The Martello Tower was completed in 1857 using 8,000 tonnes of sandstone from nearby Kurraba Point. It was the last Martello tower built in the British Empire and the only Martello tower to have been built in Australia. The tower was largely obsolete by the time it was completed due to artillery developments.
The Martello towers armaments included three 8-inch (200 mm) muzzle loaders in the tower, one 10-inch (250 mm) gun on a 360-degree traverse on the top of the tower. Eventually, all the guns were removed, except for the three 8-inch (200 mm) muzzle-loading cannons in the gun room in the tower, which were installed before construction was complete. The width of passages within the tower are too narrow to permit these to be removed.
The centre of the tower marks one end of what is called the measured mile, the other end being the column in the water just off Bradleys Head. The distance between the two is precisely one nautical mile (1.85km) and the measure was used for speed trials for newly-built boats from 1875 to 1912.