Trial Bay Gaol, Breakwater and Environs | NSW Environment & Heritage

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Heritage

Trial Bay Gaol, Breakwater and Environs

Item details

Name of item: Trial Bay Gaol, Breakwater and Environs
Other name/s: Trial Bay Jail
Type of item: Complex / Group
Group/Collection: Law Enforcement
Category: Gaol/Lock-up
Location: Lat: -30.8809430290 Long: 153.0739143690
Primary address: Cardwell Street, Arakoon, NSW 2431
Parish: Arakoon
County: Macquarie
Local govt. area: Kempsey
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Kempsey
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Cardwell StreetArakoonKempseyArakoonMacquariePrimary Address

Owner/s

Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Office of Environment and HeritageState Government 

Statement of significance:

Trial Bay Gaol, breakwater and environs is of State heritage significance for its place in the development several aspects of the history and evolution of NSW. The gaol, designed and constructed under the auspices of penal reformer, Harold Maclean between 1877 and 1900, is a unique example of his ideas for prison reform and the evolution of the penal system in NSW. The construction of the breakwater at Laggers Point to provide a safe haven for wind powered shipping on the NSW coast is evidence of a significant phase in coast shipping and the development of maritime infrastructure along the North Coast of NSW. The historical significance of the place was further developed through the gaol's significant usage as one of only five internment camps for Germans in NSW during WWI.

The gaol's State heritage significance is enhanced through its historic association two figures important to the historical development of NSW; Comptroller of Prisons Harold Maclean who was a noted penal reformer and also Edmund Orpen Moriarty, Engineer in Chief of the Harbours and Rivers proponent and designer of the breakwater and an important figure in the development of water and maritime infrastructure in the later 19th Century.

Significant contemporary social/community associations with the site include the ongoing association of the Thungutti people living throughout the State and the former German internees interned at the gaol during WWI and their families.

The gaol's technical significance and rarity lies in its layout, design and construction. The high perimeter walls, entry gates, pair of cell blocks is a unique demonstration of the principle tenets of 'enlightened' nineteenth century prison design in NSW. The gaol, sited as it is, high on the peninsular above Trial Bay is aesthetically distinctive and has significant landmark qualities as a ruin which are unique throughout the State.

Trial Bay Gaol is a rare example of a large scale gaol constructed in NSW in a remote location for the purpose of carrying out a public work, the construction of Trial Bay Breakwater, a rare and ambitious project in itself. The gaol contains the only example of a double storey cell block constructed in precast mass concrete block in NSW.

The use of the gaol and environs as a German internment camp during WWI contributes to the rarity values of the site as it was one of only five such camps in NSW and the only one of these to house Germans of high social standing in the business and professional and political arenas. It was also the only internment camp to house internees from other colonial outposts.

The gaol and breakwater provide a unique research opportunity for the study of Victorian engineering works and construction. The impact the breakwater has had on the bay similarly provides a rare insight into the effects of human intervention on the landscape.

The significant potential archaeological resource at Trial Bay Gaol may provide a valuable insight into the construction, use and evolution of the goal and breakwater and later internment camp, the life of former inmates, internees and visitors. The archaeology on site has the potential to contribute to knowledge of a wider complex of penal and correctional institutions in NSW.
Date significance updated: 14 May 10
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

Physical description: Trial Bay Gaol is located on the rocky headland, Laggers Point, Arakoon on the southern edge of Trial Bay, near the towns of Arakoon and South West Rocks. It is part of the Arakoon Conservation Area. The curtilage boundary for the listing comprises two parcels of land that contain significant infrastructure features, gaol ruins, archaeology, memorials, graves and landscape features.

The larger of these parcels is located on the north facing headland and contains the historic gaol ruins, the remains of the breakwater, the breakwater quarry and numerous archaeological sites relating to the accommodation of gaol staff and other workshops and infrastructure relating to the period prior to 1900 as well as a memorial and grave sites relating to the internment of Germans during WWI. This site was chosen to establish the gaol as it was relatively easy to guard and the listing curtilage for this parcel of land coincides with the 1886 gazetted boundary of the gaol. The second, smaller parcel contains an overshoot dam and infrastructure relating to the provision of fresh water to the prison during its 19th Century and WWI uses.

1. Gaol Ruins
The ruins of the gaol comprise the original perimeter walls constructed of coursed granite rubble and featuring regular external one or two stage buttress is with diagonal buttresses at the corners. (Constructed 1884-1886) There are 4 square watchtowers which were added after the completion of the walls. In the eastern side of the perimeter wall is a gatehouse and entry. (Constructed circa 1885-1886). The entry was arched with guard houses on the left and right of the entry with rooms above. Some elements of the telephone system installed at one time remain. This area is currently used as the by DECCW as the tourism entry area, offices and museum.

Inside the perimeter walls the central building in the complex is the remains of the mess hall (Constructed circa 1877 - 1880). This structure has a seven bay facade of fine jointed granite masonry. The pediment and gable ends are supported on moulded corbels. The structure is no longer rooved as the original timber roof was sold off in the 1920s. Three large arches in the rear wall gave access to the two cell blocks and the kitchen.

