Man O'War Steps | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

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Man O'War Steps

Item details

Name of item: Man O'War Steps
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Transport - Water
Category: Pier/Jetty
Location: Lat: -33.8579135609 Long: 151.2157979710
Primary address: Farm Cove Crescent, Sydney, NSW 2000
Local govt. area: Sydney
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Metropolitan
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
LOT1 DP580889

Boundary:

Refer to SHR map at Heritage Office.
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Farm Cove CrescentSydneySydney  Primary Address

Owner/s

Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
NSW MaritimeState Government 

Statement of significance:

The only known remains of Macquarie-era harbour works still in existence in Sydney Harbour, in what appears to be its original configuration, and still in daily use. A valuable relic of the "Old Navy" days when men of war anchored in Farm Cove and when waterman plied on the harbour. Also the source of one of the longest-running bureaucratic correspondences in the history of NSW. (Tranter 1990)
Date significance updated: 08 Dec 98
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.

Description

Construction years: 1810-
Physical description: A masonry, bitumen topped pier projecting in a dog-leg to the NW, enclosing a sheltered landing for small craft, with a flight of stone steps to water level at the inner extremity. Original construction dating from 1810-20 and improved/replaced over subsequent years. Majority of existing structure probably part of Farm Cove seawall work of 1860s. (Tranter 1990)
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Present condition: Good. (Tranter 1990)
Date condition updated:01 Jun 98
Modifications and dates: Original construction dating from 1810-20 and improved/replaced over subsequent years. Majority of existing structure probably part of Farm Cove seawall work of 1860s.
At various times, wooden wharves and pontoons were added to the stone jetty, and a substantial wooden shed built at the shore end. The latter was intended chiefly for naval purposes, but was used also as a waiting shed for ferry passengers.
After the clean sweep of the Opera House construction, pontoons have reappeared as appendages to the old stone jetty. The complex is now a major embarkation point for harbour cruises, and may be expanded.(Tranter 1990)
Jetty restored in 1973 by PWD and MSB, ramp and berthing pontoon added. (Anglin 1990:2023)
Current use: Jetty
Former use: Aboriginal land, Government Domain

History

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 (Anita Heiss, "Aboriginal People and Place", Barani: Indigenous History of Sydney City http://www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/barani).

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 (Anita Heiss, "Aboriginal People and Place", Barani: Indigenous History of Sydney City http://www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/barani).

Fort Macquarie:
"On December 17 1817, Governor Macquarie laid the foundation stone of the fort now bearing his name. Prior to this, he had built for his private use a small landing place known as Man O'War Steps. In the '50s, female immigrants were landed at Man O'War Steps and marched through the Gardens and the Domain to their barracks." (Bennelong Point and Fort Macquarie, by JP McGuanne, in RAHS Journal Vol 1, pp 9-13)
This "small landing place' appears to have been a wooden construction of approximately the same configuration as the existing jetty. It enclosed a small beach and protected boat harbour, which became known temporarily as "Port Lachlan," after Macquarie's son Lachlan.

Gradually the jetty was repaired and improved, and ceased to be reserved for the exclusive use of the Governor. By 1850, it was referred to by the Admiralty as a 'stone pier,' and stated to be in use for watering shipping anchored nearby. This shipping often and sometimes chiefly comprised warships , hence the name by which the jetty and steps are now known - although it has not been possible to ascertain when it started to be called thus. It was probably towards the end of the 1860s.

A prolonged and confused disagreement between the NSW Colonial (and subsequently State) and Imperial Governments, the Royal Navy, Royal Australian Navy, Commonwealth Government, Sydney Harbour Trust and Maritime Services Board of NSW, subsequently arose over responsibility for the Steps (as they became principally known), particularly over maintenance and policing. It continued for the best part of 120 years. The MSB file shows that a final resolution had not been determined as late as 1971, and the Board's researches of that year refer to a government General Order of 1812 and to correspondence going back to 1850s.

Whilst these various authorities were arguing, major construction and maintenance seems to have been undertaken by the NSW Public Works Department and its colonial predecessors; the cost often reimbursed but sometimes not by the naval authorities.

For many years , the principal usage of the Steps was for naval purposes: liberty boats, watering and stores handling, embarkation of crews, etc. However, merchant vessels appear also to have made much use of the jetty, and about the 1890s, Sydney Ferries seem to have used it as an occasional city terminus. From an early date, the little harbour enclosed at the west of the jetty was used by watermen, and later by commercial launches. The jetty and adjoining foreshores were Domain and Gardens, and picnickers from the delightful park at the tip of Fort Macquarie.

