Boating Day Trips from Sydney
Reviewed: January 2009
Author: Barry Tranter
Boating in Sydney is full of wonderful day tripper destinations. Sydney Harbour is home to historical Goat Island.
You can’t actually take your own boat to Goat Island but, if it is big enough, you can have it slipped there.
There was a time when your best chance of getting to Goat Island was if you wore chains around your ankles, as an accessory to your suit decorated with arrows. Convicts were the earliest guests at Goat, on Sydney Harbour only 1km west of the Harbour Bridge and within swimming distance of the Balmain shore, for a century or so Sydney’s maritime heartland.
The convicts’ role was to quarry sandstone for Sydney construction. Convicts built a guard house and a powder magazine, and other buildings—the most elegant is the Regency residence, originally the officers’ quarters. There’s a shelf carved into the sandstone where a convict was chained for two years and chiselled himself a more comfortable seat.
From its earliest days the island was the headquarters for the Water Police, and in the 1990s the Water Rats TV series was based there. For years it seemed that every time I went past the island the police power cat lunged out. I was feeling paranoid until I worked out they were TV cops. Later the police sign was covered when they weren’t filming, a lot easier on my nerves.
In the 1930s the Maritime Services Board set up shop on the island and established buildings, slips and sheds that are in use again, after lying quiet for a while.
NSW Premier Nathan Rees announced that Goat Island would be opened to the public again in 2009. This means you can have a sniff around for the treasure said to be buried on the island, involving the murder of the paymaster.
Just watch out for the ghost.
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