Dawes Point Heritage Precinct
Statement of SignificanceDawes Point tar ra is considered to be of National Heritage significance because of its important place in the history of Australia. Dawes Point tar ra is an integral part of Sydney Cove with its strong historical associations as the site of the first European settlement and the first contact between Aboriginal peoples and Europeans. Dawes Point tar ra was the site of the Colony's first Observatory and the termination of the Colony's first road. The Dawes Point Fort was the first substantial fortification and major element in Sydney Harbour nineteenth century defences, appearing in many early maps and views of Sydney as the developing heart of a new colony. It is one of the first places where the contact between the Aboriginal and European people was recorded; the Dawes Observatory represents the first scientific work in the colony; it was the first major site in the defensive strategies of the British colony (1791-1900); was an early British signal station; and it is strongly connected historically, physically and aesthetically with the surrounding heritage precincts of The Rocks, Millers Point and Walsh Bay and with the national icon - the Sydney Harbour Bridge.Due to its strategic position on the Harbour, Dawes Point was an integral link in communications and transport in the colony. Between 1790 and 1840 the Dawes Point Signalling Station enabled rapid transfer of advice on approaching ships and general communications between the South Head Signal Station and Parramatta where the Governor at times resided. Signalling was an important part of stability of the settlement informing the Government and the colonists of approaching ships. After 1840 a new Signal Station was established at Observatory Hill. From the Waterman's Steps (currently Ives Steps) between c.1830 and 1842 the infamous Jamaican ex-convict, Billy Blue ran the first regular Passage Boat across the narrowest part of the harbour. The busy inner harbour ferry trade of carrying horse drawn carts, drays and motor vehicles across the Harbour prior continued from Dawes Point until the opening of the Harbour Bridge in 1932. The remains of the Dawes Point Horse and Vehicular Ferry Wharves at Dawes Point are the only reminder in the Sydney CBD of this transport activity.The Cable Hut on the sea wall, possibly designed by James Barnet, Colonial Architect, is a landmark finely detailed sandstone cylindrical structure marking the access point for the submarine cables across the Harbour and reinforcing the historical theme of communications at Dawes Point.Dawes Point tar ra demonstrates the early nineteenth century Sydney Harbour Trust improvements to the inner harbourside areas and is a key component of the construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and its landscaping 1925-32. Dawes Point tar ra has connections with many historically prominent figures (especially engineers and architects), particularly Lieutenant William Dawes (1762-1836), Civil Architect Francis Greenway (1777-1838), Lieutenant Colonel George Barney (1792-1862), R.R.P Hickson and Dr. J.J.C Bradfield (1867-1943), each of whom was directly responsible for a significant layer in the history of the Point's built environment.Dawes Point tar ra, as part of the public domain of Sydney Cove and the setting of the international icons of the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House, is revered by many Australians for its aesthetic values, appearing in many widely distributed historic and contemporary images of Sydney. Dawes Point tar ra combines a range of urban landscape design features from the early twentieth century, exemplary of the changing tastes throughout this period. It continues to develop as a place for recreation, understanding history and culture and for celebration of key contemporary events and anniversaries.The 1788 - 1925 archaeological remains at Dawes Point tar ra are extremely important for their research potential particularly with regard to early land modifications and road building and to defence history. Dawes Point tar ra possesses technical value through the evidence in the Park of the cable anchors and tunnels used to construct the Sydney Harbour Bridge and historical value because of the use of Dawes Point tar ra generally as Sydney's first Government sanctioned ferry crossing and later as southern structural node of the Bridge. Dawes Point tar ra is valued by the local Miller's Point / Rocks community as a place for recreation and by much of the local and State-wide community for its heritage values.
