a call to a local doctor. Dr Alleyne sent one of his government medical officers to examine the child. As it turned out, there was no clear diagnosis, so the decision was made for the medical officer to monitor the child on a daily basis.

The local newspapers soon heard of the case and began asking why the government medical officer was allowed to move freely about the city when he made daily visits to On Chong's place. If the infant's case turned out to be smallpox, the doctor could well be spreading the disease. The papers also wanted to know why the premises weren't under quarantine. Despite the pressure, another week passed before the decision was made to place a barricade around On Chong's store and the adjacent buildings. Dr Foucart, who'd been visiting the child, was also placed under quarantine and ordered to remain with the On Chong child. A police guard was mounted outside the premises to make sure no one came or went.

In the following week there was growing unease, as fear and suspicion began to take hold. Despite the clamouring in the papers, Dr Alleyne and his medical colleagues were either unwilling or unable to say if the On Chong case was smallpox or not. 

By June 16th with several cases confirmed and who knew how many people infected, the government finally swung into action. At a meeting of leading government officials held at the Treasury Department that morning, a plan was drawn up to contain the disease. Once again the decision was made to make use of the quarantine station to isolate victims and their household contacts. It was decided to purchase a horse-drawn omnibus to transport victims to Cowper's Wharf, where they would be taken by steamboat across the harbour to North Head. The small steamer Pinafore was hired for this purpose.

The first boatload left that same afternoon, made up of close contacts of known and suspected cases. They were offloaded at the quarantine station and taken to the hospital enclosure located on the hilltop above Spring Cove. There they would spend a miserable night without food or comfort of any kind. Amongst them were Edward Rout's four children, plus John Hughes's wife and their six children, as well as several other families.

So began a terrible saga for those who were sent to the quarantine station in the months that followed. The smallpox victims and their families, as well as the doctors sent to attend them, were treated with the utmost contempt by Carroll, the superintendent of the quarantine station. They and the dozens of others who joined them were denied such basics as clean towels, linen and medical supplies, by a man who was totally unprepared for the task of managing such a situation. The result was that those in quarantine – especially those on the Faraway and Dr Clune in the hospital enclosure – suffered terribly over the next few months. 

Smallpox in Sydney: police precautions in Bellevue Street. [picture] Melbourne : Alfred May and Alfred Martin Ebsworth 1881. courtesy of the State Library of Victoria [A/S02/07/81/221] - Shows residents being removed from infected house, in Bellvue Street, Surry Hills; police guard the house; the wagon is guarded by two policemen walking in front and another two walking either side. Date created: July 2, 1881. Series/Collection: Illustrated newspaper file. Australasian Sketcher.

The issue of abandoning quarantine was raised again in 1882, and in his report on the issue the new Health Officer, Charles H. Mackellar, father of Pittwater's own Dorothea Mackellar, dismissed the suggestion, also pointing out in his report the idea to shift this to Broken Bay was not feasible, although this idea would recur. Dr. Mackellar suggested a federation of quarantine efforts, to detect and cleanse infected ships as they reached the continent at places such as Thursday Island and Albany, not just as they reached Sydney. Doctor Mackellar also recommended the upgrade of the Station, with the introduction of a light tram, a new reservoir, improved cleansing facilities at the wharf, a better hospital, new accommodation, and picket fences to delineate zones in the quarantine. Most of these suggestions were acted on, and some of the buildings survive.


In August last the Colonial Treasurer called upon the Health Officer and Medical Adviser to the Government to furnish a report upon the state and condition of the quarantine station at North Head, the Propriety of altering the present quarantine regulations, the proposed site for quarantine station at Pittwater, and a report from the London Health Officer on the subject of quarantine. In compliance with this request, Dr Mackellar has furnished a report, which has just been printed by order of the Legislative Assembly. We quote the following paragraphs from the report:-

"The site of the quarantine station at North Head is admirably adapted for the purpose to which it is devoted. It comprises a peninsula with an area of about 750 acres, completely inaccessible from the water in five-sixths of its extent, and connected with the mainland by a comparatively narrow neck. On the harbour side, to winch the ground slopes, Spring Cove affords a safe and convenient anchorage for ships of the largest class in close proximity to the ground occupied by persons subject to the quarantine law, whilst the station is situated at a distance from Manly quite sufficient to ensure the safety of that borough.

I do not think that the additional safety gained by the removal of the station to Pittwater (which proposal I am aware has been made to the Government) would counter-balance the disadvantages that would accrue from its great distance from the city, which would render the administration of quarantine a matter of very great difficulty ; but at the same time I would suggest that a convenient site upon the waters of Broken Bay, and if possible on the line of the proposed railway to the north, should be acquired for the purpose of forming a lazaret for the city and district of Newcastle, which is at present totally without any provision for quarantine purposes, but which we may reasonably expect to become, at no very distant period, a vast shipping emporium as well us a densely populated district. Dangar's Island fulfils all the conditions required. It is situated within less than half a mile of the proposed railway; it is comparatively level, completely isolated, plentifully sup- plied with water, and has a good anchorage on its southern side ; whilst it is within reasonable distance by rail way both from Newcastle and Sydney so that it might in an emergency be reached from either or both these cities by land or by sea. I wish it to be understood that by the term 'lazaret,' I desire to signify a quarantine for persons who may have come within the range of infection of virulently contagious disease, such as smallpox. Persons arriving at Newcastle actually affected would be better treated on the spot, as their removal would be a source of some danger ; and I would suggest for their accommodation the construction of a floating hospital, as recommended by the 'National Aid Society to the sick and wounded .'

"The only other piece of land in the Broken Bay District which could possibly be used for the purpose of quarantine is that part known as Terry's Point, on the waters of Cowan Creek, and this although otherwise tolerably suitable has the disadvantage of being situated at the distance of 6 miles from the nearest point at which the railway could be reached. In its immediate vicinity the line is situated at a height of 500 feet or more from the water, to which the land slopes very abruptly, so that the formation of a road- way would be impossible. I append Mr. Surveyor Woolrich's plans of the Hawkesbury, showing the position and extent of Dangar's Island as well us that of Terry's Point, the line of proposed railway, and the character of the surrounding district.

"The quarantine station at North Head is divided for the purpose of classification of the inmates into two parts, the hospital enclosure and the healthy ground. The former is situated on a small narrow point at the south-west corner of the grounds, and is composed of five buildings, viz, a large ward for male patients, a small ward for females, the surgeon's quarters, the store, and a small cookhouse. The male ward of the hospital enclosure is of recent construction, and well adapted for its purpose. The female ward is how- ever lamentably deficient in every requisite for the treatment of infectious disease ; it is an old worn out building, and in my opinion quite incapable of reconstruction, and I would recommend that it be destroyed and a larger and more commodious pavilion erected on its size. The cook-house seems to me to be sufficient for the requirements of the hospital, but the doctor s quarters are inadequate, whilst the store is in a most tumble-down condition, its foundations rotten, and its roof and sides pervious to rain. I would re-commend its destruction also and the erection of small but inexpensive building, in its stead at a more secluded portion of the ground -as it is chiefly used as a dead house and for the storage of coffins - to which purpose the proposed building may be exclusively applied, as the general stores are erected in the healthy portion of the ground. The approach to the ground from the wharf, for road there is none, is up an exceedingly steep and rugged bank, rendering the carriage of goods or provisions a matter of considerable difficulty and the conveyance of sick persons absolutely dangerous. The hospital buildings are surrounded by a high piling fence which effectually cuts oil all communication with the healthy ground.

"Upon the healthy ground are situated two classes of buildings, the first consisting of a commodious kitchen, large mess room and servants' quarters, and four large detached pavilions, two of which are apportioned to the use of the families, the third for females, and the fourth for single men. These pavilions are calculated to hold 68 first-class passenger: The rest of the accommodation (which is at a considerable distance from that just described, with a gully intervening) consists of six detached wards, four of which are exceedingly old buildings, but nevertheless capable, with some slight repairs, of further use, while two are of more recent construction and are in excellent condition, the whole capable of accommodating about 134 persons. These buildings, which are merely large open wards, without partitions of any kind, have for many years been used as immigrants, quarters ; they are on the whole fairly suitable for that purpose, but in one important particular an immediate change is necessary. 

A large pavilion, with numerous partitions of a sufficient height to secure the privacy of married couples, should without delay be erected ; the plan hitherto adopted to obtain this end has been the use of screens, but they have proved very unsatisfactory. The cook-houses, of which there are three, are absolutely worthless, and have proved to be incapable of affording the necessary accommodation for the immigrants for a long time past. I would therefore urge the necessity for the erection of a large kitchen of modern type. The remainder of the buildings consist of the dwellings of the quarantine attendants and three small stores, the latter all in bad positions for administration, ill-constructed, insecure and inadequate in point of size, and in my opinion two of them, which are too old for repairs, should be destroyed, and one large and strong building erected close to the superintendent's quarters on the summit of the occupied grounds.

"For classification of the inmates the above provisions seem inadequate. I would therefore recommend that on the point occupied by the boatman's quarters should be built two or three pavilions for the accommodation of the second-class passengers, and the erection of paling fences between each of the groups of buildings, so that the various classes arriving by a large ship may be separated, and then if strict segregation were maintained, a case of infectious sickness occurring in one group would not necessarily prolong the detention of the rest.

"Hitherto there has been no proper road between the wharfs and the various houses upon the station. The tracks by which passengers have travelled and goods have been conveyed are so steep that the use or a vehicle has been impossible, and it has been necessary to have all goods, including fuel and building material carried upon men's backs up a hill to a height of about 150 feet, which seems to me to have been a wonderful waste of energy. I therefore recommend that construction of a more circuitous road, so as to admit of the use of a vehicle, and I think that a light tram as suggested by Mr Coles, of the Colonial Architect's Department, would best fulfil the necessary conditions, and be moreover most durable and perhaps cheapest in the end. The cost of conveying the building material by manual labour to the proposed sites upon the hill would almost repay the extra cost of construction of the tram line.

"It is absolutely necessary that some additional wharf accommodation should be constructed as early as possible, both at Spring Cove and at Collins's Flat. At the former it will be necessary to construct a jetty on piles for a distance of about 40 or 60 feet into the centre of the bay, in order to facilitate the landing of people and goods from quarantined ships.

"The maintenance of a proper water supply for the quarantine ground, always a source of anxiety to those administering the station, proved during the late epidemic of smallpox a very costly as well as unsatisfactory item. Hitherto it has been derived partly from a small spring, whence the name 'Spring Cove', and partly from tanks into which it has been collected from the roofs of the buildings, and these failing, it has been necessary to have water sent from Sydney in tanks. In several gullies in various parts of the grounds, springs of beautiful clear water may be found, apparently soaking down from the large plateau, which occupies about 200 acres of the crest of the ridge above the healthy grounds. I would suggest that a large tank or reservoir holding (say) about a million gallons of water, be constructed at such a point in the course of these streams as would enable the whole of the houses to be supplied by gravitation, so that the baths and lavatories, which are so necessary for the use of quarantined people, could be made available to the fullest extent, and if the reservoirs were constructed at a sufficient height a pressure might be obtained which could be used with advantage in case of fire occurring in any of the buildings, which are constructed of wood. In furtherance of this view I have been enabled to obtain the opinion of Mr Conder, the superintendent, of the Trigonometrical Survey, as to the feasibility of this scheme. And as a doubt seemed to exist in the minds of the quarantine officers as to the possibility of obtaining this supply from sources uncontaminated by the burial grounds , I have also been supplied by that gentle-man with a survey and report, which I have the honour to append. 

"The fences, which presumably, had been intended to be erected with a view to prevent the various groups of persons detained from intermingling have never been completed, and are therefore useless, while the boundary between the quarantine station and Manly is not marked in any manner. And as there is some reason to suspect that the quarantined people have at various times broken the law by wandering beyond the limits of the station, which are not defined by any visible marks, I would suggest that a high fence of galvanised iron should be constructed across the neck of the peninsula in the line marked in blue in the plan, and that a small cottage be erected at the point where the fence would touch the waters of the harbour. This would serve as a residence for a trustworthy official, who would act as a sort of guard against the infringement of the quarantine law.

The grounds surrounding the buildings are still absolutely uncultivated and in a state of nature, and their aspect, I have no doubt, must add materially to the dismal and depressing effect produced in the minds of quarantined persons. At a comparatively small outlay ornamental trees might be planted, and the wild appearance of the place materially diminished. Mr. Charles Moore, the Director of the Botanical Gardens, has inspected the station with me, and given an opinion that the grounds are suitable for their growth. Some portion of the enclosures should be devoted to forming places for out-door amusements, such as lawn tennis, &c. which would conduce to relieve the monotony of prolonged detention.

"During my tenure of office I have from time to time had my attention directed to the fact that the limits of the quarantine waters are still more undefined than those of the land, and I have been occasionally obliged to detain persons who apparently from ignorance have trespassed thereon. This difficulty would be obviated by placing two or three large mooring buoys in the bay to show the limit of those waters, and they could be used also for mooring vessels detained for short periods, and thereby render it unnecessary for them to anchor, which manoeuvre is always a source of annoyance to them.

" The hulk Faraway, at present lying in Spring Cove, is in a bad state of repair, and it is necessary that she should undergo a thorough overhaul, and that her masts should be taken out and a galvanised iron roof erected over the dock. She is still tolerably sound, and occasion for her use might at any time arise, as at the present time, when she accommodates the 90 Chinese passengers ex s.s. Menmuir, intended for debarkation in the colony of Queensland.

" In order to facilitate the working of the quarantine, as well as the provisioning of the ships detained, it would be advisable to adopt the suggestion of the Steamship Owners Association by procuring o steam launch of such size as would preclude the possibility of her being unable to cross the Heads in bad weather when conveying stores. She might also be further utilised in various ways by the health officer. At present the Department is not supplied with such a vessel for its exclusive use, and I have frequently been unable to perform my duties in consequence. Twice recently I have gone down the harbour during bad weather, with a view to visit the station on important business, and have been unable to cross the Heads in the miserable barge at present at my disposal.

