North Head Sanctuary Foundation
is working with Government agencies
towards the establishment of
Car-rang-gel Sanctuary
on North Head
at the gateway of Sydney Harbour
- a flagship for Australia's
environmental resolve
and a celebration of
our natural and cultural heritage.
Car-rang-gel Sanctuary on North Head, Sydney
Aboriginal Heritage
Built Heritage
Research Volunteering

Progress towards a Sanctuary since 2002

2002 - Forum hosted by Sydney Harbour Federation Trust (SHFT) to discuss North Head as a Sanctuary
2003 - Jim Lynch commissioned to prepare a Sanctuary Concept Plan
2003 - Broad scale Plan of Management for all seven former defence sites around Sydney Harbour
2003 - 2005 North Head Sanctuary Foundation conducted workshops to define values, meaning of Sanctuary, etc
2006 - Sanctuary Plan of Management is adopted by the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust

2006 - April Tender to prepare wildlife management plan was let to Australian Wildlife Conservancy
2006 - May - National Heritage listing for the whole of North Head
2007 - January 3rd - Announcement that NSW Govt handed title deeds of School of Artillery site to SHFT
2007 - June - formal opening of the former Gate House as the Visitor Centre for the Sanctuary
2007 - April - expressions of interest invited for occupation of buildings within the Sanctuary
2007 - Tender for wildlife management advertised
2008 - Preferred tenderer for wildlife management selected
2008 - Partnership Agreement between Sydney Harbour Federation Trust and North Head Sanctuary Foundation
2008 - Approval for Native Plant Nursery operated by North Head Sanctuary Foundation

2008 - Announcement of two grants to help set up the Nursery and the education program
2009 - January - Education Centre begins operation
2009 - April - Nursery ready for plants
2009 - June - First seedlings planted out
2009 - August - Official opening of Nursery
2009 - November - Second bay of Nursery completed

2011 - December - official opening of the new Education Centre venue
2012 - February - North Head Sanctuary recognised with new signage
2017 - June - Introduction of pygmy possums and brown antechinus

2002 - Forum
In July 2002, the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust together with the National Parks and Wildlife Service organised a forum on North Head in the Artillery School buildings at which various participants presented the possibilities for the area to become an ecological sanctuary. The ways in which the community could participate were discussed.

The importance of integrated management of the whole of North Head, so as to protect and conserve this amazing place, with its natural, Aboriginal, built and cultural values, has long been recognised by those with an interest in North Head.

Much of its significance comes from the relative isolation derived from its uses, both before and since European settlement - a place of peace and tranquility, a place of refuge. As the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust has identified in its Draft Plan and subsequent work, North Head's relative peace and solitude, to be found on the doorstep of our largest city, are another important aspect of its 'sanctuary' value. North Head should, as the Trust proposes become "a retreat, place of contemplation and reflection".

Pressure for integrated management of North Head took a step closer to formalisation when the North Head Advisory Committee was set up under Section 22 of the Environmental Planning & Assessment Act in 1995.

In an August 1997 address on the State Government's vision for Sydney Harbour Foreshores, NSW Premier Bob Carr identified Sydney Harbour as "one of the most notable and renowned natural urban features in the World". In that same address, Premier Carr set down some important principles for the hand-back of Commonwealth land to the State - principles which he said were to "ensure that decisions are made in the best interests of the people of New South Wales."

In recent years local voices in support of integrated conservation management across North Head have strengthened, until in July 2002, the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust (SHFT), in conjunction with the National Parks & Wildlife Service (NPWS) hosted the North Head Sanctuary forum. While the SHFT is currently responsible for planning for the School of Artillery site, the State Government controls most of the land on North Head.

A group of people from community, scientific, educational and other interests came together at that conference to champion the need for a North Head Sanctuary. From that group came the North Head Sanctuary Foundation - now incorporated as a not-for-profit community-based organisation that has obtained tax-deductible status and a place in the planning and management of a North Head Sanctuary.

2003 Sanctuary Concept Plan
In 2003 the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust (SHFT) commissioned New Zealander Jim Lynch (the champion and driving force of the Karori Sanctuary in Wellington) to prepare a draft Concept Plan. In January 2004, Andrew Woodmansey was appointed by SHFT to manage the North Head project and has added more detail to the draft Concept Plan.

The North Head Sanctuary Foundation had a place at the planning table, together with the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust, the National Parks & Wildlife Service (subsequently renamed as Dept of Environment and Climate Change - DECC) and Aboriginal interests.

