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Sydney Harbour: A Fort with many Names

The old parchment revealed a quote from a mysterious early explorer.  

Can you use your detective skills to unravel who it was and when they said it?  

Add the excitement of solving a mystery to your outdoor adventure, with our self-guided puzzle-based walking trail through one of Sydney Harbour's most fascinating islands.

Indeed, the Harbour has several small islands worth exploring due to their interesting historical background, but tiny Fort Denison, with its constant renaming and re-purposing, is a must to explore!!

Originally a place of punishment for convicts in colonial Sydney, it was then transformed into a fort in the mid-1800s to protect the city from invasion. It finally became part of Sydney Harbour National Park in 1992. It remains the data source for Sydney Harbour tide tables, as it houses the working Tide Gauge from which Sydney's tidal  benchmark is recorded.    

Today, anyone can visit and it's a joy not a punishment! Appreciate stunning harbour views, wander around the island, read about the island's varied history in its colonial Museum buildings, tour the working cannon and gun powder store in Australia’s only Martello Tower (Natl Park's charge extra for this tour),or just relax in the waterside restaurant, which serves brunch and other meals (at busy times booking ahead is required). 

It's a great spot to step back in time and learn about life as Sydney was settled.

Be sure not to miss the daily 1 o'clock Harbour cannon firing!

The island is too small to get lost and all required amenities are easily to hand.  There is no 'route' as such, instead, your downloaded PuzzleTrail booklet and clues will have you checking out the various rooms and corners of the grounds looking for hidden details that you might otherwise not stop to see. 

A word about getting there..

Fort Denison is a National Park and requires a $7 p/p landing fee which is added to your ferry ticket price. The island is also not serviced by regular Sydney Ferries but rather Matilda & Captain Cook Cruises and the Sydney Hop on Hop off service. Therefore Opal Cards and Family Fun Day concession prices do not apply and the cost to just visit this island can be a little hefty!   Check out  (see National Parks and Transport tabs for more info)

You will also note several online options to purchase guided tours, with/without ferry transport and with/without a meal. Prices vary between $40 - $110 p.p.  You are not obliged to book this in order to visit the island.  A ferry ticket, a picnic lunch to eat on the large grass covered roof and your PuzzleTrail is perfectly sufficient for a fabulous family day!

Recommendations to consider are:  1) Visit on a day other than Sunday (save Sunday for cheap family travel using Sydney Transport)  2) Make a day of it!  Buy a Hop On / Hop off whole day ticket and check out lots of Harbour stops for a single price, including and hour or so at Fort Denison. 


Due to the wave, wharf, cobbles and steps, unfortunately wheelchairs are not to be taken on the island. Strollers are not recommended, but not expressly forbidden, so should only be considered by the extremely adventurous family with several pairs of helping hands available:) 

Let’s get PuzzleTrailing!

  • Your downloaded booklet provides all you need to complete the trail and find all the clues. Miss one? Simply retrace your steps or if really stuck follow the SMS instructions in your booklet for a hint!
  • Each answer can be filled in on the answer sheet found on the back page. Complete all answers to reveal the name of a famous Australian and the role they played in Sydney’s heritage!

Last word…….  RememberSlip, Slop, Slap”  (Google that if needed!)  ...and have lots of fun!! 

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