Sydney Harbour is one of the most beautiful harbours in the world but despite its wonderful vistas it is still a harbour and therefore it has been a location worth defending. Its beauty now conceals a number of sites throughout the harbour and its surrounds that were built for more worried times. Over the recent Christmas break I was in Sydney and went for a trip around a few of the old fortifications. The weather in Sydney over summer tends be gorgeous and wondering around old fortifications in a beautiful harbour setting under sunny weather conditions is a great way to spend a day. I have placed a number of pictures below that will hopefully show what can still be found in just one part of the harbour. North Head, Middle Head and Bradley's Head all have fortifications, some of which are more complete than the fortifications that I discuss below. I grew up around the South Head side of Sydney Harbour so it was nice to return there for a look around.
The battery at South Head, however, was designed as a rampart on which guns were to be mounted, flanked on either side by four circular bastions each mounting one gun. This was to form part of a larger enclosed work mounting six guns. Circular bastions had been in use for some time in Britain, but their use on South Head in the 1850s was the first time they appeared in NSW. (Page 49 Source)
This 2007 produced map shows a good summary of the defensive positions mentioned above. (Source: NSW NPWS)
This photo is nearly contemporaneous with the above photo and is looking west with the rifle ports clear in the bottom left of the photo. (Source: NSW NPWS)
- SOUTH HEAD Stage 1 Draft Conservation Management Plan – Volume 1 This is a very comprehensive report on all facets of use of South Head including defence and was the basis for most of the post above.
- Coastal Defence of Australia during World War Two (Wikipedia)
- Signal Hill Battery (Wikipedia)
- Dean Boyce, Defending Colonial Sydney, 2008 (Dictionary of Sydney)
- South Head Fort or Hornby Battery, Sydney, NSW, during WW2 (OzAtWar)
- Defence Heritage in and around Sydney Harbour (NSW Office of Environmnet and Heritage)
- Refortification, Defence of Sydney harbour, The Mercuary Newspaper, 3 Feb 1908 (NLA)
- Peter Oppenheim, The Fragile Forts: The Fixed Defences of Sydney Harbour 1788-1963, AMHP, 2005 (AHU) This is the best single reference on the subject and is still available now. My confession is that I did not have it available for this post as it was already in storage while we are away for the next three years.