Discovering Abbotsford's Quarantine Reserve

Where is Quarantine Reserve?

Quarantine Reserve is nestled within a quiet residential area of Abbotsford, Canada Bay with pedestrian access via both Checkley Street and Spring Street. It also makes a popular walking and running route from Abbotsford Ferry Wharf or from Great North Road due to its position in between Battersea Park and Henry Lawson Park, with views overlooking Hen and Chicken Bay.

Quarantine Reserve entrance from Checkley Street

Walking through Quarantine Reserve Abbotsford

How to get to Quarantine Reserve, Abbotsford?

Quarantine Reserve is easily accessible by car, bus and ferry.

By Car

If coming by car there is plenty of on-street free parking along Spring Street, Checkley Street and Abbotsford Parade.

By Bus

The 438 is the nearest bus stop to Quarantine Reserve which stops just near the ferry wharf along Great North Road. The bus stop is the very last stop on this route which is located right by The Terrace. Simply walk along The Terrace, passing Battersea Park on your right and follow the pedestrian walkway with the below green park and water on your right until you reach the end. Walk up Hunter Street then turn right onto Checkley Street and follow it to the end where you will find Quarantine Reserve.

By Ferry

The nearest ferry wharf is Abbotsford, just a 10-minute walk away. The River Cat F3 service regularly runs along the Parramatta River from Circular Quay/Barangaroo all the way to Parramatta. If coming from Circular Quay, ferries typically run every 30 minutes and journeys take approximately 35 – 40 minutes to reach Abbotsford Wharf. Once at Abbotsford Wharf, walk up the hill, past the Sydney Rowing Club on your right and turn right onto The Terrace. Walk past Battersea Park Playground and follow the pathway with the water on your right. At the end of the road walk up Hunter Street and turn right onto Checkley Street. Quarantine Reserve will be straight ahead.

History of Quarantine Reserve

Quarantine Reserve was added to the Hexham Estate (originally known as Cluthaville), positioned between the house and Parramatta River’s Hen and Chicken Bay; however, it is not known who added these grounds to the Hexham Estate. The house enjoyed sweeping views of its garden and the river, but this didn’t last long. Due to its prime waterfront views and road access, the Commonwealth Government acquired the land for the Abbotsford Animal Quarantine Station.

The original Quarantine Station was positioned at Bradley’s Head, but a new site was required due to this site being the new location for the Taronga Zoological Park. Abbotsford was chosen due to the suburb having little major residential development, whilst its direct waterfront access to the Parramatta River, allowed it to be easily accessible to unload animals via punt.

Work began on the Abbotsford Animal Quarantine Station from 1917 to 1930 and initially housed sheep, cattle, pigs, horses, dogs and cats that were imported to Australia. These animals were kept here to ensure they were disease-free and were regularly checked by veterinary surgeons before being released to their new owners. The Abbotsford Quarantine Station eventually closed in 1980 and moved to its current location in Wallgrove. The Quarantine Reserve opened to the public a year later in 1981.

Quarantine Station old buildings

Dogs kennels Quarantine Station Abbotsford

Quarantine Reserve old cattle stalls

Closeup of the cattle stalls Quarantine Station

The quarantine station originally included:

  • 24 cattle stalls in two buildings, which were surrounded by cattle yards for exercising and as a temporary holding yard (these still exist and you can walk through the stables to have a closer look)
  • 10 horse stalls in five buildings in a row (these are padlocked)
  • 32 dog kennels, which increased to 83 when rebuilt in the 1950s. Today only two remain.
  • A piggery which was seldom used due to fears of Swine Fever (these are now refurbished as public toilets)
  • A ‘dogs kitchen’ which was used to prepare food for the dogs
  • Feed Store – this originally was built as a workshop and used as storage in World War II before turning into a feed store
  • A Caretaker’s Cottage
  • An incinerator which was used to dispose of animal droppings and other refuse to eliminate the possible spread of disease. Many of the later complaints made were because of the incinerator’s smoke and noise.
  • A cattery was added in the 1950s, but was later demolished.

Green gates of cattle stall Quarantine Station Abbotsford

Caretakers Cottage Quarantine Station Abbotsford

Inside Quarantine Station's old cattle stalls

Horse stalls Quarantine Station Abbotsford

What to do at Quarantine Reserve?

Today, Quarantine Reserve is a popular spot for walkers, joggers and runners as well as exercising. Many people enjoy a leisurely picnic or BBQ with plenty of picnic and BBQ facilities available as well as public toilets. It is a particularly good setting for large groups, birthday parties and celebrations due to its large covered seating area as well as grassy banks by the water, perfect to kick a ball with the kids. There are also several park benches dotted along the path to rest your weary legs and listen to the chattering of birds or admire the sparkling water views.

Quarantine Reserve is also available for wedding ceremonies and wedding photography, but this must be booked in advance.

Whilst you’re here, make sure you explore the old buildings of Quarantine Station, however beware as it’s riddled to be haunted with some locals reporting that they’ve seen outlines of animals at twilight.

Incinerator Quarantine Station Abbotsford

Piggery Quanrantine Station Abbotsford

Quarantine Reserve Facilities

  • BBQ facilities
  • Picnic Benches
  • Public Toilets
  • Water Views

Wildlife within Quarantine Reserve

Whilst strolling through Quarantine Reserve, watch and listen to the bird calls of native birdlife including the Rainbow Lorikeets, Kookaburras and Welcome Swallows. The reserve has also undergone one hectare of native revegetation to look more like a Coastal Sandstone Foreshore Forest with Eucalyptus and Fig trees.

What else is nearby?

Henry Lawson Park

This waterfront park is also home to a colourful nautical-themed playground alongside several sculptures including a fish. This large park has ample space for children to play, and is equipped with shaded BBQ facilities and picnic benches.

Battersea Park

Only a couple of minutes from Quarantine Reserve, Battersea Park overlooks the water and is popular for picnics and barbeques with the family. There is a large lawn area, sheltered seating as well as a playground equipped with swings and slides for the children.

Sydney Rowing Club

Stop in for a drink at Sydney Rowing Club before taking the ferry back to the city. This is particularly pretty around sunset where you can enjoy beautiful sunsets over the Parramatta River.

Great North Road Cafes and Restaurants

Hungry? Why not stop for a bite to eat at one of the many cafes and restaurants along Great North Road. Due Passi Italian Street Food is popular with locals, boasting artisan coffee and authentic Italian flavours. Enjoy all-day breakfast or lunch here Tuesday to Sunday. I particularly love the eggs benedict or breakfast bruschetta or why not create your own sandwich or focaccia come lunchtime. Their bread and butter pudding is also delicious!

Battersea Park water views over Hen and Chicken Bay

Fish sulpture at Henry Lawson Park Abbotsford

View over Henry Lawson Park Abbotsford

Fun childrens playground at Henry Lawson Park Abbotsford

Looking for more Sydney walking inspiration?

For more great Sydney walk ideas, view my latest Sydney walking blogs.