Quarantine Station Manly
Enjoy the views across the harbour at Quarantine Station
The Quarantine Station Manly, now known as Q Station, was Australia’s longest running Quarantine Station. The site operated as a Quarantine Station from 1833 to 1984. It’s aim was to stop anyone immigrating to Australia from bringing in diseases such as typhus and the plague.
If a boat was suspected of carrying passengers with communicable diseases it was required to stop at the Quarantine Station for 40 days. A Customs Officer would inspect each boat, so there was no escape for people aboard a boat that was carrying ill passengers.
Today the Q Station is listed on both State and Commonwealth heritage registers as an important Aboriginal, natural and cultural site. The site primarily operates as a hotel and restaurant precinct, but the area is free for visitors to explore for the day and there are some truly fascinating things to discover here!
Visitors are able to explore the area on their own, or you may wish to do a paid tour. Tours need to be booked at reception and costs are from $18.00.
Read on to find out what you can do at Quarantine Station for FREE.
1. Stop by Reception
If you are arriving by car or bus, make sure to start your day at Q Station Reception. Here you’ll find some super friendly staff to help you find your way around. Grab a map from here and ask the staff any questions you have.
Awesomely you can park for free..
There is a free shuttle that will take you from reception to the bottom of the Station if you wish. It is quite a walk around the site, so you may wish to shuttle down and walk back (or vice versa!). The shuttle back is a good option as you won’t have to walk back up the hill.
2. Explore the Historic Buildings
Many of the buildings are still painted in their original yellow colour
Scattered all around the site are amazing historic buildings. Many of these are open to the public to explore and enjoy. You’ll be able to see some impressive old structures including the First Class Quarters, Shower Room, Gravedigger’s Cottage and Hospital.
You will notice that many of the buildings are a yellow colour. This is in keeping with their original colour, along with the heavy window panes and high ceilings.
One of the eeriest sections of the site is the Decontamination Room and Shower Room. It was in these areas that people were ‘decontaminated’ with chemicals. Crowds of people were ushered in here together and forced to shower under a chemical spray. You can only imagine how traumatic that must have been. You will find these at the bottom of the site, near the Visitors Centre. You will also find an autoclave which disinfected the passengers bags.
Make sure to also stop by the hospital which is said to be haunted! Ghost Tours run if you are interested (additional costs apply).
The shower room and autoclave give a real sense of how grim it must have been here
3. Explore the Visitors Centre, Museum and Cafe
The museum and Visitors Centre offers great insight into life in the Quarantine Station
The Q Station Visitors Centre is home to a Cafe, Museum and also a Tours Desk. Make sure to stop by here to check out the museum; it has some really fascinating stuff to see including mock bedrooms, luggage and other artifacts of the era.
If you arrive by Ferry, make sure the Visitors Centre is your first stop so that you can collect a map.
You can also grab snacks, drinks and ice-creams from here. But please note that you will be paying ‘tourist’ prices. So bring some water and snacks with you.
The Visitors Centre Museum contains some really interesting artifacts
Just behind the Visitors Centre, make sure to look for the sandstone rocks that have been inscribed by many of the people who were interred at the Quarantine Station. There are approximately 1,600 inscriptions left by some of the 16,000 people who spent time at the Station.
The inscriptions which are all around North Head tell many fascinating stories of Quarantine Station
4. Spot a Bandicoot
Quarantine Station Manly is also home to Eastern Long-Nosed Bandicoots
Q Station is home to a population of Eastern Long-Nosed Bandicoots.
These guys are endangered so it is amazing to see them up close and (pretty much) in the wild. They generally come out at dusk and night, so you’ll have the most chance of spotting one if you are staying in the hotel or staying for dinner.
5. Go for a swim at Quarantine Beach
The beautiful Quarantine Beach
Quarantine Beach is a secluded, beautiful small beach located right at the very bottom of the Q Station area. It is a lovely spot to come for a swim, very quiet and peaceful. The beach is actually a part of the Sydney Harbour National Park.
The Visitors Centre hires snorkeling gear for $10.00 if you are keen to do some snorkeling.
Quarantine beach is home to colony of little penguins so the area is closed to the public at sun down. You are unlikely to see them, but I think it is great that all efforts are being made to protect these little guys.
6. Q Station Accommodation
The slightly rustic rooms have amazing views
One of the main attractions of Quarantine Station is its accommodation. There are rooms of several different categories as well as cottages and newly renovated apartments. The rooms are renovated sympathetically, and have a lovely ambiance about them. Note that due to heritage restrictions they do not have air conditioning but a sea breeze and fans should do the trick. The Queen Heritage Rooms are the most basic of the rooms with a detached bathroom, but they are adequate and won’t break the bank!
7. Enjoy a lunch or dinner
There are lots of great food options at the Q Station. Enjoy the Cafe at the Visitors Centre, The Engine Room down on the harbour near Quarantine Beach or the more formal Boilerhouse Restaurant which has great views of the harbour.
Or why not just pack a picnic and enjoy it in the Q Station grounds or on Quarantine Beach.
Getting to Quarantine Station Manly
You can access Q Station via ferry, car or bus. For the best travel details, refer to the Quarantine Station website.
Freedays Summary of Quarantine Station Manly
- Entry: Free
- Toilets: Yes
- Wheelchair friendly: Yes, but note that the site is very steep in parts
- Free carparking: Yes
- Free BBQ facilities: No
- Time to spend here: 1 hour to all day
- Food available: Yes
- Address: 1 North Head Scenic Drive, Manly NSW 2095
- More info: https://www.qstation.com.au/
More Free Things To Do
- Why not check out Sydney’s other amazing and free museums