Sunday, October 14, 2012

History at Grotto Point

On the well known Manly to The Spit Walk, there a two side excursions in the Grotto Point Reserve that are rich in history. 

The first is the Grotto Point Aboriginal Engravings. Entering this section of the Reserve from the car park at the end of Cutler Road, Balgowlah Heights, you take the trail to the right, signposted to Castle Rock Beach. After descending a series of stone steps about 100 metres from the car park there several wooden railway sleepers marking the site of the engravings. 

Depicting a kangaroo, fish and boomerangs, the engravings have been dated to the Aboriginal peoples of the Eora group, prior to European settlement. They are very significant in that they are some of the few remaining examples of this type of Aboriginal culture around Sydney Harbour.

Site of the Grotto Point Aboriginal Carvings marked by
railway sleepers

Engraving of a Kangaroo
Engravings of Boomerangs

One example on the site of an engraving of a fish.

Part of a larger engraving depicting a kangaroo, a sun fish
and several smaller fishes
The second excursion is to the Grotto Point Lighthouse overlooking Middle Head. Continuing on from the engravings, you take the track to the left at the major sign post. It is an interesting bush walk down to the lighthouse.

A First Fleet survey party camped at Grotto Point on 28 January 1788.

Construction of the Grotto Point Light  began in 1910 and was first lit on on 1 September 1911. It operates as the front range light at the entrance to Port Jackson and is paired with the Parriwi (Rosherville) Light located just off Parriwi Road up from The Spit, which is the rear range light. Both of these lighthouses were designed  designed by Maurice Festus in a "Disney Castle" architectural style.

Side view of Grotto Point Lighthouse overlooking Balmoral in
the background.
Back view of the lighthouse overlooking Middle Head
and out to sea.

Three interestingly placed stones on the track
leading to the Lighthouse

At nearby Clontarf Reserve, a large Norfolk Pine tree marks the spot where an attempt was made to assassinate HRH The Duke of Edinburgh on 12 March 1868. He was the son of Queen Victoria and was the first member of the Royal family to visit Australia. He was attending a giant picnic for the Sydney Sailors Home at the popular Clontarf Beach. The Duke who was shot in the back, duly recovered. His would-be assassin, Henry James Farrell, a member of an Irish Republican group was charged and hanged. It was not one of our finest historical  moments.
Norfolk Pine Tree at Clontarf Reserve

Plaque commemorating the attempted assassination of HRH,
Duke of Edinburgh


If you are interested in researching Australian history go to our website at :

All photos taken October 2012

Blog prepared by Mary McGuinness

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