|List||National Heritage List|
|Legal Status||Listed place (16/06/2006)|
|Place File No||2/18/021/0015|
|Summary Statement of Significance|
Point Nepean is the site of the oldest, surviving, purpose-built,
barracks-style, quarantine accommodation buildings in Australia, as well as
fortifications demonstrating the primary importance of coastal defence to the Australian colonies. As an island-nation, quarantine has played an
important part in controlling the impact of ship-borne diseases on Australia
from the early 1800s. Point Nepean is an
historic landscape, which features a range of values relating to both Victorian
and national quarantine processes from the 1850s and to the history of coastal defence from the 1870s.
The choice of site for quarantine purposes followed the discovery of gold in 1851, which, resulted in nearly 100,000 migrants arriving in Melbourne by sea in 1852, in one of the greatest gold rushes in history. Point Nepean was opened as a maritime quarantine reserve in 1852, following the scare caused by the arrival of the ship ‘Ticonderoga’, carrying scarlet fever and typhoid, and used for quarantine purposes as the major point of entry for quarantine cases in Victoria until 1980. The first permanent hospital buildings were erected from 1854 by the newly elected Victorian Government. The 1850s quarantine buildings at Point Nepean provide Australia's only relatively complete complex of quarantine buildings from the 1850-1870 period, thus providing crucial insight into quarantine operations and philosophies at a time when thousands of immigrants were landing in Australia in search of wealth and new opportunities offered by the discovery of gold. The Point Nepean quarantine station demonstrates the development of quarantine philosophy, encompassing the periods 1852-1875, 1875-1899 and 1900-1925, under both State and Commonwealth governments. The Quarantine Station and surrounds has a high potential for archaeological sites associated with quarantine areas located close to the shore at Ticonderoga Bay. The Quarantine Station contextual landscape also includes a cemetery near Observatory Point in addition to the pre-1858 cemetery, as well as possible archaeological evidence of the Cattle Quarantine Station and the Leper Station. In conjunction with the quarantine station at North Head, the Point Nepean quarantine station is important in illustrating the development and evolution of quarantine practices employed at Stations in the other states in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
Point Nepean has been part of a strategic outer line in the defence of Melbourne’s ports and harbours since the 1870s, in conjunction with fortifications at South Channel Fort, Swan Island and Queenscliff. Fort Nepean was known in the 1880s as Victoria’s ‘Gibraltar’ and in 1890 it was reported that Melbourne was the best-defended commercial city of the [British] Empire. The fortifications, based on the reports of Sir William Jervois and Lt Colonel Peter Scratchley in 1877, illustrate British military design and technology of the 1870s and 1880s, similar to Middle Head, Sydney, overlaid by changes in imperial armaments and Second World War coastal defences. Point Nepean, as part of the system of defence for Port Phillip Bay, best illustrates British military design and technology of the 1870s and 1880s, under the influence of Jervois and Scratchley. In addition, Fort Nepean may have archaeological deposits associated with military use, which extend into the waters surrounding the site of the former engineer’s jetty serving Fort Nepean. The first shot fired by Australian forces in WW1, from the batteries at Point Nepean, was at the German steamer ‘Pfalz’, which left Port Phillip during the declaration of war on 5 August 1914. The events are well documented and clearly demonstrate the geo-political importance of coastal defences, and Fort Nepean in particular, in protecting the Australian colonies as part of the British Empire.
John Monash (later Sir) was attached to the [Melbourne] Garrison Artillery, focused on Fort Nepean. Monash rose through the ranks to become its commanding officer by 1897. Monash’s biographer, Geoffrey Serle, saw this as crucial to his success as commander of Australian Forces in WW1. Cheviot Beach is the place from which Australian Prime Minister Harold Holt disappeared whilst swimming in heavy surf on 17 December 1967.
Point Nepean comprises approximately 530 hectares and forms the western end of the Mornington Peninsula, which in turn forms the southern coast of what is now Port Phillip Bay. Point Nepean, along with Point Lonsdale to the west, constitute the heads at the entrance to Port Phillip Bay. The present enclosed form of Port Phillip Bay was developed relatively recently in the Late Pleistocene 80 – 120,000 years ago.
Point Nepean is comprised mainly of Pleistocene sand dunes that have since been consolidated into calcareous dunes that form stacks, shore platforms and cliffs where the land meets the sea. The Pleistocene dunes are overlain by younger dunes, formed during the last 4 – 6,000 years of the Holocene period. These recent dunes were formed when the sea rose a metre or two above the present sea level. The processes of erosion and deposition which shaped the dunes are still active in the area, with ocean swells bringing eroded sand from Point Nepean and Observatory Point into the Bay. Alternating glacial and interglacial periods during the Pleistocene resulted in alternate sand dune deposits, clays and shallow marine and freshwater deposits, including limestone.
