Peel Island 2021- an updated talk by Peter Ludlow

Presents a talk by local historian

                                  Peter Ludlow on the

‘The History and Maintenance of Moreton Bay’s Peel Island’.

A former hospital pharmacist, Peter is now a professional researcher, biographer, and author collecting local history in the Moreton Bay area. 

This presentation will highlight Peel Island’s history including pre-European occupation, its use by Europeans as a quarantine station, inebriate home, and lazaret (leprosarium), and, in 2007, the Island’s gazettal as a National Park and Conservation Park and the Lazaret Buildings as a Heritage Site. Peter will also look at Peel’s future when the island will be placed under the full control of the Quandamooka People, under whose guidance a new era of tourism and cultural exchange holds great promise.  

General Public Welcome, booking required for entry

When:     Friday 28th May 2021 at 7.00 pm

Where:   Redland Multi Sports Centre

             Cnr. Bailey & Randall Rd,

             Birkdale QLD 4159

Enjoy the club facilities, food available.

Please click here to register for event, limited to 50 attendees.

For more information phone Steve 423036676 Or email

A panoramic view of the Peel Island Lazaret c.1955 (photo courtesy Dr Morgan Gabriel)

The Dorunda’s Bees

Peter Ludlow: While researching my book “Exiles of Peel Island – Quarantine” about 1990, I was given a series of photos taken at the Peel Island quarantine station in 1885 while the ship Dorunda with its crew and passengers were being detained there following an outbreak of cholera on its voyage out to Australia. The photographer of the Royal Historical Society of Queensland copied the photos for me. These two beehive photos were at the end of the roll of negatives and we weren’t sure whether they were part of the quarantine station or not. They seemed so out of place to be on Peel and the building and fence did not match either. The question vexed me until 2009 when I received the following information via email from Peter Barrett of Caloundra:

Peel Island’s quarantine station beehives?
Peel Island’s quarantine station beehives?

Peter Barrett: I’m interested in the fate of some hives of bees that were aboard the R.M.S. Dorunda when it arrived in Moreton Bay in Dec. 1885 with cases of cholera on board. The bees were consigned to a commercial beekeeper, one Mr. Spry. It seems that, along with passengers and crew, the hives were quarantined on Peel Island. (Brisbane Courier, 15 January 1886)

Due to the belief by some that the bees could collect dangerous germs on the island “… it is evidently advisable, in the interests of the public health, that the hives and combs should be destroyed.”

The following day a well-known apiarist of the time, Charles Fullwood, wrote strenuously in the bees defence. “I understand Mr. Spry has brought some of the most valuable strains of bees to be found in Europe or Asia, and believed to be the most suitable for this climate. I hope they will not be injured.”

I also found in the Brisbane Courier, 16 Dec. 1885 that one of the saloon passengers was a Mr. A. Spry. Rhetorically – was this coincidence or could it have been the consignee himself?

In the Brisbane Courier, 21 Jan. 1886 “There will be on view to-day, in the window of Mr. Hislop’s furniture shop, a series of over a dozen photographs taken at Peel Island by Mr. Woodford, F.R.G.S., and Mr. A. Spry with the apparatus sent down from Brisbane by Mr. Courtney Spry. [Yet another Spry!] These comprise views of the various houses and tents, which form the Quarantine Station, groups of the immigrants by the Dorunda, and general views of the surroundings. Some of them are very well executed, and Mr. Spry should have no difficulty in disposing of them, particularly as his solo object is to obtain by this means some addition to the Dorunda Relief Fund.”

So to sum up, the photos are not likely related to the Dorunda – there are just too many hives. As well, they each have two boxes, not what I would expect for long distance shipping of bees. And thirdly, imagine the logistics of unloading such a large number of hives from a steam ship anchored off the island.

What you have are photos of a commercial apiary. They could be on Peel Is – if the building in view could be identified as such. More likely they are of the Spry brothers’ Flowerdale Apiary at Rocklea, then known as Rocky-waterholes.

