Beyond the Bay – 2 – Japan’s leprosy patients

There was a time in the world when it was usual to segregate people with leprosy in remote places, especially islands. In Queensland, Moreton Bay’s Peel Island housed our leprosy patients from 1907 to 1959. Fortunately, the cure was discovered in 1943, and such segregation was soon to pass into our history. 

It was interesting, then, to read this small article that appeared in the London Evening Standard of Tuesday 9 July 2019:



Prime minister Shinzo Abe today said the government would compensate the families of former leprosy patients over its segregation policy that caused long-lasting prejudice. He announced it will not challenge a court decision awarding 2.7 million (Pounds Sterling) in damages to 541 families for financial and psychological suffering.

Compensation for the families of leprosy patients? I am not aware that such families in Queensland had received any such payout resulting from our segregation policy here. Perhaps there is a case.

The other interesting point of the above article is “Why now?” It’s been over 75 years since the cure was discovered and 60 years since segregation was discontinued.

Ben Hills writing in the Sydney Morning Herald in 1995 provided a clue:

“The white-painted arched span, like a miniature version of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, is barely 100 metres long – but it took more than half a century to get it built. This highly symbolic bridge links Japan’s mainland with a tiny, mountainous island called Nagashima which juts out of the warm, grey waters of the Seto Inland Sea, surrounded by a cobweb of oyster-beds. Since 1930, when the first settlers came to Nagashima, the only way to reach the island was by ferry or by swimming across the fast-flowing straits in which many people drowned. And that was the way most Japanese wanted it to stay, because Nagashima is one of the country’s most shameful secrets – an island of the damned, where people were exiled, never to return.

“The outcasts were not criminals or psychopaths who posed a danger to society, though that’s how they still are treated by the law. Their only crime is that they suffer from Hansen’s disease, leprosy, a disfiguring but not fatal and relatively non-contagious infection, for which a cure has been known for 50 years.

“After decades of opposition, the bridge was finally finished in 1988 …”

Japan’s The Oku Nagashima bridge

If the bridge was to be the first symbolic span towards integrating Japan’s leprosy patients, then surely the Government’s current compensation to be paid to their families will be the final span across the breach that has divided the country for so long.

Beyond the Bay – 1 – Stourhead Revisited

Recently, I was asked to deliver a Cameo speech for my local Probus Club. I had been reflecting that it had been three long years since my last visit to the Stourhead Gardens in England’s West Country, so naturally, I welcomed the chance to share with my fellow members one of my favourite places in the world – in memory at least…

Stourhead’s bridge and Pantheon

I had long been intrigued by pictures in travel magazines of the Roman Pantheon incongruously nestling somewhere in England’s green and pleasant countryside, so it was a great surprise to find it at Stourhead when taken there by my English friends. Stourhead – another strange English placename – is located near the village of Stourton. It’s situated at the head of the River Stour – hence the name. Stourton takes its name from the Stourton family who had lived on the Stourhead estate for 500 years, until it was sold in the early 18thcentury firstly to the Mere family and then to the Hoare family.

The Hoare family had made a vast fortune out of the South Sea Bubble Crisis in 1719. Like so many wealthy English families of the day, they built an imposing manor house, but it is the gardens that attract the visitors today. The Hoare family dammed the River Stour to form an artificial lake and built the gardens around it. Following a path around the lake is meant to evoke a journey similar to that of Aeneas’s descent in to the underworld.  Also in the gardens are a number of structures inspired by scenes of the Grand Tour of Europe, which was fashionable among the wealthy at the time. Such structures include the Temple of Flora, dedicated to the Roman goddess of flowers and Spring, and a Gothic Cottage Summerhouse.

Stourhead Spring blossoms


Interior of the Gothic Summerhouse

Next the path leads to a Grotto. These grottos were popular in Italian Renaissance gardens as places of retreat from the summer heat. Stourhead’s Grotto is a circular, domed chamber built to resemble a cave. The Grotto recreates the scene from Virgil’s Aeneid in which Aeneas meets the nymphs and the River God and is shown the way to the Pantheon and the altar of Hercules.

