On 24 July 1857 a ship with 325 immigrants on board left Liverpool bound for Hobart in Tasmania. The majority of passengers were former residents of the Isles of Lewis and Coll. On her arrival in Hobart, it was found that the ship, the Persian, had fallen victim to a deadly outbreak of typhus. She was immediately quarantined.
|The Hobart Town Mercury, Monday 2 November 1857|
The decision was made to send the ship to Impression Bay, about 100 km away on the Tasman Peninsula. In the late 1840s and 1850s the convict station at Impression Bay had been converted into an invalid depot for prisoners in "a most wretched physical condition, blind, maimed, infirm, and debilitated from age, accident, or disease". For the imminent arrival of the Persian, the convict prisoners were moved elsewhere and the depot became a quarantine station with a one mile exclusion zone surrounding the wards.
The Persian left Hobart on the 4th November, and by the following day, the passengers had disembarked.
|The Hobart Town Mercury, Friday 6 November 1857|
|The Hobart Town Mercury, Monday 9 November 1857|
Despite reports in the coming weeks that the typhus had not yet dissipated - new cases of the disease had become a daily event - by the end of December, events had taken a turn for the better. New cases were noted as being of a milder form:
|The Hobart Town Advertiser, January 1858|
Finally the Persian was released from quarantine, free from infection, and allowed to sail away from Impression Bay for journeys new. And the last remaining patients were on the mend. After a disastrous and inauspicious beginning, the immigrants were able to start their new lives.
Alfred Driver - died aged 19 (photo below)
John McKinnon - aged 40 (photo below)
Donald Morrison - aged 38
John McDonald - aged 42 (photo below)
John Morrison - aged 45 (photo below)
Elspeth Morrison - aged 42
John McKinnon - aged 3 days
John McDonald - aged 36
Mary Ann Piper - aged 24
John Spencer - aged 7
Susannah Lee - age 29
|The cemetery at Impression Bay|
Here are photos of just some of the graves. If I had been more forward thinking on my visit there, I would have taken photos of all of them.
|The grave of John McKinnon|
|The grave of Alfred Driver|
|The grave of John Morrison|
|The grave of John McDonald|
These people endured an arduous journey across the world, only to end up overwhelmed by a grievous illness. They were never to start a fresh life in a new land. But this new land provided their final resting place. If you should visit Premaydena, be sure to pay them a visit. Let them see they are not forgotten.