Fort Denison Travel Guide: 2 reviews and 16 photos


Fort Denison located in the middle of Sydney Harbour ..was once just an Island used by local indigenous people and was known as Mat-te-wan-ye meaning "rocky Island.".after the arrival of the first fleet to Sydney Harbour this location was used as a place for punishment for lawbreakers..convicts were confined to the island for such things as stealing ..in 1796 the then Governor of NSW left a warning to others by displaying the body of executed murderer Francis Morgan hung high on a Gibbet for all to see..
in the early 1850's the outbreak of the Crimean war saw the potential of attack on Sydney by foreign vessels and it was decidede to review the defence strategy for the colony..contract labour was used to transport 8000 tonnes of sandstone from the island and construct a fortification with a Martello tower, gun batteries and barracks..The circular Martello tower was a popular feature of European fortifications and is the only one in Australia and one of the last of its kind in the world..
in 1857 the fort known as "Pinchgut" was renamed Fort Denison..and was ready for action with ten-inch, one eight-inch, and twelve- inch 32 pounder cannons..also a 100,000 gallon water tank was in place and stone walls in some places four meters thick..The fort was manned by British Royal Artillery until 1869 when N.S.W.Naval Brigades took over the watch tower.
in the 1870's with the introduction of "ironclad ships" and improved weapons the fort was abandoned as a military installation..in 1906 the firing of the one o clock gun fired daily so sailors could set their ships chronometers correctly..the firing of the gun was stopped during the second world war but resumed in 1986 and can be still heard by Sydneysiders today...since 1860 the tide levels have always been recorded at Fort Denison..although today the tide gauges use sattelite tracking systems with the messages being automatically sent to the Bureau of Meteorology in Melbourne..
My recent visit to Fort Denison was one that I had always wanted to do and was not dissapointed. I took the Captain Cook Explorer Ferry from the Quay to Fort Denison with an onward ticket to the Taronga Park Zoo.....there is a tour that is available on the Fort and is run by the Department of Parks and Wildlife who administer all the islands in the Harbour now.This is one of the Islands that make up part of the Sydney Harbour National Park .The tour is very interesting taking in all aspects of the fort and its history. A small museum and also a room containing the tidal guages and equipment can be viewed..Handy to be found is also a coffee shop located here where a sit in the sun and watch the harbour traffic is a welcome rest ....This is also a good photo opportunity to get some of the city skyline..I am sure anyone visiting this gem in the harbour would not be dissapointed..


A ferry to this gem of an island only takes a few minutes as it is virtually opposite the Opera House in the middle of the Harbour..known locally as "pinchgut" was term used by sailors for any small island that obstructed clear navigation..also was a term used for the convicts who were left here as a punishment and got very hungry.


There mustn't have been a lot of room to manouvre in here when the action was happenning.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:well worth the visit..
  • Cons:can get very cold and windy
  • In a nutshell:if you have time ...see it
  • Last visit to Fort Denison: Aug 2008
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (2)

Comments (2)

  • craic's Profile Photo
    Oct 11, 2008 at 2:09 AM

    yeah it is a great little trip for sure - but the cafe must have changed - when i went there a few years ago you had to have lunch - not just a coffee

  • tiabunna's Profile Photo
    Sep 19, 2008 at 8:33 PM

    About time VT had a Fort Denison page! Very enjoyable and took me right back to a visit when I was a kid - more than a a few years ago... :)


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