The Grotto nymph

But it is the Pantheon that is the showcase of Stourhead.Inspired by the Pantheon in Rome, this structure was built in 1753-54. It’s the largest garden building at Stourhead. ‘Pantheon’ means a temple sacred to all the gods. The temple is filled with statues of classical deities, including a marble Hercules created by Rysbrack. The interior of Stourhead’s Pantheon, as were the other buildings in the garden, was modelled on the classical art of that time. 

The painting on which was based the Pantheon’s interior

Yet still the path beckons us on, across the dam to the Temple of Apollo, God of music and the arts.Then the path leads us back to the restaurant and lunch. Stourhead is a wonderful place to celebrate important occasions with long-time friends.

Stourhead is a wonderful place to celebrate a significant birthday
More Stourhead blossoms

Stories from Stradbroke Island – 1 – The Lost Beer Keg

A beer keg similar to that lost by the Buffaloes.

The kegs were being loaded at Cleveland on a wet and windy Friday night onto the Flirt to be consigned to the Buffaloes’ Stradbroke Lodge. One keg had been carried down the stairs of the Paxton Street Jetty and placed on the landing prior to being loaded. The other keg was being carried down the steps when the carrier slipped in the wet conditions and the keg he was carrying knocked the first keg, so that both kegs finished in the Bay. The Lodge advertised to let it be known that finders could have the contents as long as the Lodge got the kegs back, because there was a £7 deposit on each keg. One was returned very promptly but the other remained missing for some time until a party returning from Cleveland to Dunwich found the keg embedded on Cassim Island and which had been exposed by a very low tide. The contents were said to be in good condition.

Story by Ben Coghill, Dunwich

(Extract from Peel Island History – A personal Quest)

Stories from Peel Island – 7 – The Lazaret’s Buffalo Lodge

The Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes (RAOB) is a fraternal organisation started in the United Kingdom in 1822 and is known as the Buffs to members. The RAOB organisation aids members, their families, dependents of former members and other charitable organisations. The Order’s motto is “No Man Is at all times wise” (Latin: Nemo Mortalium Omnibus Horis Sapit) and it has the maxim of “Justice, Truth and Philanthropy”. The Order has a Rule Book, Manual of Instruction and Ceremony Lectures issued and revised by the Grand Lodge of England. The ‘lodge’ description for branch organisation and headquarters was adopted in imitation of Freemasonry. (Source: Wikipedia)

Peel Island’s Recreation Hall 1956-7 (Photo Barbara Walker)

Peel’s Buffalo Lodge – Bayview 99 – was consecrated on the third of April 1950, by Bro. E.Franklin, ROH, W.G.P. who was also a founder of the lodge. The man behind the formation of the lodge was Bro. Frank Bennett. He was the live wire, spurred on with enthusiasm to get the lodge started, and to give the male inmates of the institution another avenue of enjoyment to break the monotony of life on the island.Bayview Lodge 99 used to hold their meetings in the old billiard room at the settlement, after the billiard table had been removed to another location in the new recreation hall. On large occasions the recreation hall had to be used and this was often filled to capacity.

A night at lodge was something to be enjoyed and remembered. Membership at the lodge peaked at about 15-20 per meeting on a fortnightly basis. Visitations from city lodges and also from Stradbroke Lodge from Dunwich, was always a highlight. Not only were patients members, but a large proportion of the staff were active Buffs, especially during the latter days of the institution’s existence, and these staff brothers were the ones who actually kept the lodge going as patients were systematically transferred to the mainland, pending the closure of the institution. Lodge meetings were well conducted, and played an important part in the social life of the island.

Bayview 99 was indeed a unique lodge, formed under never to be repeated circumstances. It may go down in history as the only lodge ever to operate or be constituted within the precincts of a Lazaret. May the memory and the achievements of Bayview Lodge, No. 99, remain an integral and vital part of the history of the Buffalo Order in Queensland. Bayview 99… a unique lodge in a unique situation!.

Story by Barrie Shrimpton, July 27, 1988