Complex / Group
Recreational Park / Historic Reserve
Defence / Science
Construction Years: 1788 - 0
Physical Description: Dawes Point is a prominent landmark in Sydney Harbour, terminating the western arm of Sydney Cove. It includes Pier One and part of Walsh Bay, Dawes Point Park, the northern end of Lower Fort Street, Hickson Road and the Hickson Road Reserve, to the south it is bounded by the southern end of George Street. It has a rich documented history beginning with the one of the earliest recorded cultural exchanges between the Eora Aboriginal people and the First Fleet. Subsequently it remained in government ownership both as a place of strategic administration, defence and transport and as a place contributing to the magnificent landscape of our harbour city. The Point forms part of Sydney's historic Rocks precinct.Dawes Point consists of a large grassed area of relatively undeveloped land north of The Rocks below the Harbour Bridge. It contains the sandstone archaeological remains of the Battery, two powder magazines and the footings of the Officers quarters. The natural vegetation was removed by 1792, the current fig and palm trees date from the 1940's. Established as Crown land from a very early date, the site was a military compound between 1791-1900. Public access was allowed from 1878. The whole area was vested as a public domain following the opening of the bridge in 1932.The physical fabric of the precinct includes the southern Sydney Harbour Bridge Piers and Southern Abutment Tower. The Dawes Point Park and Hickson Road Reserve including the landscaping and plantings. The interpretive display of the Battery, associated building remains, cannon and cannon barrels. It includes part of Hickson Road, Lower Fort Street and bridge from Pier One over Hickson Road to Lower Fort St. Also included is the car park on Hickson Road across from Pier One and the seawall, retaining walls, steps and wharves.See also Dawes Point Battery (item no. 4500494) and Cannon (item no. 4500491)
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Historic Notes and Themes
Historical notes: Dawes Point is a prominent landmark in Sydney Harbour, terminating the western arm of Sydney Cove. It has a rich documented history beginning with the one of the earliest recorded cultural exchanges between the Eora Aboriginals and the First Fleet. Subsequently it remained in government ownership both as a place of strategic administration, defence and transport and as a place contributing to the magnificent landscape of our harbour city. The Point forms part of Sydney's historic Rocks precinct .The Aboriginal people who lived along the coastal area of Sydney were called the Eora. Their word for the peninsula was 'Tarra', and it was part of the territory of the Cadigal group of Eora people. Long before British settlement, groups of Eora inhabited this area, this is substantiated by archaeological evidence. Just to the south of the site in Cumberland Street a campfire radiocarbon dated to about 1500AD was uncovered. In it were the remains of a meal consisting of schnapper and rock oysters. Dawes Point is the place of one of the earliest attempts at conciliation being made with the indigenous occupants of Sydney. One young Cameragal woman named Patyegarang became friends with Lt William Dawes whose hut and observatory were situated at the point from 1788-1791. They learned to communicate, and Dawes recorded the Eora words and their English translations in his notebooks. This friendship is one of the earliest recorded cultural exchanges between the British and the Eora people.After the First Fleet arrived at Sydney cove in January 1788. Equipped with meteorological and astronomical books and instruments, Lt Williams Dawes had established an observatory by August on the point, which he named Point Maskelyne after the Astronomer Royal, Neville Maskelyne. However the point was subsequently referred to as Dawes Point. Lt Dawes had served in the American War of Independence and subsequently pursued studies in engineering and surveying. From this point Dawes was to observe and record a comet which it appears was never sighted, he also recorded meteorological observations and official time keeping for the colony. Dawes journals provided a detailed chronology of the early weather of the colony and is considered to be of great historical significance by the international scientific community. His work as an observer of the stars and calculations of time and his engagement with the Indigenous population as well as his peers represents a conciliatory and contemplative phase of the site's history. Evidence of the timber observatory survives only in rough sketch form, it is however, located on several maps and illustrations of Dawes Point indicating its location. It is speculated that it was built up against a rock outcrop to ensure the stability of the astronomical instruments. The building was demolished in 1791 to make way for the early battery. It was another thirty years before the colony constructed another observatory.Dawes Point juts out into the Harbour providing spectacular vistas both up and down the Harbour, this was immediately recognized as a position with strategic importance in terms of defence. The site was used for fortifications against the threat of European powers, and resulted in a