From Quarantine to Q Station

ABOUT From Quarantine to Q Station

  • Location
    North Head, Sydney
  • Designer / Architect
    Godden Mackay Logan
  • Completion
    25 April 2008

The Quarantine Station Lease Area is located on North Head, a sandstone cliff towering 80 metres above sea level at the entrance to Sydney Harbour. It commands spectacular vistas across North Harbour, Port Jackson and Sydney Harbour.

Due to its historical use for quarantine and present management as a national park, there has been minimal urban development in the area. As a result, there is considerable biodiversity including several rare plant and animal species surviving within North Head and the Quarantine Station.

Before the development of modern medicine, infectious diseases posed a major public health threat. The only known means of protecting communities from outbreaks was to isolate sufferers and those with whom they had been in contact with. For immigrants in the nineteenth and early twentieth century who had already endured a long voyage to Australia, quarantine could be a frightening and traumatic experience. Some children left the Quarantine Station as orphans, some women as widows, alone in a strange country without support.

From 1830 to 1984 migrant ships arriving in Sydney with suspected contagious disease stopped inside North Head and offloaded passengers and crew into quarantine to protect local residents.

The site was extensive and contained, so that it operated like its village. There was even a post office on the site.

1500 historic inscriptions are made in the sandstone around the site from the residents during their stay. Many people did not make it past quarantine, which of course to this day, there is a great energy and eeriness about the site.

The National Parks and Wildlife Authority who owned the land, put the property out for an ‘adaptive re-use’ tender. The Mawland Holdings Group, run by Max Player was the preferred tenderer based on the success of their previous adaptive re-use projects, which includes Lilianfels Hotel & Spa in the Blue Mountains.

Maxton Fox were engaged by Mawland to assist in the redevelopment throughout the entire site from preserving the originality of the structures, to maintaining the ethos and aesthetics to suit the site, as well as deliver against the long term objectives of turning the Q Station into a self-sufficient tourism and historic destination for all types of local and international visitors.

The Mawland Holdings Group engaged heritage architectural practice Godden Mackay Logan to guide the teams through the project from concept planning to planning permission.

Maxton Fox worked throughout the site delivering joinery and furniture from the Boiler House Restaurant, to the dining halls and each of the 60 rooms on the site.

Thanks to Mawland’s impressive restoration of the site, the once derelict Quarantine Station has been given new life as the ‘Q Station’; a name that recognises the site’s contemporary functions whilst honouring its past.

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