Julie Goodsir: A Meaningful Vision for the 10 Terminal Complex

Julie Goodsir: A Meaningful Vision for the 10 Terminal Complex

At the Harbour Trust Public Board Meeting on Tuesday 17 June 2014 HPG Vice President Julie Goodsir gave an outstanding speech (reproduced in full below) to the board and approximately 120 members of the community. The Harbour Trust revealed little but mentioned a new display and approval process involving the Department of the Environment, the Trust and the proponent separately but simultaneously. HPG is investigating and will keep you posted.

Good afternoon, Madam chair, Board members, Management, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for the opportunity to address the meeting. I am Julie Goodsir, Vice President of Headland Preservation Group. Don Goodsir my late husband, was a founding member of this Group that fought to keep these lands in the public domain and establish the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust to manage, restore and conserve them in trust for all Australians.

The aged care proposal will and should fail – not because it is aged care – no one is opposed to aged care but because

  1. MH is the wrong location for a private residential aged care facility in an isolated bushfire prone area at the end of a single access road, in the middle of a dedicated public national park
  2. It also involves the irreversible demolition of a very significant part of 10 Terminal buildings effectively destroying their ‘exceptional heritage values’.


In the Harbour Trust Management Plan, 7 June 2007, for the Middle Head Precinct, I quote: “this is a place where the area’s rich natural and cultural heritage, including its early aboriginal and military occupation will be protected and interpreted”.

Two of the objectives are:

  1.  “To conserve and interpret the whole site as a historic precinct;
  2.  To provide opportunities and site interpretation for visitors to understand and appreciate the totality of the site’s heritage”

Let us examine what we actually have at Middle Head and see if we can recapture your vision of what could be.


This vision is for a cooperative partnership on this iconic headland to create an interpretation centre – an indoor/outdoor centre of appreciation and learning – a unique partnership of all who had or have interests in Middle Head.

These parties are the military, our indigenous peoples, the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust, Sydney Institute of Marine Studies, national parks and the Australian School of Pacific Administration. Such a centre would add tremendous value to the Park.

Just think, we have 200 years of built Australian military history on Middle Head. Part of that history is 10 Terminal – built in 1941-2 with scarce materials, camouflaged to hide it from view from the water. Built at a time in Australia’s history when our very survival was most threatened.

There are only two such complexes left in Australia – at North Head and 10 Terminal.

These buildings and the surroundings are an integral component of the historic landscape of Middle Head precinct, connecting the fortifications of the early 1800s continuously through to modern wartime and the post war era.

There is history in the bricks of 10 Terminal. It was designed and built to house important communications work during World War 11. It subsequently housed the Army Intelligence Unit. It was used in both the Cold and Korean Wars. Australia’s first Vietnam War contingent, the Australian Army Training Team Vietnam (AATTV) commenced their training in the 10 Terminal buildings. This is Australia’s most decorated contingent – over 100 commendations including 4 VCs.

The past and future stories of 10 Terminal, its architectural, military history and heritage value can only be told if its external and internal 1940 institutional art deco design is retained.

We see the administration building fronting Middle Head Road as the HQ of the partnership. It would feature the Defence history for the whole park, including the attack on Sydney by the Japanese submarines; information about the aboriginal culture; the work of past and current users of the area including The Trust, Marine Studies, ASOPA and National Parks. It would be a starting point for an experience exploring the tunnels, walking the defences, learning about the military involvement as well as the natural environment.

I have taken overseas visitors to see this precious area and have come to realise enormous untapped tourist potential of Georges Heights, Middle Head and Chowder Bay. The forts and tunnels are exciting experiential stuff for tourism, which would grow quickly and economically from simple blindfolds and guided walks to the development of experiential Apps.

Do you know that in the next 12 months cruise ships will bring over 600,000 visitors to Sydney? You only have to walk around the Rocks to see the fascination with Aboriginal art. At Middle Head we have the natural Australian environment, a place of aboriginal significance, and 200 years of the military history of our country in one place.

And all this is only two nautical miles from the CBD.

Imagine a ferry ride to Chowder Bay; walk or bus to the Interpretation Centre via the fortifications. Fortifications brought alive with simple audio devices like those used in the highly successful Alcatraz in San Francisco Bay; and view the unparalleled vista from the 1801 fort location

And what a fantastic education resource we have here! The new compulsory Australian National Curriculum of History requires study of Australia, the Past in the Present, for students from Year 2 to Year 10. This is what we have on Middle Head! We already have school camps at Lands Edge just down the road.

With Australia becoming more multicultural every day it is critical that we educate our future citizens about our history and culture. To cater for this we see the Old Officers mess fronting the harbour used for conferences and as an educational centre for students and teachers. It could include a film theatre, media and performance spaces.

It is important to acknowledge that aboriginal peoples have lived on this headland for thousands of years. Here there were early encounters between the indigenous cultures and the Europeans. It is thought that Cobbler’s Beach may have been the beach that Captain Hunter and Lieutenant Bradley met local aboriginal people in January 1788 and danced on the beach.

Our comprehensive vision displays aboriginal heritage in the two side Buildings of 10 Terminal – a contemporary collection of indigenous paintings, photographs, sculpture and artefacts. There would also be a café serving indigenous food run as an economic business in conjunction with the education wing.

This would be a working, living cultural centre NOT just tokenism.

SIMS is a unique educational tertiary institute conducting marine research located at Chowder Bay. The Interpretation Centre would explain the exciting research being undertaken by the Institute on our doorstep.

Both SIMS and National Parks have a need for storage of plant and equipment. The garages are ideally suited for this. This is what they were built for in the 1940s. Our National Parks and Wildlife Service is manager of an integral part of the headland.

Middle Head is Sydney Harbour’s ‘Index finger’ headland, beckoning ships and visitors in through Sydney Heads. It is a headland fringed with remnant Australian bushland, ringed by sandstone cliffs and surrounded by the harbour. This asset is unique and priceless.

Australian School of Pacific Administration – ASOPA, was a former occupier of 10 Terminal with a very active alumni group and would be interested in being part of an interpretation centre


Mr Bailey gave the clear impression to the Commonwealth Senate Estimates Committee 3 weeks ago that the Trust was in a sound financial position. Earlier he has told public meetings that the aged care proposal is not being pursued for financial reasons. However, this proposed private residential development is contrary to the Trust Act of Parliament and the Trust’s Comprehensive Plan. It alienates public parkland; it desecrates important heritage buildings; and sets a dangerous precedent that threatens other priceless urban parkland and heritage sites in Australia.

In contrast the Vision I have presented is consistent with the Act and Comprehensive Plan. What’s more it fulfils your stated Plan.

Our Vision is that The 10 Terminal Complex becomes a place for a unique partnership of past and present users to create a centre of appreciation, learning, and tourism. It will add tremendous value to the Park and the Trust.

You, the Board, are custodians to safeguard this heritage and these lands which were given as a gift to all Australians, present and future. You have the opportunity now to establish a unique facility.

This opportunity will never come again. We urge you to recapture your original grand vision.

Julie Goodsir
Vice President
Headland Preservation Group Inc.
17 June 2014

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1 Comment on "Julie Goodsir: A Meaningful Vision for the 10 Terminal Complex"

  • Peter Maccormick says

    Well done great presentation keep up the fight !!

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