What was, twenty thousand years ago, an inland hilltop some 15 kilometres to the east of the coastline and up to 120 metres above the then sea level is today a mere island which is some 400 m by 200 m in size.

Goat Island has suffered 14,000 years of rising waters and 200 years of extensive post-settlement clearing, labouring, levelling, quarrying and construction which has served to somewhat obliterate the natural features of the island.

From the moment the need to store gunpowder safely became a necessity the island was sacrificed. By 1861 there were in excess of 7000 barrels of gunpowder stored on the island or as the Colonial Secretary was advised ‘equal to about one million pounds of gunpowder, quite sufficient to send half of Sydney back to the old world’.

When that need ceased to exist its buildings and wharfs were abandoned and have not been actively maintained so that today you can witness the result of slow and relentless decay.

The Water Police Station.

The colonial water police boat was stationed on the north-eastern tip of the island. The principle activities of the force were to apprehend smugglers, prevent thieving on Sydney’s busy waterfronts, supervise harbour activities and prevent the escape of convicts by sea.

Harbour Masters Residence c.1902/03

The context I see the island in today is totally as an historic landscape which in itself has beauty in its setting and its old buildings and is a stark contrast to the 21st century city of Sydney with its dense commercialisation which is just across the water.


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