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Quarantine Station on Bruny Island

When a tender notice for “the erection of quarantine buildings at Barnes Bay, North Bruny” was issued in October 1884, the idea raised controversy. Bruny Island residents presented a petition to parliament against the placement of the station on the island – a ‘ not in my back yard’ scenario.
Early quarantine had no need for building as any suspect ships, convict, commercial, immigrant or naval – were obliged to anchor offshore until a medical officer cleared the vessel and any threat of infection had passed.
This quarantine station appears to be the earliest extant quarantine station in Tasmania.

The Cleansing Room – this 1886 building allowed staff to go on and off duty without risk of carrying infected material to the staff quarters. It had the only pedestrian access to the isolation block, which included medical quarters, hospital, observation wards, mortuary and laundry. These were enclosed by a nine foot paling fence.
Individuals had to surrender all clothing in exchange for new ones and go through a process of cleansing. Among other methods over the years, it is though sulphur was used for this process.

Abundance of oysters
Boats & Jetty – Maritime quarantine was conducted at Barnes Bay as it was felt the isolated location of the island was more conductive to the containment of the disease, with a capacity for 300 people at it’s peak. All passengers going to Hobart were quarantined at Barnes Bay for a period of seven days.

Health Officers Quarters – the world wide influenza pandemic at the end of WWI would have been the busiest time for doctors and nursing staff. About 9,000 troops were quarantined at the station during the ten months spanning the end of WWI, as they returned from the front in Europe to civilian life. Troops were required to stay a week in quarantine.

Superintendent's House – the only remaining barrack style building. Nine or ten long corrugated iron sheds similar to this one were erected in 1919 during the influenza pandemic. Possibly used as dormitories or mess rooms.
Even today there are some interesting items in the shed...

Mortuary – this mortuary was built of brick and stone in 1885. It was divided into two sections, one half a disinfection / fumigation and sulphur storage area, the other a mortuary. Due to it’s isolation, Tasmania was the last state in Australia to experience the Spanish influenza break out in 1918. All libraries, schools, theatre and other public places were closed. Many members of the public chose to wear mask. Everything from Whiskey to increase sugar intake was tried. Publicans peddled their stock of ‘medicinal’ brandy, whiskey and gin, advertising that ‘prevention is better than cure’.

Plant Quarantine – Post WWII Tasmania ceased to be a major port of entry for overseas visitors and the human quarantine activity ceased. However, the island station was ideally suited for plant quarantine during the 1950’s. Tasmania is recognised worldwide for being free of many pests and diseases that cause problems elsewhere. The older northern glasshouse, consists of a central corridor with four small rooms opening from it. Each room was used for different imports. High risks imports were given a room on their own so they were isolated from other importers’ stock. Plants grown in isolation in the glasshouse included raspberries from Scotland, thornless blackberries from New Zealand and apples from England.

Some of the buildings above are now lived in by wardens who look after the 128 hectares. But they're not the only residents.

Posted by charlystyles 12:01 Archived in Australia Tagged bruny_island quarantine_station

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