Peter Barrett, Caloundra, July 17, 2009

(Extract from Moreton Bay People 2012 by Peter Ludlow)

Vessel ‘Caroline’ quarantined in 1882 at Peel Island

Further to my blog of 22.06.2018 listing the ships known quarantined at Peel Island between 1873 and 1896, Alison, one of my readers, has kindly offered the following additional information regarding the voyage of the vessel ‘Caroline’ of 1882:

The Brisbane Courier Tuesday 2 May 1882:

‘Caroline’, immigrant ship, from London, via Plymouth, was refused pratique (permission granted to a ship to have dealings with a port, given after quarantine or on showing a clean bill of health) yesterday in consequence of fever having broken out amongst the passengers during the voyage. She will probably be towed to the quarantine station to-day. 

The Brisbane Telegraph, Wednesday 3 May 1882:

In Quarantine.— A Government Gazette Extraordinary was issued yesterday afternoon, containing a proclamation to the effect that;— ‘ Where it has been reporter to the Governor in Council that the infectious disease called scarlet fever exists on board the ship “Caroline,” lately arrived from Plymouth, at the Port of Moreton Bay, and now lying at anchor in that port: Now, therefore, His Excellency the Governor, by and with the advice of the Executive Council, and in pursuance and exercise of the authority vested in him by the said Act, doth order, and it is hereby ordered, that the said ship, and all the crew and passengers thereof, together with all the persons now on board, be placed in quarantine, at the Quarantine Station, Peel Island, and so continue until other order shall be made in that behalf.’ 

Brisbane Courier, Friday 5 May 1882:

THE Under Colonial Secretary received a telegram yesterday from Mr. J. Hamilton, superintendent at Dunwich, giving the names of the persons who died on board the immigrant ship Caroline during her voyage out.

They are :-

  1. Hugh Elliott, infant, who died of the 2nd February, from convulsions resulting from diarrhea (diarrhoea).
  2. Mary Hay Elliott, 2 years old, on the 3rd February, of marasmus (undernourishment) and bronchitis. 
  3. Eliza Dinein, infant, on the 2nd February, of diarrhea.
  4. Edward Floyd, infant, on the 25th February, of hydrocephalus (a condition in which fluid accumulates in the brain, typically in young children, enlarging the head and sometimes causing brain damage) and diarrhea.
  5. William Henry Oliver, 5 years old, on the 9th March, of scarlatina fever (or scarlet fever, an infectious bacterial disease affecting especially children, and causing fever and a scarlet rash. It is caused by streptococci).
  6. Charlotte Oliver, 2 years old, on the 10th March, of gastric fever.
  7. Ellen Jones, 2 years old, on the 24th March, of gastric fever. 
  8. William Jones, infant, on the 21st April, of scarlatina fever.
  9. Ellen Mears, infant, on 24th April, of scarlatina fever.

The Brisbane Telegraph, Wednesday 10 May 1882:
RELEASE OF THE CAROLINE. AN order of Council appeared in a Government Gazette Extraordinary issued yesterday afternoon, releasing the ship ‘Caroline’ from quarantine, the health officer having certified that no contagious or infectious sickness exists amongst the crew.  

(All entries in italics are explanations inserted by this editor, Peter Ludlow) 

Exploring the remains of Peel Island’s Quarantine Station

The quarantine station stood atop The Bluff on Peel’s south-east corner from the early 1870s until 1910. Then from 1910 until 1916 its empty buildings housed the Home for Inebriates. In 1916 its wooden buildings were demolished. Today, the area is now thickly wooded, with the only remnants of the station being the so called ‘jail’ and the former well.

Quarantine Station – cell block 2003 (photo: Peter Ludlow)

A former lazaret patient recalls that there was no roof or partition remaining in the ‘jail’ during his stay on the island (1940s). These must have been put in later as a holiday house for a patient (or by a boatie). The iron door was there, however. (It was later taken by QPWS rangers to St Helena Island in about 1990). Also there were no trees around the ‘jail’, only grass, yellow flowers, and daisies. The shape of the previous quarantine gardens could still be seen from the position of the flowers.

Quarantine Station – New well cover (photo Scott Fowle)

The well is bottle shaped with a narrow opening at the top. It seems to be lined with bricks and may have been constructed by prison labour. 

In 2019 it appears to have been dry, but in 1991, Ray Cowie, the then ranger for the Redland Shire Council attempted to pump it out with a portable petrol driven pump – without succeeding to dry it out. Its water content may depend on the current level of the island’s water table.

