Historic and Heritage Sites

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James Cook's Landing Place

Monuments, plaques and a visitors centre celebrate the discovery of the east coast of Australia by Lieut. James Cook in 1770. It was on Silver Beach at Kurnell on Botany Bay that Captain James Cook and botanists Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander and the crew of HMS Endeavour landed on 29 April 1770 and began two weeks of exploration in the area. It was at Silver Beach that Cook had his first encounter with the local Aborigines.
Location: Prince Charles Parade, Kurnell. The Information Centre is open Mon - Fri 11.00 am - 3.00 pm; Sat and Sun 10.00 am - 4.00 pm.

Battle of Vinegar Hill

On 5th March 1804 a group of convicts employed to clear 283 ha in the Castle Hill district revolted against their harsh conditions and treatment by setting alight a number of farm buildings. Led by Irish political prisoner Philip Cunningham, the 200 strong group of mainly Irishmen overcame the guards and looted the district. Learning of the insurrection, Governor King sent Major Johnston from Sydney to Parramatta with two sergeants and 52 soldiers. While the exact location has never been positively identified, indications are that the Castlebrook Lawn Cemetery on Windsor Road, Rouse Hill is built on the site of the uprising. A memorial recalling the incident has been built at the top of the hill in the cemetery grounds.

Spearing Gov. Phillip

This picturesque bay on Manly Cove was of particular significance to the Camaraigal Aborigines who used it for ceremonies, burials and gathered medicinal plants here. It was here that Gov Arthur Phillip was speared by an aborigine in 1790. Collins Beach lies at the far northern end of the cove. A spring in the hills behind feeds a creek that tumbles over a small waterfall onto the sand.

The Rum Rebellion

One of the most dramatic chapters in Australian history - The Rum Rebellion - took place in 1808 at Sydney first Government House which stood in Bridge Street, Sydney, on the site of the Museum of Sydney. In the beginning of 1808, Gov. William Bligh arrested NSw Corps member John Macarthur over his previous actions in resisting a warrant. The Corps' Captain, George Johnston, ordered Macarthur's release. When Bligh refused, Johnston marched on Government House, arrested Bligh and took command himself, giving Macarthur the post of Colonial Secretary. Johnston was subsequented court marshalled and Macarthur banned from the colony. A propaganda cartoon of the time portrayed Bligh hiding under a bed, giving rise to the notion that Bligh was discovered in this way (there is no evidence to suggest this actually happened).

Old Government House

This building is a remodelled version of the original house built by Governor Phillip in 1790 at a time when he was seriously considering moving permanently from Sydney to Rose Hill (Parramatta). Due to the success of farming activities around the upper reaches of the Parramatta River, Rose Hill was quickly becoming a centre of commercial activity and therefore Phillip felt it imperative he establish a presence there. He did this with the construction of a simple sandstone cottage around which Old Government House as we know it today was progressively built. Parramatta Park, Parramatta.


Located at the head of Middle Harbour, this secluded bushland reserve in the heart of Garigal National Park will delight everyone from the ardent bushwalker to the family looking for a place to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city for a few hours. Bungaroo has historical significance as it was here, where a rocky bar separates the salt waters of Middle Harbour from the fresh water of Middle Harbour Creek, that an exploration party dispatched by Captain Arthur Phillip camped on the night of 16th April 1788. It was the first of a number of inland treks dispatched by Phillip in his quest to find land which could provide a reliable food source for the colony.

Sydney bombed in WWII

Whilst the story of entry of Japanese mini submarines into sydney Harbour in June 1942 is widely known, few people today are aware of the shelling of Sydney's eastern suburbs by the subs and the damaged they caused to numerous houses. The incident began just after midnight on 8 June 1942 when Japanese submarine I-24 was travelling at periscope depth about 9 miles south west of the Macquarie light near Sydney. I-24 surfaced and pointed its deck gun towards Sydney. Commander Hanabusa gave his target instructions to gunnery officer Yusaburo Morita to aim directly at the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Morita firedhis deck gun across the bow of I-24, firing 10 shells within 4 minutes. Most of the shells came down in Rose Bay, Woollahra and Bellevue Hill, damaging houses, but fortunately there was no loss of life as only one actually exploded. Some fell short into the harbour and the ocean. The reason appears to be that the Japanese were using armour-piercing rounds intended to hit steel plated ships.

Camp Cove

If you take a short walk walk through the Watsons Bay village to the end of Cliff street you will come to Camp Cove. It was here where, on the night of 25th January 1788, Gov. Arthur Phillip and a party of soldiers from the First Fleet camped during their expedition to find a more appropriate settlement site than Botany Bay, hence the cove's name. On the following day, Phillip found and chose Sydney Cove as the site for the new colony. Today a stone obelisk marks the spot where Phillip came ashore and camped.

Cockatoo Island Shipyards

Cockatoo Island is Australia's most unusual urban park - a heritage-listed island in the middle of Sydney Harbour. One of the island's many uses over the years had been as one of Australia's biggest shipyards during the twentieth century. The first of its two dry docks was built by convicts and was completed in 1857 and since then until 1992, has been involved in the maintenance - and countruction of ships. Over a period of several years prior to the First World War five slipways were either upgraded or constructed in the island, with Numbers 1 and 2 still retained today. Much of the shipyard's equipment remains today.

Bare Island Fort

Sited at the entrance to Botany Bay, Bare Island was considered such a strategic location in the defence of Sydney, a fort was built over the island in the 1870s to protect Sydney from attack from the south. The fort never fired a shot in anger, which is just as well as the fort was so badly built it would probably have blown itself up had its guns been fired. In fact it was deemed obsolete by the time it was completed and was never used for defence purposes. The historic fort and its tunnels can only be visited by guided tour. Bare Island, in the suburb of La Perouse, is connected by a footbridge to the mainland.

Quarantine Station

The site of the Quarantine Station was set aside for this specific purpose in 1825 when the convict ship Bussorah Merchant arrived carrying smallpox and the crew and passengers had to be quarantined. They were unloaded at Store Beach where they were left to fend for themselves for 2 weeks. Opened in 1832 the Quarantine Station has a fascinating, chequered history which includes its time as a quarantine station, a detention centre for illegal immigrants, and in 1974 as a temporary home for 750 Darwin residents whose homes had been destroyed by cyclone Tracy. Interweaved into the history of the station are stories of numerous ghost sightings. The National parks and Wildlife Service regularly conducts a three hour ghost tour after sunset, where visitors are led by tour guides through the winding unlit streets and buildings that constitute the Station. Phone: (02) 9977 6522.

Australia's First Surfer

Australia's first surfboard was made in a Sydney timber yard from sugarpine in 1915. Freshwater Beach will always remember that day in the Southern Summer of 1915 when the man considered the father of modern surfing, Duke Kahanamoku (1890- 1968), gave an amazing exhibition of wave riding with a solid surfboard modelled on the very type used by him in his native Hawaii. Over a period of time while he stayed at the Boomerang Camp at Freshwater, the Duke fashioned a solid board from the local timbers, and it was with this board that he first introduced to the Australian Surfing community the ancient craft of Hawaiian kings - the art of surfboard riding.

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