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Stop 4 – Military Village

Welcome to the fourth stop of 'In Defence of Sydney – An Interactive Walk of Middle Head / Gubbuh Gubbuh'.

At this stop, you'll discover Middle Head's former military village. To learn more, listen to the short audio clip below or click here to read a transcript of this stop.

    Did you know?arrow

    Fort to fort

    The forts you’ll see on this tour aren’t the only ones in the area. In fact, the first gun emplacement at Middle Head / Gubbuh Gubbuh was established nearby in 1801 (north of Obelisk Bay) as a response to the Napoleonic Wars. Dug out of sandstone, the ‘1801 Fort’ – also known as the Georges Head Battery – provided clear sight lines to vessels entering and leaving the harbour. Interested in exploring a set of demilitarised fortifications at nearby Georges Heights? Book tickets for the Harbour Trust's Tunnels and Gunners Tour, which runs on select Sundays.

    Interwar golf course

    During the interwar period this area was a golf course of all things! The end of World War I resulted in reduced military demand for the land here at Middle Head / Gubbuh Gubbuh. So, somewhat controversially, a golf course was established. The lease with Mosman Golf Club was made with a condition that if the Commonwealth required the land, it could take possession without compensation. The 24 hectare, 9-hole golf course was opened in 1924 with a clubhouse also built that year. Today, this clubhouse is the Burnt Orange restaurant.)

    Transcript for Stop 4arrow
  • You’ve arrived at the second last stop of In Defence of Sydney, our interactive walk of Middle Head / Gubbuh Gubbuh.

    Considering this area’s leafy, green outlook you’d be forgiven if you didn’t know it was once a hive of defence activity. So, how did this area come to be a thriving military village?

    Well, in 1940, the Australian Government – galvanised by World War II – reacquired this land for defence purposes.

    By the middle of the century, it was a bustling military outpost, complete with a parade ground that was constructed between 1955 and 1960.

    Do you see the brick buildings with green roofs just on the other side of Middle Head Road? Well, these buildings were originally built during the early 1940s to house the Anti-Aircraft and Fortress Engineering School.

    They have since served a variety of military uses, with countless units lived and trained here during the 20th century. This included the School of Military Intelligence, which operated here from 1958 to 1967.

    Against the backdrop of the Vietnam and Cold Wars, students learned foreign army tactics and were trained to resist interrogation. This involved being confined to enclosures, known as ‘tiger cages’, which were located near the headland’s Outer Fort.

    From 1963, the buildings were also used by the 1 Terminal Group – a division of the Royal Australian Army Service Corps. The group later became the ’10 Terminal Regiment’ and they operated locally until 1997. These buildings are now referred to as the 10 Terminal buildings in reference to their namesake Regiment.

    The Department of Defence vacated this area of Middle Head / Gubbuh Gubbuh in the late 1990s, and, in 2001, it was entrusted to the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust.

    An active Navy base still calls the headland home – with HMAS Penguin just a few hundred metres up the road in front Middle Head Road.

    While this road is now known as Middle Head Road, it was once a part of Military Road.

    Military Road is perhaps a more fitting name, given it was constructed in the 1870s to allow guns to be transported to the headlands of Mosman.

    Between 1871 and 1875 many large guns were rolled along Military Road to the forts here at Middle Head / Gubbuh Gubbuh.

    It’s time to cross this stretch of road and turn right – staying on the footpath to get to Stop 5.

Enjoyed this story? Head to Stop 5!
Now that you've heard the story of Middle Head's former military village, head to Stop 5 – A Headland For All. It is located a short distance from here.
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