Quarantine buildings on Bluff (1885)
Quarantine Station map 1893 + remnants 1991
Quarantine Station – map legend (1893)

The ’jail’

In July 1991, I measured the distance between the remaining cement slabs (still to be found under all the leaves and undergrowth) and the ‘jail’ at the old quarantine site. (See plan). By comparison with the sketch plan of 1893, the cellblock proved to be the former oven rooms (#12 on the sketch above), which were attached to the bakehouse (#13).  The term ‘jail’ may have originated when prisoners from nearby St Helena Island were housed there for their overnight detention whilst they worked on the completion of the Quarantine Station’s stone jetty. The building may also have served as a ‘jail’ for isolating obstreperous inmates from the Inebriate home when it operated on the former Quarantine site from 1910 until 1916.

Peter Ludlow

Stories From Peel Island – 8 – Quarantine – Throwing Down the Gauntlet (1)

A major concern of any Government is to protect the health of its citizens. Of most concern, perhaps, is an outbreak of infectious disease amongst its general populace. When the colony of Moreton Bay ceased to be used for penal purposes in 1839 and was subsequently thrown open for free settlement, foreign immigrants flooded in. With them came their families, their possessions, their skills, their hopes…and their diseases. Many of these, such as cholera, typhus, smallpox, scarlet fever, consumption, measles, and whooping cough were highly infectious, and an outbreak of any could decimate whole communities. The decision to place a ship in quarantine was not an easy one to make. It was an exercise in expense and inconvenience to the ship’s owners, the ship’s passengers, and to the community in general. However, such costs were justifiable when weighed against those which could occur should a serious infection be introduced into the community. When a vessel made port, a ship’s medical officer had first to furnish a medical report to the Health Officer of that port.  If everything was in order, pratique would be granted and the vessel would be allowed to berth.  If, on the other hand, a case of serious infection was present, the Health Officer could order the vessel and her passengers and crew into quarantine until the danger was over. 2

Moreton Bay map showing Cape Moreton, the Bar at the mouth of the Brisbane River, and Peel Island (all underlined)

Such was the case with the iron clipper ship Gauntletof 677 tons which left England from Gravesend on 18 September 1875 with 272 passengers. During the voyage of three months enteric (typhoid) fever had broken out on board. The first case of fever had broken out about forty days out of London, a boy being the first noticeable case. There were twelve deaths up to 21 December. The Gauntletarrived at Cape Moreton on 20 December, and remained there a day ( take the pilot aboard). It arrived at the Bar at the mouth of the Brisbane River on 21 December and remained there two days while the ship’s medical officer reported to the Port’s Health Officer. Because of the contagious nature of enteric fever aboard, the ship, was placed under quarantine and on 23 December it was towed to Peel Island by the Government tug Kate.

Buildings on Peel Island were provided for single women capable of accommodating one hundred, but which contained ‘no beds or other convenience’. There was a hospital for females and another for males. There was also ‘a small shed for the quarters of the Surgeon-Superintendent’. Male immigrants and families were compelled by the shortage of shelter to live in tents. However, within a few days of the arrival of the Gauntlet the first instalment of beds arrived.

An enquiry was set up to investigate complaints from those quarantined at Peel Island: many concerned the issuing of rations. It was, however, not the quantity or quality of the rations, but the lateness of the issuing on some days. There were also complaints regarding accommodation on Peel Island. Immigrants were placed under canvas, which proved to be inadequate to protect them from the sun or from rain.

Fresh provisions, including live sheep to provide fresh meat, were sent to Peel Island on 21 December and on the following two days. The Gauntletremained in quarantine for forty days.  There were some complaints about the distribution of food on Christmas Day, though there was a view that some complaints were not justified.  There were some men who were too lazy to do any necessary work regarding the tents.  Two hospitals were established on Peel Island, one for males and the other for females.  There were up to ten patients in each.

