Smallpox mountain

The early years of the Minguo era of modern Chinese history saw the proliferation of Western-controlled indentured labour offered by Chinese seamen and workers. Given the importance of Sydney as a trading port and Australia’s relative proximity to Asia, these Chinese men were frequent visitors to our shores in the past. As far as archaeological evidence is concerned, the North Head Quarantine Station contains important indicators of these Chinese men’s transient presence on its historic site: engravings and inscriptions of their poetic expressions, composed in their native dialects, recounting their experiences in quarantine. In these inscriptions, they refer to the Quarantine Station as doushan, which means “smallpox mountain”.

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