Questions Remain Over Pinkenba Quarantine Hub as Queensland Wellcamp Facility Welcomes First Arrivals

Pinkenba Quarantine Hub
Photo Credit: Google Maps

As Queensland welcomed the first unvaccinated occupants at the Wellcamp facility in Toowoomba, some questions remain about the status of the Pinkenba quarantine hub that was supposed to be built for the same purpose.

In August 2021, the Federal Government signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to develop a section of Damascus Barracks in Pinkenba as a purpose-built quarantine facility for travellers arriving in Brisbane. The site was chosen due to its proximity to the Brisbane International Airport and the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, removing the pressure off the hands of quarantine hotels around the city so they could resume normal operations. 


But the Wellcamp facility, also known as the Queensland Regional Accommodation Centre, was also built by the State Government earlier than the Pinkenba site and has officially opened in the first week of February 2022. During the press conference to confirm the arrival of its first occupants, Deputy Premier Steven Miles did not have any concrete updates on the Pinkenba quarantine facility.

This site has a one-year lease with an option with its private landlords that could be extended to three years. Currently, some 500 beds have been prepared for the occupants, which are a mix of tourists, workers and students, but another 500 beds are expected to be ready by April. 

The projections for the number of beds were based on the number of individuals quarantined at hotels, both vaccinated or unvaccinated. However, as of February 2022, Queensland has lifted the quarantine requirements for vaccinated arrivals, which means there would be fewer beds needed at Wellcamp. 

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The Pinkenba site, on the other hand, is projected to start construction in mid-2022 and thus not yet ready to take in arrivals to Brisbane. 

Since the Pinkenba site’s land is owned by the government, it may remain as a quarantine hub or a disaster management facility for future use. Federal sources also said it may also be repurposed as a temporary housing village for the refugees. 

“Whilst it will be used for any ongoing quarantine requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic, it will also be there in the years to come to support responses to natural disasters or other crises,” Federal Finance Minister Simon Birmingham said. 

“Unlike state proposals, the Pinkenba site is appropriately close to Brisbane International Airport and all necessary medical facilities, including three major hospitals.

“Multiplex is making strong progress in its work to deliver a similar purpose-built quarantine facility in Victoria, and I am pleased that we will be able to draw on their experience and expertise to deliver this centre in Queensland.”