sequence of armaments, powder magazines, guardhouses and officers' quarters. The military uses of the point were first instigated by Governor Phillip to establish the colony's first defences. A powder magazine was sited at Dawes Point in 1789, followed the next year by a signal station to communicate messages from The Gap at Watson's Bay to Sydney, and relay them up the river to Parramatta, where the Governor's second residence stood. The colony's first trafficable road was constructed by convict labour from Dawes Point to the first Government House near Bridge Street, to enable swift communication to the Governor of information from the signal station. After word arrived in Sydney about a dispute between England and Spain over the British presence in the Pacific, Dawes Point was chosen as the site for a permanent fortification to protect the settlement in case of an attack from other European Colonial powers in the region. In 1791 Dawes Point Battery was completed with guns taken from the Sirius. The colony's flagstaff was also relocated to the point so that it became the symbol of British presence in Australia.With the continual threat of attack particularly from the French in 1798, Captain Edward Abbot (1766-1832) was given the responsibility for the batteries of Dawes Point and Georges Head. He ordered improvements and by 1801 Governor King was able to state that Dawes Points Battery 'has been reconstructed and is now capable of annoying any vessels with effect'. Minor improvements continued to be made until 1819 when Governor Macquarie ordered the convict architect Francis Greenway to redesign it.In 1818 Greenway had built Fort Macquarie at Bennelong Point, this was a square-planned "castle" with circular bastions at each corner and a castellated square tower. Greenway continued the castellated Gothic theme in his upgrading of the Dawes Point Battery in 1819. The original plans have not survived, however from archaeological evidence, contemporary descriptions and illustrations an idea of the structure can be formed. The new guardhouse building took the form of a central "tower" with two projecting walls, each terminating in a small room, the whole castellated and producing the illusion, when viewed from the harbour, of a grand castle in a stage set. Greenway's design had diverted from the plans and produced a decorative Guardhouse high above the Battery, it was criticized for being an easy target rather than a strategically placed building for defence. The archaeological excavations revealed that the 1789 magazine was incorporated into the guardhouse. The former magazine became the basement to the guardhouse which was constructed on an artificial mound. This is evidenced by the finding of a foundation stone dated 1789 in the lower room of Greenway's Guardhouse during its demolition for the Bridge. The initials "RR" inscribed in the stone are probably those of Major Robert Ross, the stone is held by the Mitchell Library and on display in The Rocks Discovery Museum.Britain's involvement with the Crimean War (1854-56) aroused fears of a Russian Naval attack on the colony. Detachments of the Royal Artillery were sent to Sydney in 1856 to be stationed at the battery. This necessitated new buildings, the Officer's Quarters were built to the north of the Greenway building. On the other side of Lower Fort St a barracks were installed for the men. Five 42lb cannons were installed at the battery at this time and can still be seen in the reserve, although only one is in the original position and on a carriage. A lower battery was constructed about this time, which has not been subject to archaeological excavation. Photographs and maps from the late 1800s record the position and construction for these ramparts. Two subterranean powder magazines were uncovered during the 1995 archaeological investigations, no historical plans or records for the construction of these magazines have been located but they are believed to have been built between 1857-1860. As part of ongoing military activity, other buildings were erected on the site near the Sentry Box at the foreshore of Dawes Point. One of these building which appears c1880s was known as the Drill Hall, it was a timber framed building and was relocated to Moore Park in 1911, prior to the construction of Hickson Road.In 1870 the battery was staffed by the Colonial Militia with at least one high ranking officer living with his family at the Dawes Point Officers Quarters and commuting to Victoria Barracks. Later, until 1902 the Battery was staffed by detachments from British regiments stationed in Australia. After Federation with the formation of the regular Australian Army, Dawes Point lost most of its military, with occupation ceasing in 1902.The presence of the Battery made adjacent areas of The Rocks and Millers Point a "Garrison Town" with the Military Hospital and the Garrison Church being formal evidence of this function. The whole western ridge of Sydney Cove up to the Wynyard Barracks had a military and naval flavour in contrast to the administrative role of the eastern spine of Macquarie Street.The construction of an Explosives Wharf and Sentry Box occurred between 1880-1882. The Sentry Box is located next to the Ives Steps and Wharf (initially used as the departure point for Billy Blue's passage across the Harbour) it