Fort Scratchley


Fort Scratchley: (32° 55′ 33″S, 151° 47′ 27″E) Australia’s only ‘at war’ fort. Built in 1882 on a hilltop on the south-eastern headland, which is at the entrance to Newcastle Harbour. Located just over 1 km east of Newcastle Station that is at one end of the Great North Walk.

The Great North Walk Companion extract- pages 273-274

We meet Alice at Newcastle railway station and she drives us out to begin our walk. She takes the ‘scenic route’ as she terms it around the Fort Scratchley site and then turning south along Shortland Esplanade. The trip gives her an opportunity to mention a bit about the history of Newcastle that has interested her for years. “Nobbys Head, further out there, was described by Captain Cook in 1770 as a ‘small clump of an island’. You can see what he meant, although it has been greatly reduced in size — that was in 1826 — so that they could make the harbour mouth wider and allow bigger ships to sail in more easily.”
“It almost looks as if it has been connected to here by a road,” I offer, squinting through the windscreen.
“It has; in 1846, there was a breakwater that connected it to the mainland, perhaps to enable access to Nobbys Lighthouse. I’m not sure about that.”
“Uncle Bob said — he’s been having me surf the web again,” offers my companion, “that Fort Scratchley turns out to be the only fort in Australia to have been in a real war.”
“Which war was that, dear?” asks Alice rather distractedly as I worry about the truck we just pulled in front of.
“Second World War — which one could it have been?”
“Well, I think there have been quite a few since it was first built in 1880 but I’m sure your web is right. Do you know how it went to war — or did the war come to the fort?”
“That way — in 1942, a Japanese submarine brought the conflict here. Anyhow, my web search said that the guns you can see now at the fort returned the fire, and the sub was scared off and sailed away. I wonder if that was the same submarine that we heard about on the ferry across the Hawkesbury to Brooklyn? It’s funny how Bob is taking such an interest in our walk,” my companion muses.

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