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QUARANTINE ISLAND., Issue 3863, 4 July 1874
Very pleasant is an excursion to Quarantine Island on a fine day, when the placid waters of the harbour are bathed in suushine, and ripple round many picturesque headlands, clothed with native verdure to their bases. On such a day Port Chalmers and its neighbourhood look their best, especially when viewed from seawards, and discover a rare commingling of nature unadorned, and nature embellished by the art and ingenuity of man. Evidences of thriving prosperity, of the substantial progress of this land of our adoption, are apparent on all sides. Stately merchantmen in every stage of loading and unloading throng the harbour and line the jutting piers, whilst the scream of the railway whistle, the rattle of the heavily laden train, and the thud-thud of the paddles of the steamers which ply about the bay, tell the tale of the advance of science as applied to everyday affairs, and indicate that a share of the abundance of knowledge which pervades the world is not wanting here, and that man hasprofitedand is profiting thereby. The sea view of the Port is pleasantly contrasted by the smiling landscape with its patches of civilisation hewed out of the dense bush. There is the snug township, embracing a long range of suburban residences radiating from the central cluster of buildings, on the outskirts of which the temples reared by man's adoration and reverence to the Almighty Creator and Benefactor lift their tall spires heavenwards. There are not many prettier places in the woild than that stretch of the harbour extending from Carey's Bay to Portobello, • ancLits )eauties are seen to the best advantage if viewed in detail from water level when the tide is in. On the one hand, the Bay extends without a break for miles to the opposing shore of the ong Peninsula, whilst, on the other, the shore line is indented with bays and coves, is dotted with houses and verdant gardens, and docks and shipbuilding yards, and is crowned with masses of dark, heavy bush, through which peep the grey faces of quarries, where the ring of the hammer and drill is heard, whilst every now and then the reverberating report of the powder blast tells of rocks riven that man may progress This is one section of the scene. Another opens up beyond Observation Point, where the harbour takes a sweep to the right, and. at first sight, appears to terminate in an extensive bay, at the far end of which a high headland projecting from the Peninsula seems to almost touch the ground upon which the Quarantine station is established. But a narrow strait, through which the tide rushes-with great velocity, separates them, and as the station is approached the Quarantine Island, and its neighbour the Goat Island, become defined, and the idea of cul dc sac is dissipated, for through the channel that separates them the harbour is to be seen extending far away Dunedinwards, whilst beyond the narrow strait above-mentioned, the white houses of Portobello appear in pleasing relief to the foliage in which they are embowered. Port Chalmers Peninsula flanks this part of the harbour to the right, and is bedecked with many charming residences, which look down somewhat with contempt upon the new building that might be mistaken for a penitentiary, and which constitutes in itself the township of Goat Island, on which it has been recently erected for the accommodation of young men immigrants who may be unfortunate enough to fall into the meshes of quarantine. A narrow channel alone separates Goat Island from the Peninsula, and another of greater width—the main ship channel, ia factseparates Goat Island from Quarantine Island proper. Both islands are densely scrubbed, excepting where clearances have been effected • and we presume that Goat Island has been so named because it swarms with rabbits. "We were induced to pay a visit to Quarantine Island on Saturday for the purpose of generally inspecting the station, and. also to ascertain what was the condition of the immigrants who had been transferred to it from the steamer Atrato. The opportunity, too, of inspecting the ■ Barracks when occupied was -not to be lost, because, as a rule, the islandwhen inhabited is in strict quarantine; the existing circumstances were quite exceptional. The landing-place is situated at the end of the island nearest to Portobello, and, we were pleased to observe, was in the course of being rendered worthy of the name by the addition of a wooden pier to the old stone causeway that for so many years sufficed, albeit very imperfectly, to serve the purpose. The new jetty will, when finished, at least render the Island comfortably accessible to boats and small steamers at any time of tide. From the jetty a flight of steps, hewn out of the face of the hill, leads to a sloping plateau, upon which the principal in point of size and number of the quarantine buildings are erected. The first of these to catch the eye is the residence of Mr Dougall, officially designated the BarrackMaster, but whose occupation will be better understood if he is described as the person in charge of the Quarantine Station. He lives in a nicely constructed four-roomed cottage, and built upon a bluff overlooking the bay. "We, of course, applied to him in the' first instance, and met with a ready acquiescence to our request that he would conduct us through the Station. " Really," we observed, as we glanced around at the handsome