Manly Quarantine Station
- Tour Reviews
- The Quarantine Station (or Q Station) in North Head is undoubtedly one of the spookiest places to spend an evening in Sydney, New South Wales.
Set on a picturesque property which, in its heyday, covered 74 acres, the Q Station has a sordid and tragic past.
Initially known as “Spring Cove”, the site was first used for quarantine purposes in 1828, when the Bussorah Merchant ship was detained due to an outbreak of Smallpox.
In time, any sign of sickness on a ship would make the vessel diverge from its intended path, to dock at the Q Station. Passengers would be assessed, before either being incarcerated for illness, or released to continue with their journey around Australia. Forty days was the standard period of time that people were incarcerated, and during its 140 years of operation, 580 ships were detained, with more than 13,000 people being quarantined.
The Quarantine Station was entirely self sufficient, containing a post office, water reservoir, hospital, morgue, power supply and residential areas.
The most famous of the ships Quarantined was the Lady McNaughton, which arrived in Sydney Harbour in 1837, riddled with Typhus. En route, 54 passengers had lost their lives, and many more were sick. When they were unloaded at the Q Station, 13 more passengers passed away, in what was described as “truly appalling conditions with a sense of misery, wretchedness and disease present everywhere.”
The Q Station closed for quarantine purposes in the 1984, as the advancement in modern medicine made it obsolete. It is now a popular place for people to visit for ghost tours and a five star hotel with a highly graded function centre.
But naturally, what we want to talk about here are the ghost tours.
The Q Station run several different levels of tours. The Adult Ghost Tour is exactly what it sounds like. Only those deemed ‘adult’ are welcome, and stories are a little grimmer than they would be on the Family Tour – a tour appropriate for all ages, not covering quite so many deaths and debauchery. This tour looks more at the legends and the history. The Spirit Investigator tour allows participants to play with equipment. The blurb on their website states: “Learn how to detect and record paranormal activity using a variety of equipment to “make contact” with the spirits!”
The Extreme Ghost Tour is definitely for the grownups! This tour differs in that it speaks of the malevolent spirits who have been detected, and of experiences which have been had, that are not quite so pleasant. Rape, murder, betrayal… all are covered on this tour.
Finally, they offer you a ghostly sleepover. This offers all of the above, but with the added bonus of sleeping in a spooky venue – and you need to be over 18 to do it.
There are always mixed reviews when it comes to ghost tours. Many people think that if they are paying good money, they should be entitled to an experience. Unfortunately it is beyond the tour guides control as to whether a ghost decides to pop out of the showers and say boo.
Ask anybody who has been to the Q Station, where the spookiest part that they went was, and they will tell you the Shower Block. Rows upon rows of showers, sectioned off with corrugated iron, and a peep hole in each, for the attending guard to look through (to ensure nothing was smuggled in apparently). Added to this, the guides let you enter in twos, to roam the isles, peering into darkness, wondering what is looking back at you.
The second spookiest would have to be the hospital. The images it conjures up with its almost medieval equipment and ancient looking hospital beds do nothing to dull the imagination.
On the whole, I enjoyed my trip to the Q Station, during which I was a part of the “Extreme” ghost tour. I found some of the parts a bit corny, such as the guide literally kicking the bucket in the old morgue for a chill effect, and the use of torches with red cellophane wrapped around them (because according to our guide, you should never use white light when communing with spirits… huh?). The history was amazing, and to see what life was like for the poor unfortunates who travelled so far, only to be detained in squalor, it made the ticket price worthwhile.
I’d definitely return.
Experienced and written By Peet Banks 2013
Put together by Ashley Hall
Photos: Shower Block where a majority of activity is experienced
Inset Upper: One of the beds in the hospital
Inset Middle: The old kitchen
Inset Lower: Peet Banks and Nic Hume from APPI - Australian Paranormal Phenomenon Investigators