Quarantine Station memories cast Woodman Point in a different light

Quarantine Station memories cast Woodman Point in a different light
Quarantine Station memories cast Woodman Point in a different light
Quarantine Station memories cast Woodman Point in a different light
Quarantine Station memories cast Woodman Point in a different light

THE circumstance surrounding Janet Granger and Patricia Wenman’s visit to Woodman Point last week could not have been more different to their first stop in 1949.

Sixty-seven years ago the pair spent a month at the Quarantine Station to stop a potential smallpox outbreak.

They had been on board the RMS Mooltan along with more than 1000 passengers headed to Australia from Tilbury, England.

Just days out from Fremantle, an eight-year-old Mrs Granger developed a rash and her temperature soared, setting off alarm bells among medical staff on board and quarantine authorities here.

Her bout of smallpox meant Mrs Granger (nee Welch) and her family, together with 11 potentially infected people labelled ‘contacts’, were taken from the ship to the Woodman Point Quarantine Station.

But with her condition at its worst en route to Australia, Mrs Granger only has good memories of her time in Woodman Point.

“I can remember the room where my sister and I would sleep,” she said during a visit to the former Quarantine Station last week, her first since her initial stay.

“I remember getting biscuits – lots of biscuits and lots of comics.

“I remember the medical orderly Bertie Poore (who nursed smallpox patients at the station from 1921 to 1957) making billy tea – I’d never had that before.”

Among the eleven other contacts transferred to the station from the Mooltan was child migrant Mrs Wenman (nee McGourty).

With her siblings already in Australia and her mother due out a few years later, the then five year old turned six at the quarantine station.

“I remember (another junior contact) Dennis McCafferty and I used to be on blankets and they used to have people on each corners throwing us in the air. I loved that,” she said.

“Walking through today and previous times it does bring some of it back, but I was only young when I stayed here.”

External interest in those at the station and their recovery was high, with the press stationed outside the gates eagerly awaiting the chance to speak to them.

Mrs Granger and her family were discharged from the station on June 21, 1949 and taken by immigration officials to the Point Walter Migrant Hostel.

They stayed there until they could board the RMS Maloja and travel to their original destination, Sydney.

Mrs Wenman, a Maddington resident, along with the 11 passenger contacts, were cleared on June 13.

Friends of Woodman Point Recreation Camp historian Earle Seubert said it was great to have the pair back at the station last week.

“It’s absolutely brilliant,” he said.

“It’s a unique historical chapter of the former quarantine station that would have been lost to time.

“I’ve been doing research on the quarantine station for many years and we’ve only over the past ten years or so really started to discover historical data that can be validated, as many of the people involved in this particular era at Woodman Point Quarantine Station are now deceased.

“So much of our Western Australian history has been lost, and I believe that this part of our heritage needs to be told and preserved in perpetuity.”