The Point Nepean coast facing Port Phillip Bay is partly rocky, with cliffs and slopes of Pleistocene dune calcarenite and unconsolidated Holocene dune sand. Between Portsea and Observatory Point the beach dunes are backed by bluffs, which mark an earlier cliffed coastline that was cut into the dune calcarenite.
The southern or ocean side of Point Nepean is dominated by cliffs cut into the Pleistocene dunes, with overlying unconsolidated Holocene dunes. Rising sea levels since the last glacial period have resulted in active erosion of the Bass Strait coastline producing indented beaches and shore platforms. There are also various kinds of potholes scoured out by wave abrasion and excavated from the soil pipes associated with ancient soils (Palaeosols) that outcrop in the cliffs and on the shore platforms.
Much of the area is covered with closed scrub less than 5m tall and low open or closed forest where vegetation is up to 10m in height. Dominant plants in these communities are coast tea-tree (Leptospermum laevigatum) and moonah (Melaleuca lanceolata ssp. lanceolata). Coastal heath and scrub occur on exposed areas such as foredune and cliff communities, and along the Bass Strait coast. Small areas of grassland occur, generally associated with human disturbance. A number of rare plant species occur at the place, including the rare bitter bush (Adriana quadripartita), an uncommon plant in Victoria, and pink fairies (Caladenia latifolia), are now considered rare in the region. Areas immediately around the Quarantine Station are open grassland with plantings of non-indigenous and exotic species.
Point Nepean provides a range of habitats for several arachnid species, including the rare spider Hadrotarsus fulvus, six species of frog, thirteen reptile species, ninety species of birds (fifty of which are recorded as residents or common to the area) and many seasonal visitors. Point Nepean is the site of the only breeding attempt of the Dominican gull (Larus dominicanus) in Port Phillip Bay and is also the habitat for the sooty oystercatcher (Haematopus fuliginosus), and at least seven species of mammal (including three introduced species).
Many Aboriginal sites have been recorded in the nominated area, including at least 74 Aboriginal middens (AAV, 2004; AASC, 2005). It is likely that some of these represent a single occupation event, rather than separate events. A majority of the sites occur in the fore- and backdunes of the Bass Strait coast, with an almost continuous deposit along the length of the coastline. A smaller number of middens also occur along the fore, mid and back dunes of the Port Phillip Bay shoreline (AASC, 2005). The middens predominantly contain rock platform shellfish with some soft shore shellfish. A limited number also contain stone artefacts and charcoal. A single piece of china showing secondary working was located within the former Quarantine area, suggesting that Bunurong people utilised European objects following contact (AASC, 2005). Some middens, particularly at Police Point and along Bass Strait contain in-situ cultural deposit up to 2.2m in depth (AASC, 2005).
Point Nepean is registered by Aboriginal Affairs Victoria as an Aboriginal historical place with contemporary significance to Aboriginal communities in the area. Local Aboriginal people say that Point Nepean was a place of women’s business, of birthing, collecting food, and of rituals for young men.
3 European Settlement
Quarantine Station Landscape, Planning and Layout
The Quarantine Station complex comprises five functional zones, described as precincts by HLA and HLCD (2002):
The cultural landscape of the Quarantine Station extends to the west and south across Point Nepean into areas of bushland. The strong alignment of the main buildings is dominant when viewed from the sea, which, along with the isolation of the site in a natural valley, would have been the most noticeable feature to immigrants arriving at the quarantine station from Port Phillip Bay. Landscape and spatial elements reinforce the social and medical philosophies upon which the layout of the Quarantine Station was based, including the separation of social classes and isolation of more contagious conditions. The location of the medical supervisor's cottage dating to the 1850s, on a rise to the east of the main complex, clearly illustrates the landscape layout and the balance required between separation of staff from potential infection and the need for authority and supervision. Road alignments relating to the historical development of the quarantine station include Ochiltree, Bogle, Coleman and Bates Roads as well as Jackson Road and parts of Frankland’s Drive, with tramway tracks connecting building 61 with an extensive tramway system in the receiving area above the jetty.
Significant plantings (not identified in detail) include avenue plantings of the 1920s along Bogle, Coleman and Bates Roads as well as plantings associated with residences PMQ 1035, 1038 and others at the eastern end of the site on Frankland’s Drive.
Quarantine Station Buildings and Structures
The former Point Nepean Quarantine Station contains relatively intact examples of buildings, planning and layout, which illustrate the approach to quarantine from 1856-1921, including class differentiation and medical developments. The construction periods, building numbers (*) and original names used below are taken from the Conservation Management Plan (HLA and HLCD 2002), which builds on the work of Power (1984) and other authors relating to the quarantine station. For full descriptions refer to the Conservation Management Plan (2002).
