What better way to spend your Halloween evening, than with a midnight tour of The Old Quarantine Station in Manly, Sydney.
Like many, I love a good ghost story. However, I do sit on the fence when it comes to ghosts and I’m probably a little agnostic when it comes to the topic as I neither believe nor disbelieve. But, when I visit old castles in Europe or any old colonial buildings scattered across Australia, I do often pick up on strange feelings of energy that can’t quite be explained.
Is it just energy left over from years of history? Or is there actually something resonating through the walls, trying to make contact?
Whatever it is, with all the places I have ever visited, none of those experiences came close to what I felt when touring the old Quarantine Station of Sydney.
Now referred to as the Q Station, it is located in North Head of Many and is a series of heritage-listed buildings which have now become part of the Sydney Harbour National Park. The complex operated as a quarantine station from 14 August 1832 to 29 February 1984.
The station was created as a means of ensuring anyone arriving from Europe to the new colony of Sydney; who was potentially carrying any contagious disease, were kept in quarantine until they were deemed safe for release, to prevent any spread throughout the new colonies. Unfortunately, for many poor souls the station became their final resting place.
The emotional state of these lost souls resonates deep within the walls of the Q Station as you wander throughout the property.
I did mention earlier that I felt something whilst on the tour, that I had never experienced before. This occurred when we entered the top hospital quarter, where many patients who were suffering from tuberculosis had been treated.
Now, I am no expert when it comes to ghostly encounters and it’s not as though I physically saw a ghost. But, when we entered the top hospital quarter; where many patients who were suffering from tuberculosis were being treated, I did feel an overwhelming sadness that this was the last place I would ever visit.
Within a few minutes of entering the building, I felt the need to sit on one of the old hospital beds (which I normally never would have done). As I sat, I felt my legs go numb. I wasn’t even listening to the guide, as he told tales of the old Q Station. In-fact everything around me was very quiet. Next to me was a window with a clear view of Sydney Harbour, which provided a glorious view of the twinkling lights of Sydney city, including the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge.
I couldn’t bare the sadness, I was almost in tears at the thought that this was it. I would never see Sydney and this would be where I would die. It was a strange sensation.
Finally, I managed to fight back a little and told my partner I needed to get out. He picked me up off the bed and took me outside for fresh air. The moment I was out the doors, I was back to feeling normal. No more sadness, just relief that I got out.
Our tour guide came out to check if I was okay and it was then that I learned many people who visit this part of the station have experienced exactly what I just did.
I don’t know if what I felt was some ghostly presence trying to communicate with me, their last moment of life at the Q station. Or whether the sadness came from awareness of how horrible it must of been, for those who travelled so far for a new life in Australia and never made it out of the quarantine station.
Whatever it was, it made for an interesting Halloween evening and one I will never forget.