Cell block A runs to the north west of the rear of the mess hall (Constructed circa 1977-1880). It is a two storey granite structure containing prisoner accommodation - originally intended to provide accommodation for one prisoner per cell. During WWI the German internees undertook to improve the internal finishes of the cell blocks and remnants of decorative friezes and dados are still in evidence in some of the cells. The structure is currently unroofed exposing the top storey to the elements.

Cell Block B was constructed between 1899 and 1900 and runs southwest from the rear of the mess hall. It is constructed in concrete block that has been plastered and lined out in an ashlar masonry pattern. The roof and stairs and sundry other ironwork was sold off in the 1920s.

Running between the Cell Blocks A and B, south from the rear of the mess hall stand the remains of a three room structure which was the Kitchen scullery and bakehouse which was constructed in 1899 - 1900. The kitchen still contains the remains of four boilers and a huge fuel range stove. The drainage and fittings are still located in the scullery and the oven is mainly intact in the bakehouse. Like the other structures still standing this building is not rooved.

A set of 5 cells constructed of coursed granite walls with segmental vault ceilings originally covered by an earthed and later a hipped tiled roof were located south of the mess hall and just inside the perimeter wall. These silent cells were used as isolation cells for punishment. They featured a ventilation system designed to prevent intercell communication. They also had a signalling device to be used to catch the notice of a warder in emergency situations.

Most of the drainage system at the prison is still in tact.

The granite and concrete cell blocks replaced the original temporary timber cell blocks that were situated inside the perimeter walls. Other early structures that no longer stand but in some cases footing and other evidence remains include the first kitchen and ablution block, 3 hospital buildings, blacksmiths shop, carpenters shop, 2 lots of toilets, shelter sheds
iron rail and dwarf wall fence, water tanks and salt water storage tanks.

2. Sites exterior to the gaol perimeter walls on Laggers Point.
A large number of residences and cottages, workshops and other buildings relating to the operation of the gaol in the 19th Century and WWI uses of the site were located around the gaol. Most of the buildings have been removed but there are traces of these sites such as levelled building ground, drainage, brick rubble that remain in a number of cases. In some cases the levelled sites have been reused for the establishment of barbeques and other facilities. The extent of the area containing such potential archaeology runs down through the current camp site to the south and south west and to the east, north and west edges of the headland. Below are listed sites associated with the prison operation lying outside the gaol walls
- Chief Engineer's residence - due west of prison wall - no visible remains
- Governors Residence-.located south of the prison - crushed brick visible on northern boundary of tennis court
9 Chief Warders Quarters - located just north of the main entrance - WC remains at base of watch tower
- General Warders Quarters and store - located near main entry - Fragments of building remain on site - concrete floor of store remains and tank stand
- Married men's quarters - located southeast of the prison - removed in prior to 1903 - later site of electricity generation equipment associated with the WWI uses of the site - fragments of various structures including drainage remain
- Blacksmith's Quarters - located south west of the prison - no visible evidence remains
- Warders cottages - located on 3 levelled sites to the south of the prison - remains of a concrete slab still in situ at the three sites as well as a levelled terrace with uphill retaining wall and batter bank down hill.
- Assistant Engineer's cottage - located north of current kiosk - dressed granite and brick remains visible - now used to house a barbeque unit
- Surgeons quarters - located on a terrace where the kiosk now stands
- Stables and cart shed - located below the southwest watch tower - concrete floor or footing remnants on the large levelled terrace
- Harbours and Rivers Office - located south of the prison near lagoon - terrace still visible
- Harbours and Rivers Store - located east of the steps to the quarry - terrace still visible
- Boat Shed - located to the south of the prison - remnant iron work visible - now a picnic area
Sawmill, carpenter and paint shed - located just below the main entry road - levelled terrace remains and is used to locate a barbeque unity
- Morgue - located off the north corner of the prison wall overlooking the breakwater - levelled terrace remains
- Gasoline House located above the quarry - no visible evidence
- Gallon Underground Tank - located outside the main entrance - the masonry tank still in situ
- Main Drain - runs from the south side of prison wall to an outfall once located on Front Beach - line is intact
- Foreman's Quarters - due east of prison outline of levelled terrace still visible
- Unmarried Foreman's House located south of the prison near Harbour and Rivers Office - remains of fireplace and chimney
-Steps to Unmarried Warders Quarters - located below eastern Watchtower - in situ
Steps to Quarry - 80 metres east of main entrance - in situ
saltwater Supply - located above Front Beach - no visible evidence
- Six Inch Sewer - from prison to sea NE of prison - line partly remnant
- 10 Unmarried Warders Cottages- located on the east side of Caldwell St, Arakoon - no visible remains
- Graves on Monument Hill and German Monument - located on hill overlooking prison - monument to 5 German Internees who died at the prison is in form of a granite obelisk surrounded by a cross. Erected on the gravesite. Destroyed in 1919 and re-erected in 1960
- Prison Burial Grounds - located in a sandy hollow to the south of the prison- no visible evidence
Well - constructed during the German internment period and located on eastern side access road at the crossing of the Creek - extant
- Footbridge adjacent to new road between the prison and kiosk - new bridge in original location
- historic roads and tracks
3. Breakwater and associated sites
- Breakwater located on Laggers Point tip extending to the north east - 100 metres of the original 300 metres extant
- Wharf located adjacent to the breakwater - stumps of piles only remain
- Prison Quarry 150 metres east of the main prison entrance - no longer in evidence
- Breakwater Quarry - along the shore to the north and east of the prison - has subsumed the Prison quarry. Site of horse stable and blacksmith shop during breakwater construction and of three tennis courts during the German Internment period. Also contains remains of rail for quarry and wagons
- Powder Magazine No. 1 - on hill behind kiosk - demolished.
- Powder Magazine No 2. 70 metres south of Powder Magazine 1. Still stands.
- Footings of timekeepers Office - located adjacent to weighbridge at junction of land and breakwater
- Remains of weighbridge - located at the junction of land and breakwater.

