One hundred and fifty years ago, on a sandstone cliff high above Sydney Harbour, Australia, a number of individuals began carving the rocks and making their mark upon the land. The people who made these inscriptions were amongst Australia's first migrants and free settlers who were put in quarantine. The Quarantine Station was established in 1828 to manage and control the spread of infectious diseases in the nascent colony of New South Wales. Who were these people and why were they compelled to mark their presence in stone here? In this paper we explore the words and images inscribed at the North Head Quarantine Station. They are, we suggest, an historical archive of passengers, ship's names, and ports of origin as well as markers of passage and acts of memorialisation. An evocative testimony to lives held in suspension, we discuss also the profound effect of seeing these inscriptions and realising that for some of their makers the journey remained unfulfilled.
|Stockholm Studies in Archaeology
|Published - 2012