"I have very carefully perused the report of Dr. Sedgwick Saunders, the Medical Officer of Health for the city of London, which was submitted to the Colonial Treasurer by Messrs. Gibbs, Bright, and Co. It contains much valuable information concerning vaccination which cannot but prove of service to this colony. It also contains some re- marks upon the subject of quarantine, and I would invite special attention to the fact that the system for dealing with infected vessels advocated by Dr. Saunders is almost identical with that which it has been for some time past our aim to carry out in Sydney. On the arrival of a ship at this port with smallpox on board, she is immediately placed in quarantine, all communication with the shore, except through the medium of the quarantine officers, is interdicted ; the patients and convalescents are removed to their respective hospitals, and the passengers and crew of the vessel, all of whom have of course necessarily been within the range of infection, are taken on shore, isolated, and detained for 21 days, which term our experience in the late epidemic furnishes some evidence to show, may be considered as the limit of the period of incubation of small-pox.

" With regard to vessels arriving from a port known to be infected with virulently contagious disease, and proclaimed by the Governor and Executive Council as such, the regulation is that they are obliged to proceed to the quarantine Station where the health officer examines every one on board during daylight, and if he is satisfied that her admission is not likely to endanger the public health he immediately gives her pratique. But if her sanitary condition is such as to be likely to prejudice; the public health, his duty is to detain the vessel until a satisfactory cleansing process is effected.

"Having in view Dr Sedgwick Saunders' recommendation that those suffering from, and those presumably infected with, smallpox, should be isolated and detained for three weeks, I am at a loss to understand his arguments as to the uselessness of quarantine, unless, indeed, he means by that term to imply the detention of all vessels from infected ports irrespective of their sanitary state or of the health of the passengers and crew on arrival. In order to get a clear idea of the question at issue it is necessary to inquire into the history of the subject. Quarantine was first established in the 15th century, in the countries bordering upon the Mediterranean, for the purpose of preventing the introduction of the plague from the Levant, and, and its name implies, it entailed a detention of persons or vessels arriving from a suspected or proclaimed locality for a period of 40 days. This prolonged detention has of late years been very much modified, but the arbitrary provisions of the law have often in practice been a source of great annoyance to the trading community, and especially so in the Mediterranean, where commercial jealousies have from time to time stimulated various ports to proclaim as infected their more prosperous neighbours, in order to injure their commerce, and even at the present time there is some ground for suspecting the existence of such practices. It should be observed that when there was sickness on board the vessels they were detained for 40 days after arrival. When there was no sickness, however, the vessel was detained for a period which would make 40 complete days from the port of departure, or last contact with a suspected ship or locality.

" In England, at present, quarantine exists merely in name. It is applied only to vessels supposed to be likely to convey the plague or yellow fever to the country, and even to them it is applied more to relieve the commerce of certain disabilities which would be incurred in foreign ports than with a prophylactic view. This apparent laxity is certainly not because the medical authorities deem the isolation of persons suffering from infectious disease useless, for the most modem investigations give us rational data on which to ground our belief in the communicability of disease. But it is rather due to the fact that the geographical position of the Untied Kingdom renders it impossible to keep such diseases out of the country. A person may contract small-pox or cholera in Germany and in 24 hours may travel into the heart of England, where many days afterwards the disease may develop and reproduce itself with fatal virulence. In Australia we are, happily, situated at such a distance from other countries that most diseases have time to develop en voyage. Nature has thus established a sort of prophylactic quarantine, and we will fall far short of our duty if we fail to take proper steps to isolate such cases of infectious diseases as may have developed on board ships arriving at our ports, and also for detaining for a reasonable period such persons as may have been brought into contact with those so suffering. One of the great advantages of the Australian colonies is their freedom from cholera, small-pox, typhus, and yellow fever, which devastate other parts of the globe less favourably situated, and it is surely worth our while, by means of an effective quarantine system, to preserve our fortunate immunity in this respect.

"The imposition of quarantine necessarily brings two very important interests into collision - the commerce of the county and the public health - and it therefore behoves the authorities to render its action as little irksome as possible as long as it is consistent with the public safety - for above all things the health of the people must be paramount.

" The fact that we cannot by means of quarantine absolutely prevent the introduction of disease should form no argument against its maintenance, for we cannot expect of it what we are unable to obtain from any other human institution - absolute perfection of action.

" It should be noted, however, that by the term quarantine I do not mean the detention of vessels for a certain arbitrarily determined period, for I do not in their case regard time as being by any means an important element whereby we may hope to obtain safety. What we must strive to accomplish is the absolute cleanliness and purification of vessels arriving with infectious disease on board, and I can only recognise as necessary the detention of a vessel for a sufficient time to render her thoroughly clean and innocuous.

" On the other hand, in dealing with persons who may reasonably be supposed to be incubating virulently infectious disease, and especially those diseases which we have happily been able hitherto to keep out, or stamp out, of the country, the obvious course is that they should be detained and isolated under medical observation for a sufficient time to allow the disease, suspected to be incubating, to develop.

" With regard to Dr Sedgwick Saunders' dictum, that 'it is pretty well agreed among American and English sanitarians that the medical inspection of a ship, with a proper supply of detached hospitals, is infinitely preferable to the detention of a number of healthy people for any portion of what may be termed the incubation period,' I can only say that it is strangely at variance with the sanitary laws of some of the States, as I gather them from the 'Bulletin' of the National Board of Health, of Washington, U.S.A. In the issue of that periodical, dated 7th May, 1881, I learn that by 'Quarantine Proclamation for ports in the State of Texas,' issued by the Governor of that State 'all vessels arriving at the quarantine station, having at the time of arrival, or having had during the voyage, sickness of an infectious kind, shall be detained 20 days after death or recovery of the last case of the said sickness, and longer if the inspecting officer is not satisfied that proper measures were immediately taken after the recovery or death of the sick to thoroughly purify the apartments occupied, by destroying beds, bed-clothing, wearing apparel, &c, that could possibly be converted into fomites. In all cases where the above rules have been complied with, and there still remains a doubt in the mind of the quarantine officer as to the propriety of admitting a vessel, he shall detain such vessel, report his reasons for so doing to the Governor, and subject it to daily inspection until all doubt is removed or orders received to admit it.'

" It is hardly necessary to adduce reasons for the maintenance of the quarantine law upon our Statute Book, but there are a few facts bearing upon the question which I would bring under notice.

" No country in recent times has suffered more severely from the want of a proper quarantine system than the Japanese Empire. We learn from Sir Rutherford Alcock's 'Three Years in Japan ' that 'all cleanliness failed however to give the Japanese an immunity from the devastating cholera which the United States frigate Mississippi is said, and I believe correctly, to have brought over; a first fatal fruit of the treaty and their extended relations with foreigners. It swept away thousands from their cities -they say 200,000 from Yeddo alone.'

"Our constantly increasing trade with India and the islands of the Eastern Archipelago renders us exceedingly liable to such visitations, and the importation of coolies and Chinese is especially dangerous, unless a watchful quarantine is maintained. Lebert, in 'Zeimasen's Cyclopaedia of the Practice of Medicine,' page 389, says that 'of 126 transport vessels which sailed, between the years 1861 and 1869, 50,604 Indian natives from Calcutta to the West Indies, cholera appeared in 20 i.e. , in 16 per cent.'

"As to typhus, the same author, page 305, says - 'Typhus has followed the Irish emigrant everywhere, and through his means has become naturalised, not merely in the other "British Islands, but also in North America and the West Indies.'

"Not only would I advise the maintenance and strict administration of our quarantine law, but I would go a step further and urge upon the Government the desirability of seeking the co-operation of the other colonies in establishing stations at various parts of the continent distant from the great centres of population, for instance at Thurs-day Island on the north, and King George's Sound on the west, so that vessels approaching the continent with infectious disease on board might land the sick persons at as early a period as possible, and then proceed to their destination. These stations might form a sort of federal quarantine, and be maintained by a contribution from each colony in proportion to the number of its population.

"I think I need hardly pursue this matter further. We have recently had bitter experience in our own city of the difficulty and expense which inevitably attend the eradication of an infectious sickness once established in a community, and we can hardly flatter ourselves that our attempts to stamp out disease will always meet with the success which crowned the efforts of the Government in the late epidemic of smallpox in this colony.

"Health Officer and Medical Advisor to Government. " 
Health Office, Sydney, 6th April, 1883." 

QUARANTINE STATION, NORTH HEAD. (1883, May 12). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 9. Retrieved from 



Sir, - I propose with your leave to draw public attention to the state of affairs with regard to quarantine in this colony.

The Act 3 William the IVth, No. 1 (1832), provided for the quarantining of infected vessels, &c, and under that act the waters of Spring Cove (now known as Spring Cove, Store Beach, Collins Flat, and Little Manly) were proclaimed, the area within which infected ships should perform quarantine. I think it will be admitted that the state of affairs in 1832 was of a different character to what it is now-a-days, and that what then suited the times will not meet the present altered condition of things. I propose to show that the quarantine station is altogether in the wrong place, for the following reasons :-

As I before stated, under the Act above recited the waters of Spring Cove were proclaimed the place within which quarantine was to be performed. 

Recently a proclamation was promulgated to the following effect:

" Whereas it is considered expedient and necessary in the public interest to define the exact boundaries of the quarantine area of Port Jackson: Now, therefore, I, Charles Robert, Baron Carrington, the Governor aforesaid, in virtue of the powers in me vested by the Act 3 William IV., No. 1, do hereby, with the advice of the Executive Council, proclaim the following to be the quarantine area of Port Jackson, namely :- 

Water. - The waters of Spring Cove from Smedley's Point to Green or Flagstaff Point; and all water within two cables' length (i.e. 400 yards) of the shore between Green or Flagstaff Point and the inner North Head of Port Jackson, and all water within one cable's length (i.e. 200 yards) of the shore between the inner North Head of Port Jackson and Cabbage Tree Bay, in the Pacific Ocean. 

Land. - County of Cumberland; parish of Manly Cove : Commencing on the Pacific Ocean at the north-eastern end of: the south-eastern boundary line of 60 acres, Roman Catholic episcopal residence; and bounded thence on the north-west by that boundary line bearing south 35 degrees 8 minutes 30 seconds west 57 chains 86 1 -5 links to the waters of Port Jackson; on the west and south-west by those waters southerly; and thence south-easterly to the Pacific Ocean ; and on the east by the Pacific Ocean, northerly to the point of commencement. 

Area of Land : 668 acres 3 roods and 14 perches. And I do hereby, with the advice of the said council and in virtue of the before-mentioned powers, prohibit all persons, vessels, and boats, whatsoever, from going under any pretence whatsoever within the above recited-limits : and, if, after this notification, any person whatsoever shall presume under any pretence whatsoever to go within the limits of such quarantine area, he or she shall for every such offence forfeit and pay the sum of £200, as prescribed by the before-mentioned Act."

An ordinary observer might not see the absurd and anomalous effect of this last proclamation. I would point out that the waters of Little Manly, which contain the gentlemen's baths of Manly Beach, are available to the public (and are used daily by it) ; yet you cannot approach within 200 yards of the coast at Cabbage Tree Bay, a distance from the Hospital ship and houses in quarantine of at least two miles. Under the proclamation in question, the houses of Mr. Smedley, Mr. Griffin, Mr. Coombes, Mr. Weekes, the bath's, the road to them, the gasworks, and other places which I cannot call to mind, are in fact in quarantine. I understand that the gasworks will have to come to a stand-still if the ship in quarantine remains there for any lengthened period (of which there is every prospect), as no vessel will be allowed to go to the wharf. Thus the supply of gas at Manly will be stopped. The fishing industry at Manly, no inconsiderable (though at first sight insignificant) matter, is paralysed. The supply of fish at that place is to a very great extent stopped.

The waters of Manly Beach and surrounding places are polluted by refuse from the ship in the shape of pieces of tread, empty tins, the washings from the decks, &c. (We may be told "officially" that all the refuse is burnt. Can you burn water ?). Moreover, I have seen persons pick up soaked bread which come from the Preussen, and when I asked what they intended to do with it, I was informed to feed the fowls upon.

I am informed that bedding and discarded clothing has found its way even as far as Snail's Bay.

I commenced by saying that Quarantine Ground is in the wrong place, and the natural deduction from the foregoing facts, I submit, clearly establishes my assertion. It appears to me that we are, whether from climatic influences or what not, too apathetic. We never move till the smell comes under our noses. It is the old tale of locking the stable, &c.

Manly Beach is the greatest lung of the city, and admittedly the most attractive watering-place in all the colonies, yet at the best season of the year it is surrounded with a condition of affairs under which an individual in visiting it renders himself liable to death, or at the very least having his beauty spoiled for life. What would be the state of things supposing another "foreign" ship turned up with smallpox (and here let me remark that we appear to be the receptacle of all the filth of the colonies, thanks to the supineness of our Government), and then another ship comes in with Asiatic cholera, what would the outcome of such a complication be? Would the quarantine water and appliances be adequate to meet such a contingency ? No sane person could admit such a proposition.

I dare say, sir, you remember the scare that was created a little while back with regard to the storage of gunpowder, and you will recollect, I doubt not, how quickly the explosive was removed in hulks to Broken Bay and there stored. There is far more danger, of, the population being decimated by smallpox and cholera than being blown up by gunpowder. If quarantine is not removed to Broken Bay or some other suitable locality, we may bid good-bye to our health, and instead of being the fairest spot on earth, our colony will be known, throughout the world as the rottenest seed plot for disease on it.

I have put these few disjointed remarks together seeing that the Manly Council has burked the question, and with a view to ventilating the matter, and I leave it to those whose duty it is to give their further attention to it.

I am, &c,
Manly Beach, January 17.