4. Little Bay and Dam
- Overshoot dam and Pipeline - 1500 metres east south east of the prison entrance above Little Bay - original construction visible behind the new concrete dam wall
- Police Paddock - located behind Little Bay Beach
- stone abutments of Parkes St Bridge - located on the eastern side of the creek at the Bridge
- Brick Pit - located on private land 200 metres past the turn off to Gap Beach

5. The proposed listing for Trial Bay Gaol, Breakwater and Environs also includes the moveable heritage collection associated with the gaol. The collection contains a large number of historic photographs manuscripts, drawings and other artefacts relating to the site during its phase as a public works prison, the WWI German Internment camp and the later phase of recreational use.
Current use: Tourism facility
Former use: Aboriginal land, Jail, wartime migrant camp

History

Historical notes: Prior to European settlement in Australia the land now known as Arakoon State Conservation Area where Trial Bay Gaol is located was associated with the Thungguti people who lived and moved through the Macleay Valley following the seasonal supply of food resources. The Macleay river, South West Rocks Creek, Salt Water Creek and the ocean would have supplied the indigenous people with fish and shell fish and the dunes in the area may have been a source of edible plants. Other plants found in the area such as cabbage palm, towwack and fern roots may have made the area around Trial bay Gaol attractive to the pre-contact Thungguti people.

The Arakoon State Conservation Area would have also been frequented by Aboriginal people to maintain their cultural lives as the area is near the Smokey Cape Area which is closely associated with sacred beings such as Ulitarra important in the north coast Aboriginal creation stories. A site of spiritual significance to the local Aboriginal people is located near Trial Bay Gaol and another in nearby South West Rocks would have been a focus of ritual activity for the Thungguti people.

One of the earliest contacts between the European settlers and the local Aboriginal people is reported to have occurred when the brig 'Trial' was shipwrecked at what became known as Trial Bay in 1816. This ship, owned by Simeon Lord, had been hijacked by a number of convicts in Port Jackson who, in a bid for their freedom forced the crew to set sail up the north coast. There was no news of the ships progress until word of a shipwreck on the coast above Port Stephens was relayed to the Europeans by Aboriginal people. There were a number of survivors from the wreck who subsequently lost their lives attempting to sail or trek back to a settled area. It was reported that one female convict went to live with an Aboriginal man and had two children by him.

European settlement in the area began to accelerate after 1836 and the impact of this on the Aboriginal community was marked by the dispossession of the Aboriginal people from their lands and thus their means of survival. By the 1860s many local Aboriginal people depended on government rations or rations from the settlers who had taken their land, often providing labour for the farms in return for rations. During the 1870s and 1880s moves were made to establish Reserves on which Aboriginal people should live and in the Macleay Valley such sites were located at Pelican, Shark, Kinchela and Fattorini Islands and at Euroka Creek. The initial step forwarded afforded by allocating Aboriginal people land was eroded through the implementation of the Aborigines Protection Board Act in 1909 which enabled the Board to remove children from their families. and invested the power over Aboriginal peoples earnings to the Reserve Manager. All earnings from the land and other sources was turned over to the board in exchange for the provision of rations. Many people at this stage moved off the Reserves to camps and in 1925 the Reserves in the lower Macleay Valley were revoked .

In the course of his exploration of the north coast of NSW John Oxley noted Trial Bay as a sheltered bay and the area was soon noted as a safe haven for shipping travelling between Port Stephens and Moreton Bay. While it provided shelter during south easterly gales it offered no protection when the gale force winds were easterly or north easterly. To remedy this, Engineer in Chief for Harbours and Rivers, Edward Orpen Moriarty began to formulate a plan to construct a breakwater and harbour at Trial Bay Gaol in 1861. By 1866 the plan was considered by parliament and finally in 1877, a sum of money amounting to 10000 pounds was set aside for the construction of the breakwater and gaol to house the prisoner labour force assigned to the project.