On 4 February 1976 the Brisbane Courier published a letter to the Editor from the ship’s Medical Officer, Dr J.A. Hearne, in which he challenged some aspects of the enquiry into the condition of the Gauntletimmigrants during the voyage and while in quarantine on Peel Island. In particular he challenged Brisbane’s Health Officer, Dr O’Doherty’s view that he (Dr Hearne) was incapable of preserving order amongst his people. Dr Hearne claimed that order and discipline on the Gauntletwere as well preserved as on any immigrant ship to Queensland.  He also objected to the arrival of two officers of the law, an implication that Dr Hearne needed their presence to maintain order, and to ‘save us from annihilating one another’.  Dr Hearne enclosed two letters he had received from agents for whom he had worked previously, verifying that he had ‘performed his responsible duties to our satisfaction’, including occasions when he had ‘repeatedly over 1000 immigrants under my charge’.

The passengers were taken to Brisbane on 7 February 1876.

The enquiry continued spasmodically until mid-March.


[1]A brief extract from material supplied by Brian Hedges who writes that ‘most of this information has been gleaned from Pennie Manderson and Colleen Bosel, The Voyages to Queensland of the Gauntlet, Maryborough, c.1997, and from the newspaper editions of the Brisbane Courier.’

2 Ludlow, Peter ‘Exiles of Peel Island – Quarantine’

Stories from Peel Island – 6 (Quarantine – T.J.Ives)

Stories from Peel Island – 6 (Quarantine – T.J.Ives)

Horseshoe Bay’s Mystery Grave

There was one grave on Peel Island, which caused quite a deal of comment. This was situated at Horseshoe Bay just above the high water mark. Inscribed simply with the initials T.J. and bearing the date 1802, the markings on the wooden cross seemed to indicate that the grave could only have been that of a crewmember of one of Matthew Flinders’ exploring trips of that year. However, Tom Welsby was later to hear from one of the elderly residents at Amity Point that the real date had been 1892 and that one of the Amity locals had changed the date by chiselling out part of the 9, thus making it a 0. In actual fact, the grave was that of T.J.Ives, a comedian and actor from Islington in London. He had travelled in the Oroya from London to Sydney, and thence in the Buninyong for Brisbane to fulfil an engagement there. Before reaching his destination, however, he and the 120 other passengers on the Buninyong were quarantined at Peel after a smallpox suspect had been reported from the Oraya.  Ives developed the disease and died aged 32 after being in Queensland only a fortnight. He was buried at Peel in the grave that was later to be the subject of a local’s sense of humour. Perhaps he would have appreciated the joke that fooled everyone for so long.

Source: Tom Welsby, Brisbane Courier 1923. 

Ives’ Grave at Horseshoe Bay (Harold ‘Sandy’ Cowell)

In the early 1990s, on one of my visits at Peel to stay with Ray Cowie, the Redland Shire Council’s Ranger there. I was surprised when he produced a large metal hoop that he had found hanging on a tree branch just behind the sand dunes to the eastern end of Horseshoe Bay. I immediately recognised it as the ship’s fitting that had been attached to the grave of T.J.Ives, whom I had written about in 1988 for my book “Peel Island, Paradise or Prison”.  We surmised that a bushfire had destroyed the wooden cross, causing the metal hoop to fall to the ground, where it would have lain for many years until a boatie picked it up and hung it off a nearby tree. Ray showed me where he had found the metal hoop, and we searched around on the ground beneath the tree on which it had been hung, hoping to find some evidence of the grave, (e.g. a coral border or a Lilly as shown in the picture) but to no avail. The grave site still remains a mystery.

Ships quarantined at Peel Island between 1873 and 1896

Ships known to have been quarantined at Peel Island between 1873 and 1896::

Lammershagen(quarantined1873, January 8)
Typhoid, at least 7 deaths:
Kristine Dreseth, 30yrs
Wilhelmine Helmholz, 14yrs
Johannes Johannessen, 21 yrs
Wilhelmina Milenovski, 2 yrs
Emil Oberlie, 16 yrs
Sorrn Christiansen Sorensen, 18 yrs

Friedeburg(quarantined 1873)
Scarlet Fever
One death on Peel:
Matilda Kluck, 6 yrs (from ulcerated bowels and chronic diarrhoea)

Bobtail Nag, fromSolomon Islands (quarantined 1875, December 13-24)
Dysentery, one death between December 15-24

Gauntlet, from London (quarantined 1875, December 23)
Typhoid fever

Gazelle(German warship) (quarantined 1876, January 1)
? Disease. Maybe around 10 deaths, with graves made up and head-boards with suitable inscriptions placed at each one, unlike many of the later graves from English ships.

