LEVITICUS (regarding a person with leprosy):
‘his clothes shall be rent, and his head bare, and he shall put a covering on his upper lip and shall cry unclean, unclean. All the days wherein the plague shall be in him shall be defiled: he shall dwell alone; without the camp shall his habitation be.’
Luke 16:1: (In the parable of the rich man and the beggar, which begins…)
‘There was once a rich man who dressed in the most expensive clothes and lived in great luxury every day. There was also a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who used to be brought to the rich man’s door, hoping to eat the bits of food that fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs would come and lick his sores… ‘
C.R.Wiburd (a former Quarantine Officer at Brisbane):
‘Maritime Quarantine, as we know it, commenced in 1348 when the overseers of Public Health at Venice were authorised to spend public moneys for the purpose of isolating infected ships, persons, and goods, at an island of the lagoon. A medical man was stationed with the sick. As a result of these arrangements the first maritime quarantine station of which there is any record was established in 1403 at the island of Santa Maria di Nazareth at Venice.
‘The Venetian Authorities framed in 1348 a code of quarantine regulations which served as a model for all others to a very recent period. All merchants and persons coming from the Levant were compelled to remain in the House of St. Lazarus for a period of forty days before admission into the city. From this is derived the term “lazaret” which has persisted until now.’
The lazaret was established in the north-western corner of Peel Island in 1907.
Tom Welsby (early bay historian):
‘It (Peel) would have made an ideal township, or rather residential quarter, had mercantile buildings been erected at Cleveland and its surroundings. Had the surface of Peel been covered with well built villas and terraces a fifteen minute or less run would have taken the businessmen and others from Cleveland to a home where in summertime the weather is always delightful, and where north‑easters and south‑easters alike cool the day and evening and night with the charm of Southern Seas … but surely so large and conspicuous an island as Peel might have been left from the charge of having its soil so sadly contaminated (by the lazaret).’
June Berthelsen (a former patient at Peel Island lazaret, on her diagnosis with Hansen’s Disease/leprosy):
‘I felt dazed. I had Leprosy ‑ that dreadful disease mentioned in the Bible, where the Lepers were shunned by the people. Lepers ‑ with loathsome sores and disfigured limbs. Would I finish up like that? Would my family and friends disown me as something unclean and horrible? I remembered the fate of lepers in the Bible, how they wandered in the waste places of the desert, treated more like animals than human beings. Cast out forever by their own kind. Would it be like that for me?’
Lloyd Rees (artist, describing his mother’s incarceration on Peel):
‘leprosy was diagnosed. The world being what it was and what it still is, that, of all diseases, threw a stigma. With cancer there was a horror, but with leprosy ‑ a stigma… There was a nasty air of secrecy about it all. From Cleveland, down south of Brisbane…a mysterious launch left to take visitors to the island.’
Reference: Peter Ludlow ‘Exiles of Peel Island – Leprosy’