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The Quarantine Station at North Head, close to where Manly is situated today, was sufficiently removed from the colony of Sydney to protect the fledgling Sydney colony from infectious diseases being brought in by new arrivals.
Picture: © Regi51, Wikimedia Commons

North Head Quarantine Station built to protect colony from infectious disease


Quarantine Station is situated on North Head around four kilometres from the Manly Wharf. Established in 1835, its main function was to quarantine new arrivals and prevent the introduction of infectious diseases into fledgling Sydney, Australia.


In the early days is was a makeshift, uncomfortable, inhospitable and isolated place made up of a small number of tents. Concomitant with the increase in immigration was the increase in the number of buildings and staff. Over the years, up to 1909, the site continued to grow and expand with new permanent buildings and increasing staff, initially because of the increase of wealthy and well connected immigrants, and, then in 1881, following the outbreak of smallpox in Sydney which resulted in locals being quarantined there.


During the period 1910 to 1950 saw the largest and most dramatic upgrade to facilities with a maximum holding capacity of 1,200 people. The upgrade saw the construction of the brick buildings that exist today. During this period the Station coped with its maximum number of people following the 1918-19 influenza pandemic.

Since the 1950's the need to quarantine people had declined dramatically, however, the Quarantine station was still used to fumigate cargoes thought to be housing stock diseases and insects.


After being owned by the Federal Government since 1910, ownership passed back to the NSW State Government in 1984 and it was reserved as part of Sydney Harbour National Park.

The Q Station (as it is also known) is now a Conference / Hotel facility but open to the public for tours of the grounds, pier, buildings and hospital.

The best way to get there (if you don't have your own transport) is to catch Bus 135 from Stand/Stop J, across West Esplanade (diagonally opposite Manly Wharf). Just ask the friendly staff at the Information Centre and they will direct you to the bus stop. Plan your visit for early in the day because there are only a few buses that pass by the main entrance to Q Station. If you decide to walk then be prepared as most of the walk to the main entrance of Q Station is up-hill.


When you arrive at the main entrance of Q Station there is a courtesy bus that runs regularly down to the Pier and back. Either catch the courtesy bus or walk down through the once living quarters (now Guest accommodation) to the Pier.

Down near the Pier are several buildings preserved from the 1910's which house many artifacts dating back from when the Station was first established. Visiting these buildings, including the Shower Block, Hospital & Fumigation room and seeing the artifacts, reconstructions and reading the history, provides an insight into the life of Sydney's early immigrants. Of particular significance is the rock engravings where new arrivals, quarantined with very little to do to pass their time, would carve details of their personal history into the sandstone cliffs surrounding the cove.


Allow a couple of hours to wander the grounds and visit the historical buildings. When you're finished, catch the courtesy bus up to the main entrance. From there you can stroll back to Manly Whalf. Walk via Northhead Scenic Drive to Darley Road then along Marshall Street into Stuart Street to the Manly Yacht Club, the upside, it's all downhill. From the Yacht Club walk along the foreshore to Manly Pier.

Quarantine Station Pier, Sydney

Quarantine Station Pier


Quarantine Station Hospital Museum, Sydney

Quarantine Station Hospital Museum


Quarantine Station Hospital, Sydney

Quarantine Station Hospital


Quarantine Station Autoclave, Sydney

Quarantine Station Autoclave


Quarantine Station Sandstone Engravings, Sydney

Quarantine Station Sandstone Engravings


Quarantine Station Museum, Sydney

Quarantine Station Museum


Quarantine Station Shower Block, Sydney

Quarantine Station Shower Block


Quarantine Station Museum, Sydney

Quarantine Station Museum