Fort Denison

Fort Denison is a historic heritage site located on a small island in Sydney Harbour

View of Fort Denison with the dining terrace in the foreground and the Martello tower in the background
View of Fort Denison with the dining terrace in the foreground and the Martello tower in the background cc licensed photo by zcasper

Fort Denison is a historic site located in harbour on an island a little north of the Royal Botanic Gardens. The old fortification is rich in history and now has both a museum and restaurant. Today, Fort Denison is operated my the NSW Parks and Wildlife Service.

Europeans first named the small island Rock Island in 1788, but that name was short-lived. After a convict was sentenced to a week of confinement on the island with just bread and water the island became known as Pinchgut Island. Fear of a foreign invasion of Sydney spawned fortification of the island which included construction of Australia's one and only Martello tower, the last to be built in the British Empire. The on again, off again construction began in 1841, however, by the time the fortification was completed in 1857, it was largely out of date due to advances in weaponry.

In 1913 a lighthouse beacon was built on the roof of the Martello tower. Recently restored, it is still signaling ships to this day. Beginning in 1906 a canon was fired from the island each day at one o'clock for sailors to set their chronometers. The practice was stopped during World War 2 to avoid confusion in case of an actual attack. In 1986 the tradition was restored and still carries on today.

There is so much more to the story behind this famous Sydney landmark and a tour of the museum is an ideal way to experience and learn more about its intriguing history. In order to visit the island fort and the restaurant, you take a ferry to get there. Matilda Cruises and Captain Cook Cruises provide regular passenger service to the island. The fare includes the landing fee charged by NSW National Parks and Wildlife Services. If you wish to tour the museum you must pay an additional fee. If you would just like to get a close view of the island without actually going there, a harbour cruise on Sydney Ferries is a great option.

Facts For Your Visit

Fee: Yes - Charges apply for ferry transportation and park fees plus there are additional charges for the optional museum tour.'

Directions

Ferry Line Nearest Station Walking Time
T2 or T3 + FerryCircular Quay 1 minute

How to get to Fort Denison by Ferry

By Train: Take a T2 or T3 train to Circular Quay Railway Station, exit and follow the signs to Wharf 6. Ferries run every 30 to 45 minutes between 9.30am and 4pm.

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Close up views of Fort Denison from the water and dock

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