The oldest extant building is the 'Shepherd's Hut' (7), a limestone cottage constructed in 1854 over the top of an underground stone structure, used at one stage as a dairy, probably built in the early 1840s, and later used as the Regimental Sergeant Major’s Office. It may be the oldest surviving building on the Mornington Peninsula and is a crucial link to the early European history of Point Nepean, due to its use in both pre and post quarantine station contexts.
Other elements include Heaton’s Monument and the site of the first cemetery. Heaton's Monument, a burial vault and memorial, was built at the request of George Heaton in 1856. It is a rendered brick monument in the rare Victorian Egyptian architectural revival style. Heaton's monument also marks the location of the quarantine station's original cemetery, where some of the victims of the Ticonderoga tragedy were buried.
Buildings surviving from this period include:
Matron’s Cottage (PMQ 1035) 1856-1858
Four Hospitals 2-5 (4, 16, 22, 25) 1858-1859
Kitchen for Hospital No 4 (21) 1858-1859
Bath and Wash House (59) 1866
Kitchen for Hospital No 3 (15) c. 1869
The physical form of the station was largely determined by the location of the Hospitals in proximity to the jetty and Bath and Wash House. These buildings, the former of two storeys the latter of one storey, were constructed in rendered local stone with gabled roofs. The Hospitals were based on colonial barracks designs with two-storey, hipped-roof, timber verandahs, each Hospital having four wards accommodating 25 persons. Each ward featured an attendant’s room and a single fireplace at the gable end. The Bath and Wash House consists of two wings forming a T-shaped plan.
The Matron’s Cottage, originally called Pikes Cottage, was one of three rendered, stone, labourer’s cottages, each consisting of two rooms, which have been extended with timber additions.
Buildings surviving from this period include:
Kitchen for Hospital No 5 (26) c. 1885
Cottage for the Boatman (PMQ 1040) 1888
Medical Superintendents Quarters (71) c. 1890
Medical Superintendents Quarters (PMQ 1038) 1899
Stables associated with PMQ 1038 (73) c. 1900
In general residential buildings erected during this Late Victorian period featured stud-framed weatherboard construction and hipped roofs in the late Georgian tradition. In contrast the functional Kitchen and Stables feature gabled roofs above similar stud-framed construction. Buildings 71 and PMQ 1038 are part of the same building today, the Medical Superintendents Quarters; building 71 displays similar characteristics to the Boatman’s Cottage the whole possibly including part of the original 1854 doctor’s cottage. Overall the Medical Superintendents Quarters is dominated by the use of the fashionable Federation Queen Anne style, as evidenced by the hipped roof, projecting gabled bays with half-timbered gables and a corner gable feature similar to urban exemplars.
Buildings surviving from this period include:
Disinfecting Building and Boiler (84) 1900
Bath Blocks (63 and 64) 1900
Infected luggage receiving store (61) 1900
Clean luggage store (62) 1910-1916
Passenger Waiting Room (58) 1911
Cape Cottage (13) 1912
Second Class Dining Room and Kitchen (18) 1913
Kitchen Store associated with Building 18 (20) c. 1913
Superintendent’s Cottage (PMQ 966) 1916
First Class dining room (3) c. 1916
Kitchen Store for Hospital 4 (19) c. 1916
Visiting Staff Quarters (9) 1916-1917
Administration Building (10) 1916-1917
Store (11) 1916-1917
Isolation Hospital and Ward (65 and 66) 1916-1920
Hospital 1 (1) 1919
Emergency Huts (35-38 and 40-46) 1919
Attendant’s Cottages Nos 1 and 2 (PMQ 1037 and 1041) c. 1920
Stables (33) c. 1920
Inflammable Store (12) c. 1920
Morgue and Mortuary (67) 1921
Attendant’s Cottages Nos 3 & 4 (PMQ 1042 and 1043) c. 1922
Shower Block (60) 1925
Buildings completed by the Victorian Government in 1900, before Commonwealth control, were in fair-face, red brick of high quality. The Disinfecting and Bathing Complex (the first in Australia and the model for Commonwealth Quarantine Stations after 1912) and the contemporary Boiler House were executed in fair-face, red brick in the style adopted for many industrial buildings at the end of the nineteenth century. Building 84, the Boiler House, included a disinfecting chamber, manufactured by Geneste-Herscher in Europe. According to Power (1984: section 7.4.3) the two extant disinfecting machines in the building were installed by 1912. The larger machine may have been installed in the earlier, adjacent, disinfecting building before completion of the new Disinfecting Building in 1900. The smaller chamber was installed in 1912 and appears to be identical to others installed by the Commonwealth during the Federal upgrading program after 1910.
Building 61, the Infected luggage receiving store, was erected in 1900 in stud-framed weatherboard with a complex, hipped and gabled, corrugated galvanized iron roof, a pattern followed for the most part by the Commonwealth Government after 1910. Tramway tracks connect the building with an extensive tramway system in the receiving area above the jetty.
