Image 13: Quarantine station launch Cheopis alongside SV Oregon Pine quarantined for fumigation, Torrens Island Quarantine Station, South Australia, 1924.
NAA: D3185, 36
Under the Constitution the Commonwealth was responsible for quarantine but until the Quarantine Act came into effect on 1 July 1909, human and plant quarantine were the responsibility of the state government, and previously the colony. The Quarantine Act provided for the inspection of all vessels from overseas and for the quarantine, isolation and continued surveillance of infected or suspected vessels, persons, goods, animals and plants.
The Quarantine Service (or Federal Quarantine Bureau) was a branch of the Department of Trade and Customs. When the Department of Health was established in 1921, the Quarantine Service was incorporated into its divisional offices.
In 1984 responsibility for plant quarantine passed to the Department of Primary Industry [II], while human quarantine remained with the Department of Health.
Torrens Island Quarantine Station
In South Australia the quarantine station was on Torrens Island, uninhabited and within close proximity to Port Adelaide. A proposal for the establishment of a quarantine station on Torrens Island is recorded as early as 1850. Newspaper reports indicate the station was operating by 1855.
The location of Torrens Island at the mouth of Adelaide's Port River but isolated from the main settlement, made it ideal for a quarantine station. It could be reached only by launch or barge and had to provide its own facilities (including power, water and sewerage) until 1962. That year a bridge was constructed from the mainland to enable a power station to be built.
Torrens Island was run by the South Australian Government throughout the second half of the 19th century, but with the proclamation of Commonwealth quarantine legislation in 1909 control of the island passed to the federal government. At this time the station covered 551 acres and could accommodate up to 224 people.
During World War I the quarantine station was used as an internment camp by the Australian Army. (Additional information on this aspect of Torrens Island is provided in Chapter 17.)
A cemetery is located within the station complex. Records indicate there were 10 burials in the cemetery between 1887 and 1932.
Following the declaration by the World Health Organization of the eradication of smallpox in 1979, Torrens Island closed as a human quarantine station and was refurbished as an animal quarantine station.
Records held by the Archives relating to quarantine in South Australia range from photographs and plans of quarantine stations, to inspection reports and admission registers.
|SELECTED SERIES RELATING TO QUARANTINE IN SOUTH AUSTRALIA|
|Adelaide and Sydney|
|Recorded by: Quarantine Station, Torrens Island, South Australia|
|Visitors book from Torrens Island Quarantine Station, 1892–1957||D3186|
|Register of graves on Torrens Island Quarantine Station, 1918–32||D2303|
|South Australian quarantine registers of admission and discharge, 1918–70||D2304|
|South Australian quarantine registers of admission and discharge, 1918–70||D2305|
|South Australian quarantine registers of admission and discharge, 1918–70||D3187|
|Correspondence files, 'PA' (Port Adelaide), 1923–39||D2244|
|Torrens Island Quarantine Station photograph albums, 1924–45||D3185|
|Nurses' report book from Torrens Island Quarantine Station, 1942–65||D3184|
|Quarantine vessel Aedes – logbook, 1963||D5577|
|Unregistered files relating to inspection of ships' crew accommodation, 1943–63||D2243|
|Recorded by: Department of Primary Industry, State Branch, South Australia|
|Active quarantine files, 1938–52||D2245|
|Quarantine files, 1957–79||D4276|
|SELECTED SERIES THAT CONTAIN RECORDS RELATING TO QUARANTINE IN SOUTH AUSTRALIA|
|Recorded by: Public Works Branch, South Australia|
|Original plans relating to Torrens Island quarantine plant, 1916–26||D4807|
|Original drawings, plans and prints of National Estate properties, 1847–1980||D1051|
|SELECTED ITEMS RELATING TO QUARANTINE IN SOUTH AUSTRALIA|
|Quarantine Station Torrens Island – sites and survey, 1911–28||A1928, 878/5|
|Quarantine Station Torrens Island – treatment at station of cases of infectious diseases discovered on immigrant ships, 1912||A1928, 878/4|
|Quarantine station – definition of area (contains a short history of the island), 1955–77||D761, 160/8/2 part 1|
|Torrens Island Quarantine Station photographs, 1960–72||D3481, TORRENS ISLAND|
|Register of admission and discharge TSS Boonah hospital ship (at sea 1918–19) Torrens Island Quarantine Station Hospital, 1918–22||D2304, register|
|Torrens Island Quarantine Station – site plans and services layouts – built 1878 (47 drawings), 1880–1957||D1051, folder 57|