is a cylindrical stone building to observe the foreshore area for defensive purposes. It was an important point for guarding the entry of the Battery. It is possible that the Sentry Box may have been designed by James Barnet, Colonial Architect, due to the careful detailing and execution of all elements in the structure. It became associated with early communications across the Harbour and was later used as an access point for telephone cables laid across the Harbour to the north shore. Another similar building existed at one time at Milson's Point. The Sentry Box site was the subject of political wrangles over ownership of Dawes Point between Federal and State Governments in 1904. Ownership was settled in favour of the NSW Government, along with the rest of the Reserve. The Sentry Box has been a landmark on the Harbour promenade having originally been designed and used for both defence purposes and as an access point for telephone cables. Later it came to be associated with the Sydney Harbour Bridge precinct being of significance to Sydney-siders and tourists as an icon and a regularly used photo vantage point. In 2000 the Sentry Box was dismantled and moved off site as part of the initiative to upgrade the promenade. The Sentry Box was reinstated in 2008 and an intrepretive installation explains its history and significance.The Sentry Box was situated several metres from the wharf known as the 'Explosives Jetty' to oversee the off loading of explosives from the Goat Island Powder Magazines. The explosives were used for the guns at Dawes Point with gunpowder being stored in the Battery's magazine. Two subterranean powder magazines were uncovered during the archaeological excavations in 1995, no historical plans or other records for the construction of the magazines has been located. The construction of Hickson Road in 1911-12 and the Harbour Bridge between 1925-32 severed the Jetty, Drill hall and Sentry Box from the rest of the Battery.The notion of transportation to and from Dawes Point was contemplated as early as 1816 when Jamaican, Billy Blue had petitioned Governor Macquarie for permission to establish a boat dock to ferry people across the Harbour, and in 1830 he ran a regular Passage Boat to Dawes Point with his sons and son-in-law. The boat dock was situated approximately where the Ives Steps Wharf are next to Pier One. The steps at this time were called Waterman's Steps, the name stemming from the individual 'watermen' who would row people the short distance from Dawes Point to Blues or Milson's Point for a small charge. They worked independently of Billy Blue, and had a bad reputation for strong language, being weak or drunk and rising the prices in periods of high demand. The steps were named after Alderman Isaac Ellis Ives around 1896. The likely departure point of the passage boats are evidenced in a Lycett picture of 1822 showing the point, it has a wharf, a shed and a road leading to it. The road was originally called George Street North, now Lower Fort Street, and is occasionally marked on maps as the 'road to the ferry'. The road extended down to the water before Hickson Road was built. During the construction of the Bridge this area again became a landing place with materials shipped across the Harbour from the workshops at Lavender Bay. Currently the Ives Steps Wharf is a landing place for commercial and recreational vessels as well as water taxis. Between 1879-82 the seawall was under construction, a photo of 1904 shows the wall without it's current iron railing. Walsh designed an improved seawall in 1900 of pre-cast reinforced concrete, on the waters edge and it proved to be rat proof at the request of the newly formed Sydney Harbour Trust. The seawall acquired its iron rail in 1911-12 matching others installed at Circular Quay.In 1878 the Colonial government decided to build a public promenade around the military compound, it is possible that some of the steps, cast iron picket fences and bollards date from the last decades of the nineteenth century, although they may have been relocated during the 1910-11 works which included the widening of Lower Fort Street. A plan of c1900 also shows that public baths had been constructed by this date, most likely around c1876.Following Federation in 1901 defence became the realm of the Federal Government, after heated debate it was agreed that Dawes Point Reserve was the property of the state and it ceased to have a military function. Some of the buildings were leased as private residences, and in 1909 the Water Police took over the Greenway guardhouse. From 1918 the Officers Quarters were used as a tractor training school by the Department of Repatriation to train soldiers returning from World War 1. A plan was drawn showing the area to the east of the battery reserved for the public with a series of footpaths. Also intended was the extension of Hickson Road around the point. The planning of the Harbour Bridge would have had some bearing on the layout of these features and in 1925 all the buildings were empty to make way for their demolition.The Horse Ferry Wharf appears to have been built in the last decade of the nineteenth century, it commenced service in 1901 to Blues Point. It was built to relieve the main vehicular ferry wharf from Bennelong Point to Milsons Point. The completion of the Sydney