Also a feature of the former Quarantine Station is the crematorium (85). This is a red brick structure, possibly erected as early as c.1900. The brick is covered with cream render, and has a cast iron grate over an opening at the top, as well as a cast iron entry gate (this structure is omitted from the Conservation Management Plan (2002)).
Under the Commonwealth, from 1910, new built fabric at the station began to reflect the generic approach adopted by the Commonwealth Architect to the provision of new buildings required by the Army and other, new Commonwealth functions, such as quarantine, formerly managed by each state (Hobbs 2004).
The generic architectural standards employed by the Commonwealth for the Army was also reflected in many of the building types erected at Point Nepean Quarantine Station after 1910, including housing types. The last buildings erected by the Victorian Government may have been the Infected luggage receiving store (61) 1900, the Clean luggage store (62) 1910-1916 and the Passenger Waiting Room (58) 1911.
From 1912 the Commonwealth took greater responsibility for the design and erection of its buildings. Functional structures were generally stud-framed weatherboard with gabled, pitched roofs and gable ventilators, the roofs being covered with corrugated galvanized iron. Windows were generally a combination of hopper and casement. Although cottages erected c. 1916 were hip-roofed, weatherboard cottages erected in the 1920s featured gabled roofs with small skillion verandahs and end wall chimneys continuing the Georgian tradition in their simple lines and basic symmetry.
The Emergency Huts (35-38 and 40-46) erected in 1919 form a small group, and part of the isolation area separated from the main complex. This group of rectangular huts feature board and batten construction below pitched roofs covered with corrugated galvanized iron. Windows were generally double hung. The buildings were intended as portable structures. It is of interest to note that the overall design, although generic, appears to be similar to that for P-type Army huts, which was based on British models. However, further research is needed to clarify the origin of the design.
Buildings erected from c. 1912-1925 reflect the development of a Commonwealth vernacular style based on gabled, weatherboard, stud-framed construction and the use of proprietary building materials such as corrugated galvanized iron and asbestos cement sheeting.
The Quarantine Station contextual landscape also includes the second cemetery near Observatory Point, as well as possible archaeological evidence of the Cattle Quarantine Station and the Leper Station.
Fortifications and Defence Training The entrance to Port Phillip Bay, in particular South Channel, was defended from the 1880s by overlapping fields of fire from South Channel Fort, Swan Island, Queenscliff and Point Nepean, the system providing a first line of defence. Surviving fabric at Point Nepean clearly illustrates the implementation and operation of the fortifications, although demolition and adaptation have reduced the intactness of some structures. Significant fortification sites include Fort Nepean, Eagles Nest, Fort Pearce and Pearce Barracks, erected during five development phases.
Point Nepean, the first fort, was developed as follows: pre-1880 temporary fortifications; 1880-1886 5 emplacements; 1887-1890 converted and extended to a combination of 10 observation posts and batteries; 1910-1915 reduction in armaments; and 1939-1945 conversion to hooded emplacements and other uses. Surviving fabric at Fort Nepean includes brick and concrete gun emplacements 1-8, the Engine House and the site of the Barracks, dating to the period 1882-1891. Eagles Nest was begun in 1888, Fort Pearce in 1910 and Pearce Barracks in 1911 (Historic Buildings Branch 1990). The fortifications at Point Nepean should be considered as one component in the system of outer defences for Port Phillip Bay, in the same way that the defences of Port Jackson developed from the early 1800s in response to perceived geo-political and military threats. By 1890 munitions included the ‘latest’ hydro-pneumatic weapons (a single Armstrong 9.2 inch disappearing gun), quick firing smaller guns and 6 inch garrison guns, although some muzzle loading pieces were still in evidence. The nature of the terrain at Point Nepean determined the design of the fort layout and its construction, and later development, including the use of brick. For further details of the forts and batteries refer to the Conservation Plan (Historic Buildings Branch 1990).
Officer Cadet School (OCS) structures within the Quarantine Station and within the Commonwealth Area are included as background information for management purposes,
Closely associated with the former Quarantine Station are two buildings (5, 6) constructed for Officers Accommodation, and Badcoe Hall (8), also constructed in 1963. Outside the former Quarantine Station the Army has established a number of buildings, structures and training ranges since the 1950s. Those associated with the former OCS cantonment (Norris Barracks) include: the gymnasium (building 14), constructed in 1965; training shelters, buildings 28-31, constructed in the 1970s; the Transport Office (former Stables) (building 33), constructed around 1965; Magazine (building 47), date unknown; and classrooms (buildings 49-53), established in the 1970s. Also included are the POL Store (55), Administration building (57), RAEME Workshops (76), Q Store Offices (9), Garage/Fire Station (83), Boiler Room (87) and Guard House (89), all constructed at some stage in the 1960-1975 period.
