On Friday 15 September, the Minister for the Environment and Water, the Hon. Tanya Plibersek MP, officially opened the new Torpedo Factory Precinct at Sub Base Platypus. Formerly a torpedo factory, submarine base and gas works, Sub Base Platypus is a community recreation and work hub in North Sydney, homeland of the Cammeraygal people.
Harbour Trust Executive Director, Janet Carding, oversaw the proceedings, which began with a memorable Welcome to Country by Alison Page, Acting Chair of the Harbour Trust. During her speech, Alison highlighted the importance of weaving First Nations stories and perspectives into protected heritage sites like Sub Base Platypus and providing experiences for all Australians.
A special highlight of the ceremony was an address from Commander Sandy Coulson CSM, the first female Executive Officer (XO) at an operational naval base. Coulson reflected on her time in charge of the HMAS Platypus which saw her serve as the Executive Officer alongside a senior Submarine Commander between 1988 and 1990.
The formalities culminated with Minister Plibersek cutting the ribbon to officially open the contemporary precinct to the public.
To celebrate the opening of the Torpedo Factory Precinct, we hosted a community day on Saturday 16 September. The event benefitted from a huge community turnout as well as idyllic weather. Throughout the day, attendees had an opportunity to explore the new precinct, which overlooks Neutral Bay, and partake in activities that showcased not only its public utility but also its layered story and connection to Country.
Watch the video below to see a timelapse of the major work that occurred between July 2022 and September 2023 to revitalise the former Torpedo Factory as a contemporary precinct.
The festivities commenced with a traditional Aboriginal performance and smoking ceremony led by Elder, educator, and artist Walangari Karntawarra with Diramu Aboriginal Dance and Didgeridoo. The performance fostered a strong sense of community spirit as both children and adults eagerly participated in traditional dances.
A highlight of the day was the unveiling of 'Around the Curve,' a stunning new artwork by Kamilaroi/Gamilaraay artist Dennis Golding that was guided by and celebrates Country. Dennis designed the elements of the three-piece artwork – a vibrant wall mural, a meandering floor pattern and perforated metal screens – with young First Nations people from the La Perouse community.
Watch the timelapse video below to see ‘Around the Curve’ being created by Dennis and his team, which included his mother Vicki Golding – a proud Biripi woman and artist.
Later in the day, Dennis and his mother Vicki spoke passionately to attendees about their collaboration on 'Around the Curve', including its significance and the artmaking process. Meanwhile, our brand new Sub Base Stories Tour, which ran throughout the day, was a huge hit... every single session was booked out!
A big thank you to everyone who helped make today such a memorable experience: Walangari Karntawarra and Diramu Aboriginal Dance & Didgeridoo, Dennis Golding, Vicki Golding, Eaton Gorge Theatre Company (RRRR Pirates), the Naval Historical Society of Australia, musicians Anieszka and Viet, Ensemble Theatre, Dolce Baci Bacio Gelateria, homewares and furniture brand Koskela, The Little Marionette, Dirty Bird Food Truck, our team of guides and volunteers… and, of course, the community.
With the opening of the new Torpedo Factory Precinct, the Harbour Trust has turned its efforts to opening a new foreshore park. Wirra Birra Park will be situated on the sandstone bench at the foot of the new Torpedo Factory Precinct and will provide visitors with a landscaped space where they can connect with Country and learn about native plants. Stay tuned!