Fort Denison Island
Fort Denison Island
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Was Once A Prison For The Worst Convicts
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  • Milsons Point • 9 min walk
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Most Recent: Reviews ordered by most recent publish date in descending order.

Detailed Reviews: Reviews ordered by recency and descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as waiting time, length of visit, general tips, and location information.

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4.0
4.0 of 5 bubbles236 reviews
Excellent
111
Very good
83
Average
30
Poor
3
Terrible
9

Jeffry b
Essendon, Australia14,057 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jun 2022
Fort Denison is a colonial era fort on a small sandstone island in the middle of Sydney Harbour. Locals still call Fort Denison by its original name, Pinchgut, becouse of its history of punishing convicts by starvation. Fort Denison has a Martello Tower, a defensive structure that is the only such fort in Australia, though they are common in the British Isles. Construction was completed in 1857, although it proved to be unsuited for its intended purpose. You can take a boat trip to Pinchgut and marvel at its convict handwork.
Written 7 July 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Mairwen1
United Kingdom9,517 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Nov 2021
This barren island fortress sits smack in the middle of Sydney Harbour. It’s the one you go right past whenever you catch a ferry from Circular Quay to Manly.
It’s forbidding and stark.
A relic of convict Sydney and the early days of the colony, the island has a spine-chilling history.
From the first days of the colony, it was used as a particularly nasty punishment. Convicts were left on the island in iron chains for a week or more with nothing other than bread and water, earning the island the name ‘Pinchgut’.
In 1796 the British authorities went one step further. They installed a hanging gallows.
Within months, they had put it to use. The first man hung there was a murderer, Francis Morgan. HIs body was left hanging on the gallows for 4 years, to be picked at by birds, until there was just a skeleton left.
It was a particularly vivid warning as the skeleton could be easily seen from the mainland and was intended as a deterrent.
Later in the 1850s, the distinctive Martello fort, gun batteries and barracks were built . Alarmed by the Crimean War, the fortress was part of a defence system to protect against possible invasion by the Russians.
Normally you can visit the Fort Denison and have lunch there but it is currently closed for maintenance on the seawalls and wharf and won't re-open for visits until the end 2022.
Written 12 April 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Tommo
Melbourne, Australia50,337 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Apr 2021
We passed Fort Denison Island several times on our trips on the ferry between Circular Quay and Manly.

This is a heritage fort on a Sydney Harbour island and is a a former defense facility,

It has a museum, canons gun powder store and a winding staircase in Australia’s only Martello Tower (defensive fort).
Written 23 April 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

lesleys1952
Sydney, Australia21 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jun 2019
Very special place in the middle of Sydney Harbour. How special. Lunch was something to remember, hope I can go back one day food was amazing, probably one of my special moments to remember. Food good.
Written 8 May 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Dimitris L
Sydney, Australia45,371 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Dec 2019
Fort Denison Island is a tiny island right in the middle of Sydney Harbour. It can be seen from almost anywhere around the harbour, particularly from the side of the Botanic Gardens, but also, more conveniently from the ferry. It is currently closed for maintenance, but we have been there previously. It is a great source of history. It was initially used, by the authorities, during colonial times, as a centre where convicts were punished, quite severely. In much later times it was used as a defence post for Sydney Harbour, particularly during the world wars. It also was the victim of "friendly fire", during one of those times (from US troops, of course!) However these days it is part of the National Parks and it serves as a sort of museum. A great place to visit.
Written 30 December 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Michael-4551
Caloundra, Australia5,458 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Nov 2019
Visited on Monday 11th November. We were on the ferry to Manly and got to see this interesting Island as we went past. Has so much history and not to be missed.
Written 17 December 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

on_the_go_98765
Tucson18,350 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Mar 2019 • Couples
Fort Denison is open for tours between Thursday and Sunday. Talk with the Captain Cook folks about what tours are available and how much they cost. We think there may be a tour up to the tower which costs extra. We like to bring our own snackables (uts down on wasted time) so cannot advise on restaurant/snack bar quality.

During our trip, we missed the 4-day window but did appreciate the circular tour around the island. One always hopes the cruise (we were on the 2 hour harbour cruise) narrator isn't given to creating fiction but what do we know anyway?

The narrator said they grew crops on this island. A man ate these veggies and was hung. Another historical narrative says he was a murderer (maybe 2 times over) who remained snarky to the very end. His final words were recorded (as the saying goes) as: "Well, it certainly is a fine harbour you have here."

Wouldn't it be great to hear his story?

At the end of Mr. Francis Morgan's life, he was hung. Then he was tarred. Then he was suspended inside a gibbet (human-shaped cage) so as to deter any future transgressors. He hung there for maybe 3 or so years. How very humane.

Life is hard, and then you die. Convicts' lives were cheap collateral.
Written 11 April 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

midwaytoheaven
Midway, UT3,026 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Feb 2019 • Couples
We traveled past this old fort several times during our stay in Sydney. It has quite an interesting history from being a prison to military fort to restaurant. It was originally just a rock Island. Sadly the fort is currently closed for renovations until late 2019 so we could not take a ferry out to tour it. Looked like it would be a fun little trip though. It is in surprisingly great shape considering its been around for over 160 years since 1857. It still has an old cannon on top. Not sure if is the one they used to fire off at 1pm each day. We did not hear it while we were here.

BOTTOM LINE: CURRENT CLOSED for renovations until late 2019. Can be see fairly close when traveling on the Manly ferry or by cruise ships sailing in or out of the harbor. MY VISUAL RATING: 9/10
Written 24 February 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

David B
Rayong, Thailand9,813 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Feb 2019 • Solo
When Arthur Philip was Governor of the penal settlement of New South Wales, Fort Denison was known as Rock Island.

Philip used it to discipline convicts who had disobeyed orders or other breeches of discipline. The earliest recording is of Thomas Hill who was shackled in irons and marooned on the island in 1788, and given only bread and water.

Thus came about the name Pinchgut.

Later a fortification was built on the island during what many perceived as a threat of Russian invasion of the new colony.
Written 19 February 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

William B
Perth, Australia950 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Feb 2019 • Couples
This little island in the middle of Sydney Harbour still fascinates all those who pass it by on the ferries that service various destinations within the vast Sydney Harbour. It was used as a prison for the particularly violent prisoners who had been shipped out to the colony and remained so for approximately 60 years. It then became a fort to protect the entrance to the harbour area. There are guided tours but I think most people like to view it as a bit of a mysterious and intriguing part of early Australia's colonial past. Denison is also known as ''Pinchgut''. Besides its convict and military past it has also been used as a restaurant. It provides a nice aspect view from the ferries or even from MacQuarrie Point at the top of the Botanical Gardens.
Written 12 February 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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Fort Denison Island (Sydney) - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (with Photos) - Tripadvisor

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