The Woodman Point Crematorium was built in late 1900/early 1901, specifically to cremate those who passed from infectious diseases such as the plague. It is believed to be the oldest crematorium in Australia. The last cremation took place in 1943, after a seaman from the vessel SUVA succumbed to smallpox.
The Isolation Hospital was built specifically for the purpose as a plague hospital in 1901. In later years, the Isolation Hospital was used for the isolation of patients suffering from contagious disease after World War 1, such as those inflicted with Spanish Flu and Smallpox. People suffering from leprosy, measles, and Scarlet Fever also would have called Woodman Point Quarantine Station home. Several staff and their families resided at the Station throughout it’s operation, and certainly had very unique upbringings!
While many former buildings are now given new life by the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries, the Shower Block and Fumigation Block continue to offer insight into what life would have been like for those isolated at the Quarantine Station. Woodman Point also houses a small but well cared for military cemetery in the surrounding bushland.
Throughout Woodman Point Quarantine Station history there were approximately 350-400 vessels that came under quarantine in Western Australia. One particular noteworthy vessel was the HMAT Boonah. In October 1918, the Boonah was the last Australian troopship to leave Fremantle, bound for the Middle East. Carrying about 1200 soldiers, she arrived in South Africa just three days after the armistice was signed and on hearing the news, made arrangements to return home promptly. Before her departure, however, local dockworkers from the Spanish flu stricken city of Durban, South Africa loaded and unloaded supplies from the ship. As a result, soldiers became infected in the crowded conditions on board the Boonah. The number of men who had become infected was increasing rapidly, and calls were sent out to nursing sisters, asking for volunteers at the Quarantine Station in anticipation of the ship’s arrival. Though knowing very well the risk to their own lives, so many nurses volunteered that names were drawn from a hat. By the time the ship arrived back in Fremantle, more than 300 cases of the disease had been reported. The most unwell soldiers were ferried to the Quarantine Station. A total of 27 soldiers, and 4 nurses died of influenza during the crisis. These men and women were recently honoured at our Boonah Century Commemoration Ceremony in December 2018.