The design and construction of Trial Bay gaol was carried out under the supervision of Sherriff Harold Maclean, a proponent of penal reform who advocated an number of principles of prison reform including the provision of substantial masonry accommodation rather than cheaply constructed barracks, the isolation of prisoners from each other (and hence bad influence and ideas) by the provision of a cell per prisoner. He was also a believer in the modern British penal model where long term prisoners reaching the last years of their sentence, were employed in the construction of public works projects. Here they could learn skills useful for future employment and enjoy new privileges and freedoms as they approached the time of their release from prison.

Construction of the gaol began in 1877 but was delayed on a number of occasions due to shortfalls in finance. By 1882 only one cell block providing single cell accommodation for only 64 of the 128 prisoners was completed. Temporary wooden barracks were used to accommodate the other half of the prisoners. A Mess Hall and adjoining kitchen and a hospital had also been constructed over these years. By 1884 the perimeter walls and watch towers, Gate House, Silent Cells and supplementary structures were established. Another period of construction of the gaol occurred between 1899 - 1900 when the final kitchen, scullery and bake house, cell block B, lavatories, shelter sheds, salt water storage, telephone communications, electric lighting system was installed. The last period of construction occurred during World War I when the gaol was used to accommodate German Internees.

Work constructing the Breakwater began in 1889 after the initial periods of gaol construction were complete. Granite for the Breakwater was cut from the quarry and transported to the breakwater site by steam crane and horse tramway. The prisoners learned the various skills required for the work. The prisoners were supervised by a senior warder and 14 warders who were accommodated on site along with the prison Governor, a resident surgeon, two chaplains and Department of Public Works employees such as the Supervising Engineer for the Breakwater project..

The majority of prisoners at Trial Bay, 111out of 124, were categorised as Licensees and they had the freedom to fish swim or play sport when not working. They could grow beards and were not obliged to wear prison uniform. They were paid a wage which was credited to their bank accounts and enjoyed a standard length work week of 36.5 hours.

This relatively benevolent treatment regimen was dismantled after the death of Sherriff Maclean when George Miller was made Comptroller General of Prisons. Under Miller wages were reduced, stern discipline reintroduced and working hours lengthened. The ideal of a cell per prisoner was also discarded and shared accommodation, 2 inmates per cell became the norm. In 1895 the position as Comptroller General of Prisons was taken up by Captain Frederick Neitenstein who was a supporter of the idea of separation of prisoners and reinstigated the idea of a single cells for each prisoner which were locked at night.

While the Justice Department administered the business of the prison and prisoners, the Harbours and Rivers Department was for most of the life of the Breakwater project the Department to oversee the breakwater construction. It was not until 1898 that the Prisons Department took on the administration of both the breakwater and prison. Progress on the construction of the breakwater was constantly hampered over the years due to the work being washed away in storms. By 1903 the breakwater had reached less than 20% of its planned finished length at a huge cost of 67000 pounds. This, the silting of the harbour caused by the construction of the breakwater, the establishment of a serviceable overland system of transportation along the coast and the improvement in sea going transport led the Department of Public Works to abandon the breakwater project in 1903. Shortly after a decision was made to close the prison. The houses and buildings were sold off and removed to various places around the district including the new Pilot Station at South West Rocks.

The gaol remained unused until 1915 when it was commandeered by the Department of Defence for use as an internment camp for German Prisoners and resident "enemy aliens" interned for the duration of WWI initially under the command of Major Sands. Other German internment camps in NSW and the ACT were located at Berrima on the South Coast of NSW, Bourke in the west of this State, Molonglo in the ACT and the major Camp at Holdsworthy in south-west Sydney. The camp at Trial Bay was used to intern Germans of social standing often prominent business men and professionals. Two prominent figures among the internees were two German Scientists attending the Congress of the British Association for the Advancement of Science at the request of the Australian government. Unfortunately for Professors Pringsheim and Grabner war broke out during the Congress proceedings and they were interned as 'enemy aliens'. German Naval Officers and elite German residents of neighbouring British Commonwealth countries in the Pacific and South East Asian region were also interned at the gaol. Trial Bay was the only internment camp to house internees from overseas.

The Internment camp received its first internees on 1 August 1915 after they had marched to South West Rocks from their disembarkation point at Jerseyville. First accommodated in tents set up within the perimeter walls of the gaol, the internees were put to work constructing furniture and cleaning and maintaining the cells at the gaol which eventually accommodated most of the internees. Officers and Consuls interned at Trial Bay were accommodated in temporary timber barracks located within the perimeter walls and in 1916 they were given newly constructed barracks outside the walls of the gaol.

The structure of the internees day while confined at Trial Bay Gaol and the other camps, was defined initially by the "Royal Warrant" a British code of instructions in August 1914 and was later superseded by the Australian "Rules for the Custody of and Maintenance of Discipline among Prisoners of War in NSW " . This document noted the schedule for mandatory activities such as the twice daily role call, meal times, times of rising and retiring for sleep.

