The first stage of one of Sydney’s hidden foreshore gems, the former torpedo factory and submarine base HMAS Platypus, has been be officially opened to the public for the first time in more than 150 years, with the unveiling of a new walk and playground.
This section of what is now known as Sub Base Platypus has been completed by the Harbour Trust, the Federal Government body responsible for managing and protecting some of Sydney’s most historically important harbourside sites.
This will involve the opening of a new foreshore walk along the old submarine wharf, including a new overwater walkway linking the site with Kesterton Park, in North Sydney; a recreation and BBQ area; a new submarine-theme playground that is unique in Sydney; and access to the foreshore from Kiara Close.
The overwater walk will provide visitors with the opportunity to travel by ferry to North Sydney Ferry Wharf and then enter Sub Base Platypus via a specially constructed walkway over the water.
Elements of the new playground were built by the Harbour Trust’s Volunteer Restoration Team, consisting of more than 50 volunteers whose skills and expertise range from engineering and carpentry to electrical, tool makers and sheet metal work.
Paying tribute to the site’s history as a submarine base for the Royal Australian Navy’s Oberon-class fleet and as a torpedo manufacturing and maintenance factory, the volunteer team has built some of the equipment, including a model Oberon Submarine and periscopes.
The Member for North Sydney, Mr Trent Zimmerman, MP, said he was pleased to see the first stage of one of Sydney Harbour’s most important historical and industrial locations opened up to the public.
“This is an important moment in the redevelopment and long-term protection of the old torpedo factory and submarine base, which is now part of the Federal Government’s portfolio of historically significant sites that are opened to the public to enjoy in perpetuity,” Mr Zimmerman said.
“In total, the Government has invested close to $70 million to remediate and restore this significant site – and now, the public will be able to enjoy the first stage in what will eventually become Sydney’s newest waterfront urban park.”
The Chairman of the Harbour Trust, Kevin McCann, said the former submarine workshops would be revitalised over the next two to three years, with more access to the site provided throughout 2019.
“Under the management plan for the site, the industrial heritage values of the buildings will be retained and many of these buildings will be adaptively re-used,” Mr McCann said. “Once complete, Sub Base Platypus will provide a mix of open space and urban parkland, for the public to enjoy.”
The Chief Executive of the Harbour Trust, Mary Darwell, paid tribute to volunteer’s contribution to the playground.
“Over the last 12 years, the Volunteer Restoration Team have undertaken some incredible projects on another one of the Harbour Trust’s special sites, the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Cockatoo Island, including restoration of many cranes and machinery,” Ms Darwell said.
“The work by this highly skilled group of volunteers in building the submarine-themed playground equipment underscores the connection and community at Sub Base Platypus.”
Ms Darwell said the second stage of Sub Base Platypus would involve the creation of additional public domain, including a plaza and courtyard areas as well as base refurbishments to enable adaptive re-use of the spaces.
The leasing process for the cluster of the former workshops is underway, with tenants progressively onsite throughout 2019.