HISTORY OF THE QUARANTINE STATION
A view of some of the buildings bordering Ticonderoga Bay. The chimney on the Boiler House can be seen clearly from the waters of the southern end of Port Phillip.
The arrival of the sailing ship ‘Ticonderoga’ at the Port Philip Heads on 3 rd November 1852 after a voyage from Liverpool during which 100 people had died necessitated the opening of the Quarantine Station at Point Nepean. The site had already been selected to replace the former quarantine area off Point Ormond, near modern-day Elwood, but no ships had actually been directed there before the arrival of the Ticonderoga with 300 or so very ill people.
The Shepherd’s Hut dates from 1845-1854 and is the oldest building at the Quarantine Station. It is the only building classified by the National Trust.
Building of the impressive accommodation and hospital buildings began soon after, and the site became an important part of the history of the colony of Victoria. The buildings of the early Portsea Station form the oldest extant institutional complex in Victoria, with examples of several methods of construction and styles. Their pleasing blend of features of both Victorian and Federation periods, and their prominent positions overlooking the bay, give the site a great sense of heritage and make it a picturesque place to visit.
Accommodation Block Number 3 was one of five built in 1858-9
Control of the site was taken over by the Commonwealth Government in 1910, after federation. As years passed and health regulations changed because of modern developments in medicine, the use of the Station for quarantine purposes became less frequent. In 1952, the Department of the Army took over some of the buildings to establish a training college for officer cadets, while the Department of Health continued to maintain some buildings for use should the need for quarantine arise. Later use of the site by the Department of Defence was for the training of medical personnel. In 1998 the army left the area and the only use for the rest of the century was for a group of visitors from war-torn Kosovo who were brought for a respite visit by the Commonwealth Government in 1999.
The Administration Building was built in 1916.
There was great consternation when the Federal Government announced in 2002 that because the site was no longer required by the Department of Defence, parts of it would be sold. Local and more widespread protests saw this decision reversed, and the Point Nepean Community Trust was established, with funding of $27m from the government, to plan and manage the development of this beautiful and historic part of Victoria for the future.
The Medical Superintendent's house has been beautifully restored by the PNCT
For some years the Friends of the Quarantine Museum, members of the Nepean Historical Society, have conducted tours of the Portsea Quarantine Station. Tours included a leisurely walk around the buildings and through the Boiler Room museum and three other buildings associated with the Quarantine process. Tours were suspended early in 2009 because of works proceeding on the site.
In June 2009 the site was transferred by the Federal Government to the State Government.
Enquiries about tours should be made to the Point Nepean National Park Visitors' Centre on 5984 4276.
Friends of the Quarantine Museum, PO Box 139, Sorrento VIC 3943
Telephone: (03) 5984-0255
Fax: (03) 5984-0935
Members of the Friends of the Quarantine Station who worked with PNCT staff in 2008 to move museum items into storage during the site works at the Quarantine Station