2003 Plan of Management for seven former defence sites
The Sydney Harbour Federation Trust prepared a draft plan for management of all seven former defence sites in Sydney Harbour. This draft plan, which included an outline of a plan for a sanctuary on North Head, was available for public comment towards the end of 2002 and was adopted by the Federal Government by the end of 2003.

By July, 2004 SHFT had appointed a Scientific Committee to assist with biodiversity management planning and was recruiting a Natural Resource Manager for North Head's former School of Artillery site.

2003 - 2005 Planning processes
North Head Sanctuary Foundation, through its subcommittees, organised a series of workshops to define what the community meant by the word "Sanctuary" and to produce vision statements for aspects of the proposed sanctuary - Aboriginal heritage, Built Heritage, Natural Heritage. A further workshop produced a statement outlining criteria for uses for buildings and spaces on North Head that would be compatible with being part of a Sanctuary.

2006 Plan of Management for Sanctuary is adopted
The Concept Plan prepared by Jim Lynch was modified by Andrew Woodmansey and, during 2005, was used as a basis for the preparation of a Plan of Management for the School of Artillery site.

During 2005, Sally Hamilton was appointed by SHFT to manage North Head projects. These included bush regeneration, invertebrate survey, bird survey, bandicoot monitoring and rabbit control. NHSF members voluntarily assisted with some of these projects. In addition there were maintenance works and upgrades of buildings including the preparation of a Visitor's Centre.

Early in 2006, the Plan of Management for the School of Artillery site was ready for public comment. Via a workshop and subsequent collation of contributions, NHSF made a submission to this process. That Plan was eventually adopted by the board of SHFT as the official Plan of Management.

2006 - Plan for natural environment management
In April 2006, the Australian Wildlife Conservancy (who manage 14 Wildlife Sanctuaries in Australia) was the successful tenderer for the task of preparing a management plan for the natural environment of the School of Artillery Site.

2006 Heritage Listing
On May 12th, 2006, The Hon Tony Abbott formally announced that the whole of North Head has been added to the National Heritage List which provides another layer of protection for the area, including requiring that any new development at any of the sites on North Head cannot proceed without approval from the Federal Minister for the Environment. This may influence what is permissible at the Quarantine Station, North Fort and the Police College.
Sydney Harbour Federation Trust commissioned a Conservation Management Plan for the built heritage of the School of Artillery Site.

North Head Sanctuary Foundation celebrates the Heritage Listing of North Head in May, 2006

The Hon Tony Abbott, Federal MP for Warringah, said while announcing the National Heritage listing of North Head on 12 May 2006 that this Listing is especially important and timely given the State Government's refusal to agree to the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust's plan to protect former defence lands on North Head.

Federal-State impasse over the future of the Sanctuary

The Trust had proposed to spend $20 million restoring heritage buildings and establishing an ecological sanctuary subject only to the State Government providing title over the School of Artillery site to the Trust while the work was being completed.

This information backs up a previous media report in the Sunday Telegraph on 8th January 2006 that suggested the Federal Government might axe its $20 million plan for North Head if it cannot get a green light from the State Government for the rehabilitation and refurbishment of the site proposed by Sydney Harbour Federation Trust.

2007 Resolution and action
Eventually the disagreements between State and Commonweath were resolved. On 3 January 2007, Hon Greg Hunt MP, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, announced that the former School of Artillery site had been transferred from NSW State Government to Commonwealth control in a joint announcement with NSW environment Minister Bob Debus and the Hon Tony Abbott MP for Warringah.
The Hon Greg Hunt stated that the 72 hectare site will be managed by the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust who will create a wildlife sanctuary on North Head, the adaptive reuse of the Military buildings on this site will complement the sanctuary, the public will be able to access the site and the Indigenous heritage of the site will be preserved.

Click here to read the Media Release issued by North Head Sanctuary Foundation on 3rd January, 2007.

2007 Opening of Visitor Center

The Sydney Harbour Federation Trust was able to conduct a formal opening of the North Head Sanctuary on 1st June, 2007.

John Moriarty gave an Aboriginal Acknowledgment of Ancestors. The Hon Tony Abbott, MP, and Geoff Bailey (CEO of SHFT) gave speeches.

The North Head Sanctuary is now open 10am to 4.00pm daily. There are volunteers in the visitor's centre to give information about the Sanctuary and there are walking tracks to explore.

You can download a guide from

Geoff Bailey, John Moriarty and The Hon Tony Abbott, MP making speeches
at the opening of the Visitor Centre for the Sanctuary on 1st June, 2007.