The "Rules" also lay out that the 'general welfare' of the camp was to be looked after by an elected internee Camp Committee which was the conduit of communication between the internees and the Camp commandant. The Committee has a number of sub committees set up to facilitate different aspects of camp life. One committee was the Education and Lectures committee which organised a very impressive array of courses in languages, accounting mathematics engineering navigation among other things. Another sub committee managed the library and others the theatre and orchestra, the kitchen and other services.

Despite being confined to the gaol surrounds and the structure of each day being prescribed by a set of rules, the internees were relatively free to move within the borders of the Gaol during day light hours and under the eye of guards located in the four watchtowers of the gaol. Swimming and fishing in the beautiful waters surrounding Trial Bay Gaol and playing tennis at one of the three internee established tennis courts were among the leisure pastimes of the internees. There were opportunities to participate in work activities either in internee established private businesses such as providing welding shoemaking or furniture building services, camp functions such as cooking, gardening, cleaning and sanitation or government work projects such as land clearing. About a third of the internees were involved in such activities.

Food was prepared and eaten in the Kitchen and Mess Hall wings of the gaol. The internees food ration included a quantity of meat bread, milk, vegetables, rice and other food staples which was supplemented by fruit and vegetables grown in the camp grounds by the internees. A canteen also offered other foods which and the Trial Bay Gaol camp boasted a gourmet quality restaurant named "The Duck Coup" and a more bohemian establishment "The Artists Den", a cafe established on the beach which was noted as the centre of social life for the camp.

While interned at Trial Bay the internees established various clubs and activities to reduce the negative impacts of their confinement. Aside from the athletics, boxing, bowling and chess clubs there was newspaper at first published bi-weekly and then weekly which contained editorial on world events, especially the progress of the war in Europe as well as information on the camp activities. A thriving theatre company kept the internees entertained with performances of a new play each week. Members of the theatre troupe made all the necessary stage sets and costumes and between 1915 and 1918 had accumulated a respectable repertoire of performances and infrastructure necessary to stage them. There was also an orchestra which was very popular. Fischer et al note that the theatre and orchestra was particularly strong on the performance of German literary and musical works and this entertainment served to reinforce the internees perception of themselves as cultural superior to the Australian people.

"The attitude of the internees vis a vis their Australian surroundings offered the exact opposite of this process of identification with and idealisation of, German culture, which found its quintessential expression in the duplication of a cultural life with all its public institutions such as theatre, orchestra, newspaper festivals, educational establishments sporting and professional activities." ( Fisher G and Helmi N. 2005. Internment at Trial Bay During WWI).

The internment camp at Trial Bay Gaol closed in July 1918 and all internees were taken to Holsworthy Camp. Prior to their departure, the Germans requested that they be able to erect a memorial to five fellow internees who died while confined at the Trial Bay Gaol Internment Camp. A stone cairn was erected on the crest of what is now known as monument hill where two of the five deceased Germans were buried. Shortly after the German internees had been transferred, the monument was destroyed. In 1959 it was restored with funds and assistance from the West German Government, Macleay Shire Council and the Kempsey Rotary Club.

Once the gaol was left vacant work began to strip the gaol buildings of moveable fittings and these and the timber barracks and other buildings were auctioned. In 1922 all interior fittings, roofs and gates were dismantled and sold off. After this the gaol began to deteriorate and began its time as an iconic ruin, the focus of much attention from tourists and campers who since the demise of the gaol have frequented the old gaol site.

Even before its immediate surrounds became accessible, the views of the remote and imposing prison building and breakwater were of interest to those visiting the area. The steady increase in visitation led to the area being declared a Reserve for Public Recreation in 1946 and in 1965 the Trial Bay Gaol Trust was established to manage the ruins. In 1974 this function was taken over by the Arakoon State Recreation Area Trust and in 1987 by the National Parks and Wildlife Service.

Since 2011 an annual Sculpture in the Gaol exhibition has been held at Trial Bay Gaol. In 2017 organisers were hoping to top 5000 visitors. Beyond the gaol itself, 23 further sculptures are located in 14 places around South West Rocks (OEH news release, 28/8/2017)

