Thoughts on the former Stables

There is a published photo of the former Stables of the North Head Quarantine Station in the two-page spread of the 3 February 1900 issue of Australian town and country journal. Called the Front line of defence, it portrays Australia’s deep anxiety about the arising of the bubonic plague in Sydney, an age-old disease that once threatened to destroy European civilisation during the 14th century. In England, for example, over a third of the population died of the plague between ?

In Jean Duncan Foley’s In quarantine, the only authoritative book on the North Head Quarantine Station to have come out so far, it is mentioned on page ? that experiments on vaccines against the plague were carried out at the former Stables, with horses as the subjects. It is important to remember that discovery of vaccine against any deadly infectious disease of the time, such as bubonic plague and smallpox, was a question of national importance that triggered competition among the medical scientists of different countries. On top of the reality of nationalism in vaccine development – regardless of the fact it is for the common good of humanity -, it is not difficult to imagine that biosecurity played a great role in these experiments.


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