Harbour Bridge in 1932 made both services redundant. The large timber wharf was demolished leaving only the masonry ramp and retaining wall, which still exist today. It is possible that archaeological evidence of the wharf still exists below the water line.The Bubonic Plague scare in 1900 provided the New South Wales Government with the opportunity to acquire the harbour foreshore areas, including The Rocks, so that it could provide more modern and hygienic wharfage facilities. One of the primary concerns was the improvement of the wharfage facilities. The building of Pier One wharf replaced the former municipal baths building and necessitated the demolition of the general barracks associated with the battery. In the newly named Walsh Bay a further four finger wharves were built each with the same principle of an upper store connected to other roads by bridging across Hickson Road. Simultaneously, Lower Fort Street (then an extension of George Street) was widened and new retaining walls and stairs constructed at what is now the north-west corner of the reserve necessitating the removal of some of the battery outbuildings. A bridge from Lower Fort Street to the upper level of Pier One was constructed.The road that formerly had lead to the Horse Ferry Wharf was extended around Dawes Point and named Hickson Road, after the President of the Sydney Harbour Trust. The road then continued along the eastern side of Darling Harbour to meet with Sussex Street. In creating the road some timber-framed buildings were removed from what is now the site of the Bridge Pylon. The former explosives jetty with its sentry box became detached from the rest of the battery.A further consequence of the Rocks resumption on 1901 was the realignment of Cumberland Street. This occurred between 1913 and 1916, involving amongst other works, changing the junction of Cumberland Street at its northern end from George Street to Lower Fort Street. This work anticipated the building of the Sydney Harbour Bridge approach structure and approach spans. These works meant that Cumberland Street turned sharply running parallel with George Street for the last fifty meters before meeting Lower Fort Street at right angles. This left an area between the two streets, which was then subject to landscaping. Stone steps were constructed giving access from George Street, on a lower level, to Cumberland Street. A fountain, garden and public toilet facilities completed the structure, built 1916-20.Until the commencement of the construction of the Bridge approach, George Street terminated at what is now the north end of Lower Fort Street. To the east of the Stair/toilet block, was a roughly triangular space, the hypotenuse of which cut across the Reserve. When the Bridge was completed much of this triangle of land was incorporated into the Reserve and George St made to terminate at Lower Fort Street, what had been the northern end of George Street was then incorporated into Lower Fort Street.For the construction of the Harbour Bridge the battery and Greenway guardhouse were razed and on completion the ground levels around them were changed. The five cannon were removed to Taronga Park Zoo where they remained until their return to the Reserve in 1945. The Officers Quarters and another Officers' residential building was used as office accommodation for Dorman and Long, the engineers building the Bridge. Two "U" shaped tunnels were excavated in the second half of 1925, one on either side of the Harbour. The inlet for the southern shaft was situated on the site of the Greenway guardhouse, excavated to a depth of forty metres, and came out on the eastern side of the subterranean powder magazines. Through the shafts were threaded the 128 two inch thick cables intended to hold back each half of the bridge arches until they met in the middle. When the two half arches met on 19 August 1930 the cables, having served their purpose were removed and the shafts filled. On completion of the Bridge in 1932 the remaining battery buildings were demolished, although some of the sandstone retaining walls and steps in the vicinity of the Officers' quarters were retained.During the construction of the Bridge, Dawes Point was closed to the Public. Buildings, structures, most paths and trees were removed and the current arrangement of paths created on completion of the Bridge. Tree planting ceremonies were held at Dawes Point and Milsons Point in 1931 by the chief engineer Dr John Job Crew Bradfield. It is likely that these plantings were symbolic or experimental and no longer remain. Dr Bradfield's vision for landscaping around the Bridge seems to have been for Australian trees in a lawn setting. The planter boxes at the base of the abutment towers were to be planted with Poplars and Rosemary in a war memorial theme. It is uncertain if these plantings occurred, if so they have not survived.The avenue of 12 Ficus Hillii and other sub tropical trees were planted by the City Council in the 1940s with funds from the Harbour Bridge Project. In 1945 the five cannon from the battery were returned to the Park and reinstated about ten metres from their original position. They were fired regularly on ceremonial occasions up to 1973. Since its completion in the 1940s the Park has contributed strongly to the experience of Inner Sydney Harbour, providing a landscape for the setting of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and a precious recreational resource for the people of The Rocks and Millers Point. It has been a site of celebration for occasions such as the Bicentennial, the Olympics, Australia Day and New Years Eve.The archaeological excavations of 1995 and 2000 and the interpretation of the site opened in 2002 have provided an new focus of community interest in Dawes Point.See also Dawes Point Battery (item no. 4500494) and Cannon (item no. 4500491)
