HOME OF THE LADY DENMAN - Local history isn't always about the big story - the everyday story of life in the early development of the region can be a fascinating, entertaining and educational journey.

13 February 2015

Proposed quarantine station for Jervis Bay.

1918 Influenza killed 111,000 people across America.
Fears for Australia.
With the quarantine station located at North Head Sydney becoming inadequate to cope with the increase in immigrants, returning soldiers and ships crews infected by disease, and the fear it could spread throughout the population, a proposal was put to governmant to build a quarantine station away from Sydney at Jervis Bay.

1918 - Despite Jervis Bay being found unsuitable for the station in 1918 it was still being promoted by interested parties.

1919 - In promoting the idea -  Dr. R. Arthur wrote.


"Now is the time if ever, for a beginning to be made with a quarantine station on the northern headland of Jervis Bay. Influenza is raging more fiercely than ever in Britain, and we may assume,  therefore,  that for many months to come ships will be arriving here,  with possible infection on board.

Speaking of the proposed site and lack of conveniences.

'It is certain that the vast majority of people would gladly put up with the inconvenience and discomfort, such as living in a rough camp under canvas would involve."

Speaking of the possible lack of water for the site.

"If not sufficient quantity could be bought from the other side of the bay.  If water could be bought under shell fire to 50.000 men on Gallipoli, there should be no difficulty in providing it at the proposed station.

Those quarantined could occupy themselves pleasantly in bathing, fishing, exploring the bush, and ground could be cleared for outdoor games.  If thought advisable, a canteen where light beer was sold could be established,  and there could also be an open air picture show."

It sound almost enjoyable.

1919 - A large Parliamentary party boarded a special train in Sydney and travelled to Jervis Bay to inspect the site of the proposed Quarantine station.

The party received a lot of criticism in the press, for being un-necessary and huge waste of taxpayers money on accommodation, transport and extravagant food, it comprised close upon 100 people, including members from the Federal Parliament and State Parliament and confusingly, members from Queensland and Victoria.


The daily Commercial News and shipping list 1919.
“After all the trouble and expense incurred in this expedition, there seems to be little hope of any part of Jervis Bay being selected as a quarantine station.”


The party travelled down to Bomaderry by special train, They spent the night in Nowra, next morning, travelling by cars to Huskisson.  “Practically all the private cars in the district were engaged in the transport of such a large number of people”.
   On arrival at Huskisson the party was conveyed by Mr. J. Wilson's motor launch, Radium, to the pilot steamer Captain Cook,  the steamer made her way directly to Montague Roadstead.
   The medical men of the party only proceeded a few hundred yards into the bush from the beach.
   It was pointed out by Mr. R. Dent that the anchorage at the spot was amongst the best in the bay, ships being able to ride with absolute safety in all weathers.
   After the inspection, a lunch was served, the creature comforts being on a liberal scale, and leaving nothing to be desired from a culinary standpoint.
   The party then proceeded across the bay to Bowen Island, Hole in the wall and the Naval College. A stiff nor-easter was blowing and made the Captain Cook roll a good deal, a number of the party suffered mal-de-mer.
   The party left Huskisson the same way they came, and the special train returned to Sydney the same afternoon.

1923 – After years of debate, the idea was still being promoted by interested parties to the Government.
With the population of Sydney growing the station on Sydney's North Head was becoming less isolated, Manly was a growing sea side suburb and becoming a summer resort, with the quarantine station situated right against it, there was a grave danger of disease being disseminated throughout Australia.

In the following years despite the precautions, there were many deaths across Australia and at the quarantine station itself. 

Nothing became of the proposal to relocate the Quarantine Station, parties on both sides of the argument were still voicing their opinions.

1931 - An article appeared in the Shoalhaven and South Coast  Districts Advertiser that had the usually placid locals in protest.
A proposal to turn the Naval College into a Quarantine Station. The article went on to criticise the idea.

"The idea to turn such costly and superior buildings  for the housing of persons suffering highly infectious diseases was absurd. The townspeople did the right and proper thing in entering vigorous and empathetic protest against the carrying out of the suggestion of the State Government."

 1923 – 1950  With better health measures and the improvements in medical science, the cases of influenza and other contagious diseases were diminished to such a degree, the proposed move was never required.

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