The Quarantine Station

As part of my community engagement, I recently visited the Quarantine Station to explore the grounds with Peter Hobbins, an historian working on the Stories from the sandstone: archaeology and history of quarantine project. The Quarantine Station was used from the 1830’s to isolate ships and their passenger suspected of carrying contagious diseases, and has also been found to be of great significance to the Indigenous population of the area. I have chosen a quarantined ship, The Canton, which arrived in 1835, for my research, in part due to the existence of a relatively legible journal, written by 15-year-old passenger Thomas Dawson, relaying the perils of passage and of the quarantine period. As part of my volunteer work, I have been transcribing the journal, a task that is slightly harder, though much more detailed, than anticipated!
A well preserved page of Dawson’s journal.
Viewing the various inscriptions on my visit made it clear just how important the work of Peter and his colleagues is. While the inscriptions made by quarantined individuals offer such a rich source of interest and information regarding early emigration and quarantine procedures, they are at mercy of the environment and weather, and many have already become illegible over time. The appropriate recording and research into the inscriptions will ensure that over time, they are still accessible for use and research.
Examining some of the inscriptions
Not only is the Quarantine Station an incredible place in the history world, it is undeniably one of the most beautiful places in Sydney. I would highly recommend a visit for one of their many tours, or just a walk around the grounds, where the inscriptions and original buildings remaining will give you a great insight into the experiences of the original passengers held in isolation.

2 thoughts on “The Quarantine Station”

  1. Molly is not only undertaking primary research in the archives and on site, but she’s also making an enduring contribution to history by transcribing an important journal. This is precisely why ‘History Beyond the Classroom’ is destined for success!

    1. This is very interesting work, I believe that the document was written in a book that was “Printed 1701”. But I think the journal was written by John Dawson not Thomas Dawson. I think it could have been rewritten many years after the voyage maybe as late as 1890, by John Dawson in his retirement. I have come to this believe, because I see the language and the neatness of the writing would not be achievable in a small ship like the Canton crossing the Southern Oceans in 1835.

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