COCK­A­TOO IS­LAND, A SHIP­PING POW­ER­HOUSE

Hills to Hawkesbury Living Magazine - - History -

Colo­nial Gov­er­nors Sir Ge­orge Gipps (1838-46) and Sir Charles Au­gus­tus Fitz Roy (1846-55 de­vel­oped the Cock­a­too Is­land, the largest in Syd­ney Harbour, into a valu­able boat build­ing and re­pair cen­tre.

Con­victs from Nor­folk Is­land were re­moved from that set­tle­ment in 1840 to be­gin build­ing on Cock­a­too Is­land. High qual­ity sand­stone build­ing blocks were quar­ried from the north­ern side of the is­land. Gun­pow­der charges were used to bring down por­tions of the cliff. The ex­plo­sions were ea­gerly watched by spec­ta­tors on the Bal­main penin­su­lar many of whom ex­pected the is­land to dis­ap­pear be­neath the wa­ters of Port Jack­son.

Two docks were cre­ated on the east­ern side of the is­land and ship­build­ing slip­ways on the west­ern side dur­ing the nine­teenth and early twen­ti­eth cen­tury. The first mod­ern war­ship was built in 1912 from steel sent from Bri­tain.

World War II cre­ated the need for a large work­force which ul­ti­mately ser­viced over a thou­sand ships. Cock­a­too Is­land be­came the Com­mon­wealth Naval Dock­yard where Navy de­stroy­ers, Voy­ager and Vam­pire, were built and the T-Class and O-Class sub­marines were re­fit­ted. In 1979, the con­tract to build HMAS Suc­cess was signed and although it was the largest naval ves­sel built in Aus­tralia it was des­tined to be the last one built on the is­land. The Com­mon­wealth Govern­ment de­cided to close the dock­yard in 1992 with much of the ma­chin­ery sold and build­ings and wharves de­mol­ished. The Syd­ney Harbour Fed­er­a­tion Trust now ad­min­is­ters the is­land.

Dis­cover the many trea­sures of the Hills in the Award-winning, all-Aus­tralian book “In Search of the

Pen­nant Hills” by Trevor Pa­trick, James Symes & An­drew Tink now avail­able at Pen­nant Hills Phar­macy; Chil­dren’s Book­shop, Beecroft; Old Church Book­shop, Car­ling­ford; Ken­thurst Lit­tle Bot­tler & Sub-Newsagency, Nel­son Street; Ferry Artists Gallery, Wise­mans Ferry or write P.O. Box 176 Ken­thurst 2156.

In­quiries tele­phone (02) 9654-2224. Visit web site www.hill­story.com.au for more Aus­tralian His­tory sub­jects.

Gi­ant steel beam ben­ders where ships were built

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