North Head Sanctuary Foundation
is working with Government agencies
towards the establishment of
Car-rang-gel Sanctuary
on North Head
at the gateway of Sydney Harbour
- a flagship for Australia's
environmental resolve
and a celebration of
our natural and cultural heritage.
Car-rang-gel Sanctuary on North Head, Sydney
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Built Heritage of North Head

The built heritage of North Head accurately reflects the use of the headland since 1828 for quarantine of passengers and crew from ships arriving with contagious diseases. As the needs for quarantine lessened in the 20th Century other uses of North Head were introduced. The remains of defence structures and the School of Artillery buildings remind us of the impact of World War II.
St Patricks estate, St Paul's School and the hospital reflect uses related to Christianity, education and health whilst the Sewerage Treatment Plant demonstrates a 20th Century approach to drainage and sanitation.

North Head contains several individual sites of heritage significance:-

* the National Park containing stone walls, an obelisk, burial grounds, former military structures,
* the Quarantine Station
* the School of Artillery
* the National Artillery Museum
* the former Seaman's Hospital - now the Australian Institute of Police Management
* the Parkhill Arch and associated stone walls
* the North Head Sewage Treatment Plant,
* the Manly Peace Hospital
* St Patrick's College and the Cardinal's Palace

Manly Hospital in 2004.

Quarantine Station

The vulnerability of the Colony's early settlers to ship-borne diseases and epidemics was highlighted by the Quarantine Act of 1832, which led to the establishment that same year of the Quarantine Station at Spring Cove, a settlement which by 1837 covered the whole headland. The waters surrounding Quarantine Beach and Store Beach are where European vessels were first quarantined.

A signal mast at Cannae Point was used from the 1830s to signal to shipping quarantine conditions at the Quarantine Station. As the first place designated as a place of quarantine for people entering Australia, the North Head Quarantine Station (and the Seamen's Isolation Hospital) is the oldest and most intact example of quarantine facilities in Australia.

It was always the pre-eminent place of quarantine among the colonies, both because of its early beginnings, and because it led in many of the advances in quarantine practice. The Station's function remained unchanged from 1834 to 1984, and all the buildings and developments illustrate the changing social and scientific demands of quarantine during that period.


The wharf where passengers arrived for quarantine.

The history of the Quarantine Station, which is well illustrated by its buildings, sites, landscapes and the functions that took place there, interconnects with a number of key themes in Australia's history. The demands of quarantine, and the spotlight this cast on health standards, forced improvements in conditions experienced by immigrants, through the 19th century in particular.

The procedures established for the quarantine of inbound shipping set the foundation for responding to the various local smallpox, plague and influenza epidemics up until the 1920s. The Quarantine Station dramatically demonstrates, in its developments to separate and deal differently with different classes and races of people, the changes in the social attitudes of the Colony.

The final transfer of the Quarantine Station to the State in 1984 reflected the now common pattern whereby land formerly reserved for special purposes, and protected from the development pressures of urban growth, became values for the cultural and natural values they possess, and were re-gazetted for conservation purposes when no longer needed for the special purpose for which they were established.

The picture is of the hand-over ceremony in 1984 of the Quarantine Station to the state of NSW.

The Quarantine Station (together with the facility at Point Nepean), as Australia's primary quarantine facility for 166 years, held a unique in the history of the nation. Apart from the recent loss of two of the oldest and most significant buildings to fire, the Station's remarkably well preserved set of quarantine structures, landscapes features and inscriptions make it a place of great rarity.

The Station has the best representative collection of quarantine-related buildings, equipment and human memorabilia (eg. inscriptions) of any Australian Quarantine Station. The moveable heritage associated with the Station is of great cultural significance, particularly when in situ within the Station. The Quarantine Station is also significant in the interface between Australia's European and Asian history, being one of the few Australian sites taken into conservation ownership and management directly after its original function and use had ended.

