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The Harbour Trust celebrates 20 years

arrow WATCH: The Harbour Trust 20th Anniversary Event
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust, established in 2001 to protect nationally significant sites on Sydney Harbour.

To celebrate this milestone, we are proud to share a series of videos telling the Harbour Trust’s story from the perspective of our community. Filmed remotely during the 2021 lockdown, the series will introduce you to the passionate individuals who laid the agency’s foundations and contributed to its growth and direction – all in defence of the world’s best harbour.

In addition to a four-part docu-series, our videos include interviews with some of the people who built and shaped the Harbour Trust. Our agency was announced by the Federal Government on 5 September 1998 and plans for an interim Harbour Trust were unveiled on 13 March 1999. The Harbour Trust formally commenced on 20 September 2001. These videos show the community paved the way for the Harbour Trust and have been on a journey with us ever since.  

We invite you now to enjoy our commemorative videos...


Origin story

Featuring first-hand accounts, this compelling docu-series looks at the origin, growth and future of the Harbour Trust, including the iconic places we protect on Sydney Harbour...

Video interviews

Watch 21 insight-rich interview videos and meet some of the Harbour Trust's key personalities, including public parkland advocates, community leaders, First Nations representatives, veteran volunteers, former Defence personnel, and Harbour Trust staff, past and present...

Hon. Sussan Ley MP

In this special video, the Hon. Sussan Ley MP, the now former Minister for the Environment, congratulates the Harbour Trust’s community for their contribution to the People of Australia. The Minister also shares what the Harbour Trust and Sydney Harbour mean to her.

Robyn Lewis

Veteran Harbour Trust volunteer Robyn Lewis has the distinction of being both our first female tour guide and non-military guide. In this video, Ms Lewis tells us how she came to be a guide, and what she gets out of volunteering for the Harbour Trust, and her strong connection to Sydney Harbour

Geoff and Judy Lambert

As long-time members of the North Head Sanctuary Foundation, environmentalists Geoff and Judy Lambert have dedicated themselves to protecting and celebrating nature at North Head/ Car-rang-gel. In this video, the husband-and-wife team discuss their passion for North Head Sanctuary, which features one of Sydney's few remaining patches of Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrub, and their partnership with the Harbour Trust.

Joseph Carrozzi AM

In this video, Joseph Carrozzi AM highlights the responsibilities of the Harbour Trust as an agency “established by the community, for the community”. The Chair of the Harbour Trust also discusses the important role the community plays in our efforts to protect heritage sites for future generations, and thanks the community and the government for their continued faith and support. 

Libby Bennett

In this video, Libby Bennet – a heritage architect with 30+ years’ experience in the field of conservation – reflects on her life-changing career with the Harbour Trust. Ms Bennett, who is Director of Projects, discusses the amazing opportunities she has had to restore heritage buildings on Sydney Harbour. These have included revitalising run-down buildings and sympathetically repurposing them for new use as well as her personal highlight – the excavation, conservation, and reconstruction of Cockatoo Island’s convict era Solitary Confinement Cells.

Geoff Bailey

In this video, Geoff Bailey – the inaugural CEO of the Harbour Trust –  discusses his time at the helm of the agency. He also describes how incredibly rewarding it was to help provide the people of Australia with access to extraordinary places on Sydney Harbour that were previously off-limits to the public.   

Linda Bergin OAM

In this video, Linda Bergin OAM – a long-time public parkland advocate – reflects on the circumstances that led to her becoming the Founding President of the Headland Preservation Group (HPG). Ms Bergin also discusses the pivotal role of the HPG and working with the Defenders of Sydney Harbour – a coalition set up by Phil Jenkyn OAM to protect nationally significant Defence sites and preserve them for the public in perpetuity. Through her involvement with the HPG and the Defenders of Sydney Harbour, Ms Bergin helped set up a statutory framework for the Harbour Trust.