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. Environments important to Aboriginal traditional and spiritual life-
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. Natural - site important native fauna habitat or food source-
2. Peopling-Peopling the continent Aboriginal cultures and interactions with other cultures-Activities associated with maintaining, developing, experiencing and remembering Aboriginal cultural identities and practices, past and present. (none)-
2. Peopling-Peopling the continent Aboriginal cultures and interactions with other cultures-Activities associated with maintaining, developing, experiencing and remembering Aboriginal cultural identities and practices, past and present. Thungutti tribe - sites evidencing occupation-
2. Peopling-Peopling the continent Ethnic influences-Activities associated with common cultural traditions and peoples of shared descent, and with exchanges between such traditions and peoples. German migrants-
2. Peopling-Peopling the continent Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups (none)-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Environment - cultural landscape-Activities associated with the interactions between humans, human societies and the shaping of their physical surroundings Developing local, regional and national economies-National Theme 3
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Environment - cultural landscape-Activities associated with the interactions between humans, human societies and the shaping of their physical surroundings Significant Places How are significant places marked in the landscape by, or for, different groups-Monuments and Sites
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Environment - cultural landscape-Activities associated with the interactions between humans, human societies and the shaping of their physical surroundings Developing local, regional and national economies-National Theme 3
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Environment - cultural landscape-Activities associated with the interactions between humans, human societies and the shaping of their physical surroundings Landscapes and parklands of distinctive styles-
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-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Accommodation-Activities associated with the provision of accommodation, and particular types of accommodation – does not include architectural styles – use the theme of Creative Endeavour for such activities. Building settlements, towns and cities-National Theme 4
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Accommodation-Activities associated with the provision of accommodation, and particular types of accommodation – does not include architectural styles – use the theme of Creative Endeavour for such activities. Accommodating convicts-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Accommodation-Activities associated with the provision of accommodation, and particular types of accommodation – does not include architectural styles – use the theme of Creative Endeavour for such activities. Adapted heritage building or structure-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Accommodation-Activities associated with the provision of accommodation, and particular types of accommodation – does not include architectural styles – use the theme of Creative Endeavour for such activities. Accommodating migrants in hostels and camps-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Accommodation-Activities associated with the provision of accommodation, and particular types of accommodation – does not include architectural styles – use the theme of Creative Endeavour for such activities. Housing public servants and officials-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Accommodation-Activities associated with the provision of accommodation, and particular types of accommodation – does not include architectural styles – use the theme of Creative Endeavour for such activities. Accommodating prisoners and internees-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Accommodation-Activities associated with the provision of accommodation, and particular types of accommodation – does not include architectural styles – use the theme of Creative Endeavour for such activities. Accommodating prisoners and internees-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Land tenure-Activities and processes for identifying forms of ownership and occupancy of land and water, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Naming places (toponymy)-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Land tenure-Activities and processes for identifying forms of ownership and occupancy of land and water, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Administering and alienating Crown lands-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Land tenure-Activities and processes for identifying forms of ownership and occupancy of land and water, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Sea Wall-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Land tenure-Activities and processes for identifying forms of ownership and occupancy of land and water, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Changing land uses - from rural to tourist-
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 Shaping coastal settlement-
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 Infrastructure-
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 Developing ports-
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 Institutions-
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 Outlying settlements-
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 Creating landmark structures and places in regional settings-
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 Planned towns serving a specific industry-
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 Role of transport in settlement-
5. Working-Working Labour-Activities associated with work practises and organised and unorganised labour Working in the public service-
5. Working-Working Labour-Activities associated with work practises and organised and unorganised labour Working at enforced labour-
5. Working-Working Labour-Activities associated with work practises and organised and unorganised labour Working in ports and on shipping-
5. Working-Working Labour-Activities associated with work practises and organised and unorganised labour Working on the waterfront-
5. Working-Working Labour-Activities associated with work practises and organised and unorganised labour Wharfside and Port Work Culture-
7. Governing-Governing Defence-Activities associated with defending places from hostile takeover and occupation Involvement with the Second World War-
7. Governing-Governing Defence-Activities associated with defending places from hostile takeover and occupation Detaining enemy personnel and aliens-
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-
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 - building and operating public infrastructure-
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 - administering the justice system-
7. Governing-Governing Law and order-Activities associated with maintaining, promoting and implementing criminal and civil law and legal processes Jail-
7. Governing-Governing Law and order-Activities associated with maintaining, promoting and implementing criminal and civil law and legal processes Incarcerating prisoners-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. Industrial buildings-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. Architectural styles and periods - Victorian (late)-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. Architectural styles and periods - Victorian (late)-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. Designing structures to emphasise their important roles-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. Building in response to natural landscape features.-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. Interior design styles and periods - Victorian-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. work of stonemasons-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. Applying architectural design to utlilitarian structures-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation Visiting heritage places-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation Gathering at landmark places to socialise-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Edward Orpen Moriarty, surveyor, Engineer in Chief for Harbours and Rivers-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with John Oxley, Surveyor General-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Sherriff Harold Maclean, penal reformer-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with George Miller, Comptroller General of Prisons-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Captain Frederick Neitenstein, Comptroller General of Prisons-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
Trial Bay Gaol, breakwater and environs is of State heritage significance for its place in the development of the penal service in NSW during the 19th century. Designed and constructed under the auspices of penal reformer, Sherriff Harold Maclean between 1877 and 1900, it is a unique example of his ideas for prison reform including the provision of substantial masonry accommodation rather than cheaply constructed shared barracks, the isolation of prisoners from each other (and hence bad influence and ideas) by the provision of a cell per prisoner. He was also a believer in the modern British penal model where categories of prisoners were separated from each other and most specifically where long term prisoners reaching the last years of their sentence, were employed in the construction of public works projects. Here they could learn skills useful for future employment and enjoy new privileges and freedoms as they approached the time of their release from prison.

