The Dayman Island Lazaret, in the Torres Strait, was established in 1889 as a leprosarium for non-European sufferers of leprosy. It was run by the Queensland government and closed in 1892. Remaining patients were moved to Friday Island.
The Dayman Island facility received non-European patients, the majority of which were Chinese. South Sea Islander and Chinese people who were thought to carry and spread leprosy, consequently they were removed to the isolated and uninhabited island.
Dayman Island was a Lazaret in name only. The patients were abandoned on Dayman Island and left to fend for themselves. In Going to the Gums: the lazaret on Peel Island (2007), Dr Hugo Ree writes:
The men were provided with food, seeds, fishing tackle and some tools; two military tents were put up for their accommodation. The steamer that had brought them then sailed away.
The passing of the Leprosy Act of 1892 resulted in the estabishment of two leprosariums; one on Friday Island for non-Europeans and the other on Stradbroke Island for Europeans. The patients on Dayman Island were transferred to Friday Island.
Sources used to compile this entry: 'Fantome Island Lock Hospital and Lazaret Sites (former)', in Queensland Heritage Register, Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (EHP), 30 June 2015, https://environment.ehp.qld.gov.au/heritage-register/detail/?id=602798; Bryce, R , Ryan, T, Van Willigen, G, Opala, R, Venner, R, Friends of Peel Island, Going to the gums: the lazaret on Peel Island, Friends of Peel Island Association Inc, Cleveland DC, 2009, 70 pp; Intended solely for their greater comfort and happiness: Historical archaeology, paternalism and the Peel Island Lazaret, 1999, http://espace.library.uq.edu.au/eserv/UQ:190067/the13923.pdf.
Prepared by: Lee Butterworth
Created: 12 December 2013, Last modified: 20 June 2014