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Fort Denison, NSW

One of the last Martello Towers to be build in the world after the design’s defensive capabilities had been proven by the English at Cap Mortella Corsica in 1794.

The fort was built to defend Sydney against possible attack by Russian warships. Built from 8000 tonnes of sandstone quarried near Kurraba Point at Neutral Bay, the fort was named after Sir William Denison, the then Governor of New South Wales.

Fort Denison

Fort Denison was once little more than a rocky outcrop and was a prison island for Sydney’s worst prisoners from 1841 to 1857 and was often known as Pinchgut. The local Aborigines referred to the island as Mattewai or Mattenways before white settlement.

The fort is used today as a tide gauge station.

A number of tours of the island are available including:

Fort Denison Heritage Tour

Tour times:
Mon and Tues – 12.15pm and 2.30pm
Wed-Sun – 10.45am, 12.15pm and 2.30pm
Cost: $10 per person

For more information and bookings, please contact:

NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service
Phone: +61 2 9247 5033
Office hours: 9.30am to 4.30pm (Mon-Fri), 10:00am to 4.30pm (weekends and public holidays).

Tickets to be collected from: Cadmans Cottage, 110 George Street, The Rocks, Sydney NSW 2000 (approx five minutes’ walk from where the ferries depart from Wharf No.6 at Circular Quay).

Bookings are essential and need to be made at least 24 hours in advance.

Fort Denison Brunch
Saturday and Sunday 9.00am to 11.40am

You can eat at the cafe or take a picnic lunch.

Where to stay?


  • Historic/Heritage

About Fort Denison

  • Locality: Harbour Island
  • State: New South Wales
  • Region: Sydney
  • Latitude: -33.854839
  • Longitude: 151.225581
  • Timezone: Australia/Sydney

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