Culture and heritage


Quarantine Station at North Head

Only four international examples have been documented within this brief comparative exercise, so the validity of the comparison is limited. The comparative examples are: Ellis Island, New York, USA; Angel Island, San Francisco, USA; Grose Ile, Quebec, Canada; and Partridge Island, Newfoundland, Canada. ... While Ellis Island is a very well known site, the quarantine component is only a part of the whole, and is not a prominent part. The same is true for Angel Island, which has also suffered from major demolition of original buildings.

The Grose Ile station has a roughly parallel history to that of Sydney, and is valued and managed for a similar set of values, reflecting both the immigrant experience and the development of public health policy in the country. The building stock at Grose Ile is more like that at the Melbourne quarantine station ...[and] the segregation of sick and well, and of the different classes, applied in all cases.

A common characteristic of three of the four North American examples is that they were largely concerned with cross-Atlantic immigration, and that is why they are celebrated. ... The Australian stations, including that at North Head, can be distinguished because they relate to the much longer Europe to Australia immigrant route, and to a lesser degree to Pacific and Indian Ocean trade. They tell a distinctly Australian story, just as the four comparisons tell a North American story.

Accepting that only a small sample of comparative places has been studied, it would appear that the North Head Quarantine Station compares favourably with the best known North American quarantine stations in significance terms, in that it has a high level of survival of quarantine buildings and other fabric, clearly demonstrates through its remains the experiences of the immigrants and others who stayed there, and reflects a distinctly Australian story of immigration and involvement in world trade."

SHNP North Head Quarantine Station, Conservation Management Plan, Vol. 1, part 2, April 2000, Peter Freeman Pty Ltd, pages 211-212.


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Page last updated: 01 September 2012