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The Lazaret on Peel Island

The Friends of Peel Island Association have generously donated books, artefacts, and other items relating to the Lazaret on Peel Island. Over 52 years, about 500 sufferers of leprosy, or Hansen’s Disease, passed through the Lazaret. Some died, some went into remission and left, and some returned to the island for a second or a third time.

Peel Island (Teerk Roo Ra)

31st May 2007 was the 100th Anniversary of the foundation of the Lazaret on Peel island.  To commemorate the anniversary the Friends of Peel Island Association together with the Redland Museum presented the exhibition “Going to the Gums”.

Patients referred to dying as going to the gums.

As of June 30 2020, Friends of Peel Island has been disbanded, and their archive has been donated to Redland Museum.

Peel Island means different things to different people.  To some, it is a place of natural beauty – a jewel of an island among many found in Moreton Bay.  It is now a national park in recognition of its important cultural as well as natural history.

With its remnants of European history, it is remembered as a prison:  first as a quarantine station for early immigrants, many of whom spent up to three months held on the island after arriving on ships with notifiable diseases such as typhoid, cholera and smallpox.

Later it held patients of many races – notably Caucasians, Chinese, South Sea Islanders, and Aborigines – unfortunate enough to contract Hanson’s Disease (Leprosy).  They were sent to spend their lives in isolation at the island’s Lazaret until they recovered, or not; an untold number are buried in the island’s bush cemetery.

Peel’s Aboriginal history stretches much further back.  It remains a special place for the local traditional owners and their ancestors who used the island as a feasting and ceremonial place for countless centuries.

The Quandamooka People’s traditional rights to the island were recognised in 2011 and the island is now formally known as Teerk Roo Ra.