Built into the side of the headland overlooking the famous Nobbys Beach lies a fascinating step back in time to a time when the shores of our own city came under attack. The time was June 1942, and after a Japanese submarine fired shells towards the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney, it made its way north and proceeded to shell the headlands of Newcastle, causing damage to homes in and around the foreshore.
Look for the fort on the hill
It was the gun instillation of Fort Scratchley and the 113 Field Battery members of the Royal Australian Artillery that warned off the attack by retaliating fire at the sub. It did not hit the Japanese vessel, but was enough to make the captain reconsider his position and retreat. A wise move by the captain as the gun instillation was well placed and armed to the hilt in preparation for any would-be attackers.
Fort Scratchley is now owned by the City of Newcastle and managed by the Fort Scratchley Historical Society. Today most of the original instillation and armament is still there on display for visitors wanting to take a tour or just have a look at the stunning views of the Newcastle foreshore and harbour from the top deck.
View of the harbour from the top deck
You can take a guided tour of the preserved tunnels of the instillation for a small fee, and the guides will run you through a complete history of the fort from its conception in 1881 through to the many organisations that have been involved in preserving and restoring this hugely significant piece of the city's history. For those on a tight budget, you'll be pleased to know that admission into the fort without the tour is free, and for this you can still wander through the museum which is housed in the western wing of the fort. Here you'll find plenty of WWII memorabilia from artefacts, weapons, uniforms and replicas of equipment used in the war.
WWII memrobilia on display
You can also check out some of the best views of Newcastle foreshore and harbour from the top deck of the instillation. The guns on the top deck are still occasionally fired and it's well worth getting along to witness this. You can organise to host your wedding or wedding photos in the function room or in the grounds themselves and it's a great location with a big slice of history that the kids will actually enjoy.
The guided tour is an eye opener
So if you're a WWII history buff or just looking to take the kids to a museum with a big difference, lots of history and a sense of excitement, then Fort Scratchley is a must see. There's a canteen and souvenir shop to keep you going and it's set right in the heart of Newcastle, within easy reach of public transport, shops and plenty more of Newcastle's finest attractions.