QUARANTINE. (1887, January 18). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 8. Retrieved from 

The return of Australians from  the Boer War brings a mention of fish to be supplied to these hungry men at the Quarantine Station at North Head:

Return of the Contingent

The troopship Arab, conveying the New South Wales Contingent, entered the Heads at about II o'clock last night, and was placed in quarantine. No communication will be permitted with the troops, who will be landed at the quarantine grounds, where preparations have been made for their reception. Fifty men of the Permanent Force were engaged on Friday in filling the mattresses with straw, arrangements having been made by the Brigade Office with Mr. James Kidman, the well-grown grocer, sufficient groceries have already been forwarded to the station to last till Tuesday. Bread and meat will be supplied daily. As already mentioned, arrangements have been made by the Postmaster General for the conveyance of letters and newspapers to and from the Quarantine Station. Some of the residents of Manly Beach have contributed to a fund, and intend to put on board the Arab as much fish as can be obtained. Mr. C. A. Benbow is the acting secretary and treasurer.
The Governor Lord Augustus Loftus will entertain the representatives of the neighboring colonies at dinner, on Tuesday next. The Ministry will give a dinner to these gentlemen and the officers of the Contingent, on Thursday. Mr. Le Mesurier has been temporarily appointed Quarter-master, and the directions of the acting Commandant have been carried out very completely for the accommodation of the Contingent at the Quarantine Station. From our special correspondent on board the troopship, we have received the following notes:—
When this happy event transpires the men will, attired in their khakee suits, and spire-protecting brown pith helmets with pugarees, and, beside the ordinary accoutrements, will carry their water bottles slung over their shoulders. Orders have been issued by the Commandant that all cheering is to cease as soon as the 'halt ' is sounded, and he has especially enjoined the men in brigade orders, both on and after landing, to continue to conduct themselves as good soldiers, and in a manner calculated to sustain the honor of the colony and the good reputation they have earned for themselves by their services in the Soudan. 
Return of the Contingent. (1885, June 20). Evening News(Sydney, NSW : 1869 - 1931), p. 4. Retrieved from 

The Bubonic Plague in Sydney - 1900

The Bubonic Plague.
(See Illustrations on this page and pages 32 and 33.)
On South, Middle, and George's Heads, and other points of vantage at the entrance of Sydney Harbor, are the hidden batteries which are designed to give a warm welcome to the militant human invader. North Head possesses none of these ingenious devices of modern military science, but it is none the less a fortress designed to delay and destroy the numberless deadly foes which are ever threatening to storm the great metropolis a few miles away. It has no disappearing guns or torpedo tubes, but its armory is replete with everything which science can indicate to annihilate the microbe myriads. The Quarantine Station is, in fact, Sydney's, first line of defence against the bubonic plague and other epidemics, and indeed it is the only outer one, for should the foe evade the vigilant medical garrison the battle would have to be continued in the heart of the city, perhaps with appalling disaster. So far the resources of this medical fortress have not been called upon to deal with actual specimens of the enemy, but the authorities have had a good deal to do in taking all the necessary precautions.

The Plague has effected a landing at Adelaide, and it is to be hoped that that will be the only part of Australia which will have to report a visitation. Meanwhile the medical garrison of Sydney is on the alert, and may be trusted to do all that is scientifically possible to resist the invader. The Quarantine Station is administered by the Department of Public Health, the headquarters of which are situated at the corner of Macquarie-street and Albert-street, facing the beautiful Grounds of Government House. It is better known, however, as the Board of Health, and has multifarious duties to perform. It is, in fact, the State's family doctor, but it goes much further in its anxious care than even the most inquisitive of physicians. It not only looks after the general health of the community, by guarding against epidemics of diseases, but it also goes to work to endeavor to root out the causes. 

Foul drains, diseased cows, noxious trades, adulterated foods - all receive its attention, and, in addition, it helps the administration of justice by the work of its analytical chemists. Its expenditure is about £70,000 a year, included in which is some £45,000 paid to the various hospitals as fees for pauper patients; and the department bears the whole cost of the hospital and lazaret at Little Bay, the Quarantine Stations at North Head and Little Bay. In return for this expenditure, the public get results which cannot be measured; for the simple reason that the more effectual the work of the department is in combating the inroads of disease, the less is public attention aroused. The bubonic plague has been at our doors, but has not succeeded in effecting a lodgment within our homes. For this efficiency In defence we have, no doubt, in no small degree to thank the Department of Public Health.

If the Plague Should Come-Main Road from the Landing Stage at the Quarantine Station. (Photo, by Kerry.)


l. - Warder's Cottage, and Avenue Leading to the Hospital. 2. - North Head, as seen from the Old Man's Hat, in the Quarantine Grounds. 3. - The Old Man's Hat, South Head in the Distance. 4.-Inscriptions Cut by Quarantined Crews and Passengers. 5. - Officers' Quarters, Dining and Drawing Rooms, Store, Post Office, and Stables. 6. - The Quarantine Station as seen from the other side of the bay. 7. - The Wards. 8. - Landing-stage, Hospital, and Nursing Staff's Quarters. 9. - Interior View of one of the Wards. 10. - The First Saloon Dining-room. 11. - The Quarantine Stores. 12. - In the Crews' Laundry.
(See letterpress on previous page.) (Photos. by Kerry and Co., George-street, Sydney.) The Bubonic Plague. (1900, February 3). Australian Town and Country Journal (Sydney, NSW : 1870 - 1907), p. 31. Retrieved from 

The Bubonic Plague.
Near the close of last week the artists of this journal devoted some attention to a subject which is ` now of very great importance to all Australia. Several wharfs, and the cleansing process which, we are glad to say, is now being most vigorously carried out, were photographed. The pictures are simply realities, and afford a fair idea of the magnitude of the work which us before the Health and civic authorities. One case of bubonic plague was on Saturday night discovered in the city, and unfortunately it has ended in the death of the patient. The victim in this case is a woman, named Ellen Matilda McCann, living in the vicinity of Miller's Point. She had been ill for some days, and the illness was reported as a suspicious one, but it was not possible to pronounce with sufficient accuracy from the symptoms as they manifested themselves, whether it was the dread disease or not. However, death took place on Saturday night, and an autopsy was performed, which established the character of the malady beyond doubt. The house in which Mrs. McCann had resided, was at once isolated by the police, and yesterday morning the corpse was taken to the quarantine station and buried. 

At the same time the other inmates of the house - the father and mother of the deceased, with two daughters and two sons, were quarantined. A suspicious case was reported on Sunday afternoon, also from the city. The patient in this case was also a woman, a Mrs. Lillian McLachlan. The Board of Health investigation was made by Dr Ashburton Thompson himself, and it was deemed was it send Mrs. McLachlan to the quarantine station as a "suspect." Her husband and a lodger were sent with her. On Monday a boy died in Redfern.Assuming that the malady by which Mrs. McLachlan is attacked is a true plague, this brings up the total number of cases to date to 21, with nine deaths, or a trifle over one-third. The first illness was reported in January last, or, roughly seven weeks ago ago. 

In a city of half a million inhabitants, the proportion is one in about 22,000, or, calculating by time, three cases per week.  In Bombay the cases reported to the health authorities have risen to more than 500 per day, so that the outbreak here cannot be called a very severe one. Its character, too, has been mild. It has not yet been proved that any one person has caught it from another, but the balance of testimony appears to point to inoculation as the cause of infectionIn the cases which have occurred among the members of the Dovey family the bits of insects were probably the primary cause; in the other patients it was probably through a sore on the hand or some other portion of the body having come into contact with the virus. These facts are mentioned to show that the public alarm if it exists, need not be acute. 

Dr Ashburton Thompson on Saturday, in answer to a question, said that the form of plague as it exists in Sydney is not infectious. With ordinary precaution there is no danger to persons in attendance on the patients, as the seizures hitherto have been simple bubonic plague but if a case occurred in which the disease attacked the lungs, then there would be great danger to attendants as well as to patients. The present situation may be summed up in this way, that while there is necessity for the strictest precaution, there is no cause for panic. Persons who were quarantined with patients suffering from the plague continue to be released from time to time. On Sunday evening five persons who were sent to the Station. 10 days ago with the young man Stratford were liberated. Their names are Gertrude Dawson, William James, sen., William James, jun., May James, And William Stratford. The last named is a brother of the patient, who still remains in hospital, but who is doing well. On Monday two parties were released, consisting of eight people who were quarantined with the deceased patient Lionel Owles, and three who were detained as suspects through having been found with Richard Stephen King. 

Up to Saturday afternoon over 1000 persons had been innoculated with Haffkine's prophylactic serum by the Board of Health authorities. Most, if not all, these persons were people who are engaged in waterside occupation, or who are liable to be brought into contact with danger of infection. In view of a statement appearing in Saturday's "Herald" to the effect that the Government bacteriologist of Queensland is just recovering from an illness caused by inoculation for the plague, the experience of the after effects of innoculation here, so far as it is known, is interesting. The president of the board was asked on Saturday whether any after effects such as appeared to have been observed in the Queensland case had been noticed here. …

The controversy raging round the subject of the Moore Park tip will have, in all probability be ended in a day or two by the disuse of the tip. Meantime a man, by Instructions of the Board of Health, is stationed at the tip to ascertain if any deadly rats are to he found there, or whether any showing signs of disease have their habitat among the rubbish. So far, however, no success has attended the quest. If any dead rodents are there it is instead likely that they have died in their holes and have escaped notice. The inspectors to the board report that the tip is still being used for its oil purpose, and that the ' humpies '' which it has been stated were burned down are its existence. At any rate, some of them are. As to the state of the patients now in hospital at the Quarantine Station, the latest reports received are to the effect that they are doing as well as can be expected. The fact that no deaths have taken place there for several days is regarded as a hopeful sign that the patients may recover. 
The President of the Board of Health states that the present course of the cases contrasts strikingly with the other cases, in which the patients all died except Payne, and died shortly after the attack. …

The following details of the Quarantine Station, which is situated on the North Head of Sydney Harbour, are from Mr. C. A. Simms, secretary to the Department of Public Health :- 

The area set apart for quarantine purposes is 670 acres. The small settlement only occupies about six acres of this, and between it and the nearest residences on the Manly side a considerable space intervenes, a portion of which is known as the "Neutral Zone" The half-dozen acres are divided into two portions, the cabin enclosure, where healthy persons reside during their temporary isolation, and the hospital enclosure, where the patients receive attention. Visitors to Manly, when passing Green Point, upon which the yellow flag generally floats, and near which the quarantine landing-stage is situated, may have noticed a group of red buildings just above the point. These form the hospital, the enclosure being, roughly speaking, about 100 yards square. As they get nearer Manly and look towards the north-east, a larger cluster of buildings may be seen about a quarter of a mile higher up on the hill. These form what is known as the cabin enclosure. 

Besides these enclosures, there are cottage quarters for the medical officers and quarantine staff, the place being altogether capable of accommodating between 400 and 500 people. It is in the red building mentioned - the hospital enclosure - that the sufferers from the present epidemic plague are quartered. A medical officer, a trained wardsman, and a trained nurse (the latter has this week been reinforced by two other trained nurses from the Coast Hospital) also occupy quarters in the hospital enclosure, and these, with the exception of the doctor, are just as much in strict quarantine as the patients. The medical officer is allowed out upon complying with certain rules as to disinfecting. The hospital enclosure contains eight buildings, and has 46 beds. When stores and medicines are being passed into this enclosure precautions are taken against contact between those within and without, so that the isolation of the within and without, so that the isolation of the former is complete. 

The medical officer who has charge of the sick does not hold a permanent appointment, but is engaged specially as circumstances warrant. At present Dr Shells, late of Chatswood, is engaged in the task of endeavouring by all aids of human science to combat the ravages of the worst of all disease, and to nurse the plague-stricken back to health. Dr. Shells holds English and Scotch degrees, and enjoys the full confidence of his superior officers. Like his entire staff, the doctor is inoculated with the plague serum. The quarters occupied by the patients are all airy and comfortable, resembling any ordinary well-constructed and well-conducted hospital. 

The healthy people who may be isolated have neither to mix with the plague patients nor with those who attend them. They occupy the cabin enclosure, known as "healthy ground," and are, of course, maintained during their stay there at Government expense. All are inoculated, and at the slightest symptoms of ill-health are isolated and closely watched. The period of detention is 10 clear days. 

The staff employed regularly at the Quarantine Ground numbers nine, and is under the control of the superintendent, Mr. J. F. Vincent; upon emergency, however, the staff is increased. While the yellow flag is flying the officers, who have the powers of special constables, regularly patrol the ground, to prevent trespassing. Trespassing on the Quarantine Ground renders the offender liable to a penalty of not less than £200. The stores are taken to quarantine in a small launch, regularly used by the department, which runs between North Head and the Woolloomooloo deport.



The Bubonic Plague. (1900, March 24). The Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1871 - 1912), p. 691. Retrieved  from

Bubonic Plague.
Up to date 214 persons have been quarantined. There have been 32 cases of plague and 11 deaths. Eight hundred people have now been inoculated. Two further cases of plague were reported up to late on Sunday night, one from Annandale and one from Leichhardt; both victims are young men. Bubonic Plague. (1900, March 26).Wellington Times (NSW : 1899 - 1954), p. 2. Retrieved from 

The minute of the Mayor of Sydney dealing with the outbreak of the bubonic plague in the city, and recommending certain action in regard to the disposal of all vermin collected, embodied a suggestion that it should be destroyed by fire by the Pinhoe Company at its destructor works, North Sydney. The matter has given rise to some alarm among the residents of North Sydney, and a number of the aldermen, as representing the people in all matters affecting the health of the borough, determined to take steps, through the Mayor, to prevent the recommendation being carried into effect in so far as it referred to North Sydney. It was decided to interview the Mayor of North Sydney (Alderman J M Purves) on Saturday afternoon, but upon their calling at that gentleman’s residence it was ascertained he was absent on military duty. Recognising the gravity of the proposal, an informal meeting was hastily convened, and seven of the aldermen attended. Alderman G. J. Barry (an ex Mayor) was voted to the chair Amongst those present were Aldermen H Glean, F Slack, T A. Winter, J. R Hardie, W. A. Sayer, and T P Lister, and Mr. C J. Ross (borough engineer).

The matter having been discussed at length, it was unanimously resolved, on the motion of Alderman H Green, seconded by Alderman W A Savor,-
"That this meeting views with alarm the proposal of his Worship the Mayor of Sydney, as reported in the city press this morning, as to the destruction of vermin within this municipality, and hereby requests the Mayor of North Sydney to take immediate stops to prevent the same " 

The chairman was requested to see Alderman Purves yesterday morning hand him though resolution, and request him to take immediate action Accordingly Alderman Barry, accompanied by the borough engineer (Mr Ross), again called at the Mayor's residence, but unfortunately found Mr Purves was still absent Mr Barry, however, left a copy of the resolution for the Mayor's perusal, with a request that immediate steps might be taken to prevent the proposal being carried into effect.

