The iconic southern cliffs of the entry to Sydney Harbour have been added to the State Heritage Register in honour of their historical, archaeological, and cultural significance.


Icon Status Achieved

State Minister for Heritage and the Environment, James Griffin, announced on Friday that the iconic coastline would be given the status of heritage because the area has ‘helped shape New South Wales as we know it today’.

Much of South Head has been protected by the Sydney Harbour National Park since 1977, but its now heritage status will include Hornby Lighthouse, Camp Cove Beach, and the rockshelf that surrounds them.

The listing of South Head on the State Heritage Register is an important step towards securing the area for future generations as it provides a legal recognition that it’s valued by the community and needs to be preserved.

A Place of Historical and Cultural Importance

The historical and cultural significance of South Head is diverse and wide-ranging. It has strong links to the Birrabirragal people, with evidence of occupation right up until the mid-1800s. The site holds both Indigenous and colonial significance.

The diversity of its archaeological and historical remains is representative of why it needs to be preserved. It was both the home of Cora Gooseberry, a significant Aboriginal leader, and one of the first places of contact between Aboriginal and British people.

South Head also played an important role in World War II and has many historically significant buildings and ruins that reflect the area’s history.


Hornby Lighthouse Keeper’s Cottage on South Head

A Community Effort

According to the Member for Vaucluse Gabrielle Upton, the listing was made possible by an overwhelming amount of community support.

‘This has been a long journey and worth every bit of effort together with my community…As the heritage gateway to Sydney Harbour, South Head marked the entrance to Port Jackson for ships and served as a landmark for early European settlers’ arrival into the Harbour. Prior to that, it was an important place for Aboriginal people, including for fishing, art, and other rituals,’ Ms Upton said.


View of South Head


Members of the State Government and the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service are currently working closely to develop a plan for South Head. This plan will include aspects that increase the public’s accessibility to the area and enhance the cultural, historical, and environmental attributes of South Head.


Feature image thanks to Andrew Gregory, Destination NSW

All other images thanks to Destination NSW