Indus, from Hervey Bay (quarantined 1876, March 9)
Typhoid fever.

Western Monarch,from Gravesend (quarantined 1876, March 16 until March 24 when pratique granted for most passengers)
Typhoid fever
2 deaths, one from Typhoid fever

Brisbane(+ the government ship Kate) (quarantined 1876, March 26-April 12)
Sir Arthur Kennedy, Governor Designate for the colony of Queensland, was required to enter quarantine, as were all passengers of the Brisbane, though quarters were arranged for him on the government paddle yacht Kate.

Woodlark (quarantined1877, late January or early February)

Normanby, (quarantined 1877, April 25-28)
Came via Hong Kong, which had been declared an infected port – therefore automatic quarantining.

Charles Dickens, from Hamburg (quarantined 1877, July 19 (approx.)-September)
Measles, typhoid fever amongst other diseases, 18 patients in quarantine, approximately 8 deaths including: Platen, boy, Platen, girl, Idie Stephan.

Windsor Castle, from Gravesend (quarantined 1877, September 16-November 10)
Typhoid fever

Roxburgshire,fromGreenock (quarantined 1877, October 11- November 16)
Scarlet fever

Western Monarch (quarantined 1878)
Typhoid fever

Bowen(quarantined 1878)

Lammershagen, fromHamburg (quarantined 1878, August 6 – 10)

Friedeburg,fromHamburg, via Rio (quarantined 1878, October 17 -November 27)
Typhoid fever

Scottish Admiral (quarantined1878, October 20-30)
Typhoid fever

Clara(quarantined 1879, January)
Typhoid fever

Fritz Reuter, fromHamburg (quarantined 1879, January 20)
Typhoid fever

Normanby(quarantined 1879, January 30)

Somerset  (quarantined 1879, February 12)
Smallpox. Actually quarantined at the four fathoms hold (off Green Island in Moreton Bay) rather than on Peel Island, possibly because of the crowded conditions already on the island.

Southesk,from Greenock (quarantined 1882, May 13 until late May)
Measles, Typhoid Fever and 4 deaths from Whooping Cough:
James Thomas McKenzie, 18 months
Robert Rodgers, 2 yrs
Margaret Jeffrey, 9 months
Elizabeth Annie Edwards, 2 months

Caroline (quarantined1882, May (approx.) 6-9)

Duke of Westminster(quarantined 1883, September)
Smallpox, at least one death

Western Monarch,from Liverpool (quarantined 1883, October 2-14 (approx.)

Shannon (quarantined1884, March 16 Mar for approximately one week)
Scarlet Fever

Crown of Aragon (quarantined1884, July (?)-August 13)
Scarlet Fever

ExLy-ee-moon (quarantined1885, February)
Smallpox, passenger off Ly-ee-moon quarantined as a smallpox contact

Dorunda,fromLondon via Port Said, Batavia (quarantined 1885, December 19 – 1886, January 9)
Cholera, possibly 6 deaths:
John Blow, 19 yrs
Cornelius Daly, 60 yrs
Bodil Marie Klemmensen, 52 yrs
Anne M Pedersen, 22 yrs
Catrine Marie Sunstrup, 47 yrs
John Westwood, 32 yrs

Khandalla (quarantined1886, April 24 (approx.)

Merkara,from London via Malta, Port Said, Batavia (quarantined 1887, January 10)
Elizabeth Brown Wilson, 17 yrs (T)
Typhoid fever, TB
Mary Isabella Wilson, 13 yrs (TB)

GoalparafromPlymouth (quarantined 1887, January 7)

Bulimba(quarantined1888, January 14 (?)

Duke of Argyll (quarantined 1888, August-September 13)
Measles,1 death?