When seen last night at his residence by a representative of the "Herald" the Mayor of North Sydney (Alderman T M Purves) stated that owing to his absence with the squadron of Lancers in the Pittwater district he was until his return unaware of the proposal of the Mayor of Sydney in regard to the destruction of vermin at North Sydney. He had received a ropy of the resolution passed at the informal meeting of aldermen on Saturday night, re-questing him to take immediate steps to prevent the proposition being acted upon Ho was in thorough accord with that resolution, as he viewed the intention with complete disfavour, and he intended to take immediate action. Not for a moment did he think Sir Matthew Harris would do any thing that would injure an adjoining suburb, and he was convinced that as soon as he received North Sydney's protest he would make other arrangements for the disposal and destruction of infected vermin. It was a monstrous proposal, more especially as the route in which the rats must be carried was a long one, and traversed the whole borough Again there was no necessity for the proposed action, as the vermin could easily be burned nearer the locality in which they were collected. The question of taking precautions against the spread of the disease to North Sydney had already engaged his attention, and at the next meeting of tile council ho intended placing on the business paper a minute dealing with the matter I he borough's sanitary inspector had prepared a report on the subject, which would also be considered He would recommend that immediate steps should be taken to ensure cleanliness m all promises within the borough, and those precautions which in the opinion of the Health authorities were necessary on the part of householders Vigorous steps must be taken to keep all premises scrupulously clean, and the council must enforce all regulation, he directed He did not think the officers of the council would meet with much opposition on the part of house-holders, as every effort was necessary to keep the district free from infection. The protest against the Mayor of Sydney’s proposal would be forwarded without delay.

Alderman Barry, ex-Mayor, seen by a representative of the " Herald " yesterday, said he most strongly protested against the proposed action by the Mayor of Sydney (Sir Matthew Harris). He viewed with alarm any such action us that contemplated, and he was at a loss to see why such a proposition should be earned out, as the animals collected might easily be disposed of in the vicinity in which they were caught. To his mind the carriage of plague-infested vermin through the streets of the district was fraught with great danger, and was a menace to the public health He favoured extreme stops being taken to prevent the proposal being carried into effect even to the extent of procuring an injunction restraining the Mayor of Sydney from carrying out his proposal. The vermin would, no doubt, be landed at Milson's Point, and us the Pinhoe Destructor Works were at Folly Point, Middle Harbour, a passage through the whole length of the borough must be made Notwithstanding all the precautions that might be taken to minimise the risk of infection, they had the expert opinion of Dr Ashburton Thompson, chief medical officer to the Board of Health, that to effectually remove all possibility of danger the vermin should be destroyed by fire therefore the health of the community would be jeopardised by the cartage of the dead carcasses through the borough even after treatment with antiseptics and disinfectants His attitude was one of extreme antagonism to any proposal that would in any way endanger the health of the district. A PROTEST FROM NORTH SYDNEY. (1900, March 5). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 5. Retrieved from 



QUARANTINE RESERVE AND WHARF IN SYDNEY DOMAIN. (1900, March 31). Australian Town and Country Journal (Sydney, NSW : 1870 - 1907), p. 21. Retrieved from 

The first case of bubonic plague ascertained yesterday was that of a Chinese named Moon Kee. He is said to have come from the country only a few days since, but resided in the city when the case was reported. He, however, was dead before any member of the Health Department's diagnosing staff visited him. Another patient was a young woman named Kate Mulvihill, residing in the city; the third was that of man named James Vaughan, also a city resident; the fourth was named Oswald Munro, a resident of North Sydney; the fifth was John Toms, a city resident; the sixth was Arthur Bertram Bullock, of Tempe, who was dead before the case came to the knowledge of the Health authorities. His body was taken to the Sydney Hospital morgue, where a post mortem examination was made. The last case reported during the day was that of a patient named John William Hennessy, residing at Chippendale. The two deaths already mentioned were the only two which occurred during the day.

No. 86 Athlone Place, from album - Views taken during Cleansing Operations, Quarantine Area, Sydney, 1900, Vol. IV / under the supervision of Mr George McCredie, F.I.A., N.S.W. Courtesy Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales. Image No.: a147237h 

That portion of the city lying between Market and Druitt streets was placed in quarantine the first thing yesterday morning. No surprise was caused by the act, as it was generally considered a settled thing that the Government intended to quarantine different blocks in succession along the whole front-age of Darling HarbourThe barriers were erected during the night, and the gangs of men began cleansing operations early in the morning. Good progress was made, indeed at one period of the day it was hoped that the upper portion, from Kent-street to Sussex-street would be ready for release the same evening, but this was found impracticable, and it will in all probability be to-night before the inspection is concluded and the area declared clean. It will then be released. Many of the premises within the area were cleansed by the owners before quaran-tine was declared, so that little more than inspecting them remained to be done, but other places were left in their original state, and accumulations of rubbish had to be removed. Great bonfires, fed by waste timber taken from old sheds and other offices in back yards, were burning on pieces of open ground, and tons upon tons of old wood were consumed in this way. Rats, both living and dead, were found; the latter were removed, and the former were summarily despatched.

A surprise came at night, however. Soon after 7 o'clock orders came from the Executive Council to erect barriers along the east side of Elizabeth-street, near Belmore Park, between Goulburn and Campbell streets, then down those streets to Macquarie-street South. This forms a complete square, and includes, among other thoroughfares, Wexford-street. 

There was great excitement among the residents of the area when Superintendent Larkin, with 40 constables, came up, and the constables having been placed at street intersections and openings of lanes, turned back all who wished to pass out of bounds. A large crowd collected, and the arrival of drays loaded with barriers taken from portions of the Darling Harbour quarantined areas did not tend to allay it. However, the barriers were erected, and about 500 men will be engaged this morning in cleansing up the place and denuding it of rubbish. The quarter is pretty thickly populated, and the work will occupy two or three days at the least.

Inspections by medical members of the staff of the Board of Health will be made during the week in other parts of the city and suburbs, with a view of finding out whether any reason exists for treating those localities similar to that near Belmore Park.

A request has been made that it be mentioned publicly that Dr. Posman is the medical officer appointed for duty inside the quarantined area of the city, and that his address is the Royal George Hotel. Some of the residents of the area are apparently unaware of the fact.

The Woollahra Sanitary Committee will meet again tonight at the council-chambers. The Attorney-General and the President of the Department of Public Health have both signified their intention to be present with the view of speaking on the importance of personal effort in fighting the plague. Residents of Woollahra who wish to support the committee should be present. Mrs. B. R. Wise has joined the ladies' committee. THE BUBONIC PLAGUE. EXTENSION OF THE QUARANTINED AREAS. (1900, April 10). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 3. Retrieved from

The Bubonic Plague.
Three cases of bubonic plague were the total for Friday— John Clisby, of Manly, and Kee Liug and Samuel Pearce, both of the city. Charles Bennett, who was admitted at the Quarantine Hospital early in May, died on Friday morning. On Saturday six cases of bubonic plague were discovered : Stanley Oakes, of Balmain ; James Wilson, of Rose Bay ; Richard Jones, of Burwood ; John Fox, of the Quarantine Station ; John Peard, of the city ; and John Wilkins, of Mittagong. The last named patient resided in Sydney until Wednesday last when he left, and on Saturday a telegraphic message was received to the effect that he was suffering from a suspicious complaint.

Dr. Grieves, of the clinical staff of the Board of Health, was despatched to investigate, and pronounced the case one of plague. The patient Fox has been employed at the Quarantine Station since the beginning of March last. The only case of plague discovered on Monday was that of a man named George Perrin, aged 26, who reported himself during the morning at the Hospital Admission Depot, attached to the Health Department offices.The patient stated that he was a boundary rider by occupation, but had been unemployed for the last fortnight, during which time he had lived at Wahroonga in a tent. The Bubonic Plague. (1900, June 6). The Scrutineer and Berrima District Press (NSW : 1892 - 1948), p. 2. Retrieved from

One of the main long term effects of the bubonic plague its transformation of Sydney’s urban environment. The Cleansing Operations that came about were an opportunity and trigger to rebuild the waterfront areas. The government resumed these areas as part of their cleansing operations, and started building modern wharves and warehouses to combat the spread of the disease by the rats that had come off ships infested. The finger wharves in Woolloomooloo, Jones Bay and Walsh Bay are a direct legacy of the epidemic.

How the Plague was Fought.
By F.P.

Australia has not escaped a visitation of the bubonic plague, and unfortunately Sydney has been the place where its attentions hare been most marked. The first case was found on January 24 last ; a carter was discovered to be suffering from it, and he and his family were removed to quarantine. The patient recovered, and was re-leased in due course. Then there was a lull for about a month. No further cases were discovered, and the public was beginning to congratulate itself that the one case was the only one. 

The Board of Health held a different opinion, and the result proved that the Board of Health was right. Late in February a death occurred at Drummoyne, and the post mortem examination showed that the plague was the cause. Excitement was renewed, and the people began to develop a fear that a disease which could lurk in their midst for a month without showing itself would run through the community and decimate it. Things were not rendered any more reassuring when the third, fourth, and fifth cases were discovered in quick succession. Nor was there anything more hopeful in the fact that all the patients died. It is a peculiarity of the disease that it runs its course in a little time and either kills quickly or the person attacked soon recoversfrom it. In many cases there are after-effects which declare themseIves in proportion with the state of health of the sufferer at the time when the moreserious disease was contracted, and in Sydney many of the patients who died succumbed because of one or other of the after-effects rather than of the disease itself. Now, with nearly half a year's experience of this disease, the public of Sydney will be prepared to lock much more philosophically upon a fresh outbreak should one unfortunately occur. 

The information made public by the Board of Health, and notably the public lectures delivered by Professor Anderson Stuart on the subject, have gone a long way to allay apprehension. There will be no panic if the disease breaks out again next summer, in the sense that people will feel that they are being stricken by a foe which they cannot see and cannot understand. The means that have been taken for its eradication appear to have been successful; so successful, indeed, that during lust month — July — only six fresh patients were discovered, and two of these had passed through the acute state of the disease before they even knew that they had contracted plague. They had had it in an attenuated form, and were taken to the convalescent home at the quarantine station to complete their recovery. Only one case has been registered during the present month. What the means taken for its eradication were will be set out in brief in this, article. It may be premised that no special means were inaugurated until towards the end of March. At that time the number of cases came to an average of something like 15 per week, and the tendency was for them to increase rather than diminish. It is, in fact, understating the case to say that the tendency was for cases to increase, They were actually increasing, and they continued to do so until the end of April, when they began to decrease. 

However, towards the end of March the state of affairs was this: The Board of Health, through its inspectors, and people who had sources of information not known to the general public, said there were places in the city which reeked with accumulations of filth. The City Council was appealed to as the local authority entrusted with the task of keeping clean the area within its jurisdiction. It replied that the city was not dirty. One lane in particular was mentioned as being very foul. The inspectors of the council replied that. it was not. The Premier, as custodain-in-chief of the interests of the citizens, called on the City Council to make special arrangements for cleaning up all suspicious parts of the city, and there was some haggling about the terms. The Premier offered to pay half the cost; it has since transpired that the City Council wanted the Government to pay three-fourths. At all events, no agreement was come to, but the plague was increasing. Then Mr. Lyne — he was not then Sir William Lyne— decided to take the law into his own hands, or, rather, to override the law. The only statute which allowed him to quarantine any place was contained in the maritime quarantine law, but it was doubtful whether the provisions of that enactment could by any stretch be made to apply to what he wanted to do. However, he decided to do the necessary work, and to look into the question of legality afterwards. 

On March 23 he declared a portion of the city fronting the eastern shore of Darling Harbour as a place where there should be a performance of quarantine because of the plague, and after some searching about for a man who united in himself the faculty of organising men, and who knew enough of architectural and wharf matters to enable him to see wherein unhealthy conditions might prevail, so far as the structure of edifices was concerned, be offered the portion to, and it was accepted by, Mr. George McCredie, the architect who designed the Darling Island wharfs, among other city works. This gentleman was given the task of organising his own staff and making his own arrangements. The thing was done with the impress of hurry stamped upon it, and there was one goal in view—to clean up the beds of filth that it was known had accumulated. How it was to be done was to be left mainly to the initiative of the men engaged in the work. Mr. McCredie had to get officers and men. 

The unemployed who have been besieging the Labour Bureau were applied to, and work was promised to 1000 of them. It was also promised that they should be inoculated with Haffkine's prophylactic as a preventive against their contracting the disease, though they might be working in the midst of the contagion. A day was set apart for the inoculation, and out of 1000 men who had provisionally engaged 250 appeared. A number of men who had been trained in the work of sanitary engineering at the Sydney Technical College were engaged to direct operations, and Mr. P. E. Getting, A.I.S.E. (London), was placed over all as inspector-in-chief, without whose certificate no place once quarantined for cleansing purposes should be declared clean. Mr. W. Bruce, of the Public Works Department, was the only one of several officers who were applied to to assist in overlooking who responded, and he was appointed superintendent, second in command to Mr. McCredie, in the executive portion of the work. On Mr. Bruce, as a practical man, understanding the nature of buildings, fell a great portion of the work. He had to supervise the details, while his chief took the directory portion of the work. The inspectors from the Technical College had to supervise the gangs of men. 

Ordinary rates of wages did not tempt labourers ; therefore the rates were raised to fancy ones. Even then men came id but slowly. The public did not know the nature of the disease with which they were combating. People who were fortunate enough not to be shut up in the areas shunned them as though tbey were dangerous places for humanity to venture into. The night before the proclamation of the first area men left work as usual. The proclamation was published during the night, and next morning scarcely one of those who had been working there quite unconcernedly day after day had the courage to approach the outer barriers The fact that the law had stepped in added new terrors to the plague. Yet all this fear was unnecessary. The plague is not ' catching ' in the ordinary sense of the term. Its germs are not blown about by the wind ; they are either too heavy to be raised from the ground by currents of air or are too glutinous to be lifted by them. Anyhow, they do not float around us in the same way that particles of dust do, otherwise humanity would have been utterly helpless. 

