To service the quarantine station on The Bluff at the eastern end of Peel Island, the building of a stone jetty was commenced by passengers and crew from quarantined ships.
A letter from the Prisons Department on May 30, 1893 is of interest. In answer for a request for prison labour to complete the building of the stone jetty at the quarantine station, the writer agrees that prison labour is possible, but suggests that rather than use prison labour from nearby St Helena as previously proposed, instead 50 short-term prisoners from Brisbane Prison be used, the reason being that so few prisoners were available from St Helena.
The writer also expresses some concern that the prisoners might utilize the remoteness of Peel Island to try to escape and suggests that a concrete cellblock be first erected to house them. No confirmation has been found that the proposals of this letter were carried out, but the cellblock does exist and the jetty was completed. Popular belief supports the proposal that prison labour was used.
For the next 60 years the stone jetty was to be the access point for vessels visiting Peel’s quarantine station and later from 1907 until 1959, the lazaret.
In the 1920s, the lazaret was visited once a week by Dr Linford Row, Medical Superintendent of the Dunwich Benevolent Asylum. This visit he accomplished by boating from Dunwich to the stone jetty at the eastern end of the island and then walking the length of the island to the lazaret. To make this task less burdensome, a horse and dray were shipped across from Dunwich.
In the early 1940s, each patient was allowed two visitors per month, and visitors were required to embark on the government steamer Otter at Brisbane’s North Quay. A two-hour trip down the river followed, then a further long haul across the bay to Peel Island.
A launch would put out from Peel’s stone jetty and take the visitors and stores ashore while the Otter would continue the short distance to Dunwich to unload its cargo of stores for the Benevolent Asylum. After unloading, the Otter would return to Peel where it would pick up the visitors once again.
With such an arrangement, visiting time ashore was restricted to about half an hour. Sadly, after the lazaret’s closure in 1959, the stone jetty gradually deteriorated.