buildings in sight, and the wellkept paths leading to them, "you have a very charming place here." " Yes," he rejoined, "it is well enough now, but before those buildings " —pointing, as he spoke, to a large block which he termed the Main Barracks—"were erected >we were pushed for room. This," he continued, as we approached a: low shed-like domicile, was then one of the principal habitations. My family and I lived in one end of it, and the remainder of the space was devoted to' the accommodation of cabin passengers. Now it is put to a variety of purposes. ATy old quarters are converted into a storeroom, and the other part is sometimes used as a luggage-room, and sometimes, as you see it at present, is converted into a washing-house. The scene about the entrance and inside explained this remark. Groups of immigrant women, with one or two men amongst them, were elbow-deep in tubs of foaming soapsuds : the wash-up after the voyage was in progress. A dozen or. two of children were also scattered about, and with their elders, looked the personification of health and robustness. Smiles and civility welcomed us. and onr occupation being mistaken for that of officialdom, we were interrogated again and agqin as to whether the Government intended to soon remove the immigrants to town. Strangers, in such a place, invariably prove a source of attraction, so that when we turned to leave the washing-shed, quite a crowd had gathered about the place, and a pleasant-looking crowd it was—men, women, and .children were clean, stout, and to all appearances, strong and healthy, and, moreover, looked respectable. Upon the latter point our onductor spoke very decidedly. They were about the best looking immigrants he had had any dealings with; they were. quiet, orderly and gave no trouble. " Was there any disease worth mentioning amongst them ?" we enquired. " Certainly not," he replied, " they were as healthy as could be desired ; two children had died, it was true, but then the. one was.a weakly little thing, said to be consumptive, whilst the other had given way to cold and exhaustion, superinduced by a severe attack of measles on ship board" From the luggage-shed we proceeded to the main barracks, which may be briefly described as three large buildings, two of them two-storeyed, and each opening into the kitchen in the centre. The buildings stand a little apart from each other, and are connected by a central shed that covers in the kitchen, scullery, cooks' room, &c. Our inspection of the barracks commenced with the building set apart or the accommodation of single women. It is wo-storeyed, and is fitted up on both floors with cabins, each of which contains four sleeping berths. Between the vestibule and the lower dormitory, there are a bath-room, lavatory closets, &c. The lavatory is fitted up with rows of pewter basins, each having a water tap and a pipe in the bottom through which the dirfcv water escapes. The water is derived from iron tanks overhead, and the bath-room, plunge and shower is also so supplied, and at the same time commands a hot water tap. The offices and building throughout were beautifully clean ai>d neat. Ninety-eight single women can be accommodated in it. On the opposite side of the kitchen, and standing in a line with the last building, is the one devoted to the accommodation of married people. Like the other, it is two-storeyed, and is fitted up with ranges of side rooms or cabins, one to each family. There are 24 of these —twelve on each floor, or six on each! side, with a central passage. This part of the barracks was also clean and comfortable, and amply ventilated and lighted. The side rooms were also roomy, and so were those in the single women's buildir.g. The offices, lavatory, waterclosets, bath-room were also similar. The third building stands at right angles to the others, and is the eating room. It is a large commo 3 dious apartment, with a double brick fireplace in the centre, and furnished with ranges of tables and benches. It was occupied at the .time of our visit by several of the immigrants iinrt their children, all variously employed. The centre of the barracks—the'kitchen—we found a model of comfort and convenience. There was a double cooking range, and a bewilderin" paramernaha of cooking appliances. A large scullery leads from it one way and a sort of pantry another. There is a large hot water boiler that supplies the baths and other parts of the establishment The kitchen arrangements were perfect in their way, and entireiy in keeping with the other parts of the main barracks, which have certainly been constructed on very liberal principles indeed. The water supply of the barracks is stored in iron tanks, of which thero are 24, besides a largo cistern of 4000 gallons capacity attached, to the kitchen. After inspecting the main barracks, we turned to a building at the rear of them, and which our conductor informed us was once the main barrack but was now used as a residence for the single men. It was unfurnished, even lacked sleeping stretchers, the men having to shake down upoS the floor. A large open fireplace stood at one end of the room, and the latter was open from end to end, and appeared to bo rather superabundantly provided with doors and windows. It was a most uncomfortable looking place—very barnhke. However, henceforth it will be only used for housing people during emergencies, inasmuch that, excepting they are fit subjects for hospital treatment, single men immigrants will find uo footing on Quarantine Island, ample accommodation for as many as are likely to be
