Apart from the men and women who were transported as convicts, all the cultural groups who have settled in NSW since 1788 have come here through the process of voluntary migration. The original Aboriginal settlers to the continent were also migrants over many past millennia. Many of the heritage sites in our national parks tell the story of migration. Outstanding among these is the former Quarantine Station on North Head in Sydney Harbour National Park where passengers and crew from ships on which communicable diseases were suspected to be present were required to remain in isolation for several weeks.
Today one can see the surviving dormitories (separate buildings for First, Second and Third Class passengers), wards, offices and infrastructure that comprised the Quarantine Station. A unique aspect of the site’s heritage are the names and motifs (including flags and ships) engraved on the sandstone bedrock by inmates wishing to leave a mark of their presence.
In 1949, at the onset of the great post-World War wave of migration, the former defence training camp, what is now Scheyville National Park, was converted into a reception centre for migrants. It became the largest immigration hostel in Australia, and was the introduction to Australia for thousands of migrants, particularly from Eastern Europe and Scandinavia. The hostel closed in 1964.
For many migrants, national parks have provided a setting and opportunity for their first tentative exploration of Australian bush land. Sydney’s urban parks, including Royal National Park and the Georges River National Park have played a key role here.
Page last updated: 24 September 2012