The Point Nepean ‘Commonwealth Area’ (about 293ha, 1km west of Portsea comprising Commonwealth land between Portsea and Point Nepean, entered in the Commonwealth Heritage List, data base no: 105579) also contains a number of military training ranges, established from the 1950s, designed to assist with the combat and skills training of students in the Army Officer Cadet School. The Unit Range, the 25 Metre Range, the 300 Yard Range, the Grenade Range, the Anti-Tank Range and the Spectator’s Ridge Range are all well preserved and intact examples of Australian military training ranges from the 1950s and 1960s. These ranges and structures assisted cadets with vital training for their future roles as leaders of the Australian Army, including missions overseas. Of the many military training facilities located at Point Nepean, one, the Unit Range, is in close proximity to Norris Barracks. The Unit Range is a general purpose training range, closest to the barracks area. Buildings at this range include Store House (building 95), Control Tower (96), Store (97) and NBC Shed (98). It is uncertain when these buildings were constructed.
During the Pleistocene, the Mornington Peninsula was a range of hills separating the drainage of the Port Phillip and Western Port trunk streams which flowed across the broad alluvial valleys present in these sunklands (Tardis Enterprises Pty Ltd, 2002:3). Sea levels began to rise after 18,000 BP and it is likely that Port Phillip became inundated about 10,000 BP, with the highest sea-level reached at about 5000-6000 BP (Sullivan, 1981:3). The time before inundation was remembered in Aboriginal oral tradition, with Aboriginal people recalling when Hobsons Bay was a kangaroo ground, and when the River Yarra went out at the heads before the sea broke in (Hull, 1858:12 cited in Sullivan, 1981:4).
The Bunurong (also spelt Boon wurrung) people occupied Mornington Peninsula when the first Europeans entered Port Phillip Bay. Initial contacts with the Bunurong people around the Port Phillip Bay area probably occurred from the late 1790’s by sealers and whalers in Bass Strait (Tardis Enterprises Pty Ltd, 2002:23). Western Port, to the east, was reportedly regularly visited by sealers and in the 1820’s it was noted that a party of sealers living on Phillip Island had managed to carry off some Aboriginal women from the mainland (Sullivan, 1981:14). The first recorded contact with Aboriginal people in Port Phillip Bay apparently occurred on 17 February 1802, somewhere in the general vicinity of Sullivan’s Bay (Coutts, 1981: 25 referring to Boys 1935:11). About 20 Aboriginal people met Lieutenant Murray’s party, but following exchanges, there was a skirmish in which an Aborigine was killed. Six weeks later, Flinders, in HMS Investigator, entered Port Phillip Bay, unaware of the earlier visit, and stayed approximately two weeks (Sullivan, 1981:13). Flinders had many encounters with Aboriginal people during the survey of Port Phillip Bay in late April-early May 1802 (refer Flinders Journal and Flannery, 2000).
There are few early historical accounts of Aboriginal people, mainly restricted to distant sightings of groups of people, their fires, huts and camps (Sullivan, 1981:13). Among the most reliable informants was William Thomas, appointed as Assistant Protector of Aboriginals under the Protector G. A. Robinson in 1839. His journals provide information on population numbers, movements and the hunter-gatherer lifestyle, with few details on religious and ceremonial life. He described regular routes of movement, including trips around Mornington Peninsula (Sullivan, 1981:29).
In the 1800’s J. L. Currie, who had a property at Larra near Mount Elephant procured the meaning of place names from Aboriginal people in south western Victoria. Apparently the Aboriginal word 'Boon-Tal-Ang' refers to the locality of present-day Point Nepean:
"The word signifies a kangaroo hide, its triangular shape and the peculiar and similar shape of the land terminating in the Point having apparently given the name" ("Ballarat Star" 8th June 1864).
According to Thomas, by the 1850s only 28 or less Bunurong people survived, and Bunurong people were last seen around the southern part of Mornington Peninsula in 1856. Some people continued to live on a reserve at Mordialloc to the 1870s (Byrne, 1932:183; Sullivan, 1981:18). Today, Bunurong people have strong connections with Point Nepean.
2 European History
European Exploration and Early Settlement
In February 1802 Lt John Murray of the ‘Lady Nelson’ was one of the first Europeans to enter Port Phillip Bay, upon which the city of Melbourne is now situated. Robert Brown, a botanist who accompanied Matthew Flinders on his voyage to Australia in 1802, collected some of the earliest type specimens of Victorian plant species at Point Nepean.
