Gooree traditionally served social and ceremonial purposes and also provided shelter, food and water. Other traditional names for the area include Taliangy, which refers to the stretch of water between Chowder Bay and Obelisk Beach.
Meanwhile, the name Chowder Bay dates to the 1830s when whalers made fish chowder from local oysters and pipis. From the 1890s until the late 1990s, the area served a variety of military uses. A key landmark from this era is the former Submarine Miner’s Depot, a nineteenth century naval building that today houses restaurants and other local businesses. It is the only remaining mine laboratory in Australia and the most intact facility of its kind in the world.
In the 1870s, the British Government withdrew its troops from the Australian colonies, and this meant that Australia had to create its own defence strategy. The NSW Government used parts of Mosman, including Chowder Bay, to realise this strategy.
In the 1890s, a base was built at Chowder Bay for the Submarine Mining Corps. Mines were attached to underwater cables that stretched across the harbour from Chowder Bay. These mines were designed to detonate if an enemy ship entered the harbour.
Eventually, technology rendered the underwater mines and cables obsolete, and the Submarine Mining Corps closed in 1922. After that, Chowder Bay became a depot and barracks for Army engineers, and in the 1980s, it was the site of the Army Maritime School. The Maritime School closed in 1997 and the military withdrew soon after.
Chowder Bay today
In 2000, the precinct was opened to the public as a result of lobbying by community advocacy groups. Today, the Harbour Trust continues to maintain Chowder Bay for public enjoyment.
Visitors can engage with local history, experience a rich aquatic habitat, take part in water activities, enjoy nature walks, and dine at local cafes and restaurants.