A Peel Island Checklist

A Google Earth Image of Peel Island
A Google Earth Image of Peel Island

I have been invited to take part in a TV documentary some of which involves Peel Island. Here’s a checklist of answers to possible questions they might throw at me. It might also be useful to display your knowledge if you are ever fortunate enough to visit the island!

Its Name:

  • Peel Island is also known by its Aboriginal names of Teerk Roo Ra (pronounced took-a-ra) meaning ‘Place of many Shells’ or Chercuba.
  • It was named the Fifth Island by Matthew Flinders in 1799
  • then Peel’s Island by John Oxley in 1824 after Sir Robert Peel, Secretary of State for the Home Department in England
  • Later this was shortened to Peel Island

Its Pre European History:

  • before the Europeans came, Aboriginal tribes from the surrounding islands visited to feasting and ceremonial purposes
  • The island had fresh water and food from surrounding reefs
  • Many middens remain today

Its Post-European History:

At south – eastern end (Bluff):

  • Quarantine Station (early 1870s until 1910)
  • Agriculture attempts (1906 – 1910)
  • Inebriate Home (1910 until 1916)

At north-western end:

  • Lazaret (Leprosarium) (1907 until 1959)
  • Recreational use (after 1959)
  • The Anglican Church Grammar School (‘Churchie’) leased part of the lazaret buildings from 1968 until 1993
  • In 1993 the island was to be gazetted as a National Park
  • This process was interrupted by a Native Title claim which was not resolved until December 27th 2007, when Peel was gazetted a National Park and Conservation Park under the joint management of Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) and the Quandamooka People – the island’s traditional owners.
  • In 1999, The Friends of Peel Island Association Inc. (FOPIA) was formed to assist with maintenance and restoration work, and to promote public awareness of Peel’s cultural and historic values.

The origin of the term LAZARET:

C.R.Wiburd, a former Quarantine Officer at Brisbane, in his article “Notes on the History of Maritime Quarantine in Queensland, 19th Century” gives the following explanation of the term “Lazaret”:

“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.”

There were two Lazarus mentioned in the Bible. One was raised by Jesus from the dead. He was not a leper. The other, after whom the House of St. Lazarus was named, was the leper mentioned in the parable of the rich man and the beggar (Luke 16:1) 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…

Dawn at Lazaret on Peel Island
Dawn at Lazaret on Peel Island

Trees, Earth, and Drones

Trees, Earth, and drones

The tallest Norfolk Island Pine in the background was my favourite climbing tree.
The tallest Norfolk Island Pine in the background was my favourite climbing tree.

I haven’t climbed a tree for quite some time now (35 years I think), but I was an avid tree climber in my childhood years. In particular, I favoured the large Norfolk Island Pine that grew in our yard at Coorparoo. It had several advantages: it was easy to climb with branches conveniently placed – almost like a spiralling ladder; I loved the sound of the wind whistling through the pine needles beside me; and there was always that sense of danger when the trunk narrowed near the top and that ever present fear of falling and being dashed to pieces on the cement terrace below. But it was the different perspective that I had from above that inspired me most of all: the ability to see our suburb from above, instead from the street view. I often imagined how great it would be to be able to fly over the neighbours’ houses and look in their back yards without them knowing.


Of course these days, we can do this with drones –  small flying machines that can record a video of all that they see, and I’d even have no need to climb a tree!

When our former home at Coorparoo was put up for sale in 2014, the Estate Agent used a drone to capture its image from the air, and then displayed it on his web site.

If you are droneless as I am, you can always resort to Google Earth on the web for a great aerial view.

Google view of Coorparoo
Google view of Coorparoo (my former home is in the foreground)

At the end of 2014, our former Coorparoo home was sold to a developer and demolished to make way for home units. My favourite Norfolk Island Pine tree was also removed, leaving only my memories and the images on Google Earth and the Estate Agent’s website – until they too are updated.

Site of my former home (and Norfolk Island Pine Tree) 2015.
Site of my former home (and Norfolk Island Pine Tree) 2015.