Jill L’Estrange

In this video, Jill L’Estrange – the President of the Headland Preservation Group (HPG) – describes as "heartening" the multipartisan support for the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust Amendment Act 2021 (Cth). The Act was passed in June 2021, enabling the Harbour Trust to protect its network of heritage sites for all Australians in perpetuity. Ms. L’Estrange also describes the enormous pride she feels contributing to the preservation of iconic Australian lands, which are “the lungs of the city”, via the HPG’s work with the Harbour Trust.

Nick Hollo

In this video, Nick Hollo – the Former Deputy Executive Director of the Harbour Trust and an accomplished artist – recalls the ‘romantic, ruined beauty’ of the former Defence lands when they were handed to the Harbour Trust, and describes their uniqueness amongst other public spaces in Sydney owing to their heritage buildings and 'vistas of nature'. Mr Hollo also discusses his vibrant oil pastel depictions of heritage sites protected by the Harbour Trust. 

Peter Lawrence

Peter Lawrence is both a Harbour Trust Restoration Volunteer and the Honorary Treasurer of the Royal Australian Artillery Historical Company (RAAHC) at North Head Sanctuary. In this video, he reflects on his time stationed at North Head, Manly with the Australian Army, noting that the historical aspects of North Fort, including the tunnel system, were out of bounds to Defence personnel at that stage. He also touches upon the history of the RAAHC and discusses the opportunity he has had, as a volunteer, to uncover and share the military history of North Head Sanctuary.  

Susan Moylan-Coombs

In this video, Susan Moylan-Coombs – a proud Gurindji Woolwonga woman and the Founder and Director of the Gaimaragal Group – discusses her work for the community, including future generations, as part of the Harbour Trust’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group. Ms Moylan-Coombs also highlights the importance of protecting Country, including sites that have “different meanings to different communities”. She adds that the Harbour Trust is positioned to bring communities together and engage meaningfully and deeply with First Nations Peoples and businesses.

Kevin McCann AO

In this video, Kevin McCann AO – the Inaugural Chair of the Harbour Trust – acknowledges the "strong coalition of community groups" that worked with the Harbour Trust to “make a significant contribution, not just to Sydney but to NSW and Australia”. He also reflects fondly on the support provided by Jack Mundey AO, who was a defender of historic sites across Sydney, as well as Tom Uren AC, who was a Minister in the Whitlam Government, noting “It was an exercise in…community cohesion. We put aside our political differences.”

Phil Jenkyn OAM

In this video, Phil Jenkyn OAM reflects on the formation of the Defenders of Sydney Harbour Foreshores – a coalition of community groups that formed around the harbour and whose work paved the way for the Harbour Trust. Mr Jenkyn, the coalition’s Founder and Inaugural Chair, reminisces about the coming together of likeminded people to protect nationally significant sites on Sydney Harbour, and pays tribute to Tom Uren AC and Jack Mundey AO.

Julie Goodsir

In this video, Julie Goodsir – Vice President of the Headland Preservation Group (HPG) – discusses the legacy of her late husband Donald Henry Goodsir OAM, who was a founding member of the HPG and who served as President and Vice President between 1995 and 2010. Ms Goodsir also shares the idea that underpinned the HPG’s work and would help pave the way for the Harbour Trust; namely, the return of former defences sites to the public as a gift to commemorate the Federation of Australia.

Sandra Hall

In this video, veteran volunteer Sandra Hall reflects fondly on her two-decade journey with the Harbour Trust, and notes that her work for the agency continues to be fun, interesting, and meaningful, and that the comradery within the volunteer team “feeds [her] soul”.  She also shares the sense of wonder Cockatoo Island continues to inspire in her, and her strong familial connection to North Head Sanctuary, a place that she says “steals [her] heart”.

John Jeremy AM

In this video, John Jeremy AM, the final CEO of Cockatoo Dockyard Pty Ltd, reflects on the unique contribution Cockatoo Island made to the industrial, maritime, and naval development of Australia over a 134-year period (1857 to 1991) as well as the extensive modernisation of the dockyard during the 20th century. He also celebrates the island as a major source of employment for Australians, including apprentices, across a wide variety of skills and trades, noting the workforce was capable of “just about anything”.

