Archaeological Item - Fort Phillip, Flagstaff and Observatory | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Archaeological Item - Fort Phillip, Flagstaff and Observatory

Item details

Name of item: Archaeological Item - Fort Phillip, Flagstaff and Observatory
Type of item: Archaeological-Terrestrial
Group/Collection: Transport - Water
Category: Signal Stations
Primary address: Observatory Park, Millers Point, NSW 2000
Local govt. area: Sydney
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Observatory ParkMillers PointSydney  Primary Address


Physical description: Hig. Inv. No. 88.
Standing structure, largely intact.
Fortifications, Signal Station and Observatory.
Fort Phillip, 1804-1806. Sandstone fortifications.
Fort Phillip Signal Station, 1825-. Signal Station House, sandstone, 1847-1848. Messengers Quarters, 1862.
Observatory, 1857.
Footings and service trenches.
Further information: Category:BG_ArchSite Rating:MinimalDisturubance ZoningPlan:Yes

Heritage Inventory sheets are often not comprehensive, and should be regarded as a general guide only. Inventory sheets are based on information available, and often do not include the social history of sites and buildings. Inventory sheets are constantly updated by the City as further information becomes available. An inventory sheet with little information may simply indicate that there has been no building work done to the item recently: it does not mean that items are not significant. Further research is always recommended as part of preparation of development proposals for heritage items, and is necessary in preparation of Heritage Impact Assessments and Conservation Management Plans, so that the significance of heritage items can be fully assessed prior to submitting development applications.
Current use: Agricultural Residential


Historical notes: The "Eora people" was the name given to the coastal Aborigines around Sydney. Central Sydney is therefore often referred to as "Eora Country". Within the City of Sydney local government area, the traditional owners are the Cadigal and Wangal bands of the Eora. There is no written record of the name of the language spoken and currently there are debates as whether the coastal peoples spoke a separate language "Eora" or whether this was actually a dialect of the Dharug language. Remnant bushland in places like Blackwattle Bay retain elements of traditional plant, bird and animal life, including fish and rock oysters.

With the invasion of the Sydney region, the Cadigal and Wangal people were decimated but there are descendants still living in Sydney today. All cities include many immigrants in their population. Aboriginal people from across the state have been attracted to suburbs such as Pyrmont, Balmain, Rozelle, Glebe and Redfern since the 1930s. Changes in government legislation in the 1960s provided freedom of movement enabling more Aboriginal people to choose to live in Sydney.

(Information sourced from Anita Heiss, "Aboriginal People and Place", Barani: Indigenous History of Sydney City )

First government windmill site 1797. Site of third government windmill 1804. Site of Fort Phillip, commenced 1804. Huts around this area, 1805. Gunpowder magazine, 1810-22; Flagstaff 1825. Later, site of Observatory.

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria f)
Assessed as rare historicaly Assessed as socially rare. Assessed as scientifically rare. Assessed as rare by the AHC. Assessed as rare (other).
SHR Criteria g)
Assessed as representative, historically. Assessed as socially representative. Assessed as scientifically representative. Assessed as representative by the AHC. Assessed as representative (other).
Assessment criteria: Items are assessed against the PDF State Heritage Register (SHR) Criteria to determine the level of significance. Refer to the Listings below for the level of statutory protection.

Recommended management:

An archaeological conservation plan. The building should be retained and conserved. A Heritage Assessment and Heritage Impact Statement, or a Conservation Management Plan, should be prepared for the building prior to any major works being undertaken. There shall be no vertical additions to the building and no alterations to the fa├žade of the building other than to reinstate original features. The principal room layout and planning configuration as well as significant internal original features including ceilings, cornices, joinery, flooring and fireplaces should be retained and conserved. Any additions and alterations should be confined to the rear in areas of less significance, should not be visibly prominent and shall be in accordance with the relevant planning controls.


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Archaeological zoning plan     
Heritage study     

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
The Rocks Archaeological Study0A1195   No

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenAnita Heiss Aboriginal People and Place, Barani: Indigenous History of Sydney City

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Local Government
Database number: 2425928

Every effort has been made to ensure that information contained in the State Heritage Inventory is correct. If you find any errors or omissions please send your comments to the Database Manager.

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