Sydney Plague of 1900

Now, what about an Australian plague?

What about a plague that wasn’t actually as bad as people thought it was (for a change)?

I give you the Sydney Plague of 1900.

Good news: only 103 people died.

Which is shit for them, but as you’ve learned, a plague of 103 is hardly a plague. It was THE plague, though.

The Sydney Press! The plague! The stuff came from people from China! Those people got plague and hid it! From the good people! Of Sydney!

It was a bad time for people of Chinese descent. I mean, did it come from China? Yeah. But that was only because it came from a place you could get to on a boat from Australia, and that included China.

Because people had finally figured out that rats were a big part of the problem, it was a very, very bad time for rats. As the sister of the lead mascot of the band who wore a rat mask, I regret to inform you that the Rat Squads of Sydney (who need their own prestige drama on HBO) killed 100,000 rats.

Sydney Ratcatchers with some of their spoils.

The Australian government started cleaning up their docks, too. If you lived in the area, you could clean your own place. When the building was clean, you got a plaque to show you were spit spot.

Newspapers said! That the plague! When people died they were! Disposed of in! Horrible ways!

If you got plague, you were forced to move to a quarantine area. First they went to the Woolloomooloo quarantine depot (a sale on “o”s that day I guess) and then they were taken to Quarantine Station at North Head, where at least I hope people were able to joke about the second place name of the day that deserved mockery.

I’m glad Americans never were going into others’ houses and dragging them out and sending them to a quarrantine location. I mean, there’s a lot we went through, but not that.

Australians sometimes resisted being taken into custody and kept imprisoned when they’d done nothing wrong, as you might imagine.

While only 100 or so people died, 1,800 people were quarrantined in the facility.

I’ve just been watching my favorite reality television show, which is getting into its covid-era episodes. A guy on the show was extremely cautious about covid, and family members were not. He got covid even though he was isolating. And then he was rethinking things.

I had such strong feelings during covid about doing the right thing. That I wanted to look back at that time and feel I had behaved ethically.

I think that’s good.

But I also consider the dangers of self-righteousness, and the way, as Vonnegut said, we don’t even know what’s the good news and what’s the bad news. It often depends on who’s looking at the situation, and where in time they are.

So I still kinda hate you for thinking covid was fake, or not dangerous, or that masks don’t work, but I acknowledge I’ve got my problems, too.


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