Historical significance: Dawes Point Tar-ra holds a significant place in the history of Australia. It is one of the first places where the contact between the Aboriginal and European people was recorded. (National significance).Dawes Point is the site of Australia's first scientific station, the Observatory, established in August 1788 by Lieutenant William Dawes for the Astronomer Royal, Nevil Maskelyne, on behalf of the Board of Longitude, in order to observe Halley's Comet. Dawes Point was the terminus of the first formal road in the colony. Originally a track beaten out in 1788 along a ledge of conveniently flat land, it later became known as George Street North.The construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge between 1925 and 1932 confirmed the important position of Dawes Point Tar-ra in the history of Sydney's transport system and the changing technologies in urban transport. The remains of the 1820s Watermen's Steps, the c.1896 Ives Steps, Horse Ferry and later Vehicular Wharf from the 1890s, together with the Bridge, demonstrate a sequence of historical transport modes contributing to the northerly development of suburban Sydney across this narrowest Point of the Harbour. Internationally the Bridge holds an important position in the history of civil and structural engineering, recognised as a National Engineering Landmark by the Institution of Engineers and as an International Historic Civil Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Civil Engineers. The bridge was designed by Dr J. J. C. Bradfield, one of the most important Australian engineers of the twentieth century. The history and method of its construction continues to inspire pride in Australia's engineering abilities. Physical evidence of this masterpiece of engineering construction remains in the 'U' shaped cable tunnel buried in the sandstone bedrock beneath Dawes Point Tar-ra Park.The recreational use of the Point, formally recognised in 1878, is representative of Sydney's strong association with its Harbour, beyond its transport and industrial uses. As public open space Dawes Point Tar-ra is strongly linked to the twentieth century Rocks and Miller's Point communities as an oasis of green in an increasingly urbanised society.
Aesthetic significance: William Dawes' detailed record of the weather at Dawes Point from 1788-1791 provides a strong foundation upon which the climatological and meteorological history of Australia is based and is of great historical significance to the international community. It was the first major site in the defensive strategies of the British colony (1791-1900). Due to its strategic position on the harbour, Dawes Point was an integral link in communications in the colony. Between 1790 and 1840 the Dawes Point Signalling Station enabled rapid transfer of advice on approaching ships and general communications between the South Head Signal Station and Parramatta where the Governor at times resided. The Cable Hut is associated with early communications industry and continues to mark an access point for the submarine cables across the harbour to the North Shore. The Cable Hut, possibly designed by James Barnet, Colonial Architect, is a rare finely detailed sandstone cylindrical structure that is a landmark on the harbour foreshore.Aesthetically, Dawes Point Tar-ra contributes to the magnificent landscaped setting for the internationally recognised icons of Australia - Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Opera House and Sydney Cove. The sheer size of the Harbour Bridge and its massive construction components are awe-inspiring when viewed from Dawes Point Tar-ra. The Bridge is one of Australia's major internationally recognised icons. Dawes Point Tar-ra combines a range of urban design features from the early twentieth century, exemplary of the changing tastes throughout this period. The unpainted, rendered retaining walls and pilasters of the Hickson Road retaining wall (1920s) are particularly distinct, intact examples of Inter-War Stripped Classical civic design. The Bridge Abutment Towers and Piers (1925-32), designed by Thomas Tait of the prominent British firm, Tait and Burnet, make an important ensemble of Art Deco design. The simple, relatively open landscaping of the majority of the Dawes Point Tar-ra Park is representative of park designs of the early twentieth century and results partly from the need for a simple setting for the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Canary Island Palms on the harbour promenade and an avenue of Fig Trees in the Park are indicative plantings of the 1910s and 1940s respectively. The open space is representative of the pressure placed on Sydney Council from the late nineteenth century to provide "promenade" access to the Harbour in the vicinity of Sydney.
