Learn about the traditional use of their land and surrounding waters by Aboriginal People as well as the extensive period of military occupation and the significant role each has played in shaping the city’s identity.
A stunning waterfront retreat on the Mosman shoreline, Chowder Bay played an important part in the defence of Sydney during World War I and is also a place of enduring significance for the Borogegal People. The area was occupied by the military from the 1890s until 2000, when it was opened to the public.
Cockatoo Island’s heritage buildings and distinctive terrain offer insights into the complex and layered history of this former convict penal establishment, naval ship dockyard, industrial school for girls, and reformatory. The island also has strong continued ties to the First Nations, having served as a meeting place for the Eora People prior to colonisation.
Image caption: Illustration of Cockatoo Island, Circa 1843, John Skinner Prout, National Library of Australia
Recognised as the traditional land of the Borogegal People, Georges Heights occupies a significant place in Australian history, being the place of the first ‘friendly’ contact between Europeans and Aboriginal People. In the 200 years following colonisation, the area was occupied by military forces and, during World War II, it played a crucial role in the defence of Sydney.
Completed in 1818, Macquarie Lighthouse was designed by convict architect Francis Greenway and named for Lachlan Macquarie, the NSW Governor who commissioned it. Crumbling sandstone foundations led to the construction of a replacement lighthouse in 1883. Designed by James Barnet to closely resemble the original, this lighthouse continues to operate, ensuring the safe passage of vessels into Sydney Harbour.
Like Sydney Hotel and Katoomba’s Carrington Hotel, the Former Marine Biological Station was designed by colonial architect John Kirkpatrick. Built in 1881 as a place for Russian scientist Nikolai Nikoleavich de Miklouho-Maclay to study local marine life, the station was later acquired by the Australian Army to house officers.
A place of enduring significance for the Borogegal People, Middle Head once played an important role in the defence of Sydney. Gun emplacements were built in response to the Napoleonic Wars, and during World War II, barracks were constructed to house soldiers. After the war ended, Middle Head housed a training facility (ASOPA) for Australians serving the developing world.
North Head Sanctuary was the backdrop for some of the earliest interactions between Aboriginal People and Europeans, and the area was also used to quarantine Australia from deadly epidemic diseases. During the Second World War, North Head was one of the most heavily fortified sites in Australian history.
Sub Base Platypus was formerly HMAS Platypus, an Australian Navy submarine base. The site has also hosted a gasworks, as well as workshops for manufacturing and maintaining torpedoes for use in the Second World War. In May 2018, this once-hidden gem became accessible to the public for the first time in 150 years
Woolwich Dock is a maritime precinct steeped in history. Carved from 85,000 cubic meters of excavated sandstone, the dock was used during both World Wars to repair damaged vessels. Later, the Army used it as a base for their marine transport operations.