"Having endured the long voyage to Australia in the hope of starting a new life, immigrants could find themselves detained in quarantine and in some cases seriously ill. Separated from healthy family members and prohibited from any contact, those in quarantine had no way of knowing whether they would see their loved ones again. Some children left the Quarantine Station as orphans, and women as widows, alone in a strange country with no means of support." - From Quarantine to Q Station: Honouring the Past, Securing the Future by Jennifer Cornwall & Simon McArthur
Sydney's Quarantine Station is located in North Head, Manly, in the state of New South Wales on the east coast of Australia. Between 1830 and 1984, all vessels suspected of carrying sick passengers were sent straight to North Head to be quarantined. After an average of forty days, most passengers would be released into society.
The site of Sydney's Quarantine Station was chosen for three main reasons:
1. It was the first safe anchorage point within the Heads;
2. It was completely isolated, well away from the main settlement of Sydney; and
3. The site had its own natural spring, which ensured long-term habitation.
|Quarantine Station's Second Class Precinct|
© Ghost & Girl
Today the sights, sounds and smells of the sick and quarantined are all but an echo, with the site (now called Q Station) offering corporate, educational and historical services to the public, with fine dining and serviced accommodation. The Station also offers a variety of ghost tours. As a (once local) resident of the Sydney area, I have had the privilege of visiting (and staying at) the site on a number of occasions.
There are ghosts at Quarantine Station, make no mistake. Many ghosts, in fact, some of whom have made themselves known to me during my stays there. I thought I would share with you some of my most memorable encounters:
(i) A significant experience happened on a recent tour of the Station that I undertook with my mother. The tour began down by the dock in the Wharf Precinct, after which it proceeded towards a small building located by the Luggage Fumigation. The guide asked us to split into two groups and enter one of two rooms, then she closed the doors. Although the darkness consumed us in the room, I was aware of being "rushed at" by an entity that I felt was decidedly male. Whilst I couldn't see him, I was able to sense him as he got up in my face. I got the distinct impression that he wasn't happy about the fact that I knew he was there. It was an awful experience. I felt assaulted. It resulted in my bursting into tears!
|Gravedigger's Cottage, Quarantine Station|
© Ghost & Girl
(ii) During an overnight stay on site in the Second Class Precinct, my mother and I both experienced being touched on the face during the night in our bedroom. The light in the room was also mysteriously turned on at one point, and we could "feel" someone walking around in the early hours of the morning.
(iii) On a separate occasion, but also whilst staying overnight in the Second Class Precinct, I awoke during the night to find a grey cat on the bed, which promptly vanished before my eyes. The raucous woke my sleeping companion.
(iv) During a ghost tour at the Station, I experienced the smell of potatoes as we walked towards the second class dining facilities. I wasn't the only one, as a handful of other tour attendees also picked up on the smell, but there were others who couldn't smell anything at all. The tour guide then proceeded to reveal to the group that the smell of potatoes is often picked up by members of tour groups. This event sticks out in my mind due to the fact that at the time, the Quarantine Station did not have a restaurant or accommodation, so there was no obvious explanation for the smell. As the Station is quite isolated, there is little opportunity for contamination from other sites.
(v) Whilst passing the Gravedigger's Cottage during another tour, the guide was relaying the history of the cottage and its most infamous resident, when the windows to the cottage were suddenly opened and closed quite forcibly by someone (or something) inside. This was well before the cottage became accessible to the public, and the group initially assumed it was some kind of prank. However, when the perplexed guide contacted security to come and investigate, it turned out that the building was completely locked, and no one could possibly have been inside. This revelation rattled all of us, but none more than the guide herself.
|Quarantine Station's notorious Shower Block.|
© Ghost & Girl
I seem to be sensitive to this type of activity. When in a location I am able to pick up on energies and can sense the presence of spirit, although I find that spirits do not wish to communicate with me in a more direct manner, or perhaps I am not yet able to communicate with them in a conversational way. However, these experiences and encounters, and the intensity of them seems to depend on environmental factors, particularly the weather. On those occasions where I have experienced quite a lot of activity, such as shadow people and one-on-one interaction, it has been stormy and wet. In these instances, the presence of thunderstorms has left the atmosphere feeling almost "charged", delivering some unexpected events as a result.
The types and intensity of paranormal experiences at Quarantine Station seem to vary; however, Shadow People are common, as is the sight of an elderly Chinese gentleman in and around the Asiatic Quarters, or the hand of a little girl that will tug (or hold onto) unsuspecting visitors.
Then, of course, there's the unmistakable sensation of being watched, and of feeling uncomfortable in certain areas, such as the notorious Shower Block.
If you're ever in Sydney, and aren't afraid of a little ghostly interaction, then I strongly recommend an overnight stay at the Quarantine Station.
It'll be an experience you're not likely to forget in a hurry.
For more information, visit Q Station.