Camp Quaranup, 743 Quaranup Road, Vancouver Peninsula, Albany
Camp Quaranup was established as the Commonwealth Quarantine Station on the Vancouver Peninsula in 1875. It was built after representatives of the State Government complained about being quarantined on Rabbit Island with the most basic of living conditions.
The inability to control infectious diseases during the 19th century meant it was not uncommon for a ship, particularly one which had passed through the Orient, to arrive in Australia carrying passengers struck down by such killer diseases as yellow fever, smallpox or scarlet fever.
By 1880 the original hospital and caretaker's quarters had been expanded to include a doctor's quarters, servant's quarters, isolation wards, a morgue, laundry, wash house, store, dining room and a special area for first class ship passengers. At the turn of the 20th century, advances in medicine and the decline in immigration made the station redundant. It eventually closed during the 1950s. Several community groups used it over the next 30 years but gradually the compound fell into serious disrepair. In 1956, the station was leased to the Wheeler family and the name changed to Camp Quaranup. Eventually the State government took over the lease and operated it primarily as a recreation camp.
From 1992 until 2012 Camp Quaranup was leased out to private operators, a local family business, whom continued to operate the camp for schools and community groups.
As of January 2013 the former Department of Sport and Recreation (now known as Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries) took over direct operations of the site.
The camp continues to provide affordable accommodation and outdoor recreation opportunities for school camps and community groups, and is becoming increasingly popular as a Nature Play based destination.
The site has undergone extensive restoration in the last 20 years and is one of the few intact, working ex-quarantine stations in the world.
Twenty years before it was torpedoed and sunk by the Germans in WW1, the Cunard liner HMS Lusitania visited Albany. Passengers were taken to the qurantine station as it was suspected yellow fever was onboard. Below is the experience of one passenger's visit to the station as recorded in the Albany Advertiser on Saturday, August 10, 1895.
THE QUARANTINE STATION AT ALBANY - EXPERIENCES OF THE LUSITANIA'S PASSENGERS.
One of the passengers by the Lusitania has supplied the Albany Advertiser with the following account of the voyage and his subsequent experience at the quarantine station: - On Monday, July 8th, the R.M.S. Lusitania arrived in King George's Sound from Colombo, flying the yellow flag. This alarming indication of ill-health on board was due to the fact that a case of disputed small-pox had been landed at the previous port under circumstances which I will proceed to state. On arrival at Port Said about a score of Assyrians were taken on board in the evening after dusk in the absence on shore of the captain and ship's doctor. No information was obtainable as to a medical examination having been made.
A cursory inspection by daylight revealed the fact that some of the children were covered with unsightly sores. No provision whatever had been made for the accommodation of these Asiatics, and for the first night they had to sleep partly in open berths with Europeans of the same sex, and partly on the lower deck. As was only natural, the Europeans objected very strongly to having these forced upon them. The next day better provision was made for them.
On June 22nd the first-class smoke room, which is situated be- tween the first and second class decks, was fitted as a hospital, and one of the Asiatic children, said to be suffering from chicken pox, was placed therin. On the following morning the symptoms indicated small-pox. A special wardsman was appointed, whose work took him backwards and forwards among the second-class passengers at frequent interval. On June the 26th, however, as already stated, about midday, the child and her parents were removed from the ship.
In the evening the smoke-room was cleansed and fumigated, the bedding being thrown overboard. There was no sign of any serious ailment on board during the passage to Albany. I should have mentioned that on June 23rd, as soon as there was grave cause for alarm, all the first and third-class passengers were vaccinated, exhausting the supply of vaccine.
At Columbo a further stock was obtained, and the rest of the passengers and crew, with the exception of the firemen, were operated on. On arrival at Albany the pilot declined to come on board, and returned to port for the heatlh officer, who, after a brief conversation with Dr. Hudson, instructed that the passengers should be landed at the Quarantine Station in the ship's boats.
A scene of the utmost confusion ensued. Boats were lowered, only light packages were al- lowed, two seamen were sent with each boat, and no responsible officer was placed in charge. The launch towed the first boat to within a hundred yards of shore and gave instructions as to landing. On arrival within a few yards of the shore it was found impossible to get nearer. The keeper shouted that it would be impossible to land without wading. The sailors and one of the passengers had to wade, and by them a plank was secured and run on board, and on this the ladies with trembling steps, supported on either side by the heroes of the occasion, passed safely to land.
The next boat load was less fortunate; rowing about in a bewildered way, none of the occupants having any idea of the position of the station until they passed the launch on its return. They were then shown the direction of their destination and after a similar uncomfortable landing during a smart shower of rain those on board found themselves with their shipmates. Now came an unwelcome surprise. It was found that the only accommodation on the rock was a small four roomed cottage, into which 31 passengers were expected to squeeze, nine being female.
Two ladies from the first saloon, with nurse and baby, were allotted a lofty front room, the roof of which is in a perfect condition. A second room with single beds was set apart tor the other five ladies. Fifteen slept in the third room, which was about 14 feet square. The remainder found rest as best they could on the kitchen floor or under the veranda exposed to the inclemency of the weather. There was nothing to be obtained on the station in the way of food and drink.
The amount of bedding was also very deficient, many of the passengers having to solace themselves with their wraps and over- coats. No food was procurable until ten o'clock next morning, even the most delicate and the baby having to endure seventeen hours fast. After breakfast some of the passengers started to rig up tents with a material which only a Government would think of buying for such a purpose.
The fitting up of these was attended with every imaginable difficulty, woodwork and lashing being very scarce and unsuitable. On the second night during the gale which occurred in the small hours the occupants of the tents found themselves without cover, the tents being blown away, and they had to take up their beds and flee elsewhere for shelter.
The kindness of the quarantine keeper and Mrs Douglas induced them to piece at the disposal of those unlucky ones three fourths of their own cottage, for which I think the government ought to show their appreciation. A further knowledge of limited resources of the station has revealed the inadequacy of the provision for water storage.
There are only two tanks to catch the rainwater from the main building, and two for the frequent showers of the past week there would have been a water famine. The Government should at least supply four more similar tanks. Should a number of passengers be landed after the hot weather his commenced, great suffering and discomfort would most certainly result. In connection with this is a great scandal that there should not be bath rooms provided for both sexes. The importance of cleanliness, especially when there is a suspicion of disease, cannot be too strongly insisted on.
Certainly the proposed new building intended for the isolation of any cases that may arise, should have an adjoining bathroom. There, is only one outdoor lamp on-the station, making comfort after dark in the tents impossible. There should be separate rooms for saloon and steerage passengers in which they could sit in comfort in the evening. A pier or jetty for landing stores and embarking or disembarking passengers at any state of the tide in comfort and safety is an urgent necessity.
A reserve of framed tents of sail cloth and other substantial material kept in readiness. The want of food and preparation for the reception of the passengers is undeniably due to the gross negligence of the Orient Steamship Company in failing to notify the Health Officer at Albany by cable that a case of small- pox had been landed at Colombo. Only half an hour’s notion had been given to the Quarantine keeper of what he had to expect, a totally inadequate time for such extensive preparations as were necessary.