quarantined at one time having been provided' for them on the adjoining Goat Island. Still' it is within the compass of probable contingencies, especially if immigration is to be forced at high pressure rate, that Quarantine Island may D 3 flooded with unfortunates to a degree quite • disproportionate to the accommodation at command for housing them; and we would thereforesuggest the advisability of rendering the old barrack a little more fit than it is for occupation by human beings. Young men may be able to rough it, but married people with, families, and women, ought to be differently provided for Urom the mam barracks, we proceeded to the hospital, over the hill. That is to say, we wereabout to instinctively follow our nose alon<* a narrow path leading over the hjlL when our conductor suggested that we should take a new path, which he modestly remarked he had re. cently constructed round the hill—and a very good gravelled path we found it to be. In one place, by its side, was a commodious rustic bench, open to the sun, and sheltered behind bv~ the growing bush. "Inade that bench," saidMr Dougall, "for the convenience of the convalescents; the poor things like to sun themselves, and it commands a pretty view " This remark was accompanied by a sweep of the arm towards Portobello, which was plainly in view across^ the mile or so of intervening water: that rippled and glinted as the sunlight danced upon it, save where dark shadows were cast by the projecting bluff that forms one side of the bay at the bottom of which nestles the town' ot fortobelio. You. sometimes rig a tent here "' we remarked, as we pointed to a familiar-loqkinft fiame that stood on an excavation on the lowerside of the path. "That, sir,"he replied, "is where the constable lives when -we have one here. Ah, I don't know what we should dowithout one sometimes, for although as a rule the people who come here are orderly, yet thereare exceptions. Them Brogdenites is the worst ?«?* 7 as, a D Tlce, crowd came in the Christian M Ausland. I should have been lost without a constable to assist me." "Fighting, eh?" wo suggested. "Fighting.'» he rejoined "Indeed yes; and the women were worse than the men— a bad lot, truly. However, it isn't often that we are troubled like that." The pathway led to thctop of the ridge, where the hospital is situated* It is an imposing building—lofty and well built; -and comprises two wards, each about 26----feet long by 18 feet wide, and, say 16 feet high. The arrangements for ventiktion areperfect, and each ward is provided with an open fireplace, and each connected with a central range of offices, comprising closets, bath rooms (hot and cold water), and lavatories! Beyond these agnin are the kitchen, dispensary surgery, doctor's room, and the nurse's room. The wards are merely furnished with the ordi. nary folding up stretchers, but looked exceedingly comfortable for all that, and also cheerful. " Had the""ward* ever been fully occupied V enquired we. "Never," said Mr Dougall "and I hope they never wUI be." There appeared to be j about room for twelve patients in each ward, although a few more might be squeezed in on a pinch. We did not Jail to notice the primitive character of the quarters provided for the medical man who may happen to be in charge. They consisted of two very small rooms, absolutely unfurnished, excepting a deal table and bench in the one, and a stretcher, suggestive of anything but easy repose, in the other. The kitchen was large and well appointed, and so was the dispen-sary—-at any rate, there seemed to be plenty, of medicine of one kind and another on the shelves, with brass bound cases of. sinister as* pect, and splints, bandages, lint, &c J^. deed the hospital appointments throughout were commendable, save and except the water supply, which does not exceed 4000 *»allons, stored in iron tanks, and is dependent"on the rainfall. The hospital was not entirely unoccupied at the time of our visit. Death was there, his chill grasp resting on the remains of a little child who had died on the previous day The body lay in a rough deal coffin, in one .of the wards, and when the lid was lifted the placid wax-like features of what had been an engaging girl were revealed. "And the cause of "her death," observed a medical friend who accompanied^ us, " was-—?" ;" She is supposed to have died of consumption Sir," saidMrDou»alL " She was a pretty little thiDg, but very delicate and had not suffered from measlss on board ship! She is to he buried to-morrow. There is another dead child at the convalescent ward, where ■ if you please, we will now go.