What today is Camp Quaranup, was once the Commonwealth Quarantine Station.
Located across Princess Royal Harbour from the main town site of Albany, the site was ideal for the quarantine
of those coming into the state who were suspected of carrying some sort of communicable disease.
In the early days of the colony there were many illnesses that could easily be brought in by passengers and crew on sailing ships.
The establishment of this site and a sister site at Woodman Point near Perth, was an attempt to head off
any disease before it broke out into the general population.
The Albany quarantine station was established in 1875. Initial work was done on a caretaker's cottage and jetty. From 1897 a doctor's and servant's quarters,
isolation ward, mortuary, laundry, wash house, general store, dining room and the first class passengers quarters were added.
In 1903 a fumigation bath house was constructed and passengers coming ashore were sent to a shower and fumigation block. Only the foundations
of this building now remain near the jetty.
Originally anyone who had to be quarantined at Albany had to spend an uncomfortable time in tents on Mistaken Island. Apparently after
some government officials were subject to this treatment, a better facility was rapidly approved and developed.
A powder magazine was established on what was then Geake Island in the 1878. (Some sources quote the 1860s but appear to be incorrect.)
Today the island is attached to the main peninsula but the magazine can still be seen standing not far from the southern jetty.
The island was named after Digory Geake after he was stranded there overnight when a 'rum run' out to ships in the harbour went wrong and he was
forced ashore in rough weather. Once the causeway to the island was completed, Geake Island became Geake Point.
The quarantine station operated until the 1950s and once it closed, the buildings were used by some local community groups. The last major
epidemic the station had to cope with was influenza in 1930.
During the Second World War, American service men were billeted there while on R and R leave.
It was leased out by the government in 1956 to Mr and Mrs Wheeler who operated a holiday camp until 1970. It was the Wheelers who
gave the name Quaranup to the site.
In 1970 the Shire of Albany took over the operation of the site and the Albany Youth Committee leased the site in 1971.
In 1992 when Rob and Joanne Lucas leased the camp as a private operation. They continued to operate it until January 2013.
A great deal of work has been done to restore the buildings and new facilities have been added.
Today the Department of Sport and Recreation are operating the facility and it is available for community groups, schools
and can also be booked for private functions such as weddings and conferences.
Following is an article about the station quoted from the West Australian Newspaper:
One of the passengers by the Lusitania has supplied the Albany Advertiser with the following account of the voyage and his subsequent experience
at the quarantine station: - On Monday, July 8th, the R.M.S. Lusitania arrived in King George's Sound from Colombo, flying the yellow flag. This
alarming indication of ill-health on board was due to the fact that a case of disputed small-pox had been landed at the previous port under circumstances
which I will proceed to state. On arrival at Port Said about a score of Assyrians were taken on board in the evening after dusk in the absence on shore
of the captain and ship's doctor. No information was obtainable as to a medical examination having been made.
A cursory inspection by daylight revealed the fact that some of the children were covered with unsightly sores. No provision whatever had been made
for the accommodation of these Asiatics, and for the first night they had to sleep partly in open berths with Europeans of the same sex, and partly
on the lower deck. As was only natural, the Europeans objected very strongly to having these forced upon them. The next day better provision was made for them.
On June 22nd the first-class smoke room, which is situated between the first and second class decks, was fitted as a hospital, and one of the Asiatic
children, said to be suffering from chicken pox, was placed therin. On the following morning the symptoms indicated small-pox. A special wardsman was
appointed, whose work took him backwards and forwards among the second-class passengers at frequent interval. On June the 26th, however, as already
stated, about midday, the child and her parents were removed from the ship.
In the evening the smoke-room was cleansed and fumigated, the bedding being thrown overboard. There was no sign of any serious ailment on board
during the passage to Albany. I should have mentioned that on June 23rd, as soon as there was grave cause for alarm, all the first and third-class
passengers were vaccinated, exhausting the supply of vaccine.
At Columbo a further stock was obtained, and the rest of the passengers and crew, with the exception of the firemen, were operated on. On arrival at
Albany the pilot declined to come on board, and returned to port for the health officer, who, after a brief conversation with Dr. Hudson, instructed
that the passengers should be landed at the Quarantine Station in the ship's boats.
A scene of the utmost confusion ensued. Boats were lowered, only light packages were allowed, two seamen were sent with each boat, and no responsible
officer was placed in charge. The launch towed the first boat to within a hundred yards of shore and gave instructions as to landing. On arrival within
a few yards of the shore it was found impossible to get nearer. The keeper shouted that it would be impossible to land without wading. The sailors and
one of the passengers had to wade, and by them a plank was secured and run on board, and on this the ladies with trembling steps, supported on either
side by the heroes of the occasion, passed safely to land.
The next boat load was less fortunate; rowing about in a bewildered way, none of the occupants having any idea of the position of the station until
they passed the launch on its return. They were then shown the direction of their destination and after a similar uncomfortable landing during a
smart shower of rain those on board found themselves with their shipmates. Now came an unwelcome surprise. It was found that the only accommodation
on the rock was a small four roomed cottage, into which 31 passengers were expected to squeeze, nine being female.
Two ladies from the first saloon, with nurse and baby, were allotted a lofty front room, the roof of which is in a perfect condition. A second room
with single beds was set apart tor the other five ladies. Fifteen slept in the third room, which was about 14 feet square. The remainder found rest
as best they could on the kitchen floor or under the veranda exposed to the inclemency of the weather. There was nothing to be obtained on the station
in the way of food and drink.
The amount of bedding was also very deficient, many of the passengers having to solace themselves with their wraps and overcoats. No food was
procurable until ten o'clock next morning, even the most delicate and the baby having to endure seventeen hours fast. After breakfast some of the
passengers started to rig up tents with a material which only a Government would think of buying for such a purpose.
The fitting up of these was attended with every imaginable difficulty, woodwork and lashing being very scarce and unsuitable. On the second night
during the gale which occurred in the small hours the occupants of the tents found themselves without cover, the tents being blown away, and they
had to take up their beds and flee elsewhere for shelter.
The kindness of the quarantine keeper and Mrs Douglas induced them to piece at the disposal of those unlucky ones three fourths of their own cottage,
for which I think the government ought to show their appreciation. A further knowledge of limited resources of the station has revealed the inadequacy
of the provision for water storage.
There are only two tanks to catch the rainwater from the main building, and two for the frequent showers of the past week there would have been a
water famine. The Government should at least supply four more similar tanks. Should a number of passengers be landed after the hot weather his
commenced, great suffering and discomfort would most certainly result. In connection with this is a great scandal that there should not be bath
rooms provided for both sexes. The importance of cleanliness, especially when there is a suspicion of disease, cannot be too strongly insisted on.
Certainly the proposed new building intended for the isolation of any cases that may arise, should have an adjoining bathroom. There, is only
one outdoor lamp on the station, making comfort after dark in the tents impossible. There should be separate rooms for saloon and steerage
passengers in which they could sit in comfort in the evening. A pier or jetty for landing stores and embarking or disembarking passengers at
any state of the tide in comfort and safety is an urgent necessity.
A reserve of framed tents of sail cloth and other substantial material kept in readiness. The want of food and preparation for the reception
of the passengers is undeniably due to the gross negligence of the Orient Steamship Company in failing to notify the Health Officer at Albany
by cable that a case of small- pox had been landed at Colombo. Only half an hour’s notion had been given to the Quarantine keeper of
what he had to expect, a totally inadequate time for such extensive preparations as were necessary.
From: The West Australian, Saturday August 10, 1895.
The National Trust
has some historic photos of the site.
For more information about Camp Quaranup you can visit the official website.