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  • Writer's pictureCheryl Osborne

Woodman Point Quarantine Station (1886 -1979) –a fascinating history of a hidden community. T

First we stopped outside the Isolation Hospital (built in 1901 specifically as a plague hospital but used for the isolation of all contagious diseases and in particular after WWI for victims of the Spanish flu and smallpox) where we were met by the delightful Jenni, who was our guide and whose grandfather, Freddie Poore, had been a nurse/head nurse and living on the Station from the 1930s to mid-1950s (most of the nurses were men.) But first morning tea! Jenni then took us on a tour of the building where some of the rooms and been ‘re-remembered’ into wards with beds and equipment and mannequins dressed head to toe in whites (only their eyes visible). We learnt of the Boonah tragedy, the last ship to leave Fremantle for WW1 with 1000 troops and crew which was turned around in Durban where it had stopped to refuel and take on more supplies. The cemetery is now overgrown with regrowth bush and though the authorities were anxious to reinter the remains, the Friends of Woodman Point have persuaded them not to do so. We hopped on the bus again with a new guide Ian (his first time talking to a group) for a short drive to the old laundry (now used as an office for Sport & Recreation) but still tucked away in one corner is an ingenious pull-out system of pipes which were used to steam/sterilise/dry sheets which were then ironed (by men!). We had a look at the giant steam generator too; part of the building in which it is now housed used as a workshop to repair and store bikes. It is possibly one of the best-preserved historical sites in WA as all the old buildings have been repurposed for use by the Department of Sport and Recreation for day use and longer stays so kept in good repair. A most interesting and informative morning. On the recommendation of Jenni and her helpers we found our way to the Coogee Surf Club and the Surfing Lizard Café for lunch – Linda managed to fit in a quick dip in the ocean

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