There are 9 islands in Sydney Harbour: Shark, Clark, Garden, Fort Dennison. Goat, Cockatoo, Spectacle, Snapper and Rodd. Thus far, I have blogged on Shark Island, Goat Island, Garden Island and Cockatoo Island. Recently, I accompanied 60 intrepid salts from the Maritime Museum out to Spectacle Island.
Spectacle Island lies between Cockatoo Island and the Birkenhead Point peninsular on the western side of the Harbour Bridge. Controlled by the Navy, it is not open to the general public and tours are rare occurrences. It is used for training courses for naval tactical response groups and to house the Naval Heritage Collection, which collects and stores naval items for display at Garden Island and travelling exhibitions around the nation.
Originally two small islands connected by a tidal isthmus -hence its name - the first building on Spectacle Island was a convict-built powder magazine completed in 1865, designed to take some of the pressure off Goat Island. The chief engineer was George Barney who also constructed Victoria Barracks, Circular Quay and Fort Denison as well as the moat on Goat Island. The magazine, seen here, was constructed of rock from the island as well as from nearby Cockatoo Island during the construction of its Fitzroy Dock.
Commander Shane Moore, who live on the island, was our guide through the heritage collection. His knowledge is deep and it is personal. He knows the origin of every item in his massive collection, that ranges from Spanish canons, through ships bells, naval uniforms (including buttons), ships insignia and regulation eating utensils.
The two hour tour is not long enough to do this remarkable island justice. The group from the Maritime Museum was gobsmacked at every turn. We saw the ship's compass from the German cruiser, Emden, destroyed off the Cocos Islands in 1914. There is Mawson's sled from his Antarctic expeditions.
A truly remarkable collection stored on this island in the harbour that most Sydney-siders do not know exists.