Within seven years of gold being discovered in 1892 in the Eastern goldfields region of Western Australia, major concern was expressed by the public of the growing incidence of tuberculosis amongst the community.
In 1906 a sanitorium was setup in Coolgardie (550 km north east of Perth) to accommodate the rising numbers of tuberculosis patients - miners, as well as other members of the general population. However the Coolgardie sanatorium was not large enough or suitably located to accommodate the full tuberculosis load of Western Australia, and in late 1914 the State Government established a new sanatorium at Wooroloo (50 km from Perth along the Great Eastern Highway). Its aim was to treat a range of infectious diseases including tuberculosis, typhoid, diphtheria and leprosy that were widely prevalent after the mass migration during the gold rushes in Western Australia in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
Treatment of tuberculosis was focused on fresh air and sunshine, and the site at Wooroloo was chosen because of the elevation of the site and the beauty and pristine nature of the countryside.
Patients were segregated according to gender and the severity of their case. The open-fronted 10 bed wards, orientated north and east, were designed to maximise patient fresh air and sunlight. As well as accommodating staff there were buildings to house administration, a laboratory, operating room, kitchen, dining room, billiard room and a school for younger patients. The sanatorium had its own laundry, bakery, and power-house, making it a relatively self-contained operation. Leprosy patients were segregated from the other patients.
The Wooroloo Sanatorium comprised 36 major buildings constructed between 1914 and 1917 and was the only large scale purpose-built tuberculosis sanatorium in Western Australia.
By the 1960s the sanatorium was no longer required and the institution became a general hospital for the surrounding district. Since 1970 the facility has operated as a minimum security prison for short-term offenders. In 2002 the Wooroloo sanitorium and cemetery were added to Western Australia's Heritage Register (link attached).