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Bruny Island Quarantine Station welcomes visitors to explore the past


The Quarantine Station at Barnes Bay, Bruny Island, is revealing its fascinating past to the public, with a new heritage interpretive walk and volunteer caretakers hosting open days each Sunday during summer.

Parks and Wildlife Service (PWS) general manager Peter Mooney said the station has been transformed, thanks to the recent efforts of the Wildcare Inc group Friends of Bruny Island Quarantine Station. and Parks and Wildlife Service staff.

“The volunteer group has brought a new focus to the site,” Mr Mooney said.

“The Quarantine Station has an intriguing past and a lot of potential as a visitor site. The Commonwealth Heritage Grant has provided the impetus to tell the story of the Quarantine Station through a series of 19 interpretive signs and direction markers on a self-guided heritage walk around the 130 ha state reserve.”

The new Heritage Interpretive Walk explores the history of the site with signs at the first European settlers’ cottage, the quarantine building sites where saloon and steerage passengers were lodged, the hospital area, and the campsites where soldiers were quarantined on their return from World War 1.

About 65 people attended the opening of the Heritage Interpretive Walk on Sunday, 1 December, including a number of people with a close association to the site.

The chair of the Tasmanian Heritage Council, Dr Dianne Snowden, opened the heritage trail and congratulated the Friends of Bruny Island Quarantine Station for their efforts.

“The friends group has done an outstanding job in supporting the management, conservation and public appreciation of the Bruny Island Quarantine Site, and also an outstanding job in raising the profile of local history,” Dr Snowden said.

“Without well researched local history, the larger pattern of history is incomplete. The layers of history and themes that are an integral part of our national history are revealed on this site. This Quarantine Station is a microcosm of Australian history and a highly significant heritage place.

“Heritage is not just about structures and architecture, but importantly, it’s about the stories of the people behind those buildings, the people who constructed them and lived in them. Heritage is about place and people, and it’s as much about the buildings that disappeared as about those that survived.”

A series of working bees by the volunteers have helped transform the doctor’s house to prepare it for occupation by a volunteer caretaker throughout the summer months. The caretaker will help to look after the site, talk with visitors and open the site each Sunday during summer from 10am to 4pm.

Friends group president and historian Kathy Duncombe said that researching the site for the interpretive walk was like opening Pandora’s Box.

“The exciting part about the journey of the past two years is how new stories emerge and objects surface to flesh out the history of the site. We’ve had family visits from those associated with the site, many people have shared their stories, and others have donated objects,” Mrs Duncombe said.

The Quarantine Station was a State and Commonwealth quarantine station, it held German internees during the World War 1, became a quarantine site during the 1918-1919 flu pandemic and later, a plant quarantine station. It was proclaimed as a state reserve in 2003 and is now managed by the Parks and Wildlife Service.

Bruny Island Quarantine Station welcomes visitors to explore the past

Friends of Bruny Island Quarantine Station president, Kathy Duncombe, watches Dr Dianne Snowden cut the ribbon to delcare the new heritage trail open.

Bruny Island Quarantine Station welcomes visitors to explore the past

PWS general managers, past and present. Peter Mooney (left), with former PWS general manager Peter Williams, who has been a driving force behind the Friends of Bruny Island Quarantine Station group.

Bruny Island Quarantine Station welcomes visitors to explore the past

One of the heritage trail signs, explains the role of the Cleansing Shed, behind, with the doctor's residence in the distance.

Bruny Island Quarantine Station welcomes visitors to explore the past

Some of the displays in the Cleansing Shed.

Bruny Island Quarantine Station welcomes visitors to explore the past

Margaret Shackcloth, resident site caretaker for the past 26 years, with volunteer Richard Moyer.

Bruny Island Quarantine Station welcomes visitors to explore the past

Bruny Island ranger Bernard Edwards, celebrates months of hard work at the site, taking a breather with volunteer Richard Moyer.