The Quarantine Station site has strong and special emotional associations for the diversity of people quarantined there, many of their relatives, and those who staffed the facility during its extensive period of operation.

More detail about the Quarantine Station is available on the Friends of Quarantine Station website.

School of Artillery

The School of Artillery precinct on North Head has a vital link with the North Head Quarantine Station. From 1837 to 1907 it was part of the Quarantine Station Reserve originally declared by Governor Bourke, and it incorporates the Quarantine Station's Third Cemetery, which demonstrates the final active stage of the use of North Head Quarantine Station between 1881 and 1925.

School of Artillery

The Quarantine Station's Third Cemetery contains the graves of victims of the post-World War I influenza epidemic and many others. It is one of very few remaining sites that demonstrate the "winding down" period in Australia's quarantine history. The Third Cemetery is not well conserved. Its remaining inscriptions and other ephemeral material evidence of burial practices are gradually being destroyed by weathering.

The School of Artillery precinct forms a central part of the North Head peninsula, which was one of the six sites that formed the first officially decreed group of military reserves in Australia. As the headquarters of the First Heavy Brigade (the "coastal artillery brigade"), it performed a critical role in the defence of Sydney, Australia's largest population and industrial centre, during the only time when the nation has faced the threat of invasion.

The restrained art deco polychrome brick detailing of core buildings on the School of Artillery precinct demonstrate a high degree of creative accomplishment for the period of their construction (i.e. just prior to and during WW II). The extensive reinforced concrete tunnel system on this precinct was "state of the art" for this period.

It was arguably the single most important, and the first constructed in the national chain of major coastal artillery facilities installed in the 1930s in anticipation of a naval invasion. As the School of Artillery, the site performed a key role in the development of Australia's military (i.e. artillery) capability from 1947 to 1997.

As the headquarters of the First Heavy Brigade, the School of Artillery with its precinct's WW II and prewar structures (together with the North Fort and other WW II major artillery sites at North Head) is one of only nine Australian coastal military sites that demonstrate the climactic point in the development of artillery defence against attacks on major ports by naval vessels i.e. with the installation of the 9.5 inch guns. Many of the other sites are badly deteriorated and are not being conserved. As part of the WW II defence installations at North Head and seventeen other coastal sites around Sydney, the precinct's prewar and WW II structures demonstrate the final stage in the development of the "outer line" of defence of the city of Sydney.

The School of Artillery precinct has strong and special associations with the Australian military, and especially with Army personnel who were stationed there during its military use from 1936 to 1997.

National Artillery Museum

The School of Artillery precinct illustrates in its fabric the course of its development as the former headquarters of the First Heavy Brigade. It also contains disused structures from that period (such as the former plotting room and underground tunnel system) that have the potential to demonstrate the military technology in use at the climactic moment in the development of land-based artillery defences against naval attack.

This heritage is maintained and presented to the public at North Fort which has been set up as an artillery museum.

Seaman's Hospital

These buildings were part of the Quarantine Station. Quarantine Station staff helped care for seamen who were suffering from venereal diseases. The buildings are currently used by the Australian Institute of Police Management.

Parkhill Arch and associated stone walls

These walls and the arch were built by men in the Great Depression who had lost their jobs and had families to support.

Some of the men had professional qualifications but were glad of any work that provided an income.

St Patrick's College

A large tract of the former Quarantine Station was given to the Catholic Church. A beautiful stone building was constructed together with a chapel and St Patrick's College was established in it for the training of priests. The chapel has stained glass windows. Towards the end of the 20th Century when priests were no longer being trained there, the college was leased out to the International School of Ecotourism. The chapel is still available for weddings and ceremonies.


St Patrick's College with the chapel to the right.

If you are interested in historical information, you may like to visit Manly Warringah and Pittwater Historical Society's website.
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North Head Sanctuary Foundation, P.O.Box 896, Balgowlah, NSW 2093

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