Historical Military Museum including Breakwater battery and concrete tank barriers | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

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Historical Military Museum including Breakwater battery and concrete tank barriers

Item details

Name of item: Historical Military Museum including Breakwater battery and concrete tank barriers
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Defence
Category: Other - Military
Primary address: Gloucester Boulevard, Port Kembla, NSW 2505
Local govt. area: Wollongong City
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Gloucester BoulevardPort KemblaWollongong City  Primary Address

Statement of significance:

(Based on Military Study 2006): The Breakwater Battery remains are an integral part of the network of coastal batteries constructed to protect NSW's two major industrial areas of Newcastle and Port Kembla. Associated with the coastal defences of NSW during World War 2, the speed of construction indicates Australia’s rapid response to the threat of Japanese invasion. Part of the Kembla Fortress, Breakwater Battery was one of the three coastal batteries erected to protect the steel works lining the bay, all of which partially survive.
Date significance updated: 19 Dec 14
Note: The State Heritage Inventory provides information about heritage items listed by local and State government agencies. The State Heritage Inventory is continually being updated by local and State agencies as new information becomes available. Read the OEH copyright and disclaimer.


Construction years: 1939-1945
Physical description: The Military Museum was originally built as an observation post, disguised to resemble a block of flats. It is a four storey brick and concrete structure, with gun pill box and air raid shelter, in Functionalist architectural style. The Museum was orignally Command Post for Breakwater Battery, created in 1939 as part of strategic protection of Port Kembla against seaborne attacks. R Irving describes it as: "a multi-purpose structure which contained the range-finding apparatus in the top storey, searchlight control equipment below that and two non-operational floors below, fitted out as officers' flats. These residentiai quarters gave the building the nickname 'The Palace'. Two nearby gun emplacements once contained six-inch (15.2cm) guns together with semi-underground quarters for the gun crews and ready-use ammunition lockers. On the adjacent foreshores were the installations which housed the 90cm searchlights. The Command Post is a reinforced concrete structure, originally clad with brick so as to present an unwarlike appearance. Since the war the building has been used as a signal station for the harbour and in recent years has become a military museum." (20th Century Architecture in Wollongong, p. 82).
The Tank Barriers were placed on beaches to prevent tank movement - these particular ones were originally located at Berkeley Harbour. The barriers are 900-1200 mm high concrete tetra hedrons, in good condition.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Fair to good condition (2/10/90)
Modifications and dates: Concrete tank barriers moved from original location.
Current use: Military Museum
Former use: Lookout


Historical notes: (M Hutton): The first World War II Fort built to defend Port Kembla was Breakwater Battery, completed in September 1939 as a close defence and observation battery. Its guns covered an arc sweeping from Bulli Point to south of Lake Illawarra. Breakwater Battery included 2 gun emplacements and associated bullet shields, underground shelters, gun stores, magazines and shell stores and search lights. The Command Post and Observation Post, Search Light Directing Station and Temporary Battery Plotting room, were housed within the extant 4 storey building referred to as 'The Palace'. For the purposes of camouflage the exterior of the building was designed to look like a block of flats and there were two bedroom flats on the ground and first floors with the military operations perched above. In 1940, a Battery Observation Post for the Breakwater Battery was built on Hill 60 to the south, above Red Point. Red Point was so named by Captain Cook in 1770 and was the regions first Military Headquarters. (City of W'Gong Heritage Study, 1991): Museum: Situated between the eastern breakwater and the north beach (M.M. Beach) Built around 1930. This is a 4 storey brick and concrete structure, gun pill box and air raid shelter. It is a good example of functional architecture, originally built as a lookout disguised to look like a block of flats. Breakwater Battery: One of two gun emplacements with related underground facilities. The emplacements once housed 6" (inch) ex-naval guns. Of Military historical value, and part of the coastal defence network and military precinct. Concrete Tank Barriers: High concrete tetrahedrons originally placed on beach to prevent tank movement. These were originally located at Berkeley Harbour. (Military Study 2006): The defence of Wollongong and Port Kembla included the following sites: The Breakwater Battery was set up at Port Kembla Harbour. Fort (or Mount) Drummond was set up between Robertson Street and The Avenue at Coniston near Mount St Thomas. Later, another battery known as the Illowra Battery was added at Hill 60. The Dunster Radar Site and FOP was set up at Dunster Lane off Princes Highway. There was also a camp at Nibo/Nebo, which was a shore disperse radar station. In addition, Volunteer Defence Corps personnel formed part of the defensive contingent of the district. With the entry of Japan into the war, defence preparations accelerated. On 26 December 1941, a secret telegram was sent ordering the installation of additional coastal defences in the Newcastle-Sydney-Port Kembla area. NSW Command was to select the sites. Occupation of land around Mt Drummond was under way by 11 February 1942. Land was taken over for weapon pits, defensive wiring, and the erection of tents. Occupation would last “5 weeks”. Mount Drummond consisted of two hills with a saddle between them. The BOP was established on the higher hill to the north. The southern hill about 250 feet high became the location of the battery. The site was densely vegetated on some sides. However, the ridge to the south-west was clear of timber and was recognised as vital for ground defence. At the top of the hill, where the battery was built, there were only a few houses and a dairy farm. A defensive line around the whole perimeter was set up to defend the battery against ground attack. A two-storey brick house, No 6 Robertson Street, was taken over officially on 10 February 1942 for use as the Company headquarters and billet for B company, 13 Garrison Battalion. Its kitchen was used to prepare food for up to 90 men. The Army vacated the property on 11 August 1942.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
7. Governing-Governing Defence-Activities associated with defending places from hostile takeover and occupation Defending the city and industry-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The item has landmark and architectural value.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
The item has technological value.
SHR Criteria f)
SHR Criteria g)
The item has representative value.
Integrity/Intactness: The item has integrity.
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:

Conserve the building and its surviving original and early features. Retain all evidence of the Battery and the tank barriers in situ. No alterations should impact on the views from publicly accessible areas. Any fabric repairs should follow original details in form, material and finish. Interpret in cooridinaiton with interpretation of other related sites, inlcuding Hill 60 and Fort Drummond.


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental Plan  07 Jan 00 1/200069
Local Environmental PlanWollongong Local Environmental Plan 2009630226 Feb 10 2010-76 
Heritage study     

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
City of Wollongong Heritage Study1991B4-PK, B5-PK, B6-PKMcDonald McPhee Rogers Conacher FullartonRob Gansi No
Review of heritage items in Wollongong LGA20136302Zoran PopovicZoran Popovic Yes

References, internet links & images


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Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Local Government
Database number: 2700585

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