On hold until further notice
Garden Island became part of Australia’s naval history just 16 days after the arrival of the First Fleet in 1788, firstly as a ships’ garden. Its naval use further developed into a naval depot near the end of the 19th century, and ceased to be an island in 1945.
Garden Island is the Royal Australian Naval Base – East, and as a secure area requires specific arrangements for our Society arranged tours. Extensive modernisation of the Base is underway limiting access in specific areas.
However, the Northern End of Garden Island (called The Hill) is accessible to the public but only on Sundays. The Hill, while integral in the development of Garden Island as a naval base, has its own unique history.
Join a Society guided Heritage Tour of the Hill and its unique history will be revealed.
The Heritage Tour of the Hill is held each month.
Tour groups to the The Hill are not limited in number, but for ease of hearing the numbers are limited to 30 persons while also ensuring visitor involvement. It is a walking tour that includes staircases to gain access. and there are limited disability facilities.
Families with children are welcome.
Cameras are also welcomed since there are some magnificent sights especially from the top of the Signal Station with one of the best 360-degree views of Sydney Harbour. While smoking is not forbidden, we would seek visitor’s cooperation in considering others on the tour.
Access to the tours is by ferry from Circular Quay leaving at 9.50am on the Sunday. The tour starting at 10.15 am at the Garden Island Ferry Wharf. The cost is $25.00 per person over 12 years old. While payment in advance through the Society office is the preferred method, payment by cheque on the day would be accepted. The Society tour guide is not permitted to accept cash payments on the day.
The tour starts with a general briefing into the Island’s history, and then proceeds up the stairs to The Hill accompanied by your knowledgeable Society guide – some ex-Navy, others who have worked/lived on the island for many years.
The visit to the Northern End of Garden Island will last 1 hr 30 minutes and will finish at the Navy Heritage Centre at 11.45am. Here you are welcome to inspect the extensive Naval heritage collection on a self-guided tour.
The Heritage Centre closes at 3.30pm on Sundays.
Ferries returning to Circular Quay are one per hour with the last ferry on Sunday being at 4.29pm.
Key info for Tour Organisers
Contact our tour coordinator as early as possible.
We’ll tell you all the things related to your tour, including dates, costs, travel arrangements, and tour preparation.
Tour party sizes
- Large Groups – are limited to a maximum of 30 persons.
- Individuals and Small Groups – are most welcome but we need to coordinate your booking with larger groups. Please call or e-mail us to discuss your booking.
When and how long
The tour is run once a month on a Sunday and takes about 90 minutes including an introductory briefing.
- Weather – The tour goes ahead rain, hail or shine. Bring your own wet-weather gear.
- Mobility – There is walking involved and some stairs. Tour group members need to be relatively mobile.
- Sensible footwear – Sensible footwear is a must.
- Hats, sunglasses, sunscreen and bottled water – The tour is outdoors. Come prepared, even if the weather is overcast.
Please note: The tour welcomes families with payment of $25 for all persons over 12 years of age.
Ferry for Garden Island departs Circular Quay at 9.50am on Sunday. Trains, bus and ferries provide easy access to the Quay.
At Circular Quay your group should ensure that they are assembled in good time at the right wharf to catch the 9.50am ferry since the ferry to Garden Island runs once per hour. However, if one of your party misses the ferry they can easily catch the next ferry, catch up the group and not miss all of the Tour which concludes with ascending the Signal Station with its spectacular 360 degree view of Sydney Harbour.