Social significance: Dawes Point Tar-ra, as part of Sydney Cove and the setting of the international icons of the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House, is revered by the majority of Australians. Next to the Park Hyatt, Sydney, Hickson Road Reserve is the most popular of all the foreshore areas for filming and photography with its extensive views of the harbour, Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge.Dawes Point Tar-ra is important for its cultural values to several identifiable groups within NSW society including present and former residents of the Rocks and Millers Point; people involved in the fight to save the Rocks in the 1970s; descendants of the many artillerymen and their families who were stationed at Dawes Point Tar-ra; and Bridge construction and maintenance workers, their families and descendants.Dawes Point Tar-ra, as a setting for the Harbour Bridge, is valued for its aesthetic and engineering significance by several identifiable groups including the Institution of Engineers (Australia) and the Royal Australian Institute of Architects.
Research significance: The archaeological potential has been demonstrated in the 1995 excavations. The remains of the Dawes Point Tar-ra battery remain exposed awaiting conservation and interpretation. The site still contains a significant archaeological resource unexcavated. The post 1788 archaeological remains at Dawes Point Tar-ra revealed to date are extremely important for their research potential. Such archaeological sites from the 18th century are exceedingly rare with the remains of First Government House and parts of the Dockyard on the western side of the Cove being some of the few examples bearing witness to the first 10 years of European settlement at Sydney Cove. Only a handful of the colonial architect Francis Greenway's structures survive. With the excavation of the semi-circular battery an interesting part of his work has been rediscovered. Likewise, Greenway's quarry on the site is the only example of the careful mining of stone from this period in Sydney. The archaeology of the Battery floor and underground magazines also reveals elements constructed under the direction of Lieutenant Colonel George Barney, one of Australia's most important Colonial Engineers in the mid nineteenth century, such as the 1850s gun emplacements. Together with the presence of the cannon from this time, on their original timber block supports the Battery is an important archive of military history. The archaeological remains also have a strong aesthetic appeal as evocative ruins of Australia's colonial past. The Cable Hut may have Technical/Research potential for its ability to reveal information about the development of early submarine cabling.There is likely to be maritime archaeological evidence associated with both the former Horse and the Vehicular Ferry Wharves at Dawes Point tar ra. (Local significance)
Rare assessment: Dawes Point Tar-ra is an integral part of Sydney Cove with its strong historical associations as the site of the first European settlement and the first contact between Aboriginal peoples and Europeans. Dawes Point Tar-ra was the site of the Colony's first Observatory and the termination of the Colony's first road. The Dawes Point Fort was the first substantial fortification and major element in Sydney Harbour nineteenth century defences, appearing in many early maps and views of Sydney as the developing heart of a new colony. Dawes Point, has been the site of continuous European occupation since the first months of settlement for government (mainly defence), transport, recreation and as an early, possibly the first, colonial/aboriginal burial site.Dawes Point maintains vestiges of all periods of its occupation. Since 1788 the Point has been terraced and filled with each successive land use. All of these land uses have been closely linked with the site's unique position, occupying a prominent headland with vistas up and down the Harbour. Dawes Point Park still encompasses more than 90% of the area set aside for military purposes in the late 18th century. Very little of this area has been alienated from public use, providing potential for interpretation of the layers of history since 1788.
Representative assessment: Dawes Point is the narrowest part of the drowned river valley, Sydney Harbour. It is a modified landscape that retains evidence of the original Hawkesbury sandstone landform.Dawes Point, The Rocks and Millers Point areas, are particularly notable for their evidence of the early colonial settlement and cemetery as well as convict workmanship.The structure of the Bridge effectively tied the north and south shores together, and in conjunction with the remains of the Horse Ferry Wharf, demonstrates the northerly development of urban and suburban Sydney.
