The quarantine station was originally opened in 1879 and designed to prevent passengers on ships bringing diseases such as smallpox into Adelaide.
The visit to Torrens Island would have been the first experience passengers would have had when arriving here and was utilised for passengers right up until the 1950's.
However the quarantine facilities were used much longer for animals and plants.
Most of the buildings connected to the original quarantine station and subsequent internment camp were built between 1912 and 1916, although some of the original nineteenth century station remains.
In 1909, the running of Torrens Island Quarantine Station moved to the Australian Government and at that time there was believed to be accommodation up to around 224 people.
The internment camp at its height accommodated up to 400 men of German and Austro-Hungarian background and was operating in that capacity from October 1914 until August 1915.
Unfortunately the camp had a reputation for being one of the most brutal in Australia and government lobbying luckily caused it to be closed down fairly early in the war, with internees either being released or transferred to camps in New South Wales.
The island could only be reached by boat right up to 1962 when a bridge was built as part of the Torrens Island Power Station development.
In 1979, following the eradication of smallpox world-wide, the human quarantine part of the station was closed permanently.
Internment Camp c 1916 Source State Library of South Australia / collections.slsa.sa.gov.au/resource/B 9002
Fully trained and knowledgeable staff from the South Australian Maritime Museum at Port Adelaide run the tours which last for approximately two hours.
Upon arrival at the site, you can't help but imagine you can hear the ghosts of the inhabitants echoing through the derelict buildings - what stories would they have to tell?
You will have an opportunity to view the bathing blocks that separated first and second class passengers, visit the boiler house which was used to power fumigation, as well as the morgue and the isolation hospital.
The guides paint a vivid picture of the experience of a traveller back in the nineteenth and early twentieth century from the time they set foot on the island, through the process of having their luggage fumigated, being bathed in diluted carbolic acid and then taken to their bungalows or the isolation hospital.
Not only are the stories fascinating and the infrastructure visits eye opening but also there is an excellent opportunity to wander around on your own to peer into windows, through the old dormitories and bungalows and to take photographs.
To really put yourself in the quarantine internee's shoes, the South Australian Maritime Museum is also currently offering a cruise on the ST Yelta, which was South Australia's last working steam tug built in 1949.
These two hour cruises leave the wharf and the crew highlight an experience for passengers of the heyday of steam power.
For both the Torrens Island quarantine station tour and the ST Yelta, cost includes admission to the SA Maritime Museum, which holds excellent memorabilia, documentation, artefacts and all information relating to South Australia's maritime history.
You can easily pass the time away for a whole day down at Port Adelaide and soak in the atmosphere and history of this fascinating area.