The construction of the breakwater at Laggers Point is evidence of a significant phase in coast shipping along the North Coast of NSW. In the early years of the colony with transportation of goods and people up and down the coast of NSW dependent on wind power, the need for a safe haven on the trip between Port Stephens and Moreton Bay was widely recognised. While Trial Bay, half way between these two ports was an ideal location for such a haven it proved not to be sheltered in all weathers and so the need for a breakwater was seen as essential to providing refuge for shipping along the north coast. The eventual abandonment of construction in 1903 coincides with advances in shipping technology and other transportation modes in NSW which made such a refuge unnecessary.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
Trial Bay Gaol is of State Heritage significance for its association with two prominent colonial public servants one of whom helped to shape the nature of the penal system in NSW and the other being involved in the development of significant harbour infrastructure which enabled the economic development of the State.

Comptroller of Prisons Harold Maclean was a reformer who promoted and at Trial Bay Gaol instigated NSW first Public Works prison and oversaw its design along principles which endeavoured to ameliorate the circulation of bad influences between prisoners and rehabilitate prisoners ready for life after their prison sentence.

Edmund Orpen Moriarty was engineer in chief of the Harbours and Rivers Navigation Branch. Besides designing and promoting the construction of Trial Bay breakwater was associated with numerous strategic and significant maritime and other public works important to the development of the colony. Examples of works developed under his leadership are the development of water supply schemes for Wollongong, Bathurst, Wagga Wagga, Albury and Hunter Valley towns, the outer Wollongong Harbour, Wollongong Breakwater Lighthouse, the building of two bridges for the Penrith Nepean Bridge Co. and Pyrmont Bridge.

The gaol is also significant for its association with a number of prominent German businessmen and professionals, including the engineers from the SS Emden who were interned at the gaol during WWI. There are a number of features including the hand painted friezes and other wall art works which decorate the internal walls of a number of the cells, which date from the WWI German Internment period.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The Gaol is of State heritage significance as the layout design and construction of the gaol including the high perimeter walls, entry gates, pair of cell blocks demonstrate the principle tenets of 'enlightened' nineteenth century prison design in NSW. The design of the prison provided: substantial masonry accommodation rather than cheaply constructed barracks, for the isolation of prisoners from each other (and hence bad influence and ideas) by the provision of a cell per prisoner, and a prison environment that allowed the rehabilitation of late term prisoners.

In addition the gaol, sited as it is, high on the peninsular above Trial Bay is aesthetically distinctive and has significant landmark qualities as a ruin which are unique throughout the State. These qualities are enhanced by the isolated setting and dramatic scale of the remnant stone structures which heighten the sense of theatre and romance associated with the place and its use as a prison, an internment camp for Germans during World War II and also the earlier wreck of the convict escape ship, the Trial.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The gaol and the surrounding area has significant associations for Thangutti Aboriginal people living throughout the State. The Aboriginal community still maintain the continuity of ceremonial practices on the site.

Trial Bay Gaol has significant associations to a number of groups of people throughout the State. It has special significance for the former German internees interned at the gaol during WWI and their families.

In addition, the site has been the centre for recreational activity for locals and others from all over the State, many of whom have returned to camp at Trial Bay gaol for up to 30 years.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
The gaol site and breakwater construction is of State heritage significance as a unique opportunity to study and research into Victorian engineering works and construction. The impact the breakwater has had on the bay similarly provides a rare insight into the effects of human intervention on the landscape.

The gaol's extensive archival collection of photographs and artefacts offers a substantial resource to research the social history, uses and operation of the site over all phases of its history.

The diverse flora in the area provides an example of a range of 'bush tucker' foods that were used by the local Aboriginal community that today can still be researched in conjunction with input from the local Aboriginal Community.

The significant potential archaeological resource at Trial Bay Gaol could provide a valuable insight into the construction, use and evolution of the goal and breakwater and later internment camp, the life of former inmates, internees and visitors,. The archaeology on site has the potential to contribute to knowledge of a wider complex of penal and correctional institutions in NSW.

The archaeological sites are significant for their potential to be interpreted in a setting which retains a high degree of integrity.
SHR Criteria f)
[Rarity]
The Trial Bay Gaol is of State significance as the only example of a large scale gaol constructed in NSW in a remote location for the purpose of carrying out a public work, the Trial Bay Breakwater, a rare and ambitious project in itself. It is also the only nineteenth century prison constructed by the Harbours and Rivers Navigation Branch of the Department of Public Works. It contains the only example of a double storey cell block constructed of precast mass concrete block in NSW.

The gaol complex is unusual in that it's isolation allowed it and its outlying places of residence and storage to be relatively open, an uncommon feature in nineteenth century prisons in NSW.

The gaol was one of five internment camps for Germans during WWI. It was the only one of these to house Germans of high social standing in the business and professional and political arenas. It was also the only internment camp to house internees from other colonial outposts.