Intact assessment: Archaeology partly disturbed, however there remains a large potential archaeological resource throughout the precinct.
Physical condition: The first known building on the site was Dawes' observatory built in early 1788. A powder magazine was constructed in 1789 followed by the Battery in 1791. It was expanded substantially in 1819. Further buildings in relation to the Battery were constructed in the 1850s and at the end of the century. There was also a public baths constructed on the western side of the point, and several wharves. All buildings were levelled between 1925 and 1932 during the construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.The archaeological remains revealed to date are unparalleled in Australia because they represent a broad range of significant historical periods. Archaeological sites from the 18th century are exceedingly rare with only the remains of First Government House and parts of the Dockyard on the western side of the Cove bearing witness to the first 10 years of white settlement in the Sydney CBD. Only a handful of the colonial architect Francis Greenway's structures survive. With the excavation of the semi-circular battery floor an interesting part of his work has been rediscovered. Greenway's quarry on the site is a good example of the careful mining of stone from this period in Sydney. The archaeology of the Battery floor and underground magazines also reveals elements constructed under the direction of George Barney, one of Australia's most important Colonial Engineers in the mid 19th century, such as the 1850s gun emplacements. Together with the presence of movable heritage associated with the site , the Battery is an important archive of military history. The archaeological remains also have a strong aesthetic appeal as evocative ruins of Australia's colonial past.A lower Battery was located some 5-10 metres to the east of the main Battery. This consisted of a line of guns running north south. This area has not been investigated although it expected that remains survive under the Park landscaping. Together with the possible maritime archaeological remains of the wharves and ferry docks, Dawes Point has a significant archaeological potential.
|Australian Theme||NSW Theme||Local Theme|
|Peopling the continent||Activities relating to incarceration, transport, reform, accommodation and working during the convict period in NSW (1788-1850) - does not include activities associated with the conviction of persons in NSW that are unrelated to the imperial 'convict system': use the theme of Law & Order for such activities.|
|Developing local, regional and national economies||Activities associated with systematic observations, experiments and processes for the explanation of observable phenomena.|
|Governing||Activities associated with defending places from hostile takeover and occupation.|
|Developing cultural institutions and ways of life||Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities.|
|Developing cultural institutions and ways of life||Activities associated with recreation and relaxation.|
|Peopling the continent||Activities associated with maintaining, developing, experiencing and remembering Aboriginal cultural identities and practises, past and present.|
|Developing local, regional and national economies||Activities relating to the creation and conveyance of information.|
|Developing local, regional and national economies||Activities associated with the moving of people and goods from one place to another, and systems for the provision of such movements.|
|Building settlements, towns and cities||Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages.|
|Developing cultural institutions and ways of life||Activities associated with creating, maintaining, living in and working around houses and institutions.|
|Marking the phases of life||Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups.|
|Developing local, regional and national economies||Activities associated with the interactions between humans, human societies and the shaping of their physical surroundings.|
|Developing local, regional and national economies||Activities and processes associated with the knowledge or use of mechanical arts and applied sciences.|
|Building settlements, towns and cities||Activities and processes for identifying forms of ownership and occupancy of land and water, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal.|
|Building settlements, towns and cities||Activities associated with the provision of services, especially on a communal basis.|
|Educating||Activities associated with teaching and learning by children and adults, formally and informally.|
|Governing||Activities associated with the governance of local areas, regions, the State and the nation, and the administration of public programs - includes both principled and corrupt activities.|
|Heritage Listing||Listing Title||Listing Number||Gazette Date||Gazette Number||Gazette Page|
|Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage register|
|Register of the National Estate||1/12/036/0323||Dawes Point Park & Reserve||21/03/1978||2124|
|National Trust of Australia Register||7305||Dawes Point Vehicular Ferry|
|Regional Environmental Plan||SEPP 56|
|Within a National Trust conservation area||10499|
|Local Environmental Plan||CSH LEP 4||07/04/2000|
|National Trust of Australia Register||7305||11/02/1974|