As far as medical knowledge goes at the present time, it tends to show that before the germ of plague can do any harm to the human being it must by some means or other get under the skin; in other words, it must be conveyed into the blood direct. It is known, and has been a well ascertained fact for centuries, that rats and mice are susceptible to the disease— rats especially so — and as these garbage destroyers — and collectors of garbage as well— are in the habit of congregating in places where population is thickest, they disseminate the disease. Controversy has raged round the means by which it is spread through their agency, and is still raging ; but the probability is that there are several ways by which the contagion can be distributed, ranging from the bite of a flea that has come from a plague-infected rat to the picking up by means of a sore on the hand, or other part of the body, of a particle of earth on which a live germ rests. Anyhow, once it gets into the blood it does its work, as the 102 graves at the quarantine station  abundantly testify. 

The things that were found to exist when the gangs of cleansers went to work staggered Sydney. Most people thought that there were dirty backyards to be found there, but very few had any idea that they were positively foul. For years and years it had been the custom to throw all kinds of rubbish and slops into the yard. These sank into the soil, saturated it, and decomposed there. When the scavenger drove his pick and shovel into this ground he stirred up the decomposing matter and the smell became noisome. What was found may be indicated by means of an illustration. Everyone knows that when water charged with manure is thrown on the ground the water sinks into the soil, while the manurial matter is retained. In process of time, as the manure rots, it will sink into the ground with the water. House slops contain a good deal of manurial matter, from small particles of vegetables broken off in washing them before they are cooked up to dirt thrown out with washing water. Years upon years of throwing these slope on the ground had caused the accumulation of foetid substances, the surface of the soil became saturated with them ; so they rotted they were taken down a little further, and when the scavenging gangs began to dig they found that the top soil of the yards of the small dwellings in the area was filled to repletion with this accumulated filth to the depth of a foot or more, It was a concentrated mass of garbage. There were houses found which had stood, many of them, for the greater part of a century. They were originally built without any dampcourse in the walls, and the rainwater had been drawn up by capitary attraction until the floors and walls were rotten. Most likely, when the houses were first built their floors were above ground-level, but the laying-out of streets and the filling -in of the land had caused the floors to be below the level of the outside ground. There was a vacant space beneath the floors, and the water lodged there after every rain. 


The walls went out of repair and rats burrowed through them, got under the floors and made their nests there. Into these nests they carried old rags, bones, pieces of rope yarn — anything they could eat or out of which they could make a nest. For years upon years these bad accumulated, and when the scavengers raised the floors they found a pea-soup mixture of rags, bones, meat, dead rats, old nests, new ones, water, and a thousand acd one things which bad been taken thither by the rats. All were decomposing together. The smell was horrible, and often the men bad to throw into tbe mass of corruption which they bad suddenly uncovered a s timer solution cf sulphuric acid to burn the filth. They 'hen had to retire for a time to allow the acid to do its work, and afterwards to come back and remove the mixture. This stuff was tipped into punts moored at one or other cf the wharfs and sent out to sea, or if it would burn it was thrown into the streets and fire was applied to it. 

Above ground things were not much better. Some of the houses had no backyards at all, in others one sanitary convenience did duty for two or more households. In other places, where the yards were only a few feet square — some of them were not more than 10ft. long by the same in width — the tenants had roofed them over and made them into kitchens, shutting out daylight from the other rooms of the house. Down came these kitchens and out into the streets the timbers of which they were composed were thrown to feed the fires. Many scores of tons of old packing cases and other odds and ends of wood, used in the construction of these flimsy buildings, were disposed of in this way. The walls of the houses were afterwards treated with limewash. Again, in some of the houses, old wells were found underneath the floors. These wells had been sunk in the very old days of Sydney, before the water supply of the city was derived from public waterworks. Some of them were fed by springs ; others were underground tanks, cemented to make them hold water. When the city became more thickly populated the owners built other houses over these old wells, without taking the trouble to fill them up. The water in them was putrid, and the people who lived above them knew nothing of their existence. On the wharfs the state of things was not much better. Many of the wharf sheds had stood do many years that the foundation timbers were rotten. Many of the tiles of the wharfs themselves were in the same state. In most cases there was a sea wall composed of sheet-piling with a large vacant space behind it. The tides had washed small animals, the remains of vegetables, and half a hundred other things into these vacant spaces, where they lay rotting. 


In several instances it was found that new wharfs were built a foot or so higher than the old ones, while the old decking, being allowed to remain, caught all the waste that fell beneath through the planks of the new. There were large accumulations of this matter in places and the probability was that it was plague infected. The Government are the possessor of a steamer capable of throwing a boiling water jet, and the boiling water was turned on to these wharfs, and behind the sheet-piling to cleanse them. The dredges were set to work to dredge between the wharfs, and here the stuff raised smelt to heaven itself. All along the foreshores of Darling Harbour there were short lengths of sewers simply running from dwellings into the water. These bad been used for years, and the accumulation of sewage matter that bad run from them was very large. Several thousands of tens of it were raised during the couple of months that the dredges were engaged, and were Bent to sea. The publication of details of these accumulations of dirt under and around the wharfs caused the Government to consider what should be done. A decision was assisted by a petition signed by 89 members of Parliament, presented to the Premier, asking him to resume the wharfs in Darling Barbour. After consultation with his officers, who pointed out to him what waB necessary to be done to prevent the wharfs again getting in a state as bad as they were before this cleansing, the Premier and his Government decided. to resume all the wharfs, and a strip of land behind them, so that proper approaches could be made. A proclamation was issued on May 2, resuming the lands and wharfs, and this has been admitted on all hands to be one of the best things ever done by any Administration. In addition to this, every house in which a case of plague occurred was disinfected and fumigated by a special staff working directly under the direction of the Board of Health, and some business places as well. As a means of preventing the disease from spreading to the out ports, coasting vessels were fumigated and disinfected before they left port, and railway carriages and trucks were washed with disinfectant solutions.

Meanwhile the quarantining operations did not seem to be doing much good in staying the plague. People continued to be attacked. Dr. Thompson' president of the Board of Health, when interviewed by a 'Sydney Morning Herald' reporter, declared that the city was still in the hands of the plague. He had before counselled the destruction of the rats that around in and around the wharfs. The publication of this report caused some stir. A public meeting of citizens was held, and a central vigilance committee formed. Branch ones were afterwards formed in every ward of the city and in most of the suburbs.  The Government at the same time decided to offer a capitation fee for all rats caught and killed. It was felt, after consideration, that his was the best way to get lid of them. The fee at first was 2d per head, but the success that attended this offer was not sufficient to induce men to enter upon the catching of rats as a means of employment. It was therefore raised to 6d. 


The fiat of the medical men, as well as of the Board of Health, was ' Kill the rats : bunc them, trap them, poison them, stifle them, but kill them, and burn them afterwards.' A disused steam boiler was secured, and the first depot for burning rat carcases was established at the foot of Bathurst-street. In a few weeks it was removed to Darling Island, where it still remains. In all, about 60,000 rats have, been caught, paid for, killed, and burned since the capitation grant was offered. Before that time the quarantined area gangs of men had caught and killed about 11,000, and the City Council and disposed of 38,000 more, so that the total number of rats killed since the plague broke out in Sydney is upwards of 100,000. One area being finished, others were proclaimed, until, in all, 21 have come under the direction of Mr. McCredie and his men.  At one time there were more than 2000 labourers employed in the work. 

'Professional Ratcatchers' From Album: Views taken during Cleansing Operations, Quarantine Area, Sydney, 1900, Vol. IV / under the supervision of Mr George McCredie, F.I.A., N.S.W. Courtesy Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales. Image No.:a147264.

The whole of the Darling Harbour frontage, from its head near the railway station, to Miller's and Dawes points, have been scavenged, portions of Manly, Redfern, Paddington, Surrv Hills, Darlington, Waterloo, Woollomooloo, Ultimo, the Glebe, and George-street have been similarly dealt with, and the most pestiferous parts of the metropolis have been made clean. The vacant spaces between the sheet-piling at the wharfs have been filled up with stone, and the floors of the sheds have been concreted, so that the rats cannot get beneath them, nor can small bits of rubbish fall through, and the end is that three weeks have passed since the last case of plague was registered at the Health Department. As to the cost, that is as yet unknown ; probably it will reach £100,000 ; but the plague appears to have been stamped out. How the Plague was Fought. (1900, August 25). The Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1871 - 1912), p. 452. Retrieved from


The yellow flag had hardly fluttered down from the flagstaff at the Quarantine Station at North Head the other day before a boat rounded up alongside the wharf, and a "Sunday Sun" representative stepped ashore. In big, glaring letters on all sides were caution notices announcing that "a penalty of £200 was recently Inflicted on a person for a breach of the quarantine regulations" — quite enough to scare anybody off. Undeterred by this, however, and armed with a permit from headquarters, the "Sun" man approached Mr. J. F. Vincent, the superintendent of the station, and was cordially received. The China steamer Tsinan and the whole of her company had just been released. The ship had been quarantined because of a case of smallpox on board on her voyage from China and Japan, and the last of her crew — the smallpox patient, in fact— had just been discharged. 

Quarantined! What a thrill of excitement it causes to friends of those aboard a ship whom the port health authorities have ordered into quarantine, at the end of a long and weary voyage perhaps. But then small-pox, plague, and other scourges have to be guarded against, and it is to North Head that vessels are despatched to guard the health of a big city. It is not an uncommon sight around Sydney's water-front to see crowds of people anxiously waiting on the wharves to welcome friends aboard a ship confronted with the news that the ship has been quarantined. If all goes well they may meet within a fortnight, or it may be a month, and even longer. It certainly does seem strange to those, both aboard a quarantined vessel and ashore, that although they are so near after a voyage of thousands of miles perhaps, they might as well be so many thousands of miles away, for no communication with anyone outside the quarantine area is allowed — excepting by letter and telephone, but, of course, the latter, for obvious reasons, is not largely availed of.

The first records of Sydney's quarantine station date back as far as 1815, and in the intervening 90 years hundreds and hundreds of people have been detained there. Mr. Vincent the superintendent of the station, who has been there for the past 22 years, relates that as many as 778 people were quartered there at the one time. That was some years ago, when smallpox threatened the city In a serious form. 

The passengers and crews of the R.M.S. Ormuz, the China steamer Ching-tu, and the Currie-lilner Darius were all quarantined together, and a big family they made. The N.S.W. and Victorian China Na-val Contingents were on the Chingtu at the time. A little later on, when the plague was raging In Sydney, Mr. Vincent had over 400 people in his care. With so many hundreds of people quaran-tined. and perhaps some scourge raging amongst them. It is only to be expected that the death-roll is large, but the records in the books show that during the plague in 1900, when over 700 people were affected, the death-roll was but 104, or about 25 per cent. For a time deaths occurred almost dally, but this is said to be the smallest death-roll known during an attack of plague in any country, which speaks well for the medical officers and those in charge at the quarantine station. The sight of the many buildings surmounting the heights of North Head is familiar to most people, especially visitors to Manly, and the station presents all sorts of terrors to those who have never explored the regions beyond the pretty white sandy beaches. After all. those who have been detained there will tell you that a sojourn at the quarantine station is not so bad beyond the annoyance of being kept away from one's friends after a long voyage. There are a good many in teresting sights to see there, and plenty of tilings to do, to while the time away. Fish-ing, swimming, and field games are indulged in, for the waters surrounding the station, both on the harbour and ocean side, abound with fish, and are unequalled for bathing. Then again, the quarantine area embraces some 600 or 700 acres of land, much of it grassy flats and slopes, and the remainder either wooded or bushy. There are to be found too some pretty cool and shady spots, specially near the water's edge, so that there is ample room for enjoyment, and. before the monotony of the thing begins to make Itself felt the day for release comes, and the pa-tients or contacts, as the case may, be, are free citizens. * * * * * *

One of the oldest and most popular pastimes of ships' crews confined there is the carving of their ships' names, officers, &c., on the face of the rocky cliffs near the wharf. This has been done for ages, and only the other day a stone slab was dug up not far from the water which had been carved as far back as 1838. It was re-erected, and is in a wonderful state of preservation, the inscription on It reading:— 

No. 3, 1838. 
Jno. Gardiner, age 33 
David Hastings, age 42 
Wm. Hastings, age 36 
Mrs. K. Thompson, age 39 
Robt. McGaw, age 35 
Mrs. J. Maklin, age 25 
Alex. R. May, age 40 
Mrs. W. Niven, age 25 
Mrs. Bunter, age 30 „ 
Floe. Hamilton, age 3 
Cut by W. Parkhill, mason. 

These were evidently a party of emigrants from one of the old ships in the early days, and their relations may, still be in the country. Away up on top of the hill is the old graveyard, now overgrown with bush and wild creepers, and most of the amateur cut tombstones are now almost buried beneath the sandy soil. A few still stand up gauntly through the undergrowth, reminding one of the sad side of a stay in the Quarantine Station. Some of these show even older re-cords than the slab above referred to, and that several of the company of the good immigrant ship Minerva had been laid to rest there, mostly, the victims of typhoid fever. 

Scratching away the sand from an old stone on the verge of toppling over is to be read, "Alexander , Aberdeen: In memory of his child — died 1837." Another stone, the letters on which are rather easy to decipher after a lapse of 70 years, reads: "Beneath repose the remains of Peter McNeill, native of Dindinnie, Scotland, aboard emigrant ship Minerva, 1838." 

Beside this stands another stone, bearing: "Margaret Mackiley, ship Minerva, 1838." 

Still another just bears the name of "Jane Eccless," and another "G. N. Miles, died 1853." 

TOMBSTONES 70 YEARS OLD. A corner in the old graveyard at the North Head Quarantine Station. (See "Quarantined.")

