Influenza quarantine camp 1919

Influenza quarantine camp at Wallangarra, Queensland, 1919. John Oxley Library,
State Library of Queensland, negative number 67478

The Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918-1920 spread rapidly throughout the globe and lasted some 2 years or more.  500,000 million people, about one third of the world’s population at the time, were infected and at least 50,000 million died worldwide, more people than in the Great War.  15,000 Australians died which was one of the lowest death rates from the disease. 

At the end of January 1919 authorities made the drastic decision to suddenly close the New South Wales and Queensland border to stop the spread of the deadly Spanish Flu into the northern state.  They just shut it at 2pm on a day at the end of January leaving people stranded both sides of the border.  Quarantine camps were established where people could be vaccinated and quarantined for 7 days to ensure they were showing no signs of the flu. 

Closer to home the Brisbane Courier of 6th March 1919 reported “…Mrs. Wilcox, wife of the manager of Silverwood Dairy Co.’s store at Dayboro, returned home to Dayboro last Wednesday, after an absence of nearly two months.  Mrs. Wilcox was holidaying in Sydney when the influenza epidemic broke out, and consequently she was detained in Sydney, but by undergoing seven days’ quarantine at the border was enabled to return home last week…”  

The quarantine camps at Rainbow Bay and Wallangarra were far from being 4 and 5 star accommodation.  The exact date of the border’s full reopening is not known.