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Harbour Trust Volunteers gardening at Middle Head in Headland Park, Mosman.

Harbour Trust celebrates National Volunteer Week

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3 min read
To mark National Volunteer Week (15 to 21 May), we wish to thank our incredible volunteers for generously contributing hours of their time to the Harbour Trust.

Harbour Trust volunteers support our vision in a diverse range of roles, from welcoming visitors in our visitor centres, guiding tours, gardening, restoration, environmental care, community speaking, oral history interviews, administrative support, maintenance and historical research. They enable us to not only deliver huge benefits to the community but also carry out capital works – such as restorations to heritage buildings and machinery – that amplify the rich stories of the extraordinary places we protect. They bring different interests, skillsets and perspectives to the Harbour Trust, but they are united in their passionate advocacy for our destinations.

Read up on some of their recent successes, including the ways in which they are helping us preserve and promote the heritage values of our heritage places on Sydney Harbour.

Battery Observation Post at North Head Sanctuary, Manly

Our Harbour Trust Volunteers have been working on restoring the Battery Observation Post at North Head Sanctuary in Manly. Led by Director of Projects, Libby Bennett and Volunteer Supervisor David McBeath, this project enables the Harbour Trust to further interpret and activate North Fort – a remnant military complex, crucial to the defence of Sydney during the Second World War. Volunteer contributions to this project have included the reconstruction of metal doors and window frames, painting and restoring and reproducing equipment. 

The Observation Post is associated with North Fort’s Plotting Room, an underground wartime bunker once shrouded in secrecy. The Plotting Room was vital to Sydney’s coastal defences during World War II, receiving enemy craft intel from – and sending it to – artillery batteries located along the coast from Port Stephens to Port Kembla, collectively known as Fortress Sydney.

Target course and speed was sent via telephone from observation posts to the Fortress Plotting Room and then onto the Battery Plotting Room, which relayed coordinates to North Fort’s guns. Due to the highly classified nature of those who operated the Plotting Room, their exploits were not revealed to the general public. In fact, to maintain the veil of secrecy around the underground facility, the Army prohibited photography. Learn more about the secret military history of the Plotting Room by viewing our free online exhibition here

Artefacts Catalogue and Display Project at Georges Heights, Headland Park

Jan Harrison, an extraordinary Harbour Trust volunteer, has played a vital role in the Artefacts Display Project at the our headquarters in Georges Heights, Headland Park. Jan's meticulous cataloguing skills and expertise have brought life to our artefact collection, providing invaluable insights into our rich history. From the delicate 1860s perfume bottle to the intriguing Chowder Bay Road fragments and beyond, each item tells a compelling story about our heritage places.

Not only has Jan catalogued hundreds of artefacts with detailed descriptions, measurements, and provenance, but she has also conducted extensive research to enhance our understanding of these objects within the context of our places. We are immensely grateful for her remarkable contributions and the countless hours she has selflessly devoted to the benefit of our heritage destinations on Sydney Harbour. 

Travelling Steam Crane No.1 at Cockatoo Island / Wareamah 

Our incredible specialist volunteers at Cockatoo Island / Wareamah have nearly completed restoration work on Travelling Steam Crane No. 1, which dates to the 1890s. By faithfully restoring the crane’s cabin and paint work, these diligent volunteers have wound back the clock on this magnificent iron giant and returned it to its former glory. 

Travelling Steam Crane No. 1 is the sibling of Travelling Steam Crane No. 2, which was previously restored by our volunteers. Located at Fitzroy Dock, The No. 2 Travelling Steam Crane played an indispensable role in the operation of the Island’s dry docks, placing props and scaffolding when ships docked for repairs. The crane operated on steam until the late 1980s, before being converted to oil firing. Today, thanks to the Harbour Trust’s Volunteer Restoration Team, the crane has been restored to its former, steam-powered glory. Both are rare examples of early steam-powered cranes and are among the oldest of their kind in Australia. Once completed, Travelling Steam Crane No. 1 will be fully functional and, like its sibling, will feature in public steam crane demonstrations.

In addition to the remarkable work of Several of our specialist restoration volunteers specialists are also several other members of our volunteer team are also assisting our education team to develop an exciting new crane tour – watch this space!


Thank you to our incredible volunteers for generously contributing their knowledge, skills and hours of their time to our extraordinary places on Sydney Harbour. 


Helpful links

Learn more about North Head Sanctuary, including it's history and our visitor experience.