Ken Williams

In this video, Ken Williams – a member of the Harbour Trust’s Community Advisory Committee for Sub Base Platypus – recalls his career as an electrician with the Royal Australian Navy, including his work aboard the Oberon-class submarines based at HMAS Platypus in North Sydney. Mr. Williams explains that while the underwater vessels he served on were cramped, there was a real sense of comradery amongst the submariners and HMAS Platypus was home with “friendly faces.” He also calls attention to the Submariner's Memorial at Sub Base Platypus, describing it as a tribute to Australian submariners who have lost their lives, including the three brave young men who passed away serving on an Oberon-class submarine.

Kevin O'Brien, CSC (RL)

Brigadier Kevin O'Brien, CSC (RL) – a military historian and retired senior army officer – has the distinction of being the first Non-Executive Director of the Harbour Trust to have served at one of the agency’s former defence sites. In this video, he reflects on his 33 years of service with the Australian Army, including his tenure at North Head in Manly. He recalls North Head being a ‘hive of activity’ when he arrived as a young officer during the Vietnam War and discusses his service at the School of Artillery, where he instructed gunnery officers during the 1970s.

Jean Hay AM

In this video, Jean Hay AM speaks to the enduring significance of the former School of Artillery to the Manly community, noting it was a ‘sad day’ when the school vacated North Head in 1998. Ms Hay, who was formerly both Mayor of Manly and Deputy Chair of the Harbour Trust, also shares how Bob Fulton – the legendary Rugby League footballer who won three premierships with the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles – fits into the military narrative of North Head.

John Platt, CSC

In this video, Colonel John Platt (Retd), CSC discusses his history with the Royal Australian Army’s School of Artillery at North Head, where he arrived as a junior officer in 1974 before rising to the rank of Commanding Officer in the mid-90s. He notes that being the final Commanding Officer of the School of Artillery at North Head (it was relocated to Puckapunyal, Victoria in 1998) was a ‘great honour’, due in part to its coastal parkland setting. Finally, he emphasises the importance of the Harbour Trust’s ongoing efforts to not only preserve the environmental qualities, First Nations heritage and military history of its protected sites but to also ensure the community’s connection to these sites endures.

Patrick Dodd

In this video, Harbour Trust volunteer Patrick Dodd details why Macquarie Lighthouse in Vaucluse – a navigational light source with a history spanning more than two centuries – remains one of the most iconic landmarks on Sydney Harbour. He also pays tribute to the lighthouse’s namesake Lachlan Macquarie, who was Governor of NSW from 1810 to 1821. Governor Macquarie, Dodd reveals, has been his “life-long hero” because he embodied the Australian value of the “fair go” by providing meaningful opportunities to convicts such as Macquarie Lighthouse’s original architect Francis Greenway. He adds that Governor Macquarie’s philosophy had a profound impact on him when he emigrated to Sydney from London in 1956. Today, Dodd honours Governor Macquarie’s legacy as the Founder and President of the Macquarie Society.

We thank you

For two decades, we have worked alongside the community to maintain and open extraordinary places...

These places include Cockatoo Island, North Head Sanctuary, Sub Base Platypus, Macquarie Lightstation, Woolwich Dock and Parklands, the former Marine Biological Station, and the precincts of Headland Park – Chowder Bay, Georges Heights, and Middle Head.  

We owe a debt of gratitude to everyone who advocated for our historic sites to be returned to the people of Australia. Due to your efforts, the natural and heritage values of our sites are being protected and meaningfully shared. 

We take this opportunity to acknowledge the Traditional Custodians and Owners of the lands and waters of Sydney Harbour, including the places under our stewardship. We pay our respects to the Borogegal, Birrabirrigal, Cammeraygal, Gadigal, Gayamagal, Wallumedegal and Wangal Peoples, including their Elders past, present and emerging.

Helpful links

Have you enjoyed our 20th anniversary documentary and interviews? You may be interested in the following…