Like Green Island it is hard to think of Fitzroy Island as anything
but a place to spend a luxurious day relaxing, soaking up the sun
and the tropics, with your greatest concern being which particular
cocktail to have today.
many people have far less idyllic memories of the island. In 1877,
following an outbreak of smallpox on the freighter Somerset, Fitzroy
Island was turned into a quarantine station for Chinese immigrants.
There were racial tensions as there were indications that some of
the settlers did not want the large numbers of Chinese staying in
North Queensland to hunt for gold.
one stage over 3000 Chinese were transported to Fitzroy Island where
they were forced to live in squalid conditions that promoted illness
and death. Every Chinese immigrant was forced to spend 16 days on
the Island. If they showed no signs of illness they could continue
onto the mainland. If they got sick they were detained until they
either got better or died. Whilst records are sketchy it is believed
that hundreds of Chinese were buried on the island.
the quarantine station was closed the people of Cairns started to
visit the island for recreation. This continued on until the Second
World War when the island was converted into a military base.