*' To the convalescent ward we accordingly proceeded. Once ife was the hospital proper, and is situated a «obd stones-throw from'the main building. We found! it inhabited by a family of whom the dead bbiM was once a member. Decent, substantial people they looked, and, according to their own showing, were natives of Jersey; the man a baker by trade, with a portly, smiling helpmate, and several children ; we really omitted to count them; All, however, wore the Uvery of good health and strength. : " A healthier family there never was, gentlemen," said the woman, " and but for the horrid scroodging on board thai Atrato, and the heat of the donkey-boiler, which was close to our berths, I believe we should not have lost our little one. The poor child took the measles, anddidn't seem able to rally afterwards—when we landed here died of cold- or something." In reply to an interrogatory the man said they were yery well treated on the voyage,,and_had nothing to complain of excepting the crowding, and also, that " they couldnot always get food prepared for the children. There was adealof favouritism shown at the galley* . Man and wife were exceedingly communicative. and after the children had disposed of a lar^e bowl of porridge of some kind upon which they were engaged when we entered, they' sidled about their parents and looked on'accordin* totheir wont. The convalescent ward is a low building of one floor, and subdivided into threeapartments, of which one is used askitchcn andi eating-room. Considered as an abode for convalescents, it appeared to us to be a questionablekind of a place for the purpose—ill-arranged; and small, it certainly was the size,' being only 30 feet in length by 15 feet wide,; whilst therooms wore a higgledy-piggledy air. Theseasoaof convalescence isy perhaps, as critical, or more so, than any other period of an invalid's illnessv and excessive care, to, prevent a relapse, is demanded in the majority of cases. Hence particular care ought to ; be lavished upon patients during the. convalescent.. stage, outward influences should be' studied, and every, practicablecomfort bestowed; We are of opinion that theconvalescent ward is not a place suitable for th» purpose1 it is put to; A larger building, more conveniently arranged internally, is demanded. It should be provided with a reading-room, with ches3 and draughts, and a common r ba<>atelle table would not be out of place in it. • The convalescent ward at the Quarantine Islandremindedl usofabushaccommodationhouseoftheolddaTsof Australia. Upon, entering it we instinctively glanced upwards to where the.ssgn-boar& ■ nnghfc have been, with its inscription ■of Travellers Best, or the Jolly Diggers, or Shepherd's Home. The wardcommandsaprettyviewoitheharbQurj. and is placed close to the wide road that" hasbeen cleared through the scrub, and winds alone. the ridge and round the west side of the islancE towards the ship channel. The island rises ilk that direction, and forms a high hill, the summit, of which must be a couple of hundred feet abovethe level of the hospital. "That hill is th» spot for a water reservoir, Sir," said our conductor. "Mr Miller proposed to have .one constructed there, and tqhayie pipes leading from.it to the hospital and n£si barracks. ItArouldi have given a fine pre&ure in case of a fire, an* then we should never be short of water, whisk we are sometimes. You see," he eontnmeS. "there is tank storage for about 21,000 gallon*! which at first sight seems ;»lot; but, bless yon, when people come ashore here after a lonz voyage they soon make it fly in washing clothes! have had to put a stop to washing when witar ran low, -and sometimes we have to obtain water from Port Chalmers, and that vott know, comes expensive. What is needed is a good^ large reservoir on that hilL The water shed is not very extensive, it is true. but the reservoir would fill in a month or two, and once fall would, with the tanks, ba ample for all ordinary purposes. Yes, there fcaa been a good bit of clearing done here," he rejoined; I cut the most of it away myself; Perhaps you would like to sco the cemetery." Wepromptly assented, and were conducted alone the road to another that led to about half war down the east side of the Island; and there,'surrounded by the dead and living bush-^its onlr-enclosure-reposed "God's acre.'' No stalerV monuments elaborate^ sculptured and inscribed!, were to fesee^ theref but instead the placeTof the^ dead were marked by modest mounds of earth that lacked even the simple garnishing; that, where the means to provide more assumrne trappings of remembrance are wanting, are s£ often bestowed by loving hands. Only four of> the|raves were fenced in, and provided with, head boards, two of them being where tha remains of two of Mr Dougall's children lay, whilst in the other, a dual gnive, rest the bodies of two young women who died .v-ed 20 and 17 respectively. But the other graves were not entirely unmarke.L At the head of each of them was. a small slip of board with the name of the ' de~ ceased written on it "I marked most of them. myself, sir" adJJf Dougnll; and, asw^ turned to b-ave the spot he observed: "T2ier» cmidren'""" 6 * bUrled tW> most of %¥ m With the cemetery terminated our inspection of Quarantine I s knd. But one other little seen* had to be enacted, and although trying to the feelings we shrank not from it but performed our hST™?!^ ould we step into the cottage, said Mr Dougall. We assented, aad found ourselves in a snug comfortably furnished apart" ment with a presiding divinity in the form of a buxom dame. "Visitors," observed Mr DougalL with a sly twinkle of the eye, '< do sometime/rml the risk of infection here. Perhaps the doctor » at the same time nodding to my companion. SKrtSl° f fefeoul^. we sliook hands with, pm host and hostess, and were soon once moreafloat, and on our way back to Port Chalmers. In conclusion we may state that the result of ' ourvisit to the Island was,, altogether, satisfac- ' tory There was not a case of sickness of any kind_ under treatment, and the whole of theimmigrants who were located there looked thspersomlication of vigorous -health.
QUARANTINE ISLAND., Issue 3863, 4 July 1874
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