Bare Island - Botany Bay National Park

 

On seeing Bare Island for the first time, you may get a feeling of déjà vu.

If you are a Tom Cruise fan, then you must have seen Mission

Impossible II. Know now where you’ve seen this place?

 

Yes, it was featured in that movie. This beautiful island was the backdrop for the scene wherein Sean Ambrose (played by Dougray Scott) had his sinister headquarters.

 

Bare Island, situated in Botany Bay National Park, was used in 1885 as a military fort. This island fortress can be gained access from the mainland by a hundred year old wooden foot bridge. Everything is still as it had been before with all the equipments and trappings of a military stronghold.

 

Described as a “small bare island” by Lieutenant James Cook in 1770, Bare Island was originally a part of the land of the two ancient Aboriginal tribes, the Gweagal (known as the “Fire Clan”) and Kameygal (known as the “Spear Clan”).

Bare Island

 

Fear of Russian invasion through Botany Bay led to the decision to build a fort on Bare Island in 1877.

Architectural plans were drawn up in 1880 and construction of the fort was finished in 1885.

In 1889, workers started doing construction inside the fort.

 

A year later it was found out that the fort was built on inferior materials and the building had started to show signs of crumbling.

Reconstruction of the fort was never done due to bureaucracy. In 1902, Bare Island nearly ceased to be a military fort and was manned

by only a handful of men. After 10 years it functioned as a retirement home for the Crimea, Sudan, and China war veterans.

 

This went on until 1963 when it was taken over by Randwick District Historical Society. Four years later, it was declared a historical site and was then converted into a museum and tourist attraction by the New South Wales Parks and Wildlife Service.

 

Bare Island carries the distinction of being the most sought after deep sea diving site in New South Wales. Many veteran as well as neophyte divers come to practice here and there can be as many as 200 divers and snorkellers during weekends.

 

The rich diversity of marine life of the island serves as another good reason to come here. A variety of shark species such as seals, grey nurse and

Winter Port Jackson have been seen around. Likewise sea dragons, sea horses, red Indianfish are only some of the exotic animals to be seen on the island’s reef.