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The Quarantine Station

“One of the most interesting indexes we have done is an index of staff who were working in the hospital system in 1865 in New South Wales and their interesting and varied occupations of every conceivable kind.

Included in the hospital system was the Quarantine Station on North Head where recent discoveries have been made of some grave headstones and inscriptions scratched onto rocks (tours of these can be arranged).

The Quarantine Station was to ensure no infectious diseases were introduced to the colony. An area of quarantine included Lazarets which were newly arrived ships found to have diseases on board. These ships were isolated from the rest of the population and quarantined, sometimes for months. The lazaret ships could be permanently at anchor however sometimes the isolation was continued in mainland buildings.

A lazaretto /ˌlæzəˈrɛtoʊ/ or lazaret (from Italian: lazzaretto [laddzaˈretto]) is a quarantine station for maritime travellers.

Lazarets can be ships permanently at anchor, isolated islands, or mainland buildings. In some lazarets, postal items were also disinfected, usually by fumigation.. This practice was still being done as late as 1936, albeit in rare cases. A leper colony administered by a Christian religious order was often called a lazar house, after the parable of Lazarus the beggar.

Remembering that the hospitals were almost self contained they required a most unusual range of occupations to ensure a well run and functioning operation.

Some of the interesting and varied occupations required were:

ambulance drivers, disinfecting stations, road making staff, gardeners, nurses, painters, surgeons, telegraph officers, sanitary inspectors, typists, firemen, scrubbers, inspectors of meat works, inspectors of bacon factories, quarantine officers and boatmen, lazaret staff, blood boilers, mattress makers, dispensers, microbiologist, slaughterhouse inspectors, chaplains, labourers, housekeepers, stock and gatekeepers, stokers, ophthalmic surgeons, needlewomen, analysts, night watchmen, coxswains of tenders, scullery men, shorthand writers, ambulance drivers, cooks, stable men, maritime disinfectors, nightsoil men, general usefuls, fumigating staff, veterinary inspectors as well as others.

Because the hospital system required so much staff involved in a vast number of occupations discovering one of your ancestors here is quite possible”.



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