The entire precinct was destroyed in the course of the construction of the Sydney Opera House, but the jetty and steps survived. It was rebuilt in the early 1970s and reopened in 1973. Memorial plaques on the stone pillars on each side of the seawall entrance commemorate its history, particularly in the Naval context.
At various times, wooden wharves and pontoons were added to the stone jetty, and a substantial wooden shed built at the shore end. The latter was intended chiefly for naval purposes, but was used also as a waiting shed for ferry passengers. In 1902, Rear Admiral Beaumont, RN, described the waiting room as "the habitual resort of idlers." The following year, Capt. GH Field also complained of the "idlers" - "especially those disreputable ones of the female sex who make it a most objectionable waiting place for the wives of Officers and Men."

After the clean sweep of the Opera House construction, pontoons have reappeared as appendages to the old stone jetty. The complex is now a major embarkation point for harbour cruises, and may be expanded.
Naval use has now ceased, with expansion of alongside facilities for major warships at Garden Island.
It is however principally as a naval landing/embarkation place that Man O'War Steps has its place in history, and this is commemorated by the memorial plaques on the entrance pillars..."From these Steps 2215 officers and sailors of the RAN left to serve their country in the Great War 1914-18, and the Second World War 1939-45, Korea, Malaya and Vietnam, never to return to enjoy the fruits of their labours in their native land." (Tranter 1990)

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
1. Environment-Tracing the evolution of a continent's special environments Environment - naturally evolved-Activities associated with the physical surroundings that support human life and influence or shape human cultures. Cultural - Coasts and coastal features supporting human activities-
1. Environment-Tracing the evolution of a continent's special environments Environment - naturally evolved-Activities associated with the physical surroundings that support human life and influence or shape human cultures. Changing the environment-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Transport-Activities associated with the moving of people and goods from one place to another, and systems for the provision of such movements Wharf and shipping history-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Transport-Activities associated with the moving of people and goods from one place to another, and systems for the provision of such movements River Transport-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages 19th century suburban developments-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages (none)-
7. Governing-Governing Defence-Activities associated with defending places from hostile takeover and occupation Involvement with the First (Great) World War-
7. Governing-Governing Defence-Activities associated with defending places from hostile takeover and occupation Involvement with the Second World War-
7. Governing-Governing Government and Administration-Activities associated with the governance of local areas, regions, the State and the nation, and the administration of public programs - includes both principled and corrupt activities. Sydney's colonial settlement; Shipping-
7. Governing-Governing Government and Administration-Activities associated with the governance of local areas, regions, the State and the nation, and the administration of public programs - includes both principled and corrupt activities. State government-
7. Governing-Governing Government and Administration-Activities associated with the governance of local areas, regions, the State and the nation, and the administration of public programs - includes both principled and corrupt activities. Developing roles for government - administration of land-
7. Governing-Governing Government and Administration-Activities associated with the governance of local areas, regions, the State and the nation, and the administration of public programs - includes both principled and corrupt activities. Developing roles for government - conserving cultural and natural heritage-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Aaron Muron Bolot, architect-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
Of historical significance for its association with activities of early and more recent naval usage of the jetty which has made an important contribution to the naval settlement and activities on Sydney Harbour. (Anglin 1990:2023)
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Of environmental significance, the stone jetty forms an important part of the harbour in the vicinity of the Opera House and Botanic Gardens at Farm Cove. (Anglin 1990:2023)
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
Further assessment required.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
Further assessment required.
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.

Procedures /Exemptions

Section of actDescriptionTitleCommentsAction date
57(2)Exemption to allow workStandard Exemptions ORDER UNDER SECTION 57(2) OF THE HERITAGE ACT 1977

Standard exemptions for engaging in or carrying out activities / works otherwise prohibited by section 57(1) of the Heritage Act 1977.

I, Donald Harwin, the Special Minister of State pursuant to subsection 57(2) of the Heritage Act 1977, on the recommendation of the Heritage Council of New South Wales do by this Order, effective 1 December 2020:

1. revoke the order made on 11 July 2008 and published on pages 91177 to 9182 of Government Gazette Number 110 of 5 September 2008 and varied by notice published in the Government Gazette on 5 March 2015; and

2. grant the exemptions from subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act 1977 that are described in the attached Schedule.

Donald Harwin
Special Minister of State
Signed this 9th Day of November 2020.

To view the standard exemptions for engaging in or carrying out activities / works otherwise prohibited by section 57(1) of the Heritage Act 1977 click on the link below.
Nov 13 2020

PDF Standard exemptions for works requiring Heritage Council approval

Listings

Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - State Heritage Register 0143218 Apr 00   
Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage register 4920021   

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Maritime Services Board Heritage and Conservation Register : Sydney Harbour19902023Anglin Associates  No
Marine Ministerial Holding Corporation S170 Register1999 Heritage Unit, Department of Public works & Services  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenPeter Tranter1990National Trust of Australia (NSW) Classification

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

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Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Heritage NSW
Database number: 5051356


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