The In­dus­trial Trea­sure Is­land of Sydney Har­bour

Hills to Hawkesbury Living Magazine - - History -

Colo­nial Gover­nors Sir Ge­orge Gipps (1838-46) and Sir Charles Au­gus­tus Fitz Roy (1846-55) de­vel­oped 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 with gun­pow­der charges be­ing used to bring down por­tions of the cliff. The ex­plo­sions were ea­gerly watched by spec­ta­tors on the Bal­main penin­sula, 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 ship-build­ing 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. You can eas­ily visit Cock­a­too Is­land, a fas­ci­nat­ing ship­ping mu­seum.

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 and in­vites you to come and visit by catch­ing a Sydney Ferry from Cir­cu­lar Quay.

Huge Hard Hat Diver model on Cock­a­too Is­land

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