The Barque “Glen Huntly” was a sailing ship of 505 tons as recorded in the Register of Shipping, not 430 tens described in the Custom House books. She was registered in Scotland, and was a member of the fleet of “Glen” ships.
The Glen Huntly sailed from Oban, Argyleshire, Scotland, on 1st December 1839 in charge of Captain Buchanan, with 157 emigrants on board. She arrived in Hobson’s Bay on 17th April 1840 and sailed to her anchorage off William’s Town.
When it became known that ten of the passengers had died from typhus during the voyage the Barque was declared a ‘fever ship’ and Captain Buchanan was ordered to cross the Bay and anchor off the Bluff – Point Ormond.
Two quarantine camps were established at the Bluff, one for passengers who had the fever, which was in charge of surgeon Superintendent Browne, and one for those who were at present free from the disease, in charge of Dr. Barry Cotter. Both these quarantine camps were visited regularly by Superintendent Latrobe.
It was amazing that although the Barque was of only 505 tons and carried 157 passengers, men women and children, plus her crew packed in below decks that only ten people died during the four and a half months voyage from Scotland. The last passenger who died at sea was George Denham, he was buried at the mouth of the River Exe, now known as the Little River, sixteen miles north of Geelong.
Three more people died at the quarantine station at the Bluff: – James Mathers, on 23rdApril, John Craig on 25th April and George Armstrong on 5th May 1840. All the healthy passengers and crew were released from quarantine on 13th June, and allowed to travel to Melbourne.
The graves at Point Ormond, enclosed by a picket fence, marked the place for nearly sixty years, but on 27th August 1898, they were opened and the remains were re-buried in the St Kilda Cemetery in the presence of one hundred spectators. In addition to the Mayor of St Kilda, Councillor John Stedford, present, at the re-interment were Mrs. Bowman of Caulfield, a daughter of John Craig and Miss Cameron, who was seventeen years of age, when she arrived on the Barque.
Subsequently a public appeal was made and sufficient money was raised to erect a suitable memorial on the grave, which is in the South West corner of the St Kilda Cemetery, marking a notable event in the early history of the Colony, and the Glen Huntly Pioneers.
Glen Huntly Road and the Caulfield suburb of Glen Huntly now serve as a reminder of the tragedy of the fever ship “Glen Huntly” and the thirteen people who lost their lives.
Written for the Caulfield Historical Society Newsletter in October 1983 by Richard Ballantyne.