Animal Quarantine Station


When Bradley’s Head was chosen as the site of Taronga Zoo, Sydney’s quarantine station for imported animals needed a new home. In 1916, the Commonwealth Government bought a 2.38 hectare site on the Abbotsford Peninsula and officially gazetted it as a quarantine station four years later. The site was originally part of the Hexham Estate, which included a grand house and extensive grounds that swept down to Hen and Chicken Bay.

The Animal Quarantine Station provided accomodation for imported cattle, horses, pigs and dogs. Many valuable racehorses were quarantined there and sometimes more exotic animals. Legend has it that a giraffe is buried on the grounds.

During World War II, the station was closed due to restrictions on livestock importation and the site was used as a military store. After the war ended the quarantine station resumed its original function, much to the dismay of local residents who strongly opposed its reopening. A campaign was started to move the quarantine station out of the area because of its offensive odours, noise from animals, smoke and pollution from the incinerator. However, it was many years before the objections of residents prevailed and the station was moved to Wallgrove in 1980.

In 1981 the site was transferred from Commonwealth ownership to the State Government. Drummoyne Council then landscaped the area for public parkland and it is now known as Quarantine Reserve.

Posted on May 14, 2013, in Abbotsford and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Ian Miles (Queensland) commented:

    I thought to add this to your local history resources about the old Quarantine Station.

    John Hunter was the Grandson of a successful Cotton Factor, James Hunter in London. John would have been influenced in childhood by stories of his uncle James Hunter junior and his second cousin Robert Hunter who had been to Singapore in 1824. Robert went onto Siam and discovered the original Siamese Twins and his son Robert (English Scribe to the King of Siam) is mentioned in The Romance of the Harem by Anna Leonowens (Anna & the King, The King & I). John’s brother in law, Alfred Rider died at Lake Ngami Africa at about the time of immigration and his lithograph is a famous David Livingstone addition to his books on Africa as Livingstone failed to save him. John’s Great Grandfather, Andrew Thomson had been a Tobacco Lord, Virginia Don and Banker.

    John Hunter moved to Adelaide Australia in 1850 on the ‘Richardson’, and then by 1854 lived at Lavender Bay, Blue’s Point, North Sydney. He then moved to Five Dock about 1872. It appears he suffered financially about 1887 and moved to ‘Selma’, 18 John Street Ashfield.

    He lived at ‘Cluthaville’ on Spring Street from the Great North Road to Chicken Hen Bay from about 1872 to 1887. His address is Sands Directory is various from Five Dock to Battersea. I would think the Hunter Street maybe named after him rather than the John Hunter (Second Governor) but that would be more research.

    The Quarantine Reserve was attached to the Hexham Estate (originally known as ‘Cluthaville’ ) located between ‘Hexham’ (The House) and Parramatta River’s Chicken and Hen Bay. Giving the house sweeping views of its gardens and down to the river. The Quarantine Station occupied the site between 1917 and 1980. In 1980 the Abbotsford Quarantine Station was closed and The public have been allowed access to this beautifully landscaped and positioned reserve since 1981 when it was handed over to Council.

    Ian Miles
    Birkdale, Queensland

  2. Hunter Street, Abbotsford was, indeed, named after John Hunter of ‘Cluthaville’. He was an Alderman on Five Dock Council for West Ward in 1876.

  3. In 1894/5 the site is labelled as Blanchlands

    1885 – 1894
    By Higinbotham & Robinson. Contributed by City of Sydney Archives

    Andrew Wilson, Atlas of the Suburbs of Sydney, Dictionary of Sydney, 2012,, viewed 20 February 2016

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