The waterfront that once was

 Munn’s slip at high tide, Millers Point. 15/6/2013

Munn’s slip at high tide, Millers Point. 15/6/2013

At Barangaroo, still known to its friends as Millers Point, down at the original shoreline just south of the original headland , archaeologists are currently exposing some remarkably well preserved remnants of Munn’s Wharf, built in the 1820s, Cuthbert’s larger wharf that replaced it, and Dibbs even larger wharf that covered them both.  Munn’s sandstone slipway, covered by the waters of Darling Harbour for much of the day give the lie of the land before the harbour began to be gradually filled in.  Extensive remnants of an 1860s sea wall show the extent of the first reclamation of Darling Harbour, while the great expanse of the apron of the 20th Century wharves beyond dwarf the older sandstone remains.

Many thanks to the team who showed members of the public around the site today, June 15th. Viewed together, the layered remains in this  one location provide a whole history of the evolution of shipbuilding in the 19th Century.  The site must be allowed to remain exposed and accessible. In amongst the faux heritage of the new headland park and the unabashed enormity of the proposed tower developments at Barangaroo, here is an exciting, tangible and very readable piece of historical magic.

Sydney did the wrong thing when it covered over the oldest docks in Australia to permit expansion of the Museum of Contemporary Art at West Circular Quay. But even Liz Ann McGregor, who claimed she could only see rubble there, could not fail to understand the significance of this Millers Point site.

 Remains of a cradle for construction of a boat? James Munn’s shipyard, Millers Point. 15/6/2013

Remains of a cradle for construction of a boat? James Munn’s shipyard, Millers Point. 15/6/2013

 Cuthbert’s shipyard, which covered and extended the old Munn’s wharf.  This 1871 image taken from Millers Point looking south towards the Australian Gaslight Company’s works. State Library of NSW.

Cuthbert’s shipyard, which covered and extended the old Munn’s wharf.  This 1871 image taken from Millers Point looking south towards the Australian Gaslight Company’s works. State Library of NSW.

 Dibbs wharf, undated. Many remnants of the piles that supported this wooden wharf remain. State Library of NSW.  

Dibbs wharf, undated. Many remnants of the piles that supported this wooden wharf remain. State Library of NSW.  

Posted on June 15, 2013 .