Taroba (quarantined1889, January)

Buninyong, from New South Wales (quarantined 1892, June 21 or 22- early July
Smallpox – passenger originally off the Oroyafrom London, transshipped in Melbourne.
Thomas James Ives, 32, professional singer from Islington London

Duke of Devonshire (quarantined1896, November)


List compiled by research undertaken by Peter Ludlow, Rod McLeod, Gabrielle van Willigen

Sources of information include:

  • Queensland Government Gazette
  • The Week – weekly newspaper magazine published by The Telegraph, starting 1876
  • The Brisbane Courier, one of Brisbane’s early daily newspapers
  • Details from family records of some of the people quarantined on Peel Island, communicated to Peter Ludlow.
  • Wiburd C R 1945 Notes on the History of Maritime Quarantine in Queensland, 19th Century Historical Society of Queensland Inc. Journal Vol 3, No 5. December 1945 pp 369 – 383
  • Jan Macintyre with material supplied by Eric and Rosemary Kopittke and Les Moreland.


Peel Island map



Friends of Peel Island Invitation

Friends of PeelIsland Association Inc.

The Friends of Peel Island Association Inc, PO Box 9019, Cleveland DC, Qld, 4163 Email:

 Come and Join  The Friends of Peel Island 

on  SATURDAY, 9th SEPTEMBER, 2017 

Fort Lytton National Park 
South Street, Lytton 
between 9:30am and 10:00am 

followed at 10:30am by 
“The History Behind the Horseshoe” 

Peter Ludlow, author historian, has been researching and writing about the unique history of Peel Island since 1977. With his PowerPoint presentation, Peter highlights Peel’s history including pre-European occupation, its use by Europeans and, in 2007, the Island being gazetted as a National Park and Conservation Park and the Lazaret Buildings being Heritage Listed.

The Friends of Peel Island Exhibition Room 
will be Open for Inspection following Peter Ludlow’s Presentation
also included will be

Entrance Ticket : $25.00 per person 

(Note: Bookings and Payment to be received in Advance by not later than close of business on Friday, 1 September, 2017)

 Cut along Line – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –


Name: ………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Address: ………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Email: ……………………………………………………………………………………..

Telephone: ………………………… Mobile: ……………………………………..

Number of People: …………………………………………………………………..

Amount Paid: …………………………………………………………………………..

To secure your booking please either: 

  • • Post the completed Booking Form to PO Box 9019, Cleveland DC 4163, together with your Cheque or Money Order made payable to “Friends of Peel Island Association”


  • • Email your details to “” and make payment by way of direct deposit to our account at the Commonwealth Bank, BSB: 064-000 Account: 10649391

(If paying by direct deposit, please ensure your name is clearly indicated to identify your deposit)

Enquiries : Contact – Scott on 0407 934 147 or Email –

Stories from Peel Island – 5 (Lazaret)

World Health Organisation:

‘In 1937 Dapsone, the first of a new sub‑class of sulpha drugs called the Sulphones was produced. Dapsone was found to be thirty times more active but only fifteen times more toxic than Sulphanilamide and in the 1940s is tested as a possible cure for Tuberculosis. Regrettably it is not effective but tests against rat leprosy provide dramatic results. Soon it was tried on human volunteers and by the mid 1940s it was believed that the miracle cure for Hansen’s Disease (Leprosy) has finally been found.’

Dr Eric Reye (Medical Officer, Peel Island Lazaret): 

‘On the 23rd of January 1947, twenty of Peel’s most severe cases received their first doses. The philosophy behind its administration was to deliver the maximum amount of drug in the shortest time, and as such the Promin was delivered by intravenous administration each morning for six days each week.  In all, by the end of April, my assistants and I have given 1,677 Promin injections, and the results were most encouraging!

(Promin is broken down in the body to dapsone, which is the therapeutic form.)

Thirtieth Session of the National Health and Medical Research Council:

‘The Commonwealth Government should pass a special Act granting to certain Lepers allowances along the lines of those available to sufferers of TB under the TB Act’.

However, the Commonwealth Government refused to accede to the recommendation.

Seventh International Congress of Leprology in Tokyo: 

‘The Congress is unequivocally in favour of the abandonment of strict segregation and other restrictive practices as currently applied to Hansen’s patients.’

Following this Congress, a full report was made to the Queensland Parliament, which then implemented legislation for the transfer of the lazaret from Peel Island to Ward S12 at the South Brisbane (now Princess Alexandra) Hospital. Such recommendations were contained in the Health Acts Amendment Act of 1959 (Division VI ‑ Leprosy), which replaced the Leprosy Act of 1892.

