The wierd and wonderful world of Goat Island

On Sunday, it was time to go on the surprise birthday trip planned for Yaya’s dad. Into Sydney we went and down to Circular Quay.

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See that mast in the background there? Well that was the birthday surprise!

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We went under the bridge…

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…and made our way to Goat Island, the most central and yet the most isolated place in the harbour.

We got an hour tour around the island and it raised more questions than it answered. It started out as a meeting point for two of the local Aborigine tribes, who called it Meemol, which means ‘many eyes,’ because of the amazing surrounding views.

Then when the Europeans arrived, with their boatloads of convicts, the prisoners were enslaved to build the Queen’s magazine, on the island, for storing all the gunpowder. During their ‘off-shift’ time, they spent twelve hours locked in these mobile prisons.

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The Queen’s magazine was later used as a laboratory where, during the spread of bubonic plague, an Australian made the vital discovery that it was spread by the fleas that lived on rats.

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Next we visited a little section on the end of the island, called Kid Island. The self-proclaimed government that formed in Australia was at odds with the British government, who’d punished them by sending them out there. When they decided to set up a water fire brigade, they wanted somewhere with views of all the surrounding areas, to better do their job. Goat Island, however, was owned by the British government. Reluctantly, the British agreed that part of the island could be used by the water fire brigade but they only allowed them a very small section at the very end of the island and they enlisted loads of convicts to literally dig down into the ground, thereby cutting off the small section and leaving the water fire brigade marooned alone, on Kid Island.

Now, a bridge has been built, rejoining Kid Island to Goat Island, and it was over this we went, to look at the fire brigade building.

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It was like someone had finished their shift for the day and walked out. And no-one had ever walked back.

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The views from this building were stunning.

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We then walked up to the line of cottages at the top of a small hill, one of which is occupied by the caretaker for the island, him and his family now being the only residents. It was from this lofty position that I spotted the most fabulously positioned bath I have maybe ever seen.

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I mean, what better view have you ever seen for taking a bath than that?

After the tour around this once so strategically important and now so oddly deserted place, we boarded the boat again for a trip around the harbour.

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And then Yaya’s dad got another surprise when he was told he’d been booked in for a trip up to the crow’s nest on the boat!

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Strapped in and ready to go!

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He starts the climb

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Further up

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Getting higher

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Yehhhh!  He made it!

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8 responses to this post.

  1. I’m loving your posts while away but have to say I can’t figure out from todays whether Goat Island gets the thumbs or as a tourist hot spot or not…….?

    Reply

    • Neither can I, really. It’s a strange place. So deserted and yet a prime spot in the harbour. It’s fascinating. Definitely worth a visit!

      Reply

      • Definitely even if I only have 2 days in Sydney…..? How long are you away for, might have withdrawals from your posts when you are back ;)

      • Travelling back Thursday :-( Where else are you going apart from Sydney?

      • I reckon you probably want to do the bridge climb while you’re here and some sort of boat tour around the harbour. It was from 10.30am to 1.30pm and you got lunch on it so it’s a good way to spend a morning. Definitely head to the Queen Victoria Building by Town Hall train station for afternoon tea. Sydney is like London or NYC, there’s plenty to do. You won’t be bored!

  2. Are there no goats?

    Reply

    • None. Few theories about why it was called Goat Island. I can only remember the one about how they thought the island looked a little bit like a goat when they were making maps of the area and naming stuff. The tour guide was like, “If you imagine a side view of a goat, chop of its legs, head and tail, then you can see how it looks like a goat.”

      Reply

    • Danda just reminded me that one of the other possible explanations for calling it Goat Island was that when they brought livestock over on boats from England, one of them lost most of its animals apart from three goats so they released them on this small island so they could breed without interruption then they could bring them to the mainland when they had a bigger herd of them.

      Reply

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