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Commonwealth Government Records about South Australia


Quarantine

Image 13: Quarantine station launch <em>Cheopis</em> alongside SV <em>Oregon Pine</em> quarantined for fumigation, Torrens Island Quarantine Station, South Australia, 1924.

Image 13: Quarantine station launch Cheopis alongside SV Oregon Pine quarantined for fumigation, Torrens Island Quarantine Station, South Australia, 1924.
NAA: D3185, 36
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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
Sydney
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
Adelaide
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
Canberra
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
Sydney
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
Adelaide
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

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Chapter 9
Health