Peter Ludlow:

‘If isolation is deemed to be necessary, then it must be done within the community, in special wards at community hospitals, where patients and their relatives can go without fear of community ostracism.

‘These are the lessons we can learn from Peel Island. Its past was grim, at one time hopeless, but it should never be forgotten that such events did occur right here at our doorstep, and in recent times.  Let Peel Island always remain as a symbol of the individual’s determination to live on in the face of hopelessness, and of mankind’s ability to conquer such terrible afflictions as can beset our community at any time.’

Peel Island today - a popular boaties' destination once again
Peel Island today – a popular boaties’ destination once more

Stories from Peel Island – 2 (Inebriates Home)

An oil painting by William Simmons in 1910 showing the beach below the Inebriates Home with Dunwich Benevolent Asylum in the background.
An oil painting by William Simmons in 1910 showing the beach below the Inebriates Home with Dunwich Benevolent Asylum in the background.

By 1910 Peel Island’s quarantine station (see blog of 22.10.2016) had fallen into disuse, so it was decided to use the empty buildings as a home for the more vocal inebriates (alcoholics) from the Benevolent Asylum at nearby Dunwich. The Inebriate Asylum operated for seven years from 1910 until 1916 when the inmates were returned to Dunwich, and the wooden buildings demolished. 

Ivy Rowell (nee Jackson):     

‘In 1910 my family came south from a farm in Atherton to Peel Island,” Ivy recalls. “I was just three years old then. There had been trouble with the inebriate inmates at the Benevolent Asylum in Dunwich, so the authorities shifted them to nearby Peel.  Father and Mother were given the task of running the new Inebriate Asylum, which had been established in the old Quarantine Station buildings. I still remember the yellow and green flags in a box in the storeroom.  And the large flagpole stood just outside our house.  This was the only evidence of the quarantine days.  My brother once climbed to the yard-arm and gave Mother an awful fright.  Father had to climb up to rescue him.

‘People were sent to the Inebriate Asylum to dry out. We had two types of patients: public and private.  Just like today’s health care.  Private patients, or their relatives, had to pay one Guinea a week for board and lodgings.  Public patients had earn their keep by working.’

An inebriate patient (pleading with his relatives to pay for his board):

‘ (Please release me from) this most awful degraded Hell I can imagine darkening God’s earth.’

Health Department Records:

‘William Simmons of Brisbane was convicted on July 20th 1910 of being found drunk on July 19th in Herston Road. Under the Licensing Act of 1885 (section 84) because he had no less than three convictions against him within the preceding twelve months, he was sentenced to submit to a curative treatment term of twelve months at the Institution for Inebriates, Peel Island. William Simmons was a public patient, and accepted the challenge of going, ‘cold turkey’ by applying himself in the kitchen as assistant to the cook. To keep his mind occupied in the quieter moments off duty, he took up oil painting.’

Dr Linford Row (to the Under Secretary, Home Department):

‘After serving six months of his twelve month term, William Simmons’ condition has improved to such an extent that I wish to make an application for discharge on probation, with every prospect of beginning a new life for himself in Rockhampton.’

Peter Ludlow:

‘William Simmons never returned to the Inebriates’ Home on Peel Island, so hopefully he made good.’

The beach below her parents’ house was a favourite haunt for Ivy, her brother and sisters.  Every day, when not required for lessons, they could be found playing at its rock pool or jetty. At the other end of the island was the Lazaret, home to Queensland’s Leprosy patients.  At this time, the Inebriate Asylum’s dinghy was used to transfer the hapless patients from ship to shore.  It was fumigated after each such occasion. 

Ivy Rowell:

‘One of the leprosy patients had come down from up north in a huge wooden box the size of a room. She had her meals and everything in there.  She was probably carried as deck cargo on a ship.  At Peel, the box was unloaded onto Father’s dinghy and rowed ashore.  After the patient had been removed to the Lazaret, the box was burned ‑ on my beach!  To this day, in my mind’s eye, I can still see it burning.’

Oil painting by William Simmons showing the Jacksons' house.
Oil painting by William Simmons showing the Jacksons’ house.

Reference: Moreton Bay People – The Complete Collection