All these old emigrants no doubt had left their homes and all those dear to them to seek fresh fields and pastures new. Surmounting the top of the hill commanding a view of the harbour and the ocean is a talllsh monument, around which a sad little party gathered only towards the end of last year. They were the survivors of the ship Constitution, which arrived here with a large crowd of emigrants, amongst whom typhoid broke out, and carried off a large number of the party, and the monument was erected to their memory by the survivors, There is only a few of them left now. and it was this few which gathered at the spot recently and celebrated the jubilee of their landing in a quiet way. The little group, most of them now grey-haired, made an impressive picture as they stood around and told of what happened there in the old days. They were early colonists, and most of thern seemed to have secured a fair share of the country's wealth after their 50 years' residence in Sunny New. South Wales.  

What a string of recollections the carvings on the rocks near the wharf recall. Many of them are artistic and grotesque in design, and some amount of rivalry always existed as to which ship had left her name depicted on the rocks in the most fanciful design. Side by side lie the names of many of the best known ships that ever came here, showing that sailing ships and mailboats had all been treated alike. Until the other day the carving by the engineer (Mr. H. Adams) of the China steamer Talyuan, executed 12 years ago, in design similar to. that adopted by the company for the coloured glass windows on their ships, was regarded as the most skilful piece of work on the station. 

The sister ship of the Talyuan is the Tsinan, and strangely enough the last infected ship to be quarantined possessed in Mr. Patterson, one of her engineers, a mason of some pretensions. He succeeded whilst he was detained there with the ship's crew a couple of weeks ago in out-doing the Taiyuan's carving by chiselling his ship's name so neatly alongside that of her sister ship, and colouring it so brightly, that it now holds pride of position as being the best piece of carving in the place. Mr. Patterson when he left the Quarantine Station joined the steamer Changsha, on which he is now second engineer. 

THE TSINAN'S TABLET, Which now holds pride of place as the finest carving at the Quarantine Station. (See "Quarantined.")

The oldest record of a ship's name now discernible is hidden up high under the over-hanging vines and trees on a rocky face. It reads: 

"Ship Boanerges. 470 emigrants, Oct. 21, 1857 — Wm. S. Keene, captain." 

Almost as aged is that of "The ship Forest Monarch, 311 emigrants, August 25. 1858." Then there is the name of the "Lady Alma Beatrice," which was quarantined in July. 1859, with 308 emigrants. Then again the ship "Tele-graph" was there in October, 1860, her master at the time being Captain C. P. Woolgrove. 

But many of those belonging to the very old clippers are effaced. Whoever may have been the mason on board the fine old clipper ship Samuel Plim-soll when she was quarantined in June, 1879, took a heap of trouble to put his ship's name in such a position that it can be read by everyone, but not reached. First of all he cut a ledge in the rock 15ft. high, upon which to stand, and after chiselling a smooth face on the rock still higher up, neatly chipped out the following: — 

"Ship Samuel Plimsoll, Captain R. Boaden, 452 emigrants, June, 11, 1879." 

It is a coincidence that this smart old sailer is now ending her days as a coal hulk in West Australia. Then a man named "C. Sandberg" went one better, and his name is to be seen higher than any, of the rest. Somebody might know some thing of the s.s. Hero. Captain MacCartney, here in 1872. Her name is deeply inscribed in the rocks in a prominent place. Unlike this inscription is the following words printed in heavy letters on a smooth spot: "May 27. 1901. J. Charles. W.A.. Tattersall's, Perth." This leaves but a remote chance of Identification failing. One of the prettiest bits of work is that executed by someone from the R.M.S. Hima-laya, In 1897. It Is a coloured design depict-ing the rising sun and a representation of the ship, together with the name of Commander E. H. Gordon, who was recently at Sydney as commander of the 10,000-ton R.M.S. Moldavia. 

A glance at the numerous names along the ledge shows that a warship — H.M.S. Sappho — was at one time in quarantine, but the year is not given. There are also to be seen the names of the R.M.S. Lusitania,I R.M.S. Ormuz, and F.M.S. Caledonlen and F.M.S. Ville de la Clotat, - that of the Cale-donlen being within the crossed flags of France and the M.M, Co., and the last named within a lifebuoy. Another design by the Caledonlen is on a tin plate, and hung under a ledge of rock, like a picture in a drawing-room. The French boats' names appear very often here and there. The R.M.S. Cuzco was in quarantine in 1895. and the officers' names incised In a neat tablet in colours. 

THE TAIYUAN'S TABLET, Until recently this was considered the best piece of carving at the Quarantine Station. (See "Quarantined."). 

The inscriptions on the rocks embrace the language of many nationalities — British, French, German, Chinese, Japanese, and even Hebraic characters appear there. There is a story going the rounds of the Quarantine Station that some years ago an engineer from a steamer was so engrossed in attempting to eclipse the best of the carvings there,- that he sat for nearly a whole fortnight in front of a rock chipping and chipping and chipping away, his only companions being a bottle of whisky and occasionally a few spectators (his shipmates), who stood a few moments to comment on his work, He is said to have succeeded. 

The routine followed by the officials in quarantining a ship makes an interesting story. As soon as the port doctor orders a ves-sel into quarantine the affected patient, or the "case," as it is popularly called, is taken out of her, together with all belongings, immediately followed by the "contacts," and all are removed to the hospital area. The ship's stewards are then hurried ashore to prepare for the passengers, who follow immediately, and these are in turn followed by the officers and crew. 

The passengers are all housed in quarantine, just as they are on board ship, saloon passengers having the best quarters, and so on. The ship's stewards too carry on their duties, just as if they were still on the voyage. The living quarters are all high up on the hill-side, and are scrupulously clean. The hospital and enclosure are on that pretty point jutting out into the harbour, and the interior of the hospital itself is equal to the accommodation provided by any hospital in Sydney. Immediately ail hands are landed the ship is disinfected, and when put to the test the work can be carried out on the largest mail-boat in three days. The vessel is generally released before the passengers or crew, the agents sending down a special crew to bring her up the harbour to save time by getting her on the loading berth. "Cases" are detained until thoroughly cur-ed. "Contacts" are detained 21 days from the time of leaving the vessel, unless they have been successfully vaccinated, when they are kept for only 14 days. Vaccination Is offered to everyone, and they can accept or reject it at will, but their chances of spending a lengthened period in quarantine are increased if they refuse it. Not so long ago a man spent two months in quarantine be-cause he persistently refused vaccination, but in the end was glad to accept it. It is said that a person who has actually slept in the same room as a smallpox patient, and after-wards been successfully vaccinated, may be released within 14 days. 

If a ship carries her own doctor he is sup-posed to look after the health of the ship's company. If he needs assistance, medical men are brought from the Little Bay Coast Hospital. The shipping company bears the extra expense incurred by the ship being quarantined, sometimes making a charge upon the passengers, which is, of course, quite within their province according to the regulations issued with the ticket. Several important improvements have been made within the last few years at the Quarantine Station, notably a complete sewerage scheme, and an independent water supply. A long wall, 10 feet high, known as "the great wall of China," too, has been built at the extreme limits of the quarantine area, and ex-tends from the harbour to the ocean. In connection with the water supply it is worthy of note that each room throughout the station is fitted with its own water tap and basin. The next door neighbour to the quarantine officers is, singularly enough. Cardinal Moran, his residence being the nearest to the station. 

Rather a funny incident is told in connection with a steamer from the East recently quarantined for fumigation. Three Chinese stowaways had evaded detection all the way from Hongkong, but overheard that the ship was to be fumigated. They came up from their hiding-place with a run, and gave themselves up. The Quarantine Station possesses Its own lock-up, and into this they were bundled, but afterwards released and kept under surveillance. Fortunately the lock-up is not often used, but Mr. Vincent, the superintendent, is a magistrate, and should any misconduct occur he makes his presence felt. His report is, however, that although hundreds have been quarantined at a time, the general conduct has been good. 

Some big penalties are imposed in connection with breaches of the quarantine regulations. For Instance, the captain or surgeon of any vessel falsely answering questions regarding the health of his passengers or crew is liable to two years' hard labour, or a fine of £300. If anybody on any pretence whatever goes within the quarantine area he is liable to forfeit £200 for every such offence. A captain who leaves his vessel, or knowingly suffers any person to quit his vessel before she has been passed by the doctor, may find himself In £400. Anyone boarding a vessel before the port doctor has completed his examination risks £300. A number of boats containing runners and press men are often to be seen waiting alongside a ship upon arrival, and the moment the doctor utters "all right," they scramble aboard like a lot of flies. The master of any vessel going alongside a ship before the visiting flag is lowered though is liable to a £50 fine. The highest penalty for any breach of the quarantine regulations is that for removing or unshipping any article from a vessel liable to quarantine or any person receiving such article. The penalty is £500. 

Once the yellow flag is hoisted it is the signal for all outsiders to steer clear of the quarantine area. Defaulters are confronted with the £200 fine scare, but even this does not always keep them out, and occasionally people venture into the quarantine waters after fishing during prohibited periods, and if caught are quarantined for the full term, and sometimes fined. The biggest capture ever effected was a party of 17 men some years ago, and all public servants. All hands were seized and held in quarantine for 21 days, only to find upon release that they all had lost their billets. It is an experience most people who value their positions hardly care for, although three weeks at the station proves a very fine holiday. 

A staff comprising Messrs. J. F. Vincent (superintendent), Cornelius (deputy-superintendent), F. Billicum, H. Phillips, J. Ball, C. Dishout, A. H. Wilshire, L. Christie and Errickson is permanently stationed at quarantine, but, although they have some long spells without a ship in, still they find plenty to do, as they have to have the station ready at a moment's notice, The quarantine station is, of course, under the direct control of the Health Board.

MR. J. F. VINCENT. Superintendent of the North Head Quarantine Station. (See "Quarantined.")

QUARANTINED! (1906, March 25). The Sunday Sun (Sydney, NSW : 1903 - 1910), p. 6. Retrieved from

When the Commonwealth took over responsibility for the Quarantine Service after 1909, and particularly after the creation of the Department of Health in 1921, the nature of quarantine changed for merchant shipping. The Commonwealth drew together the Quarantine Stations in the various states, and tried to diversify the operations so that some ships were intercepted at out-lying ports before they reached Sydney. Albany, Melbourne and Thursday Island, in particular played a major role in this new pattern of nationwide quarantine.

In the period 1901 to 1940, Sydney and Melbourne had roughly similar numbers of assisted immigrants (134,864 and 115,988 respectively), and the other States had, in combination, more immigrants than either Sydney or Melbourne, totalling 174,526. By 1958 there were 39 "first ports of entry" into Australia. Thirty-two sea ports had staff capable of carrying out quarantine inspections, ten ports were "landing places" for air entry; major quarantine stations with accommodation were established at five ports, and there were three minor quarantine stations at other Ports.

The Influenza Pandemic of 1918-1919

The name Spanish Flu came from the early outbreak and heavy mortality in Spain, where some reports state it killed eight million people. The disease was soon seen in outbreaks around the world. In the City of Sydney in 1919, 42 per cent of all deaths were from the flu, and there was ongoing and increasing pressure on health care facilities, with public hospitals unable to cope with the magnitude of the epidemic. Health authorities responded with sensible measures. Major public events were cancelled, public places were to be avoided, and the wearing of masks in public was made mandatory. Schools, cinemas and dance halls closed. But a lack of agreement between the relevant state and Commonwealth authorities meant that Sydneysiders often had to face conflicting policies, while media hysteria did little to help encourage public confidence.

The end of World War I had brought peace, but also the worldwide onset of this particularly virulent form of influenza, which seemed to effect the youngest and fittest most - and was brought home on the troop ships. This was not an epidemic confined to Sydney as it killed more people than the Great War with one fifth of the world's population was infected and some 50 million people died. 

Once again this was occurring around [public debate to close North Head Quarantine Station and move it into Pittwater:


SYDNEY. — A largely-attended public meeting, held in Sydney Town Hall on Tuesday, vigorously demanded the removal of the quarantine station from North Head, the city's front door. A deputation was appointed to interview the Acting Prime Minister in Melbourne, with a view of having the quarantine station removed to some more isolated spot such as Broken Bay or Jervis Bay. Dr. Arthur, M.L.A., said that undoubtedly the deaths of some of the soldiers on the Medic lay on the shoulders of the authorities, who had kept the men cooped up when they should have been sent ashore. Someone would have to answer for it. THE QUARANTINE STATION AT NORTH HEAD. (1918, December 4). The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 - 1954), p. 10. Retrieved from 

Mr. Watt, in a telegram to Mr. Orchard, M.H.R., stated the Federal authorities must continue to use North Head Quarantine Station for the purpose for which it was established, adding that any question of its removal must be deferred for deliberate consideration from all material aspects. PRESENT QUARANTINE STATION. (1919, March 13). Daily Advertiser (Wagga Wagga, NSW : 1911 - 1954), p. 2. Retrieved from 

Of course, trying to quarantine men in a terrain that hasn't been looked after, is infested with snakes, when they have been months coming home, is dangerous - in this case the men had been too long cooped up and left the station, albeit wearing masks - but how many then took those off and spread the contagion further, including such diseases as T.B., which was responsible for the death of volunteer women nurses alike Jean Curlewis, who eventually died from looking after returning soldiers and contracting the disease while she did:


The threatening situation which developed on the Argyllshire and at North Head during the week-end was brought to a climax yesterday morning, when the returned soldiers from the transport Argyllshire, which was moved into the quarantine area on Sunday afternoon, following on the discovery of a case of pneumonic-influenza on board, broke quarantine and proceeded to Sydney. 

The men, who comprise portions of the companies of three ships - the Mamari, Nestor, and Argyllshire - left Melbourne on Tuesday last. They arrived at Sydney on Thursday, and were ordered into quarantine by the New South Wales State Government. Having been quarantined in several ports, and having been in many cases almost two and a half months on the voyage, the men were inclined to resent being detained in Sydney.

On Friday night last matters on board the vessel assumed an ugly appearance, but the visit of Mr. Fuller (Acting Premier) and Mr. Garland quietened the men. On Saturday morning, under protest, they agreed to remain on the vessel until their period of quarantine expired on Sunday. 

