Watusi Woman  - Fantome Sailor


We sailed into Juno Bay, Fantome Island just before sunset and, oh what a sunset it was. With sundowner drinks in hand we settled down to watch one of nature's most spectacular visions. The sky was layered with different types of clouds that lit up in shades of yellow, orange and red with a touch of purple on the outer edges. And it just kept getting more beautiful well after the sun had set. Half an hour later I was supposed to be cooking dinner in the galley but spent most of my time popping me head out to say 'Wow', again.

Same sunset, the colours became more and more beautiful

Now for some history. Fantome Island, part of the Palm Island group, was once home to an indigenous leper colony. What an awful claim to fame. Just 40 miles north of Townsville, this colony was originally built in 1926 as a lock hospital - basically a hospital prison - for aboriginals who suffered from venereal diseases. In 1939 a leprosarium was also established here for aboriginal people suffering with leprosy. Although the lock hospital was closed down in 1945, the leper colony remained until 1973. It's hard to believe that when I was a child this kind of segregation was still happening in Australia. Upon its closure the whole place was burnt to the ground. There are reportedly over 200 graves here. It's a national heritage site now and the whole island has been handed back to the Aboriginal council of Palm Islands.
We had a great time exploring the island, never taking the easy route of course. We landed on the beach to a cacophony of bleating. Goats. Goat curry! said Hubby. We picked a hill and started climbing up the rocky terrain. It didn't take long to find the first herd. Hubby tried to sneak up on them with the gopro, all the while lamenting over leaving his bow on the boat. We weren't very good at sneaking as the herd took off before we could get any close up footage. Onwards and upwards and downwards, over a creek, upwards again, another larger herd of goats (with lots of horned beasts) and downwards and, finally, to the beach on the other side of the island.


Not a lover of spiders eww! but this ball of web was impressive engineering

Spot the goat

This side of the island had the remains of the lock hospital and various other structures. We found the kitchen remains with deteriorated cooking equipment scattered around.
On the northern end of the island we found the evidence of the leper colony. There were many concrete slabs that would have been the foundations of huts. We could only imagine how hot they must have been, with fibro sides and tin roofs, during the humid summers. There were a couple of wells, alot of corrugated iron sheets and rusted remains of a generator with some timber electricity posts still standing.






Back on our side of the island there were gazillions of oysters growing. We might not have had goat curry but we did have a little feast of them straight of the rocks. 😋 All in all, it was a great day of exploration. But it didn't end there. Just as we got back to our boat our lovely friends, Michael and Betty on Barnabas, sailed into our bay. Sundowners ensued, of course, and a fabulous evening topped off our awesome day.



Until next time, Watusi Woman - Explorer of leper colonies, out. 🥂