Me-Mel Goat Island: Remediation and conservation

The National Parks and Wildlife Service is undertaking a large-scale remediation and conservation program of Me-Mel’s buildings and structures to prepare for its transfer to Aboriginal ownership and management.

Me-Mel (Goat Island) aerial view, looking towards the northeastMe-Mel Goat Island is of exceptional heritage significance and is deeply connected to Sydney's history.

In the 18th century, the island was associated with Bennelong; in the 19th century it was associated with Australia's convict and military history and in the 20th century the island was a key part of Sydney Harbour's maritime operations. These phases of history are reflected in the natural and built environment of the island.

Remediation and conservation program

The NSW Government has committed $42.9 million over the next 3 years for remediation, conservation, and upgrade works at Me-Mel to support the island's transfer to Aboriginal ownership and management.

Progress of remediation

Repair and remediation works completed by us to date include:

  • demolition of the condemned and dilapidated timber ferry wharf
  • repair of the small boat pens
  • an island-wide land and features survey
  • location and mapping of underground services
  • a hazardous materials (HAZMAT) survey
  • an assessment of geotechnical risks
  • digital laser scanning of the 19th-century engravings on the sentry wall.

Works underway include:

  • removal of the former Port Emergency Services amenities building (due for completion in 2024)
  • condition assessment of all buildings and structures
  • assessment of the condition and capacity of the electrical infrastructure
  • soil contamination assessment.

Old ferry wharf

The old timber ferry wharf was unsafe and could not be used or economically repaired. Marine biologists inspected the ferry wharf piles and determined that this structure provided no significant habitat, and no significant marine species would be affected by the removal of the wharf piles.

Aerial photographs showing 'before' and 'after' the ferry wharf was removed

Port Emergency Services building

The former Port Emergency Services amenities building is dilapidated, unsafe and unable to be used. The building is only of moderate heritage significance. The original construction utilised lightweight, economical materials which are now in poor condition. More recent alterations made to the building in the 1990s were intrusive and not long-lasting, and the stairs and balustrades do not comply with current safety or engineering standards.

A long white building beside the harbour, with naval navigation and warning signals.

The building obscures visual appreciation of the north-eastern foreshore and the significant cut through the island, which convicts carved out to separate the Water Police building from the rest of the island.

The building will be removed and the site will be made available as a small event space. Heritage NSW approved the removal of the building.

Black-and-white photograph of Barney’s Cut and its overhead bridge from January 1943

Managing the island's heritage

All repair and remediation works are subject to assessment of impact and supported by the Goat Island conservation management plan.

All works on the island not covered by standard or site-specific exemptions require approval under the Heritage Act 1977.