Occasional sealers and boat crews visited the area sporadically, while permanent official settlement in the area did not occur until 1835, when John Batman established a small township at Port Phillip, later to become known as Melbourne. By 1837 the Mornington Peninsula, including Point Nepean, was part of a large squatting lease, owned by Parramatta overlander Edward Hobson, sold on to Bunting Johnstone in 1843. With the subsequent discovery of good lime deposits European settlement became further established in the area. As Melbourne grew, demand for construction lime was high. Limestone quarrying and burning was thus an important early industry for the residents of Portsea / Point Nepean. James Sandle Ford was the first permanent settler at Point Nepean, arriving in 1842. He was followed by the Sullivan, Skelton and McGrath families. These families were all engaged in lime burning and farming. By 1845, 17 lime kilns were operating in Portsea, Sorrento and surrounding areas. From the 1840s, lime-burning became the main industry, the relatively remote area supplying Melbourne with both lime and building stone by sea. When limestone deposits were discovered closer to Melbourne, the industry waned. However, the remoteness of the area, and its location at the seaward entrance to Port Phillip Bay, would result in more strategic uses associated with quarantine and defence (Point Nepean Commonwealth Area AHDB No 105579) and with recreational use during the second half of the twentieth century.
Early Australian quarantine processes, originated in England, where the first Quarantine Act was declared in 1710, to control the movement of people and diseases to and from previously isolated areas of the globe. Australia's first Quarantine Act was passed by the NSW government in 1832, in response to an outbreak of cholera in Europe. Australia's first permanent quarantine station was established at North Head in Sydney. In Victoria, quarantine was governed by the NSW Act until 1865, when the Victorian Parliament passed the Victorian Public Health Act 1865, further refined by the Health Act 1890. At Federation, quarantine became a task for the Commonwealth Department of Health, but operated under state legislation until the Commonwealth passed the Quarantine Act 1909 (Point Nepean Commonwealth Area AHDB No 105579).
Quarantine processes in Victoria were mostly ad hoc in the 1840s, with temporary sites at Point Ormond and Hobson's Bay being used. By 1851 the influx of gold-rush immigrants prompted the establishment of a permanent quarantine station in the colony, and Point Nepean was selected, due to its isolation, good soil, fresh water, and a good anchorage. In early 1852 funding was allocated to the erection of a 'sanatorium' at Point Nepean (Point Nepean Commonwealth Area AHDB No 105579).
The introduction of assisted migration in the late 1840s, coupled with the discovery of gold in 1851, resulted in nearly 100,000 migrants arriving in Melbourne by sea in 1852, in one of the greatest gold rushes in history. Point Nepean replaced Point Ormond as the Quarantine Station in Victoria, and was opened as a maritime quarantine reserve in 1852, following the scare caused by the arrival of the ship ‘Ticonderoga’, carrying scarlet fever and typhoid, and used for quarantine purposes as the major point of entry for quarantine cases in Victoria until 1980. Approved by Governor La Trobe, the boundaries were set out on 22 November 1852 and gazetted on 23 November 1852. Lime-burning licences were cancelled in December 1852. Initially some 40 persons were housed in tents. The ‘Lysander’, fitted out as a hospital ship, was sent from Melbourne on 6 November 1852. Stonemasons among the migrants were employed to erect a stone cottage near the pre-existing Sullivan’s Cottage. The first permanent hospital buildings were erected from 1854 by the newly elected Colonial Government - Victoria had separated from NSW in 1851. The Colonial Architect was requested to provide a ‘plain plan or sketch of a large airy barracks or depot’. Alfred Scurry, Clerk of Works for the Geelong Office of the Public Works Department, designed the hospital buildings erected in the 1850s (HLA and HLCD 2002).
By 1854, several buildings had been constructed and were in full use, including a timber doctor's home, a hospital, the original stone Sullivan's cottage, a number of prefabricated iron cottages and a pier. A small 'Shepherd's Hut', a 'wattle and daub' shack, was already present on site when the Quarantine Station was established. Beneath this hut was a cellar, or underground dairy, thought to have been constructed in the early period of European settlement. A limestone cottage was built over the top of this cellar, replacing the earlier shack, in 1854. The first cemetery operated near the station complex, for victims of the Ticonderoga disaster, from 1852-1854, being replaced by a new cemetery located some distance to the west of the quarantine station. This second cemetery was also used by local residents, until the opening of a new general cemetery at Sorrento in 1890. By 1859 the Quarantine Station's major buildings, five two-storey limestone hospitals, were in use (Point Nepean Commonwealth Area AHDB No 105579). The original hospital building was replaced as a hospital in 1859, being used as a store before its demolition c. 1875. A new stone store erected c. 1855, close to the foreshore and jetty, but was demolished c. 1910. By 1856 the site also included a building known as ‘Dr William’s old hut’ near the eastern boundary as well as police barracks. From 1856-1858, George Heaton, a lime-burner from Rye, was employed as a supervisor on the new hospital buildings. The Heaton Monument (a burial vault) was erected by 1858 on the site of the first cemetery, although Heaton was never buried in the vault (HLA and HLCD 2002).
On 31 March 1871, the 1,400 acres of the Quarantine Station were reserved for sanatorium purposes. The order for the permanent reserve, dated 21 June 1871, incorporated the site of the original police barracks at the Station within its boundary. However, by 1877, the Quarantine Station Reserve was reduced in area to 987 acres, when a Defence Reserve was created at the headland (HLA and HLCD 2002). Labourer’s quarters were located immediately west and south of the hospital quarantine barracks.
