Dictionary of Sydney: Sydney’s Rum Hospital

Hospitals are necessary to the functioning of society. The first Sydney hospital – a tent at Dawes Point on The Rocks – opened soon after the arrival of the First Fleet in 1788 to treat diseases that convicts brought with them from England, such as smallpox and scurvy. Unfortunately, this wasn’t treated well and by the following year, smallpox had wiped out about half of Sydney’s Aboriginal population. By 1790, the hospital was rebuilt with a wooden structure, and then construction from 1811 to 1816 on what would come to be called “The Rum Hospital“.

Join Nicole Cama as she describes to Tess what conditions in The Rum Hospital were like – poorly so, it was nicknamed “Sydney’s Slaughterhouse”. Now that doesn’t sound like a pleasant trip to the doctor…

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