Take a guided tour of this Australian military base, learn about the region’s pre-fort history and explore an underground tunnel complex.
Once a coastal defensive stronghold, Fort Scratchley is today a museum dedicated to its former protective role. It was initially built in the 19th century to stave off a potential Russian attack, although its guns weren’t put into action until the Shelling of Newcastle in 1942. Explore the site for a better understanding of the fort and its place in Australian military history.
Look around the site at your own pace or get a guided tour for a more comprehensive visit. Embark on a tour of the fort’s underground tunnel complex. The museum has five main rooms with a range of exhibits. Learn the pre-fort history of the Awabakal peoples and the coal mines of the region.
Hear about the history of the stronghold, which was completed in 1882. It was constructed to defend against a feared Russian attack. However, its first true military service came in 1942, when the Japanese fired 34 shells at Newcastle. The Fort Scratchley gunners fired four shells in retaliation at the submarine; however, they had no hits. The Australian Army left the fort in 1972.
Inspect the items for sale at the Artillery Store, which has a range of souvenirs and refreshments. Hear the daily time gun firing, which goes off at 1 p.m. to coincide with the drop of the time ball at Customs House. It is part of a tradition that once helped sailors adjust their navigation instruments.
Note that the site opens to the public Wednesday through Monday from morning until afternoon. Enter the museum for free and pay a fee for a guided tour.
Find Fort Scratchley in the Newcastle East suburb at the eastern tip of Newcastle. It is on the small peninsula that juts out between the Hunter River and the Pacific Ocean. Ride a bus to one of the stops in this suburb. See nearby attractions, including Sandhills Community Garden, Newcastle Ocean Baths and Nobbys Beach.