2007 Leasing process begins

In April 2007 the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust called for Proposals for leasing the Former School of Artillery, North Head. The proposals have to be compatible with the Sanctuary. and community groups were encouraged to apply to occupy spaces it their use was compatible with the Sanctuary.

North Head Sanctuary Foundation applied for lease space under Community Users guidelines.
Our focus is on a range of community-oriented actives
- North Head environmental and heritage study centre
- Community based indigenous plant nursery
- A Sanctuary outreach progam.

The closing date was 8 June 2007 and as of July 27th 2008, we have not been formally advised whether our application is being viewed favourably. We believe that the Nursery is being considered separately from the total application for space.

The Australian Institute of Police Management (AIPM) has leased some buildings in the former School of Artillery (now the Sanctuary) while the AIPM site in Collins Beach Road at Spring Cove is being considered for redevelopment. The site was originally part of the Quarantine Station. The AIPM now wish to redevelop the site by "replacement of residential blocks, so that the number of beds can be increased from 30 to 60, and administrative and academic office accommodation from 35 to 45 employers."

However this development puts at risk the Little Penguins, an Endangered Population, which use the Harbour foreshore cliffs as home. About 18 pairs of the colony of Little Penguins have their nests within metres of the proposed development. The site is also used by Long-nosed Bandicoots for foraging.

2007 Tender for wildlife management
The Wildlife Management Plan prepared by Australian Wildlife Conservancy was adopted by the Trust and suitably qualified organisations invited to tender for management of Natural Heritage.

2008 Successful Wildlife Management tenderer selected
As of July 27th, 2008, the news is that the successful tenderer has been selected but not yet announced.

2008 Partnership Agreement
We are delighted to report that a Partnership Agreement has been organised between Sydney Harbour Federation Trust and North Head Sanctuary Foundation

Shed and former truck washing bays approved for use as Native Plant Nursery

2008 Nursery approved
North Head Sanctuary Foundation applied to use the truck washing bays and adjacent shed for a community nursery propagating North Head flora species for use in bush regeneration areas within the Sanctuary and in nearby places on North Head.

The front section of the shed is for a community education centre featuring information about Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrub. During December, volunteers helped to prepare for construction of the nursery.

Nursery construction
Click here to see more about the Nursery

2008 North Head Sanctuary Foundation receives two grants
ne grant is from the Threatened Species Network and the other is from Coastcare. These grants will help fund the construction of the Nursery, the purchase of necessary equipment, the setup of the Education Centre, the formation of a plant database, the production of educational materials and the operation of workshops.

2009 January - Education area ready for visitors
Volunteers cleaned and painted the floor of the education area and set up the furniture and initial displays. The education area was ready for visitors and volunteers began staffing the centre in the weekends. Volunteers sanded and painted the wooden sections for the construction of the Nursery.

2009 April - Nursery ready for plants
The first Nursery Bay was completed, benches installed and seeds planted.

2009 June - First seedlings planted out
The first seedlings from the Nursery were planted in the grounds of the former School of Artillery in consultation with staff of Sydney Harbour Federation Trust.

Nursery Education Centre

2009 August - Official opening of Nursery
An official function was held to celebrate the opening of the Nursery. The local Member of Parliament, the mayors of four local councils and senior staff of Sydney Harbour Federation Trust attended.

2009 November - Second Bay of Nursery completed
Volunteers helped to complete the second bay of the Nursery. The second bay is designed to be a "hardening up" area for seedlings before they are ready to be planted out. During the year more than 12 benches were built by volunteers to support the trays of plants. Planting out continued as seedlings matured.

2011 - December - official opening of the new Education Centre venue
Sydney Harbour Federation Trust gave permission during 2011 for North Head Sanctuary Foundation to move the Education Centre from Building 21 to Building 20.  This is a much larger area and is right on North Fort Rd so more people notice it as they are walking past.

2012 - February - North Head Sanctuary recognised with new signage
New signage was erected near the archway across the road from Manly Hospital - this signage advertises the various uses of North Head and gives a prominent place to "North Head Sanctuary".

2017 - June - Another re-introduction of species formerly known to be on North Head
There have been several successful re-introductions of species, such as bush rats and pygmy possums, to North Head since the Sanctuary has been established.  Click here to read about the re-introduction of the brown antechinus.

Mike Baird,MP, at the opening of Building 20

Pygmy possum
Pygmy possum
Pygmy possums  and brown antechinus were
 re-introduced to North Head in June 2017

Aboriginal Heritage
Built Heritage
Research Volunteering
North Head Sanctuary Foundation, P.O.Box 506, Balgowlah, NSW 2093


This page was coded for the North Head Sanctuary Foundation by Judith Bennett.
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