Site Background

This Quarantine Station Reserve consists of 320 acres. The Nuenonne Aboriginal tribe were the traditional owners of Bruny Island, Van Diemen's Land, including the land now occupied by the station.

Eras of the Quarantine Station site:

  • Pre 1830 - Traditional owners
  • 1856 - 1884 European settlement
  • 1884 - 1908 State quarantine
  • 1908 - 2002 Commonwealth quarantine
      1914 - German internment at the beginning of WW1
      1919 - Influenza pandemic
      1950's - 1986 - Plant quarantine
  • 2003 - State Government ownership - Parks & Wildlife
  • 2011 - Friends of Bruny Island Quarantine Station formed to support the management, conservation and public appreciation of the station.

Site Chronology

1856  Purchase Grants to Archibald Johnston(e) and Anthony Cox 
1870  Purchase Grant to John Martin 
1884  State Govt. Minister for Land inspects site. Tender notice for erection of quarantine buildings. 
  Petition of B. I. residents against establishment of Quarantine Station 
1885  Land purchased by State Government from Anthony Cox and Elizabeth Martin 
1886  Completion of State Quarantine Station Buildings
Typhoid outbreak on S.S. Diamond
1892  Death of Anthony Cox 
1900  Proclaimed a Commonwealth Quarantine Station. Michael Delaney caretaker later K. J. Terry 
1902  Death of Jane Cox (nee Daly) 
c1905  Smallpox scare via New Zealand - two in quarantine as a precautionary measure 
1910  Deputation to the Premier protesting removal of Quarantine Station from Barnes Bay to Claremont. 
1912  Harrison caretaker  
1913(Feb 26)  Assistant Quarantine Officer Report recommending a jetty to be built on the Barnes Bay side  
1914  Ship S.S. Oberhausen arrived in Hobart - moored off Queens Battery - Harrison died 
1915 (Jan)  Crew members of the S.S. Oberhausen interned at Bruny Island - Mrs. Harrison resigned 
1915 (March 9th)  F. J. Smyth caretaker £126 p.a. ( 70 applications received) 
1915 (March 12th)  45 prisoners interned at Bruny Island
By April 1915 there were 70 internees and a guard of about 15.;
1916  Hugo Fernolz still running a store. 
1916 (April)  German internees still at Bruny Island 
1917  Tenders called for clearing of 2,000 tons of timber from site to be sold to woodcutters at 1/- a ton 
1919 (January)  Influenza outbreak reaches mainland Australia. 
1919 (April)  Soldiers returning from World War 1 were quarantined. 
1919  Edward Crane begins as caretaker a position held for 40 years 
1920  Emergency barrack like tin sheds erected. Edward Crane's wife Violet, died of pneumonic influenza 
1939 (September)  Permission sought and given to accommodate 20 internees and 20 guards, arrangements similar to 1914 (October) Proposal to accommodate 20 internees and 20 guards abandoned. 
1955  Linen and other requirements for human quarantine disposed off. Some sent to Darwin. 
1955-1971  After plants were introduced in 1955, the station was proclaimed a Plant Quarantine Centre. 
1957  Some of the long tin sheds (dormitories) were dismantled and sold 
1958  Tom Miley became Quarantine Officer and was to remain in the job for 27 years 
1960's  Buildings were dismantled and sold by tender on the spot, many relocated on Bruny Island. 
1967  Residential buildings were still being sold and relocated 
1971  Proclaimed a Plant Quarantine Centre officially 
1976  Original medical store became archive repository of quarantine documents 
1985  Robert and Anita Elliston became the caretakers. 
1986  Plant Quarantine relocated to Kingston. Commonwealth declared quarantine site surplus to requirement. 
  Peter and Margaret Shackcloth caretakers. 
  Expressions of interest were received from National Parks and Wildlife Service and Department of Sport and Recreation. Proposal to swap site for land at Oyster Cove put to the Aboriginal community. 
1996  Terry Sawyer - Bruny Island Quarantine Station - Heritage Assessment Report compiled. 
1990's  Request by Tasmanian Government to transfer the site back to the State as a State Reserve under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 
1997  Tasmanian Regional Forest Agreement between Commonwealth and State signed 
1999  The land was formally proclaimed on 30 April 1999 under the Regional Forest Agreement (RFA) 
2000  Commissioning of Conservation and Management Plan by the Commonwealth 
2003  The formal transfer of the title to the State occurred on the 14 January 2003 
2004-2012  National Parks and Wildlife Service working on hazard reduction 
2011  Formation of Friends of Bruny Island Quarantine Station Station' (FOBIQS) was formed to “Support the management, conservation and public appreciation of the Bruny Island Quarantine Station.” 
2012  Commonwealth Heritage Grant to enable Interpretative signage for a self guided tour 

Anthony Cox Family

Anthony Cox, a labourer and carter, transported for 'housebreaking', arrived in the Colony in 1833 as a convict per Atlas. His Conditional Pardon was granted in May 1849. He married convict Jane Daly 15 October 1849.

