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Memorial (to ‘Emigrant’ passengers buried at Dunwich, August 1850): ‘Around this stone are interred the mortal remains of twenty six immigrants who, seeking in this land an earthly home, have found elsewhere we trust a better country.’

(The quarantine station was moved to the Bluff on Peel Island in 1873.)

Peel Island map

Peel Island map

Gurski family (quarantined at Peel aboard the Friedeburg in 1873):  ‘About 40 of the single men first pitched tents while the rest washed themselves and their clothing. The married people were then sent to do likewise. Some of the ship’s fittings had been landed on the island, and were being used on the tents. When Hamilton discovered this, he ordered the lot to be taken away immediately and burnt. There were only two cases of serious illness on the island. Matilda Kluck, 6 years old who had ulcerated bowels and chronic diarrhoea, and her older brother, Auguste, who had contracted Scarlet Fever the day the ship entered port. By the 29th the captain was able to report that the ship had been thoroughly cleaned and fumigated and (was) ready for inspection. On the 31st the ship’s crew were inspected, released from quarantine, and admitted to pratique.’

Tom Welsby: ‘The quarantine station on Peel occupied a most charming site on the headland (The Bluff) looking towards the south end of the bay and towards Dunwich. As a pure quarantine station, Peel Island has, in this direction, seen many vicissitudes and many eventful phases. On the hoisting of the Yellow Jack, the vessel from whose mast it fluttered was generally taken to an anchorage in the deep water between Peel and Bird Islands, and there stationed until all was well. Serious cases of illness were taken on shore for treatment. The healthy passengers were detained at Departmental will on the island also.

‘During one regime, in all cases of death from virulent contagious diseases the bodies were taken to Bird Island, and there, well above high water mark, were buried deep in the sand, with quick‑lime. In some cases there were burials on Peel Island at no great distance from headquarters…Since that time, many another soul has been laid to rest in that Peel Island cemetery, but I regret to say a couple of years ago a fire passed completely over it, and little now remains to tell of the mortals resting there.’

Bird Island in 1992 (it is now just a sandbank exposed only at low tide)

Bird Island in 1992 (it is now just a sandbank exposed only at low tide)

Dr J.I.Paddle (‘Southesk’ Surgeon Superintendent): ‘The Immigrants, on the whole, behaved very well on the Island and gave little trouble. The single women had to be closely watched all the time, as they had a great tendency to wander beyond their limits. At dusk they were ordered in and mustered to make sure that none were absent. I would further beg to suggest that it would greatly lighten the work of the Matron and the Constables in watching the single women, if a fence could be erected around their precincts.

‘One of the single women, Elizabeth Morris, gave much trouble one night, and I reported her to the Immigration Officer. On Monday evening May 22nd she gave a good deal of abuse to the Matron and kept swearing and cursing among the single women and inciting them to riot. She has been all along a very coarse and vulgar woman and very little amenable to authority throughout the voyage.’

The Bluff today

The Bluff today

Reference: Peter Ludlow ‘The Exiles of Peel Island – Quarantine’