Poxy studies day

A youngster on the way to quarantine during the smallpox epidemic.

A LITTLE-known quarantine station in Coogee, including its ghoulish crematorium, is to be put under the spotlight thanks to its connection to the last great pandemic to hit WA’s shores.

Woodman Point Quarantine Station is an evocative site, but tucked away in bushland in Coogee, even locals who live within a stone’s throw of its limestone and asbestos buildings often don’t know it’s there.

These days it’s mainly used for youth camps, but the Friends of Woodman Point run a remarkable museum and run regular tours.

FOWP vice president Neil Wilson will be shedding some light on the site’s history and the vital role it played during WA’s bubonic plague outbreak (yep, we had one) and the Spanish flu and smallpox epidemics during the Fremantle History Society’s annual Fremantle Studies Day on Sunday October 24 from 1-5pm.

The ominous-looking fumigation chamber.

Although the vilification of Chinese people has thankfully eased since some disgraceful attacks in the early days of Covid, a talk from Michelle McKeough, an honorary fellow at Murdoch University shows that it’s not the first time this has emerged.

Dr McKeough will explore the unfortunate situation of Ah Keo, who was the face of the social vilification that began to appear in Fremantle as the bubonic plague found its way into Australia through the city’s port.

Tarry Lawrie from the National Archives of Australia will look at the control of migrants by the all-powerful Customs department, while Vincent council’s local history librarian Susannah Iuliano has been documenting the influence of post-war Italian migrants on Fremantle.

The studies day will also include the announcement of the inaugural Ron and Diane Davidson research scholarship.

Bookings from secretary.fhs@gmail.com

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