Fort Scratchley – the defender of Sydney Harbour

Swoosh…Swoosh…Swoosh…enemy shells going overhead, fired from a submarine off the coast.

The date is 8th June, 1942.

A gun flashed out at sea. The shell missed the Observation Post and exploded in Parnell Place, Newcastle. Fort Scratchley’s two 6-inch guns returned the fire. Around twenty-four rounds were fired this night.

The bombarding vessel was identified as Submarine I-21. It had a surface speed of 23.6 knots, mounted one 5.5-inch gun and six 21-inch torpedo tubes and equipped to carry a sea-plane.

This was the first time Australian land defences engaged a Japanese submarine and are the only coastal guns in New South Wales ever used in combat.

Fort Scratchley has concluded its role as a guardian of our shores, and is now part of the National Estate and of our history.

Newcastle is located two hours north of Sydney and is a picturesque city with many tourist sites. Fort Scratchley can be found off Nobbys Road, Newcastle East NSW 2300, right near the iconic Nobbys headland.

Step back in time for a seafaring tradition

Fort Scratchley has reinstated the time honoured seafaring tradition of firing a gun at 1pm to coincide with the Customs House time ball drop.

The time ball and gun firing at precisely 1pm was used in ports around the world in the 19th century to allow sea captains to adjust their navigation instruments.

Newcastle is one of the very few ports that has the capability of firing a gun in tandem with the drop of a time ball.

Guided tours are led by Fort Scratchley Historical Society volunteers with a wealth of knowledge about the site.
www.newcastle.nsw.gov.au/fort-scratchley The benefit of belonging to Parramatta & District Historical Society is the opportunity to experience tours of historic places.
Further reading: www.convicttrail.org