The influenza epidemic, known as the "Spanish Flu" of 1918-19 caused nearly 12,000 deaths in Australia and caused many disruptions to community life. It was probably brought to Australia by soldiers returning from World War One, and first appeared in Melbourne in January 1919. The following extracts list a few of the flu reports in south-western Victoria.
Extracts from the ‘Portland Guardian’ and ‘Portland Observer’
by Anne Grant, History House, Portland
- Closure of Picture Shows, Theatres, Churches, public meetings & races.
- Mt Gambier trains to Rennick only - not into Victoria.
- Trains in Victoria running as usual.
- S.S.Eumeralla detained because of illness of crew members. Crew innoculated & sickness flag hoisted.
- Traffic restrictions in place on S.A. border (now strictly guarded). Constable Adams on duty.
2/2/1919 & 3/2/1919 (P2C7 & (P3C2)
- No drills or inspections at Naval Drill Hall until removal of influenza restrictions
- Denial of rumours of cases of influenza in Portland.
- Nhill excursion to Portland cancelled
- Dr. Sleeman innoculated 30 persons (free at hospital for those unable to pay).
- Denial of cases in Portland (report in Melbourne papers).
- Only suspected cases from the Eumeralla - both isolated.
- Eumeralla in Quarantine Station - Port Phillip.
- South Australia Police now manning the border.
- Advert for innoculation - cost 2/6 per innoculation.
- Races cancelled during epidemic - by order of the Minister.
- Portland Show held as usual.
- Restrictions lifted. - freight trains allowed from Mt. Gambier to Heywood.
- Commercial travellers viewed as a health menace by business people - likely to carry influenza germ to sickness free areas.
- Digby Show postponed.
- Regular Reports of deaths in Melbourne & Sydney. No local reports of death or illness..
- Victorian cases 12,972 (deaths 803 - 714 metropolitan, 89 country)
- Mrs Dickson (wife of lighthouse keeper) died at Cape Nelson of Influenza & Pneumonia aged 31 years.
- No Anzac Day Memorial reported. Memorial services had been held 1916, 1917 & 1918.
- Portland Health Officer, Dr. Sleeman , ordered closure of schools in town as a precaution against the spread of influenza.
- Advert for VADs or other nurses whose services will be available. "Matter is urgent, prompt attention is solicited" T.E.C.Henry.
- A number of cases reported from Heywood
- Death of Miss Patterson (Heywood)
- Annual Portland Potato Show for the 16th May allowed to lapse.
- Changes in railway timetables because of the influenza outbreak.
- Death of Mrs Rowbottorn - victim of the epidemic. Leaves a husband & nine children - youngest only three months old
- Hamilton reports 8 more cases of flu. + one from Dunkeld
- Elementary school (Portland) closed
- 15 fresh cases at Hamilton
- Welcome home was held for Corp. Monckton BECAUSE flu restrictions have been lifted.
- No official announcement of deaths in Portland.
- Epidemic checked and danger passing.
- Epidemic considered abated . No fresh cases for some days.
- Health authorities easing restrictions.
- Church services will be held as normal from next Sunday
- State school is open
- Cases still rife in Heywood
- Mr Evans Jnr has died (& Miss Patterson)
- Improvement in Portland continues
- Disease definitely checked
- 70 cases reported in Heywood. Mrs Rowbottom’s death.
- Probationer nurses from Portland sent to Heywood to assist
Extermal Links to 1918-19 Influenza Pandemic information