However, on Sunday afternoon, a case of influenza was discovered on the vessel, and quarantine was necessary. Then the men became mutinous. On being informed that they would be quarantined for a further period, several of the ship's boats were lowered, and some of the men reached the shore. The majority of the escapees, however, were recaptured.

The Argyllshire was taken to North Head on Monday, and the men were disembarked and placed in a special camp, which had been provided in the quarantine area. The men, on seeing the camp allotted them, expressed considerable dissatisfaction.


The trouble came to head yesterday morning, when the men expressed their intention of breaking the barriers and proceeding to Sydney. Carrying their kitbags, they broke through portion of the guard, and during the morning reached the main gates, where Inspectors Mankey and Lobban were in charge of the police cordon. Inspector Mankey spoke to the men and endeavoured to impress upon them the seriousness of the situation. He succeeded in persuading them to remain in camp until he could get into communication with the military authorities and decide what could be done. Victoria Barracks was at once communicated with, and the State Com-mandant, Major-General Lee, was informed of the occurrence.

On learning that the men were determined to leave the camp and proceed to Sydney, the Manly S.S. Company's steamer Bellubera was despatched to the Manly wharf to bring the men across. Although the attitude of the soldiers was in defiance of the authorities, there was no attempt at larrikinism or horseplay. The men "fell in" at the main gates as if on parade, and marched quietly and in perfect order, in charge of tho n.c.o.'s, to the Manly cargo wharf, where they embarked on the Bellubera. They were then brought up the harbour to Fort Macquarie.


Here again the conduct of the men left nothing to be desired. There was no attempt to rush ashore. They were determined, yet they were perfectly orderly.

Major-General Lee had, in the meantime, proceeded to the wharf at Fort Macquarie, and met the soldiers on arrival. Before any move was made to get the men ashore, Major-General Lee, accompanied by Major Bowie-Wilson (Intelligence Officer), called for six of the senior non-commissioned officers, who came ashore and acted as spokesmen for their comrades. ORIGIN OF THE TROUBLE. (1919, February 12). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 8. Retrieved from


This afternoon 1000 soldiers who had been landed at the Quarantine Station from the Argyllshire left North Head and marched to the cargo wharf at Manly, where they embarked on a special boat for Sydney. The photograph shows them on the march through Manly. ARGYLLSHIRE SOLDIERS MARCH OUT OF QUARANTINE (1919, February 11). The Sun (Sydney, NSW : 1910 - 1954), p. 8 (FINAL EXTRA). Retrieved from 

The impact of improved medical science, immunisation, and quarantine procedures in the twentieth century is perhaps shown most dramatically by the fact that though the post-WWII immigration was vastly more than had gone before, the number of ships or, with aeroplanes now added to who arriving on what may be subject to being quarantined, still plummeted proportionately. 

Sydney received nearly 700,000 assisted immigrants between 1946 and 1980, or nearly double the number it had received between 1831 and 1940, yet only four ships were quarantined in that period and at least one of those was a tanker. Of course, just in case they were needed post WWII, an inspection was made, wherein was discovered:

Sovereigns Found At Quarantine Station

SYDNEY.— Mr. N. Patison, an inspector for the Department of the Interior, who was inspecting old buildings at the Quarantine Station, North Head, yesterday, found 57 sovereigns, 56 of them English, all minted in the last century. He found two of the sovereigns on a ledge. The remainder were buried two inches under the soil. Police are searching today for more treasure.Sovereigns Found At Quarantine Station (1946, January 30). The Newcastle Sun (NSW : 1918 - 1954), p. 4. Retrieved from


Quarantine officers with some of the thousands of blankets which they distributed yesterday around the rooms of the quarantine station at North Head where passengers from the liner Strathaird will spend five days. The quarantine follows the detection of a case of smallpox among the crew of the Strathaird when it reached Freemantle last Saturday. Nearly 500 of the passengers will go into quarantine when the ship reaches Sydney next Monday. STRATHAIRD QUARANTINE (1954, August 13). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 3. Retrieved from

What people could be quarantine for also shifted:

Child Migrant Seized, Interned At North Head

SYDNEY, Friday. — An 11-year-old British immigrant boy today was interned for two weeks in the North Head Quarantine Station.
The child, Kim Parker, arrived from London at Sydney Airport with his parents, and his younger brother and sister. He had not been immunised against smallpox and was seized by Commonwealth officials.
Kim's mother said that an official at Australia House had told her that her son, who suffers from asthma, would not require a smallpox vaccination certificate. Mr. and Mrs. Parker, and their two other children, Gary 10, and Sheron 7, later flew to Adelaide, where they plan to settle.

The Parker family emigrated to Australia from Kent, where Mr. Parker had a small painting and decorating firm in partnership with his brother. Before she left for Adelaide, Mrs. Parker said, "I'm going to miss him for two weeks. I hope he will be all right.

Mr. and Mrs. Parker with their children Garry, 10, and Sheron, 7, at Mascot Airport, yesterday after their elder son Kim was taken away by Commonwealth authorities. 
Child Migrant Seized, Interned At North Head (1964, May 23). The Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 - 1995), p. 5. Retrieved from

Between 1828 and 1984 at least 580 vessels were quarantined at the Quarantine Station and more than 16,000 people were quarantined at the station of whom an estimated, at least, 572 died and were buried there. The NSW Department of Environment and Heritage states there were three cemeteries as part of the station:

Three cemeteries functioned throughout the history of the Station. The approximate location of the First Cemetery [Site IIIA1, c.1837- 1853], is at the junction of the wharf and hospital roads, however no visible evidence remains, so it is not a landscape element except to those with knowledge of its existence.

The unfortunate positioning of the First Cemetery, always in the view of the well and recovering, was soon recognised, and the subsequent cemeteries were moved out of the perceived landscape of those quarantined.

The Second Cemetery [Site L1, 1853-1881], is located east of the 3rd Class precinct. Three headstones remain in situ [two obscured by vegetation], and the outline of another two graves visible. The cemetery is separated from the experiential landscape of the quarantined unless they chose to visit it.

The Third Cemetery [Site VA1, 1881-1925], is within the School of Artillery, on Commonwealth property. Two hundred and forty one burials are registered, and the cemetery retains many headstones and markers, protected by a chain wire three-metre high person-proof fence. This cemetery is even more removed from the Quarantine Station landscape than the second cemetery was.

The Second and Third cemeteries become obscured and prone to bushfire if native vegetation is not regularly slashed. Erosion of grave sites occurs if the cemeteries are heavily visited or if stabilising vegetation [especially grasses] is removed. There has been natural weathering and corrosion of sandstone headstones and wooden cross grave markers. Uncontrolled public access to these cemeteries [especially the Third] can result in vandalism or theft of remaining headstones and grave markers.

Some headstones from the First and Second cemeteries are now located in the artefact store within Building A20. Further research is required to relocate obscured graves.

The cemeteries are powerful reminders of the purpose of the Quarantine Station, its successes and failures and of its internees. They have historical, archaeological, genealogical and educational significance and special significance for descendants of those interred in them.

An archaeological assessment of the North Head Quarantine Station cemeteries; and an archaeological inspection report of the Third Quarantine Station cemetery have been prepared by the NPWS. [3.]

The station is now home to a hotel, conference centre, and restaurant complex known as Q Station, and remains part of the Sydney Harbour National Park. 

Inscriptions and poems

Quarantine internees commenced a tradition of making inscriptions, including poems, initials, memorials and drawings, in the 1830s. This continued throughout the life of the Quarantine Station. Nineteenth and early twentieth century examples include engraved and painted inscriptions on soft sandstone faces, structures and slate storm-water drain covers. Eight hundred and fifty four examples have been recorded, though at least 1,000 other examples exist.

A Unique Anniversary

One of the most picturesque anniversaries ever held in Australia was celebrated by a picnic at the Quarantine Station, North Head (Sydney), recently. Fifty years previously Captain S. G. Green, the courteous and highly-esteemed Marine Superintendent, was an officer of the steamer Somerset, a pioneer liner in connection with the E. and A. Mail Service with Australia, carrying the English mails via Singapore and Torres Strait.

A case of smallpox developed on the Somerset, and she was quarantined, with all her passengers and crew, for three weeks. To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the occasion, Captain Green invited a number of personal friends to accompany him to the Quarantine grounds, one of the guests being Mr. Alfred Harrison (Hooper and Harrison), the well-known softgoods merchants, who was a passenger on the Somerset on that particular occasion.

One of the officers of the Somerset, whilst quarantined, placed on one of the rocks in the grounds an inscription recording the event.

Within sight of that rock, the inscription being still clearly decipherable, the picnic was held, and many Interesting reminiscences were exchanged. The inscription is clearly shown in the photograph.

Captain Green, looking hale and hearty, was warmly congratulated, and various toasts were honored and responded to, the occasion being marked with general enthusiasm. The toast of "The Absentees" was drunk in silence. Those present, in addition to Captain Green and Mr. Harrison, were Mrs. Green, Mrs. and Miss Harrison, Mr. and Mrs. E. W. G. de Gyulay, Dr. C. W. Reid (Chief Quarantine Officer), Mr. E. Furley ("Daily Telegraph Pictorial"), Mr. and Mrs. C. Dempster, Mrs. G. A. More, Miss Ida Finch, and Miss Phyllis Morgan.

A pathetic interest attaches to this photograph, because the tall figure, the first on the left, is Dr. Reid, Chief Quarantine Officer, who lost his life on the ill-fated ferry steamer Greycliffe in the recent harbor disaster. This is the very last photo, of the doctor, and taken just a few days before his tragic death. The two seated in the foreground are Mr. Harrison and Captain Green, the host on this unique occasion.  People talked about (1927, November 12). The World's News (Sydney, NSW : 1901 - 1955), p. 9. Retrieved from

The inscriptions commemorate quarantine events, ships and people from the ships and deceased internees. They are located throughout the place with concentrations around the Wharf Precinct and The Old Mans Hat. English and other European, Asian and Arabic languages were used. The most recent inscriptions are a series of written examples on internal walls of Building A20, deriving from its use as a detention centre for illegal immigrants. Most of these appear to have been written by people from the Pacific Islands, some in islander languages, many being laments on their authors' detention or abuses directed at their detainers.

Quarantine station, North Head, Sydney - photo by and courtesy Sardaka

Most of the inscriptions are on quarried or natural sandstone surfaces. A few occur on cement or plaster surfaces and several on built elements such as brick walls, drain covers and the Cannae Point flagstaff. Some have been re-worked in the past or are highlighted by paint. A large percentage of the inscriptions are in good condition, easily located and readily legible. Aspect, topography and environmental agents [sun, wind, rain] affect the condition of inscriptions but the major factor is the quality of stone, i.e. the softer less silicified the sandstone the faster it deteriorates.

Seeping ground water, lichen, moss, wind and vegetation abrasion and visitor contact are additional agents of deterioration. The latter is now minimised through a policy of controlled access. The inscriptions in Building A20 have a life limited to that of the paintwork and plaster render on internal walls. A preliminary analysis of European rock inscriptions was completed in 1983, and an interim report on the conservation of rock inscriptions at the Quarantine Station was completed in March 1999, as part of a joint project between the NPWS, Sydney, North Sub-District and the NPWS Cultural Heritage Services Division.

The recommendations of the 1983 analysis were:

  • that the engravings at The Old Mans Hat be recorded by a similar program (such as that at the Quarantine Station core precinct) in order to complete the record of the resource;
  • that, it funds become available, an indexing system of the inscriptions be devised for the complete resource; and
  • that further research is carried out to identify whether similar engravings have been located at other Quarantine facilities as a means of assessing the National Heritage value of this material.

The 1999 Interim Report provided specific conservation recommendations for the Wharf Area and The Old Mans Hat inscriptions, and general conservation management recommendations for visitor management and monitoring. These recommendations are included as recommendations of this Plan.

The inscriptions are valuable and unusual graphic illustrations of historical incidents and social patterns of Quarantine Station history. They provide a very tangible and "human" link with the past for present generations and are a valuable historical and genealogical resource. Their research potential is enormous. The inscriptions record a variety of information which cannot be obtained from any other source, especially the feelings of non-English speaking migrants.

North Head Reserve

As can be read above in the few of a great many examples, for many years the residents of Manly, including Percy Nolan, an alderman and mayor of Manly, agitated for the removal of the Quarantine Station from Manly and called for its use as public open space. Decades later this far-sighted proposal became a reality.


A telephotographic view from this area (which has been made available by the Federal Government), showing Dee Why Head on the left. Beyond Dee Why beach Narrabeen beach can be seen. Then comes Narrabeen and Turimetta Heads, Mona Vale beach, the basin and headland, Bungan Head, and Newport, Bilgola and Avalon beaches. LOOKING NORTH FROM THE NEW QUARANTINE RESERVE, WHICH MANLY RESIDENTS NOW POSSESS, AT NORTH, HEAD. (1931, November 11). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 14. Retrieved from


Approximately £ 7000 is being spent by the Federal Government on the erection of this wall which will separate the quarantine station from the new reserve at North Head. NEW STONE WALL AT NORTH HEAD RESERVE. (1932, September 28). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 14. Retrieved from

While on building walls, in the same page of the same edition:


Under the Federal Government's unemployed relief scheme about £ 5000 is being expended on this continuation of the sea wall on the Manly waterfront. CONTINUATION OF MANLY'S SEA WALL. (1932, September 28). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 14. Retrieved from

Commenced, perhaps due to the loss of a darling boy who not yet reached his first birthday, the idea of quarantine as a means to stymie and even stop epidemics, and as Governor Darling stated in his last despatches to London prior to leaving here;

'General popularity is not always the companion of integrity … it would have been impossible to satisfy many of the [colonists] without an abandonment of every principle of justice and duty'. And in his last report to the Colonial Office that the 'King's authority has been duly upheld'.

