Bradleys Head

Location: Lower North Shore
One of Sydney's most historic headlands, now part of Sydney Harbour National Park. The mast mounted on the point is from HMAS Sydney, which did battle with the German cruiser Emden in 1914. Near the mast is a stone column from the original General Post Office in Sydney. It marks a distance of one nautical mile from Fort Denison.

Athol Bay has a pleasant yet largely ignored beach that is ideal for a quiet swim away from the crowds or the perfect place to sit and watch a sunset over the city. It can be reached via the waterside path between the Taronga wharf and Bradleys Head.

The Borogegal Walking Trail continues past the point and around neighbouring Taylors Bay. The path continues beyond the bay to Clifton Gardens, Chowder Head, Georges Head and Middle Head.

Colonial Era Fortifications

The fortifications at Bradleys Head are the best preserved of all those to be found around the shores of Sydney Harbour. Most of the older fortifications which located alongside the mast and crows nest of HMAS Sydney and consisting of a firing wall and a single cannon mount, were built in the 1840s by Gov. Gipps without British Government approval.

The fortifications located up the hill towards the Taronga Zoo entrance were built in the 1870s. This installation, comprising a series of tunnels, a powder magazine, gun emplacements complete with three mounted cannon, and later a firing wall, were built under the supervision of James Barnet and played a major role in opening up the Mosman area for development. Its guns were offloaded from a ship at Neutral Bay and rolled through the bush to the fortifications site. Locals were paid ten shillings for each stump they removed as they made a path through the undergrowth along which the cannon would be rolled. The path became what we now know as Military Road.

Military Road follows a path beaten through the bush from North Sydney to Bradleys Head in the early 1870s. It was created by soldiers and local residents to give access to the new Bradleys Head military installations. These were being constructed in response to fears of an impending attack by Russia, an attack which never eventuated. Stumps along the route were dug out by locals who were paid ten shillings for each stump removed. It was along the path they cleared that the three guns for the fort were rolled through the bush from a jetty at Neutral Bay where they had been offloaded from a ship. More >>

Old Post Office pillar

In 1847, Sydney's first General Post Office was built on land that Gov. Lachlan Macquarie bought for a hogshead of brandy and 50 pounds. A feature of the building were its six 10-metre high, 2-tonne columns. When the building was replaced by the GPO Building in Martin Place in 1862, the older building was knocked down and the land sold for commercial development. Someone had the presence of mind to save some of the the six stone columns from the building s facade and today they perform different functions around the Sydney suburban area. In 1871, one column was erected on the waterline at Bradleys Head to mark one nautical mile from the Martello Tower of Fort Denision, a measurement still used today.

Bradleys Head Amphitheatre

The Bradleys Head Amphitheatre is an exceptionally popular lookout in Sydney Harbour National Park. Photographers flock to the site to capture its breathtaking views of the Sydney Opera House, the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Fort Denison. As well as offering first-class views, Bradleys Head Amphitheatre is a much-loved picnic area. You can also wander out to the old stone jetty for some fishing, or set off on one of Bradleys Head s beautiful bushwalks.

Taylors Bay

Taylors Bay is bordered by a narrow strip of hartbourside rainforest. Aboriginal carvings of kangaroos are sometimes visible on the rocks at low tide. Borogegal Walking Trail meets the Taylors Bay Lookout track above the bay. This track leads to a lookout and then down to the beach.

On the night of 31 May 1942 three Japanese submarines, I-22, I-24 and I-27, entered Sydney Harbour, each launched a Type A midget submarine for an attack on shipping in Sydney Harbour. All three midget submarines made it into the harbour. I-24 and I-27 travelled as far as Garden Island, where they fired torpedoes and caused damage. The third midget submarine failed to make it far into the harbour. Spotted in Taylors Bay and attacked with depth charges by naval harbour patrol vessels, Lieutenant Keiu Matsuo and Petty Officer Masao Tsuzuku, shot themselves.

Taronga Zoo

Australia's most well known zoological gardens, it has a large collection of native and exotic animals all housed in picturesque surroundings with the unforgettable panoramic vistas of Sydney Harbour as its backdrop. Entry fee applies.
A flat area of ground that is today part of Taronga Zoo was once the site of a coal mining venture in the 1890s. The site had been cleared and levelled but mining was stopped by an act of Parliament brought about by public pressure to stop mining in the immediate area. The mining company lost 3,500 pounds in the venture. Public transport: ferry from Circular Quay UBD Map 217 Ref A 14. Bradleys Head Road, Mosman. Open 7 days 9.00am - 5.00pm.

The Name

Badleys Head is named after William Bradley (1757-1833), first lieutenant of HMS Sirius, the flagship of the First Fleet which arrived from England in January 1788 to establish the convict colony of New South Wales, the first European settlement in Australia. Bradley was in important member of the First Fleet, being a cartographer who conducted numerous surveys of the Sydney region in the early days of the colony. Bradley was said to be the great-nephew of James Bradley (1693-1762), astronomer royal from 1742 until his death.

Bradley entered the navy at the age of 15 and served successively as captain's servant, A.B., midshipman, and master's mate until 31 October 1778 when he was promoted lieutenant. He served in seven navel vessels before being appointed first lieutenant in the Sirius on 25 October 1786 and sailing with the First Fleet next May. During his stay at Sydney Bradley lived in the Sirius and appears to have taken little part in the social life of the new colony, though he recorded in his diary the more striking day-to-day events and, in the course of duty, sat on the Court of Criminal Judicature. He left Sydney in February 1791.

His later career was overshadowed by his steadily deteriorating mental state. Although a successful small ship commander, Bradley became increasingly erratic and was eventually retired as a result, few years later, suffering serious mental problems, Bradley committed a highly unusual case of postal fraud and was ultimately exiled. He never returned to Britain but lived in quiet disgrace in France until his death in March 1833, age 75. Bradley's virtues as an independent cartographer may be debatable, however his continuing importance to historians lies in the very full and precise journal he kept during his time at Sydney Cove, with its extensive text, many tables, a number of water-colour drawings of great historical interest, and manuscript charts.

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  • How to get there:
    By road - UBD Map 237 Ref C 2. Bradleys Head Road, Mosman.

    Public transport - ferry to Taronga Zoo. Walk beyond zoo entrance to Bradleys Head, or train to North Sydney station, bus. No. 150 to Mosman, alight in Bradleys Head Road at turnoff to ferry wharf.

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