QSwharfth.jpg (4017 bytes)Manly Quarantine Station

Report by Masako Endo
Japan/Australia immigration and trade



in 1999

on site

in the past

Before 1900

1900 - 1920

1920 - 1950

1950 - 1984


People who left their footmarks
in the dawning period of Japan-Australia relations.

Translated from "Journal of the Pacific Society" April Issue, 1979 by courtesy of the Australian Embassy in Tokyo

By Masako Endo

At Manly Quarantine Station I led an isolated life for about two weeks from the end of June 1971, being detained in one of these quarantine wards. It was not because I was suspected of a germ carrier of contageous diease. The fact was that my son, who accompanied me, could not take vaccination due to allergic pre-disposition, which in turn infringed on the then law in this country. That's why my son was bound to be detained in the quarantine ward. I acted with my son as a patroness.

The doctor came to see my son every day in the first week and after that, once in every two days. Besides, two regular nurses took care of us, serving food and making a bed. As personal touch between each detainee was strictly forbidden, strict surveillance was exercised by nurses and officials in charge.

QSJapan.jpg (24019 bytes)
Japanese flag carved in the rock
at the Quarantine Station
Photo : J.Bennett
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Rock cliff top with view up
the Harbour to Sydney central.
Japanese carving in foreground.
Photo : J.Simpson
In the second week of isolation life, we were given an opportunity to inspect the jetty within the quarantine and the tip of a cliff commanding the Pacific Ocean.

A line of sandstone rocks  was observed on the side of the road leading to the jetty. I happened to discover a lot of carvings on the surface of these rocks done by someone. They seemed to have been engraved about 50 - 150 years ago by those people who came to Australia but were detained in the quarantine being suspected of germ carriers of contageous disease.

At first I did not think that I could discover carvings done by some Japanee from among these carvings. Actually, however, I discovered two carvings. They were somewhat poor in workmanship. Furthermore, the carvings done by the Japanese included only the name of the ship the "Nikko Maru" by which they came over to Australia and the Japanese flag.

Upon telling the fact of my disappointment, an official of the quarantine told me that a great number of carvings on a large scale were still found in a rocky place facing the Pacific Ocean. The official was kind enough to take me to that place

The carvings the official showed me were done by either crewmen or passengers of the "Yawata Maru" in 1912, the "Nikko Maru" in 1916 and the "Ishikari Maru" in 1921.

All three ships were owned by Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha. Attention was given, firstly, to the opening of the Australian line of all other ocean lines. The Australian line was opened in 1896. The "Yawata Maru"(3,818 tons) which was built in England, and the "Nikko Maru" (5,539 tons) which was built at Nagasaki were designed to be used for the Australian line.

The company, however, experienced rough going owing to the following reasons :

1. Contrary to their expectation, the planned immigration into Australia from Japan was scarcely realised due largely to the then "White Australia Policy".

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Rock carving by Japanese people detained at the Quarantine Station, 1916
Photo : J.Simpson
2. The return freight to be shipped by these two ships back to Japan from Australia was not sufficient to be profitable : the conference rate was broken and competing firms appeared.

3. A new tariff law was introduced in 1900 by Australia

4. There was a drought in 1902

To make the matter worse, after the outbreak of the Russo-Japanese War in 1904, the above two passenger ships were expropriated by military authorities. Thus the regular service of the Australian line was forced to be suspended less than 10 years after its start.

Trade between Japan and Australia

The age of civilian and military bureaucrats, centring on Toshimitsu Okubo, came. The Government considered promotion of industries as its major task. Attaching special importance to agriculture, cattle breeding and their processing industry, it occasionally sent officials to China, India, the U.S. and Australia for research and investigation. It was also regarded as important to participate in international expositions and to hold industrial fairs at home.

In Australia, international expositions were held in Sydney and Melbourne in 1875, 1879 and 1880. Japan participated in those expositions. The international expositions held in Melbourne in 1881 seems to have been especially popular. Japan sent 23 Government officials and several representatives.

In 1880, the first Japanese shop in Australia was opened in Melbourne. This shop, named Akito & Co, was established by Sadaharu Akiyama, an exhibitor at the 1879 exposition.

The contribution of Mr Fusajiro Kanematsu

Mr Fusajiro Kanematsu established his business base in Sydney and engaged in full-scale Japan-Australia trade with noble ideals and resolute determination. He founded the "Kanematsu Shoten Company". He first visited Australia when he was 43 years old in 1887. Mr Kanematsu had just resigned from the Mitsui Bank where he had worked 9 years and was a director at the present rice exchange where he was in charge of "business" and of the exchange. He was also involved in newspaper business and bought the "Osaka Nippo" in 1885 which was renamed later as the "Osaka Malnichi Shimbun" He also bought the "Naniwa humbun" in 1888 and next year became their owner president. From 1882 on, he became involved in plans to establish Osaka Shipping Lines, and until a year before his visit to Australia was a director there.

Mr Kanematsu contributed much to the dawning era of Japan-Australia relations. He was 24 years old in 1868 and at first had wanted to be a scholar and was in the service of a samurai family. But he changed his mind and decided to become a merchant after he served in the Tukuba Rebellion in 1864. In 1872, he began learning English from J. Ballah, an American missionary.

Mr Kanematsu believed that Japanese people would begin wearing Western clothes in the near future so he started looking at the wool industry. He realised that unless wool trade was carried out by Japanese merchants, it would not promote national interest. He decided to investigate the market in Australia by personally visiting there. He was also convinced, based on his past experience of 10years with the rice exchange, that Australia would become a good market for rice. Thus, he concluded that ships could be effectively used as they could be loaded with cargoes on trips both ways between Australia and Japan.

In 1890, he opened an office in Clarence St, Sydney and in Kobe City, Japan. In May of that year he purchased 187 bales of fine wool and this was the first shipment in his Japan-Australia trading company.

Before 1900

1900 - 1920

1920 - 1950

1950 - 1984

This page was created 19th September, 1999, by Judith Bennett,  Friends of Quarantine Station,
and was last modified 20th January, 2007.