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 currently closed for maintenance and conservation work. It is expected that it will re-open late in 2022

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off again construction began in 1841, however, by the time the fortification was completed in 1857, it was largely out of date due to advances in weaponry.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.

Address: Pinchgut Island, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia

Phone: 1300 072 757

Official Website: Fort Denison

Fort Denison Reviews

Rated 4.4 out of 5 Star Rating

5 Star Rating A must visit for tourists and history buffs! The guided tours are fantastic! Full of facts, figures and fun stuff! Make sure you catch the firing of the canon around lunch time! Plan so that you can catch the ferries to and from Circular Quay Unfortunately they're closed in 2024 for renovations?
Peter Dan Harding - a month ago

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4 Star Rating You will pass this historical fort by many ferries route of Manly or Watsons bay. Not sure if open for public. Maybe by a special tour or other event for dining etc.
Marko Smith - 6 months ago

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5 Star Rating Fort Denison. Also known as Pitch Gut by the Convicts. Why? Fort Denison was established well before San Quentin State Prison (SQ). Another First for Australia (Royal National Park, south of Sydney is the world's First National Park - Initially it was a Park, later becoming a National Park but always a Park). The worst Convicts were taken to Fort Denison with a week's ratios and left there for at least a month. They would get hungry and their gut would pinch with starvation. Being an Island, it not require any human guards. The indigenous guards were our famous SHARKS. Most English, Scottish, Irish people do not know how to swim or they bloody learn very quickly or drown. Unlike San Quentin, many determined and hungry Convicts did swim and escape Fort Denison. They swam north away from the Southern shores of the First Settlement. On the North Shore local Aboriginal peoples feed them and integrated the white Convicts into their natural living ways of happiness, harmony with nature without exploration of the natural environment. The world has many lessons from our Aboriginal communities. One O'clock every day, a Canon is fired to allow Sydney siders to set their watches and clocks. I regularly re-calibrate my phone this way. Surprisingly my phone is incredibly accurate.! NSW State Survey Mark (reference : Sydney australia. com.au) PINCHGUT ISLAND : Thus marked on early charts by first fleeters after the British nautical term 'pinchgut: for a narrow channel. Such a channel exists between the island and Mrs Macquaries Point.
Abbey Road - 3 months ago

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5 Star Rating Melbourne trip,all good, nice sunny day,big Benz van,lady driver, admire her
Honest Lee - a year ago

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4 Star Rating Love the place, has a very good look!
Nicolas Pelliccia - 4 months ago

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Directions

Ferry Line Nearest Station Walking Time
T2, T3, or T8 + FerryCircular Quay 1 minute

How to get to Fort Denison by Ferry

By Train: Take an L2, T2, T3, or T8 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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