The rarity values of the gaol are enhanced by the fact that an extensive archival collection is associated with the site, providing unusually detailed information about the sit's history and operations.

The vegetation communities found within the Trial Bay Gaol site offer habitat for at least 29 threatened species of fauna and a number of threatened plant species.
SHR Criteria g)
[Representativeness]
Trial Bay Gaol is of State heritage significance as a fine representative example of a Maclean-era gaol which were designed to implement reform in prisoner incarceration and rehabilitation in NSW.

The Trial Bay Breakwater is similarly a good representative example of a late 19th century breakwater in NSW designed by the Harbours and Rivers Navigation Branch of the Department of Public Works.
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 SCHEDULE OF STANDARD EXEMPTIONS
HERITAGE ACT 1977
Notice of Order Under Section 57 (2) of the Heritage Act 1977

I, the Minister for Planning, 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:

1. revoke the Schedule of Exemptions to subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act made under subsection 57(2) and published in the Government Gazette on 22 February 2008; and

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

FRANK SARTOR
Minister for Planning
Sydney, 11 July 2008

To view the schedule click on the Standard Exemptions for Works Requiring Heritage Council Approval link below.
Sep 5 2008
57(2)Exemption to allow workHeritage Act - Site Specific Exemptions HERITAGE ACT, 1977

DIRECTION PURSUANT TO SECTION 34(1)(a)
TO LIST AN ITEM ON THE STATE HERITAGE REGISTER

Trial Bay Gaol, Breakwater and Environs

SHR No 1825

In pursuance of Section 34(1)(a) of the Heritage Act, 1977, I, the Minister for Planning, having considered a recommendation of the Heritage Council of New South Wales, direct the Council to list the item of environmental heritage specified in Schedule A on the State Heritage Register. This listing shall apply to the curtilage or site of the item, being the land described in Schedule B. The listing is subject to the exemptions from approval under Section 57(2) of the Heritage Act, 1977, described in Schedule C and in addition to the standard exemptions.

The Hon Tony Kelly MLC
Minister for Planning

Sydney, 3 Day of May 2010

SCHEDULE A

The item known as Trial Bay Gaol, Breakwater and Environs, situated on the land described in Schedule B.

SCHEDULE B

All those pieces or parcels of land, as shown on the plan catalogued HC 2306 in the office of the Heritage Council of New South Wales.
SCHEDULE C

1. All Standard Exemptions

2. Works and activities clearly identified in the schedule of works produced at each stage of the staged conservation program at Trial Bay Gaol. Including the use of temporary structures to provide security and accommodation to museum items and staff during heritage refurbishment projects provided these do no negatively impact on heritage significance.

3. Activities associated with the community and other events that are in accordance with the Plan of Management, Conservation Management and the Archaeological Landscape Management Plan.

4. Fire management, bush regeneration, threatened species recovery and pest management activities, vegetation operation management such as the removal of dangerous trees, where they do not impact on heritage significance and are not in conflict with the Conservation Management Plan or Archaeological Landscape Management Plan. Such activities may include controlled burning, weed and feral animal eradication, spraying and research in accordance with relevant fire management plans, recovery plans, bush regeneration and pest management plans.

5. Works and activities in accordance with Cyclical Maintenance Plan in areas of low or negligible archaeological significance as outlined in the Archaeological Landscape Management Plan for Trial Bay Gaol and the Trial Bay Gaol Cyclical Maintenance Plan.

6. General field maintenance and replacement of existing facilities and infrastructure that does not impact on heritage significance or conflict with the recommendations of the Trial Bay Gaol Archaeological Landscape Management Plan.

7. Camping and recreational activities that do not impact on heritage significance or conflict with the recommendations of the Archaeological Landscape Management Plan.

8. Works and activities associated with the conservation and management of the Trial Bay Gaol moveable heritage collection as guided by the Collection Management Plan.

9. Works and activities associated with the Trial Bay Gaol Interpretation Plan where these do not impact on heritage significance.

10. Works and activities associated with the ongoing surfacing and maintenance of Council and DECCW roadways, verges and drainage which provide access to the Gaol, Breakwater, Quarry and camp ground precincts provided the historic alignment (where of heritage significance) of the roads are retained.

11. Works and activities as outlined in the Disaster Preparedness Plan.
May 14 2010

PDF Standard exemptions for works requiring Heritage Council approval

Listings

Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - State Heritage Register 0182514 May 10 632153
Regional Environmental Plan  23 Dec 94   

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenBruce Elder2004Walkabout - former internment camp is a fine spot to ponder mans foolishness. (SMH 17/1/04)
WrittenPaul Davies Architects Trial Bay Gaol conservation management plan and cultural tourism plan [Electronic Resource]
WrittenThe Interpretive Design Company2014Trial Bay Gaol Heritage Signage View detail

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

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(Click on thumbnail for full size image and image details)

Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Heritage Office
Database number: 5055109
File number: EF14/4780


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