You’ve arrived at Stop 1 on this interactive walk.
We invite you to cast your eyes to the stretch of water in front of you.
Do you see the series of four striped markers sticking out of the water? These poles are known as cardinal marks and they indicate the location of Sow and Pigs Reef.
You might wonder what this reef has to do with the military history of Middle Head / Gubbuh Gubbuh. But its strategic importance should not be underestimated.
As for invading ships to safely enter the harbour, they would need to avoid the reef and therefore sail well within range of the gun emplacements at Middle Head / Gubbuh Gubbuh.
Due to the reef’s low visibility and its location just inside the Heads, many ships and smaller boats have fallen victim to the rocky reef through the years.
This hazard has long been a double-edged sword – while keeping Sydney safe from potential attack it posed a danger to innocent sailors on the harbour.
To warn friendly boats, an iron beacon light was placed on the reef in 1820 – but there continued to be collisions.
Between the 1830s and early 1900s, a series of ships carrying bright lights (known as lightships) were anchored off Sow and Pigs Reef.
Today the reef is well marked and the risk is minimal. But smaller vessels should remain wary – with some still falling victim to the reef, even in more recent years.
Now that you’ve pondered this perilous reef – head on over to nearby Stop 2 to discover the Outer Fort.