'Sydney Heads looking south from above Manly Beach' dated; 1840-1944 - UNKNOWN Artist - from and courtesy of the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne - watercolour with white gouache and gum arabic over pencil on buff paper. Measurements 32.1 × 48.7 cm (image and sheet)Place/s of Execution: Sydney, New South Wales. Inscription inscribed in pencil on reverse u.c.l.: ''Sydney Heads looking South / from above Manly Beach.'' Accession Number:- 116-4

References and Extras

  1. TROVE - National Library of Australia
  2. Wikipedia
  3. "North Head Quarantine Station & Reserve". New South Wales State Heritage Register. Office of Environment and Heritage. H01003. 
  4. Fever, Immigration and Quarantine in New South Wales, 1837–1840. Katherine Foxhall. Social History of Medicine, Volume 24, Issue 3, December 2011, Pages 624–642, Published: 27 February 2011
  5. Sydney Harbour Federation Trust: Management Plan – North Head Sanctuary. 2011. Sydney Harbour Federation Trust 2011. Retrieved from: 

1832 New South Wales Acts As Made Legislation

Spring Cove is on the harbour side of Manly, fringed by Sydney Harbour National Park, Collins Beach, Store Beach and with Little Manly Point on one end Rance Point and Quarantine Beach on the other.

The early European colonists’ overland exploratory expeditions to Pittwater and Broken Bay commenced at Manly Cove. It is thought that a marine navigational aid, now known as the Obelisk, was erected c. 1807-1809.

In 1810, an area of 100 acres was granted to Richard Cheer. This grant was situated south of Ashburner Street. Spring Cove, probably named due to the natural spring here, was used as a place of quarantine from 1828. Following the Australian Quarantine Act of 1832, a Quarantine Reserve was established by the dedication in 1833 of all land within a quarter of a mile of the high water mark at Spring Cove. This reserve was extended in 1837 to include the whole of North Head to the southern boundary of Richard Cheers’ 100 acre grant.

The area remained isolated until 1859 when a sixty acre grant, excised from the land previously set aside for the Quarantine area, was made for the construction of a residence for the Catholic Archbishop. In 1879, a seminary was also established.

High stone walls were constructed to separate the facility from the Quarantine Station. These stone walls were to become distinctive features of the landscape at North Head as their use was extended to separate other newly developing areas from the Quarantine Station.

The Third Cemetery, located to the west of the North Fort Precinct and associated with the Quarantine Station, was dedicated in 1881 and its establishment coincided with the smallpox epidemic of that time. This cemetery, which closed in 1925, was also used for the victims of the bubonic plague of 1900 and the influenza epidemic of 1919. It was later used to hold the remains of some returned World War I servicemen, but due to the difficulty of maintaining graves on the site they were later relocated by the War Graves Commission.

The growth of recreation and nearby residential development at Manly in the second half of the nineteenth century led to increasing demands from the public and local government for more recreation areas at North Head. In 1886, the NSW Colonial Government, bowing to local pressure, rescinded part of the 1859 church grant and allocated the disputed area (at and around Shelly Beach) for public use.

At Federation in 1901, political moves commenced for the transfer of the former Colony of New South Wales Quarantine Station to the Commonwealth. The Station then became the responsibility of the newly formed Commonwealth Department of Health. However, the transfer of responsibilities took several years to take effect, and the property status and extent of the Quarantine Reserve was to become the subject of dispute between the NSW and Federal governments. In 1909, the responsibility for the Quarantine Station was transferred to the Commonwealth Government. 

The Quarantine Station continued to function until the advent and widespread use of air travel in the 1950s and 1960s. The last ship to be quarantined was in 1972.

The NSW Government subsequently pressed for the Commonwealth to release part of the quarantine land for construction of a local hospital and 12 acres were granted to the NSW State Government for this purpose in 1917.

In 1926 a portion of the Commonwealth quarantine area was excised for the establishment of the Northern Suburbs Ocean Outfall Sewer at Bluefish Point. Work had begun in 1916 on a sewerage system which was finally completed in 1930.

The construction of an ‘Avenue of Honour’, on the eastern side of the area, commenced in 1928 for the purpose of providing public access to North Head around the Quarantine Station. Opened in 1933, public access to the road was limited to a brief period as, by 1936, the road was closed off altogether by the establishment of North Fort. Its commemorative function was intended as a memorial to soldiers from Manly Warringah killed in World War I, and for this purpose, an avenue of Norfolk Island Pines was planted with a pine and a plaque for each soldier. Since then, numerous trees and plaques along the road have been removed. The only visible portion of the original road (Telford type of road construction consisting of a stone base which was then topped with gravel formed into a camber water shed) is the section running south from Bluefish Drive just north of the North Fort gun battery.

In 1930, the Federal cabinet agreed to the allocation of 200 acres of the Quarantine Reserve to Manly Council for public use on the condition that Council construct a stone boundary wall to isolate it from the Quarantine Station. This wall was erected under the auspices of an Unemployment Relief Scheme and a road and pathway to vantage points were also constructed. Opened in June 1933, the Parkhill Reserve was named after the Postmaster-General, the Hon. Archdale Parkhill who had long campaigned for public access to North Head. The archway that marked the entrance to the Reserve was originally located further down Darley Road, marking the entrance to the Quarantine Station. The arch was later relocated to its current position when Manly Hospital was constructed (between 1926 and 1931) and the name ‘Parkhill’ replaced the original ‘Quarantine’ label.

In 1934 events in Europe and Asia led the Federal Government to withdraw permissive occupancy from most of the Reserve, in order to construct the North Head Fort and the associated Barracks. Permissive occupancy of the Parkhill and Loop precincts, which were not immediately required for defence purposes, was subsequently returned by the Commonwealth and re-opened for public recreational uses in 1936. A new scenic road was constructed through the Quarantine Reserve to connect with the existing loop. This new road was originally known as Anstey Drive, named for the then Federal Minister for Health, but it is now known as North Head Scenic Drive. Three new sections of wall were also constructed; the northern and southern stone boundary walls were built to the Fortress area, including two gateways (currently known as the North Gate and Main Gate to North Fort respectively) and a new section separating the loop at North Head and the Military reserve.

In 1979, the reserve was returned from the Commonwealth to the NSW State Government, and reserved as part of the Sydney Harbour National Park under the administration of the National Parks and Wildlife Service. The transfer of the remains of the Quarantine Station followed in 1984. 

Sydney Harbour Federation Trust: Management Plan – North Head Sanctuary. 2011. Sydney Harbour Federation Trust 2011. Retrieved from: 

Pulmonary tuberculosis brought many talented people to Australia, especially infected doctors, who otherwise might never have emigrated. If their own condition often improved in the gentler climate, they nonetheless passed on their infection to indigenous Australians and later to the unexposed native-born. Tuberculosis deaths in Victoria rose until the mid-1890s, whereupon they participated in the sharp decline that was subsequently recorded in most parts of the developed world. Death rates continued to fall during the 1930s depression and then fell away dramatically after the discovery of antibiotic therapy and compulsory chest screening.

The most feared of all epidemic diseases, bubonic plague, was brought to Sydney in January 1900, prompting a clean-up of Sydney's worst slums around the Rocks and rat-extermination programs throughout the country. Melbourne suffered 10 cases only in 1900, but the clean-up of living conditions conducted by municipal health officers focused public attention on the practices of boiling water and milk and controlling rodents. Smallpox was a problem for Europeans from infected ships and Melbourne's most significant outbreak was 56 cases in 1885-86. The opening of the Fairfield Infectious Diseases Hospital in 1904 provided isolation and expert care, in particular for children and adults suffering from diphtheria, poliomyelitis, scarlet fever and all other serious infectious diseases. Its final years of service were in the treatment and palliative care of terminal HIV/AIDS sufferers.

Acute anterior poliomyelitis presented Melbourne with its final significant epidemic disease before the arrival of HIV/AIDS. The outbreak in 1937-39 was particularly severe in Melbourne, causing the closure of schools and the banning of children from public transport. The higher susceptibility of the respectable was particularly alarming to a society now accustomed to disease accompanying poverty; the early exposure of poor children to the virus protected them from more damaging attacks later in life. For most communicable disease, however, the provision of a plentiful and clean water supply, sewerage, better diet and roomier housing, did much to mitigate the ravages of the biological baggage brought by the Europeans. Free immunisation provided by municipal government from the 1950s completed the conquest of the common diseases of childhood. Such interventions came far too late, however, to save the indigenous people, whose destruction by European disease was nothing less than catastrophic.

Sir Charles Kinnaird Mackellar KCMG (December 5th 1844 –  July 14th 1926) was an Australian politician and surgeon. He served in the New South Wales Legislative Council from 1885 to 1925, with the exception of a period of 50 days in 1903 when he filled a casual vacancy in the Senate. 

Charles Mackellar was born in Sydney, the only son of Dr Frank Mackellar (a physician from Dundee, Scotland), and his wife Isabella, née Robertson (widow of William McGarvie). He was educated at Sydney Grammar School and then moved to Port Macquarie district. After leaving school had spent several years working on the land. 

About 1866 he studied at the University of Glasgow, graduated MB and Ch.M. in 1871. He then returned to Australia and registered with the Medical Board of New South Wales on March 25th 1872 and established a successful practice as a physician. Mackellar was honorary surgeon at the Sydney Infirmary and Dispensary 1873–77 (known as Sydney Hospital from 1881). In 1882 he was appointed the first president of the newly formed Board of Health, which brought him in touch with the poor of Sydney and the conditions in which they lived. Mackellar took much interest in his new position, and gave the new department a great start. Mackellar became very good friends with Normand MacLaurin, who joined the staff of Sydney Infirmary and Dispensary in 1873.

In c. 1882 – c. 1883 he developed 'Dunara' in Point Piper as his principal place of residence and where Isobel Marion Dorothea Mackellar was born on July 1st 1885.

Dr. Mackellar resigned from his offices in August 1885, and on September 8th 1885 was nominated to the Legislative Council of New South Wales. He was vice-president of the Executive Council in the ministry of Sir Patrick Jennings from 26 February to 23 December 1886, and then Secretary for Mines until the government was defeated on January 19 1887. But though a good administrator, Mackellar was not a party man, and possibly for that reason did not hold parliamentary office again. 

Charles Mackellar, 1900 - courtesy National Library of Australia

In 1903 he was appointed a Senator when Richard O'Connor was made a Judge of the High Court. Mackellar found, however, that he had too many interests in Sydney to be able to spare the time to attend the sittings which were then held at Melbourne. He consequently opted not to stand for a full term at the 1903 federal election, and not long afterwards resumed his seat in the Legislative Council of New South Wales on 26 November 1903.

Mackellar had been chosen as president of a Royal Commission to investigate causes of the decline of the birth rate; he was largely responsible for the report that was issued. He had for some time been interested in the care of delinquent and mentally deficient children and in 1902 was appointed president of the state Children's Relief Department. He published this year as a pamphlet, Parental Rights and Parental Responsibility, which was followed in 1907 by a thoughtful short treatise, The Child, The Law, and the State, an account of the progress of reform of the laws affecting children in New South Wales, with recommendations for their amendment and more humane and effective application.

In 1912 Mackellar visited Europe and the United States to study the methods of treatment of delinquent and neglected children, and issued a valuable report Treatment of Neglected and Delinquent Children in Great Britain, Europe, and America on his return in 1913. He resigned his presidency of the state children's relief board in 1916. He still, however, retained his interest and in 1917 published an open letter to the Minister of Public Health on The Mother, the Baby, and the State, and a pamphlet on Mental Deficiency, which shows his clear grasp of the subject.

Mackellar succeeded his father-in-law, Thomas Buckland, as a director of the Bank of New South Wales in 1896. Mackellar was later president of the bank for most of the years 1901–1923. Mackellar was also chairman of the Gloucester Estate Co., chairman of the Mutual Life & Citizens' Assurance Co. Ltd; he had been a trustee in 1911–14. He was also a director of Pitt, Son & Badgery Ltd, the Union Trustee Co. of Australia Ltd, United Insurance Co. Ltd, Royal Insurance Co. Ltd, Colonial Sugar Refining Co., Australian Widows' Fund, and Equitable Life Assurance Co. Ltd of which he was medical director. He was surgeon in the Volunteer Rifles from 1872; chairman of the medical section of the Royal Society of New South Wales in 1881; founding councillor and in 1883–84 president of the New South Wales branch of the British Medical Association; examiner in medicine at the University of Sydney in 1889–1901; vice-president and in 1907–14 president of the Sydney Amateur Orchestral Society; inaugural vice-president of the Royal Society for the Welfare of Mothers and Babies in 1918; and a member of the Australian and Athenaeum clubs, Sydney.

The Mackellar family owned several properties in the Gunnedah area, including “Kurrumbede” and “The Rampadells”, approximately 25 km north west of the town bordering the Namoi River. Totalling more than 2400 ha (6000 acres), these properties were purchased by Sir Charles in 1905. The family already owned a property called “Torryburn” near East Gresford in the Hunter Valley, where Dorothea spent time as a young girl. Sir Charles handed these properties over to his two remaining sons, Eric and Malcolm, who both became well respected and generous members of the Gunnedah community. Over the years Dorothea often visited the area, staying with her brothers and maintaining her horseriding skills.

He was knighted in 1912 and created KCMG in 1916. He married in 1877, Marion, daughter of Thomas Buckland, who survived him with two sons, Eric and Malcolm, and his daughter, Dorothea Mackellar. One son, Keith, was killed in the Boer War. Sir Mackellar's health and memory started to decline from 1923 and he died at Sydney, on July 14th, 1926; he was buried in the Anglican section of Waverley Cemetery.

Dorothea Mackellar dressed as one of the Graces for Mrs. T.H. Kelly's Italian Red Cross Day tableaux at the Palace Theatre, 20 June 1918 - image courtesy State Library of NSW

Dorothea became responsible for her ageing parents, and consequently wrote very little after her father’s death in 1926. She had acquired “Tarrangaua”, a splendidly located retreat at Lovett Bay on Sydney’s Pittwater where she swam and read. Her mother died in 1933 and Dorothea divided her time mostly between “Cintra”, a house in Darling Point, and “Tarrangaua.”

North Head, Sydney. Photograph of The Hospital, Boiler House and Wharf at Quarantine Station, with humpback whales passing by 'me', 2001.
North Head Quarantine Station, Manly: Some History - Governor Ralph Darling Saved Australians, Saved Australia - Threads Collected and Collated by A J Guesdon, 2020