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Man o' War Steps

Home > Sydney > ANZAC Day | Day Trips | Family | Free | Walks
by Mila Wood (subscribe)
I work in the Finance department of a media company, and someone who dabbles in writing of any genre.
Published March 8th 2015
Discover the history of Man O’War Steps - Macquarie Street
Thousands of locals and tourists alike flock to Sydney's iconic Opera House and then head towards the Botanical Gardens on a daily basis. I, like most people are oblivious to other sites that have proven to provide historical facts.



One of the sites is called "The Man O"War Steps" .

Against the backdrop of the magnificent harbour, the plaque is situated next to the Opera House that if you blink, you will miss it.



The history of this plaque is quite significant. For over 150 years, these steps served as the landing and embarkation point for men of the Australian and British fleets.

Source: australiaspastpresent.com


Hundreds of men on duty during the first and Second World War felt the euphoric elation as they stepped ashore and unfathomable sadness once they embarked back to their respective fleets to return to their duties.

Man O'War Steps history dates back on the 1800 when Governor Macquarie built a small landing place for his private use known as "Man O'War Steps".

This "small landing place' was a wooden construction which is approximately the same size of the current existing jetty.

As the years go by, the jetty was repaired and improved, but ceased to be used exclusively by the Governor.

It was around 1850, the "Stone Pier" as it was called then, was used by the ships that anchored nearby. This ships often comprised of warships, hence the origination of the name "Man O'War Steps".

Unfortunately for the best parts of 120 years, there were a lot of disagreements as who should take responsibility of the steps constant maintenance and policing.

While various authorities were arguing, the NSW Public Works Department and its colonial predecessors had undertaken major constructions and its maintenance. The costs were reimbursed by the naval authorities.

It wasn't till late 1971 that the final resolution has been determined.

For so many years, the steps was used for naval purposes, embarkation of crews, liberty boats, watering and stores handling and more. A few merchant vessels also appear to have used the jetty and approximately in the 1890's Sydney ferries have used it as a city terminus.

Female immigrants who landed at Man O'War Steps in the 50's were marched through the Gardens and the Domain to their barracks.

The construction of the Sydney Opera House destroyed the entire precinct, but the steps and the jetty survived.

Upon completion of the Opera House, pontoons have re-merged as auxiliary to the old stone jetty.

It now serves as a major disembarkation point for harbour cruises with a view to expansion.



To this day, Man O'War Steps is historically commemorated by the memorial plaques on the entrance pillars.

"From these Steps 2215 officers and sailors of the RAN left to serve their country in the Great War 1914-18, and the Second World War 1939-45, Korea, Malaya and Vietnam, never to return to enjoy the fruits of their labours in their native land." (Tranter 1990)

In commemoration of our fallen soldiers on ANZAC day, perhaps we should also visit the "Man O'War Steps. Say a prayer and heed to our thoughts of yesterday.

"LEST WE FORGET"

Address: Macquarie Street, Man-O-War Jetty alongside Sydney Opera House, Sydney, 2000
State: NSW
Area: AUS
GPS Coordinates: Lat: -33.858009
Long: 151.215829
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.

My gratitude is extended to John who diligently pointed out this historical site. Thank you.

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Why? Discover the history of
When: Anytime
Where: Adjacent to the Opera House and Botanical Gardens in Sydney
Cost: Free
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