Bantry Bay

Location: Northern Beaches
Bantry Bay was never developed as a suburb, no doubt because of its isolated location and being relatively difficult to access a centry ago when the suburbs around it were being subdivided and sold for housing. Instead, Bantry Bay was used as a shipping point for timber cut from the forests of the north shore around the Frenchs Forest area during the early part of the 19th century. Because of its isolation from the rest of the city and its narrow entry, andsteep sided valley, it was chosen as the site for a public explosives magazine in 1907. Many of the complex's disused buildings still stand. It became part of Davidson State Recreation Area in 1974.

Bantry Bay Explosives Magazines
The Bantry Bay complex, consisting of explosive storage buildings, offices, wharves, seawalls, tramlines, a dam and landing stages, was built between 1911 and 1915. It replaced a series of hulks anchored in the bay which had been used for storing explosives for some time. The bay was chosen not only because of its isolation from existing residential areas of the time, it also was relatively close to the heads of Sydney Harbour. The twelve storage buildings of the complex, which were partially built into the hillside to deaden the effects of an explosion, have double brick walls and corrugated iron roofs designed to lift on impact. A concrete dam was built above the complex to provide water to a hydrant and hosing system outside each magazine.

During its years of use, the complex functioned as a highly specialised and industrious port with a variety of barges, boats, tugs, trams and hand trolleys being utilised to transport the goods from the boats to the magazines. It was manned by a team of 16 to 18 people who wore special clothing to protect them in case of an explosion. The shift in the transportation of explosives by rail which began in the 1950s combined with falling revenues and the high expense of maintenance of the complex led to its closure in May 1974. The complex is today in the process of being restored to its original condition. Access is restricted until restoration has been completed.

Garigal National Park
The park encompasses the upper reaches of Middle Harbour Creek on the northern outskirts of suburban Sydney, including Bantry Bay. Bantry Bay is one of a number of valleys in the park through which creeks trickle and cascade into sparkling rock pools on their way to Sydney Harbour. A maze of fire trails and walking tracks make access easy to all but the most isolated sections of the park. Stepped sandstone ridges guard the valleys and provide numerous vantage points.

Aboriginal Rock Art
The most extensive single group of carvings in the Sydney metropolitan area are located on a rocky outcrop on the hillside above Bantry Bay and accessed via the Engravings Track alongside Wakehurst Parkway 400m south of the end of Bantry Bay Road. There are some 82 figures, including two mundoes, people, animals, fish, shields, a canoe, a basket and bag, boomerangs, circles, stone axes and clubs, snakes and a whale. One group of figures shows two men, one of whom is carrying bark canoes. As they are on flat open ground, sadly these carvings have suffered greatly from exposure to the weather and many have faded so badly there are only recognisable to the trained eye. The best time to view them is at dawn or dusk. Other engravings occur in the surrounding bushland but they are not easy to find as they are not marked and often in locations where fallen leaves and other bush debris have covered them. Middens and rock shelters can be seen on the shores of the bay. Tool sharpening grooves have been found near the engravings and creek beds.

Bantry Bay Busk Walks
The scrubland beyond the head of Banty Bay contains a number of bushwalks of varying difficulties leading to a number of interesting places. The Cook Street Track, which commences from Cook Street, Forestville near the Nursing Home, leads into the upper valley of Bates Creek. The Bay and Magazine Tracks take bushwalkers past three smaller races and falls on the Main Creek. More >>

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  • The Name
    Bantry Bay is said to be named after Bantry Bay in County Cork, Ireland (above). It was here on 23rd December 1796 that the French suffered a major defeat at the hands of Sir Edward Pellew of the British Navy over their defence of Irish Catholicism. The name was used long before Irishman John Dunbar Nelson began bringing tourists through the area in 1856 but who named it is not known.

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