The Quarantine Station expanded slowly, with a leper station (eventually transferred to Coode Island near Melbourne in 1898), cemetery, slaughter yard, cattle quarantine station (1878) and consumptives (tuberculosis) camp the main additions before 1900. After 1900, a large bathing and disinfecting complex was erected close to the jetty, becoming a model for later developments under the Commonwealth. At the completion of these changes Point Nepean was regarded as an exemplar of quarantine station design in Australia (Point Nepean Commonwealth Area AHDB No 105579 and Power 1984). According to Power the first years of the twentieth century marked the second-most important period in the station’s development. The upgrading was in response to the impact of overseas developments, outbreaks of plague in Asia, and the strong influence of Victoria’s Chief Public Health Official, Dr Astley Gresswell (Power 1984).
Power (1984) notes that quarantine in Victoria came under the NSW Quarantine Act 1832 until Victoria enacted a Constitution in 1855. The Victorian Public Health Act 1865 was the first quarantine legislation enacted in Victoria, but was essentially similar to the NSW Act. In 1890 the Victorian Health Act 1890 was repealed consolidating all laws relating to Public Health. The Victorian act remained in force until 1908, despite federation, when the question of federal and State jurisdictions was brought into question when the steamer Irishman was placed in quarantine in 1912.
Responsibility for quarantine was taken over by the federal government under the Commonwealth Quarantine Act 1908 (Power 1984). After World War One, over 120,000 people were examined at Point Nepean, many of them ex-servicemen returning from overseas duty, and 12 small timber wards were erected, along with a new administration complex and isolation wards (1916-1920). However, the quarantine station changed little after 1920, due to a gradual decline in Australia's quarantine requirements, and by 1957 was used infrequently, officially closing in 1980.
By the 1950s quarantine needs were in decline, Defence being given permissive occupancy of some buildings for an Officer Cadet School in 1952. From 1954 the Army held 453 hectares, leaving only some 83 hectares for use by the Department of Health.
In 1860, Victoria applied to the British Government for the services of an officer of the Royal Engineers to superintend the erection of defences. Captain Peter Scratchley was appointed and advised the provision of batteries in Hobson’s Bay and at the Heads, including Point Nepean. The use of Point Nepean for defence purposes began in the 1870s, when the final departure of British Imperial troops left military defence in the hands of the Australian colonies.
Russian activity against Turkey in 1877 prompted a team of Royal Engineers to report on the Australian colonies in 1877. British fortifications expert General Sir William Jervois RE (Royal Engineers) and Lt Colonel Peter Scratchley inspected each colony's defences, leading to the Jervois-Scratchley reports of 1877, which were to form the basis of defence planning in Australia for the next 30 years. The reports suggested that Port Phillip Bay should be defended by a battery and keep at Queenscliff, a fort at Point Nepean and batteries at Swan Island and South Channel Island. The European crisis of 1882, when it seemed that Britain would be involved in a major war, was decisive in encouraging Victoria to build defences, although preparations for defence appear to have started as early as 1878. Guns were in place by 1886 at Fort Nepean and in 1888, Eagles Nest battery was implemented and new barracks erected at Fort Nepean. Fort Nepean was known in the 1880s as Victoria’s ‘Gibraltar’ and in 1890 it was reported that Melbourne was the best-defended commercial city of the [British] Empire. The men who manned the guns at Point Nepean were brought from Queenscliff by launch, although the accommodation was considered poor. Fort Pearce was completed from 1910-1916 by the Commonwealth government (Historic Buildings Branch 1990).
John Monash (later Sir) was attached to the [Melbourne] Garrison Artillery, focused on Fort Nepean. Monash rose through the ranks to become its commanding officer by 1897. Monash’s biographer, Geoffrey Serle, saw this as crucial to his success as commander of Australian Forces in WW1. It is thought that the first shot fired by Australian forces in WW1 was at the German steamer ‘Pfalz’, which left Port Phillip during the declaration of war on 5 August 1914. During the Second World War 1939-45 the defences were strengthened, with the Port War Signal Station located at Cheviot Hill. The first British shot of the Second World War is also attributed to Point Nepean, when, on 4 September 1939, a small Bass Strait freighter, the ‘Woniora’, failed to identify itself, resulting in a warning shot. (Historic Buildings Branch 1990).
The Department of Defence was given permissive occupancy of some of the quarantine station buildings for an Officer Cadet School in 1952, following the introduction of National Service. Internationally acknowledged from 1957, the Cadet School (Norris Barracks) remained in use until 1984, training over 3,000 junior officers for the Army. The School of Army Health moved to the site in 1985 (HLCD and HLA 2002).
