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Digital Harbour

arrow Check out our videos on heritage Sydney
Some of the most inspiring places in Sydney are protected by the Harbour Trust. From Cockatoo Island and North Head Sanctuary through to Headland Park and Sub Base Platypus, our heritage destinations are sources of exploration and intrigue.

Unable to visit any of our protected places in-person? Don't worry! Welcome to Digital Harbour, your one-stop-shop for lockdown activities, including videos and webinars as well as immersive exhibitions, in-depth articles, and opportunities to play. Here you'll be able to explore our heritage destinations online and delve into their layered stories, no matter where you are in Australia... or the world!

Immersive exhibitions

Our Google Arts & Culture exhibitions blend historical information and archival imagery with 360 footage, contemporary photos, and videos to celebrate what makes our heritage destinations so iconic…

Exhibition #1: 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. 

Exhibition #2: 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). 

Exhibition #3: 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.

Exhibition #4: 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. 

 

Exhibition #5: 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. 

Exhibition #6: 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)

DigiTalks

Our FREE webinar series, DigiTalks, will keep you engaged and informed at home, on your lunch break… or wherever you may be!

Running select Wednesdays, DigiTalks are an opportunity for attendees to gain rich insights into not only our heritage sites but also the world's best harbour. We invite you to register for our next DigiTalk.

Solitary Confinement Cells Convict Precinct Cockatoo Island Sydney Harbour 650X550

Reading nook

If you’re the sort of person who likes to find somewhere comfortable and sink your teeth into a work of historical non-fiction, whether it be a book or article, you’ve come to the right place…

Harbour History Hub

Our Harbour History Hub draws together the layered stories of our protected destinations into one central place. Discover why our network of heritage places has enduring significance for First Nations Peoples and learn how each fits into the nation’s convict, colonial and defence narrative.  

Image credit: 'Cockatoo Island from Balmain, near the coal mine' (watercolour, 1864) by Charlotte McNeilly, State Library of NSW (Call No. V1/Har/Coc I/1).

DigiTales Library

DigiTales are articles, by our talented volunteers, acquainting you with historical and contemporary figures synonymous with our heritage sites. Each DigiTale is an opportunity to learn about someone famous, infamous or obscure. Plus, you’ll also discover the distinctive voices of the passionate history buffs and writers in our volunteer team.

 

Image credit: 'Cockatoo Island, Parramatta River' (illustration, 1842) by John Skinner Prout, National Library of Australia, Rex Nan Kivell Collection (NK4395/11).

Videos

Our three videos series are an opportunity to learn about Sydney Harbour from subject matter experts and the people who lived or worked at our heritage sites…

DigiTalks Archive

The DigiTalks Archive is an opportunity to rewatch – or enjoy for the very first time – past instalments in our popular webinar series and gain rich insights into the history of Sydney Harbour, including our network of heritage destinations.

In Conversation

As part of our ongoing Oral History Project, volunteers interview people and gather spoken stories that vividly bring to life the history of our heritage sites. In Conversation is a new video series marrying archival imagery with audio recorded for our Oral History Project

Harbour Reflections

The Harbour Reflections series explores the layered history of our sites, including their place within the nation’s broader narrative. Three videos are currently available. One demystifies the military story of North Fort in Manly, the second documents Cockatoo island’s maritime era, and the third tells the origins of Sydney Harbour from the perspective of Coastal Sydney’s Traditional Owners.

Playtime

Looking to stave off boredom in your household or backyard? Check out Kids Corner, our one-stop-shop for activities and DIY project ideas! for kids...and kids at heart!

Kids Corner 

Young children can channel their creativity into a selection of download-and-print activities, including colouring-in  sheets, crosswords, construction projects and science experiments. Plus, they will learn about our special places on Sydney Harbour.

Some are homes to native animals such as long-nosed bandicoots, echidnas, and kookaburras, and many will ‘wow’ you with their natural beauty. Other places feature buildings that will transport you back in time such as Macquarie Lightstation and Cockatoo Island's Convict Precinct. One place emerged during the last Ice Age and another was a submarine base. All have enduring significance for First Nations Peoples. 

Two Kids Colouring In Sheet Cockatoo Island 650X550

Helpful links

Have you enjoyed Digital Harbour? You may be interested in the following...