Jane and her mother Bridget were tried in Ireland for 'receiving stolen goods' and came out to the colony, together with Bridget's son Michael aged 9, per Arabian in 1847. Her brothers Patrick and Edward Daley followed as convicts per Blenheim 2 and Pestongee Bomangee 3 respectively in 1849. Jane received her Certificate of Freedom April 9th 1853.

Cox received a Purchase Grant of 19 acres at this site 20 October 1856 for £39/6/-. They had eleven children, not all of whom survived to adulthood.

In 1872 Cox was taken to town with several broken ribs following the capsize of a dray. Jane's application for compassionate allowance gives an insight into their hardships:

"The living of this family is obtained by cutting fire wood and selling it. 2 elder daughters assist their father who owns 20 acres of very poor land. He has two ponies of small value with which he carts the firewood to the water-side and he has two very inferior cows from which the family gets a little milk for use. There appears to be no means of their earning anything in any other way on Bruni "
[ref: POL 395/1 - Kingborough Magistrates Letterbooks - Tasmanian Archives and Heritage Office]

In 1884 the State government purchased the land for the construction of a quarantine station.

Anthony died in 1892 and Jane in 1902. They are buried in the nearby Shelter Cove Cemetery with many of their descendants.

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Quarantine Station

Quarantine Officers and Caretakers

1900  May 1st 1900 - Michael Delaney. 
1900  May 14th 1900 - Kenneth James Terry. 
1912  John Vicary and Minna Harrison 
1914  John Harrison died 26 Dec. 1914. 
1915  Francis John Smyth 
1918  Francis Smyth died April 14th 1918 
1918  Edward Keith and Kitty Crane - Quarantine Officer and Caretaker - 40 years. 
1958  Tom and Doreen Miley - Plant Quarantine Officer - 27 years. 
1985  Robert and Anita Elliston. 
1987  Peter and Margaret Shackcloth. 

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German Internment

The outbreak of World War I in August 1914 brought Australia into conflict with Germany. Enemy subjects in Tasmania deemed eligible for military service, were interned at Triffit's Peninsula, Claremont, later to be transferred to the Quarantine Station on Bruny Island.

When official information of the outbreak of war was received, on August 5th 1914, a German boat loading timber at Geeveston, Port Huon, was detained. It had left Hamburg on October 17th 1913, and arrived in Hobart July 27th 1914. The ship was the S. S. Oberhausen the master was Johann Gottlieb Heinrich Meir, and the stevedore was Louis Frederick Rapp. A party of 50 naval reservists was sent to bring this boat to Hobart. This force would have been totally inadequate for the job had Captain Meir wished to sail elsewhere. However, the boat was boarded and the crew surrendered peaceably.

In February 1915 the prisoners of war were moved to the Quarantine Station on Bruny Island, and were put to work felling timber and clearing land. By April 1915 there were 70 internees and a guard of about 15. This guard had to watch over a mile of shore and about 400 yards of fence where the station joins the mainland of Bruny Island; an impossible task, had the prisoners wished to escape.

Follow the link for details of FOBIQS President Kathy Duncombe 22 March 2014 interview with online German magazine GeschiMag.

Chimney Stack

Archeological interpretation of the chimney remains indicates the unusual use of clay pise¹ construction. This may imply construction by the German inmates between 1915-1916, who were known to be employed as woodcutters at this location.

pise¹ - rammed earth or clay for walls or floors

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Influenza Pandemic

Associated with the worldwide outbreak of influenza "Spanish Influenza Pandemic" in 1918 it was necessary to quarantine returning First World War troups. Quarantine regulations were inroduced in February of 1919 . Maritime quarantine was conducted at Barnes Bay as its isolation was conducive to containment. The Station had capacity for 300 people at its peak with male and female wards, fumigation section, steerage and first class passengers quarters. The period February to August 1919 saw 9,000 troops passing through the station.

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In 1919 the influenza pandemic claimed the lives of two men from the S. S. Oonah

Charles Loaney, a steward aboard Oonah - aged 33 - Died 17 April 1919
John Johanson, a fireman aboard Oonah - aged 58 - Died 17 April 1919

Their graves lie in bushland on the quarantine station site

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Plant Quarantine

Barnes Bay being the Commonwealth's only 'island' quarantine station, made Bruny an ideal location for plant quarantine activities. It was the only place during the 1950s where plants could be placed in quarantine in Tasmania.

Plant material from all over the world destined for use in other parts of Australia was propagated and tested here for freedom from disease. Breaches of quarantine were potential sources for the introduction of serious exotic diseases which, once established, could have serious health and economic consequences for all Australians.

Port Inspectors checked plants for live insects, contaminants such as soil and general health condition, and undertook fumigation of plants and seed with methyl bromide in Hobart. Methyl bromide, used as the sterilising agent, was a powerful gas, which travelled through the plant and killed internal feeders. It is virtually odourless, being an accumulative poison with no antidotes. Officers received adequate training in the use and handling of methyl bromide, and safety precautions to be taken.

The plants were then taken to Bruny Island where they were potted up, given liquid feed and water and kept under observation for two growing seasons.

The Quarantine Station site came to the end of another era in its life when the Plant Quarantine Station closed March 7th 1986 and relocated to Kingston.

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