Recreation Cheviot Beach, on the south-western shore of Point Nepean, is significant as the place from which Australian Prime Minister, Harold Holt, disappeared whilst swimming in heavy surf on 17 December 1967.
Despite a major search his body was never found. His memorial service in St Paul's Cathedral, Melbourne, on 22 December was attended by US President L.B. Johnson, the Prince of Wales, UK Prime Minister Harold Wilson and other heads of state and government.
Holt had served for ten years as Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party under Menzies and took over as Prime Minister in 1966 following Menzies’ retirement and later that year won a sweeping victory at the polls on the issue of support for the Australian and United States involvement in the Vietnam War. Holt’s disappearance was a shocking and mysterious event in the history of Australian politics (http://www.nma.gov.au/primeministers/index.htm)
|Condition and Integrity|
In 1981 the condition of Aboriginal middens within the nominated area was described as generally poor, primarily due to erosion. However, subsequent inspections of the Defence lands (Tardis Enterprises Pty Ltd, 2002; AASC, 2005) suggest that sites in this area may be comparatively well preserved within the context of the greater Melbourne region.
Refer to Norris Barracks, Former Portsea Quarantine Station, CMP Part 1, for Department of Defence, Disposals and Infrastructure, 2002, by HLA and HLCD.
Externally most buildings are intact, with the majority of changes limited to internal adaptation for Defence use since 1952. New buildings and landscaping have also been implemented, reinforcing the change of use to Officer Cadet School. Refer to Norris Barracks, Former Portsea Quarantine Station, CMP Part 1, for Department of Defence, Disposals and Infrastructure, 2002, by HLA and HLCD for more details.
For condition and integrity refer to Point Nepean National Park Fortifications: conservation plan, Historic Buildings Branch, Ministry of Housing and Construction, Victoria, 1990.
Natural Environment The boundary of the Point Nepean NHL is encompassed by two different tenures, these being the Commonwealth land formerly owned by Department of Defence, which also encompasses the Quarantine Station; and western portions of the Mornington Peninsula National Park.
The National Park is managed by Parks Victoria, who actively manage fire, pest plants and animals, and visitor management. Threats to vegetation within the Park include soil disturbance form recreation activities, inappropriate fire regimes, invasion by weeds, and dune destabilization of coastal communities.
Fire is uncommon in the coastal areas of the National Park, and a low fire incidence at Point Nepean in years prior to 1996 resulted in the reduction of grassy woodland and an increase of dense tea-tree and other woody shrubs. The distribution and abundance of coast tea-tree has also increased in the Commonwealth owned land and is possibly related to the cessation of slashing by the Department of Defence. Weed infestation of some species is also increasing. Several serious environmental weeds are also recorded in the National Park, and include wandering creeper (Tradescantia albiflora), myrtle-leafed milkwort (Polygala myrtifolia) and Italian buckthorn (Rhamnus alaternus), among others.
Limited access to the Commonwealth Area has reduced disturbance levels compared to the adjoining national park, and is a strong factor in the retention of dune vegetation and in the attractiveness of the place to beach-dwelling birds.
Foxes and rabbits are widespread over most the area. Starlings and blackbirds are found in open grassy areas and coastal scrub adjoining buildings around the Quarantine Station.
The coastal dunes and cliffs are susceptible to erosion, although natural dune blow-outs seem to have decreased since stabilization and revegetation works were undertaken. The Point Nepean heads are exposed to considerable wave and wind forces, and seawalls have been put in place to control erosion.
Information taken from the Quarantine Station and Surrounds NHL Nominator statement, July 2004, and from the Mornington Peninsula National Park Draft Management Plan, November 1996.
About 530ha, 1km west of Portsea, comprising an area bounded
by a line commencing at the intersection of Mornington Peninsula National Park
and Point Nepean Road at approximate AMG point 299220mE 5756120mN, then
southerly and westerly via the Park boundary to its intersection with the
coastline at approximate AMG point 298180mE 5754980mN, then westerly, northerly
and easterly via the HWM to its
intersection with the Commonwealth Land boundary at approximate AMG point
299300mE 5756380mN, then southerly via the Commonwealth Land boundary to the
point of commencement.|
Point Nepean Area (RNE 5810, CHL 105680)
Point Nepean Commonwealth Area (RNE 103298, CHL 105579)
Point Nepean Quarantine Station (former) (RNE 103718, CHL 105611)
Quarantine Wards, Kitchen’s and Heaton’s Monument (RNE 5805, CHL 105177)
Blake Molyneux & Associates, Camp Quaranup, Albany, National Estate (NEGP) study report, 1977.
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Aboriginal Affairs Victoria, database report and correspondence, 1 December 2004.
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Bird, E.C.F., 1993. The Coast of Victoria – the Shaping of Scenery. Melbourne University Press, Melbourne.
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Accessed 22 June 2005
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Report Produced Fri Dec 13 14:07:36 2013