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A heritage crane on Cockatoo Island in Sydney Harbour.

Online exhibitions

The Harbour Trust has partnered with Google Arts & Culture since 2020 to broaden the ways in which Australians can experience our extraordinary places on Sydney Harbour and to showcase these important sites to a wider audience.

We are proud to be part of the community of cultural institutions with a presence on Google Arts & Culture – an online platform making the cultures of the world accessible to anyone, anywhere.  To date, more than 2,000 institutions from across 80 countries have harnessed the immersive storytelling potential of this exciting digital resource.

As the caretaker of built and natural environments that occupy a significant place in the nation’s historical narrative and cultural landscape, we have an obligation to reveal and amplify their mix of First Nations, convict, colonial, and defence heritage significance for diverse audiences.

Google Arts & Culture presented an opportunity to share our protected sites with a wider audience, including remote communities, Australians living interstate and people living abroad. As with our other digital initiatives, the exhibitions we host on Google Arts & Culture enable people to overcome the tyranny of distance and connect with our beloved visitor destinations We encourage you to discover our online exhibitions. We hope you find them informative, immersive, and inspiring.


Online exhibitions

Our online exhibitions blend historical information and archival imagery with 360 footage, contemporary photos, and videos to celebrate what makes our heritage destinations so iconic.

5 Endangered Plants & Animals at North Head Sanctuary

Located in Gayamagal Country at the northern entrance to Sydney Harbour, North Head Sanctuary is a short drive from iconic Manly Beach. A coastal bushland borded by dramatic cliffs, North Head Sanctuary is home to a vibrant but vulnerable community of plants and animals.

North Head Sanctuary features a critically endangered plant community known as Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrub (ESBS). Other vegetation includes heathland, littoral rainforest and wetland, comprising ferns and colourful wildflowers. This plant life provides a refuge for echidnas, reptiles, frogs and 100+ species of birds.

North Head Sanctuary is also home to an endangered population of long-nosed bandicoots, as well as locally extinct species that have been reintroduced; namely, the eastern pygmy possum, brown antechinus and bush rat.



Hollo's Harbour Reflections – Parts 1 and 2

Launched in collaboration with celebrated oil pastel artist Nick Hollo, this immersive, two-part experience – titled Hollo’s Harbour Reflections – depicts our beloved destinations on Sydney Harbour in vibrant oil pastel.

In addition to being a prolific artist, Nick had the privilege of joining the Harbour Trust at its inception. He began his journey as the agency's Head of Design & Planning, and later served as our Deputy Executive Director, before retiring in 2015 to focus on his art.

Harnessing Nick’s unique visions, Hollo’s Harbour Reflections distils why the extraordinary places protected by the Harbour Trust have become beacons of inspiration for so many.

Discover 7 Extraordinary Places on the World's Best Harbour

Owing to their natural beauty, heritage buildings and layered histories, our network of beloved sites on Sydney Harbour is a rich source of exploration and discovery. Journey with us as we introduce you to seven extraordinary places under our protection. We'll chronicle their nationally significant stories, and you'll gain hints and tips for your next visit. 

First Nations Stories of Sydney Harbour

The Harbour Trust is the steward of heritage sites in Borogegal, Birrabirrigal, Cammeraygal, Gadigal, Gayamagal, Wallumedegal and Wangal Country. Acquaint yourself with the Traditional Custodians and Owners, and discover why our iconic destinations are significant for the First Nations peoples of Sydney and beyond.

Image credit: 'Port Jackson, New South Wales' (painting, c. 1825) by Augustus Earle, State Library of NSW, Rex Nan Kivell Collection (NK12/22). 

The Secret Military History of North Fort's Plotting Room

Concealed within bushland at Manly, the Plotting Room is part of North Fort, a remnant military complex. The underground facility was vital to Sydney’s defences during World War II, receiving enemy craft intel from – and sending it to – coastal artillery batteries. Here, we demystify the Plotting Room, previously shrouded in secrecy, and detail the volunteer-led project to faithfully restore it.

Image credit: Aerial view of North Head Sanctuary, Manly (photograph, 2019) by Nearmap.

Iron Giants – The Heritage Cranes of Cockatoo Island

Formerly a ship-building complex, Cockatoo Island played a major role in Australia's maritime affairs from 1857 to 1991. Today, 17 steam-powered and electrical cranes survive from this era, contributing immeasurably to the island’s industrial terrain and Sydney's iconic skyline. Paired with the island's remnant dock facilities, they provide a window into a period spanning 134 years. Get up close and personal with some of the island's Iron Giants. 


Macquarie Lighthouse – Celebrating Two Centuries of Light

Located along the Federation Cliff Walk at Vaucluse, Macquarie Lightstation is the site of Australia’s first lighthouse. Completed in 1818, Macquarie Lighthouse was designed by convict architect Francis Greenway for Lachlan Macquarie, the Governor of NSW. Owing to crumbling foundations, a replacement tower was later designed by James Barnet. Here, we illuminate the nation’s oldest continually operating navigational light source. 

The Story of Sub Base Platypus, North Sydney

Formerly a torpedo factory, submarine base and gasworks, Sub Base Platypus is a community recreation and work hub in North Sydney, homeland of the Cammeraygal people. Join us as we vividly chart the evolution of the site in response to the nation's changing energy and military requirements throughout the 19th and 20th century. Plus, discover how the public domain, which opened in 2018, pays homage to the different layers of history.

Image credit: North Shore Gas Works, Neutral Bay (photo, 1917), Stanton Library (Call No. PF2274)

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Helpful links

Did you enjoy our online exhibitions? You may be interested in these additional webpages, resources and experiences.