What We Offer
Fort Denison houses a restaurant and events space, as well as being a National Park which offers guided tours that can be booked through National Parks and Wildlife Service.
Currently open in the daytime for a la carte or group bookings from 11.30am through to the last kitchen orders at 2.30pm, with last departure from the island on the 4.20pm ferry.
In the evenings the restaurant can be hired for groups of 40 - 200 and is absolutely perfect for conferences, international groups or event dinners with an added bonus of showcasing the iconic Sydney Skyline and landmarks through the water transport to the island and throughout your event.
The entire island can be hired for evening events including for corporate or private events and parties, and weddings, complete with ceremony on the battery lawn, all with exclusive use of your own private island in the heart of Sydney Harbour for the evening.
After a quick five-minute ferry ride from Circular Quay Wharf 6 or a scenic trip down from Manly Pier, visitors can wander around the island in a self-guided tour at their leisure, or enjoy morning or afternoon tea, or lunch in the restaurant.
Here are some of the ways you can experience Fort Denison:
History of the Island
Fort Denison has been at the heart of Sydney Harbour for over 150 years and over that time has had a varied past – it has been used as a fishing spot, defence structure, navigational guide, tide gauge station, weather station, time marker and now a restaurant, event space, battery lawn and historic museum.
Fort Denison was once a small, rocky island referred to by the local Aboriginal people as Mat-te-wan-ye, also spelt Muttewai.
After the First Fleet arrived in 1788, Governor Phillip renamed the land Rock Island, but it was informally known to locals as Pinchgut, as it was believed convicts were sentenced to weeks at a time isolation on the island with little bread and water.
The island was flattened and quarried for sandstone, which was used in the building of Bennelong Point, where the Opera House now stands. Once flattened, the fortification was completed in 1857. Built from 8000 tonnes of sandstone, quarried near Kurraba Point, Neutral Bay, the island was named Fort Denison after Sir William Thomas Denison who was the Governor of New South Wales at the time.
From 1906 to 1942, the 1 o’clock cannon was fired each day to enable sailors to correctly set their ship’s chronometer to the local time. The firing of the cannon was stopped during World War II to avoid terrifying Sydney-siders and was later resumed in 1986. Still to this day the cannon is fired at 1 o'clock by the National Parks Guide.
The island has been managed by various organisations over time, including the Naval Brigade in 1869, and the Sydney Harbour Trust in 1900. Fort Denison became part of Sydney Harbour National Park in 1992, managed by the New South Wales National Parks & Wildlife Service.
Interactive Fort Denison map: Roll over a star marker to learn more.