Fort Scratchley | Attraction Guides | History Hit

Fort Scratchley

Walsh Point, New South Wales, Australia

Sarah Roller

24 Jul 2021

About Fort Scratchley

Fort Scratchley in Newcastle is a 19th century coastal defence battery and the only coastal battery in Australia to have opened fire on the enemy during World War Two.

History of Fort Scratchley

The site upon which Fort Scratchley stands was originally an early coal mine and indeed one of the earliest such mines in Australia, being in operation from around 1801. The first defensive battery to be constructed here was an earthern battery named Fort Battlesticks, which was in place by 1828. However, the need for more robust coastal defence during the Crimean War led to the construction of far more permanent fortifications, including Fort Scratchley, from 1876 to 1886. The fort was named for the British officer who oversaw the build, Lieutenant Colonel Peter Scratchley.

Over several decades the fort was upgraded and renovated several times, to ensure it was militarily viable. However, the fort would only open fire in aggression once, on the night of 7-8 June 1942, when the fort’s six-inch guns fired two salvoes at a Japanese submarine which had bombarded Newcastle. After the war the fort operated for several more years before being decommissioned in 1962 and closed ten years later, when the Australian army finally left the site. It now operates as a museum.

Fort Scratchley today

Today visitors to Fort Scratchley can explore the history of this coastal fortification as well as taking in the spectacular views on offer from this commanding position. Visitors can explore at their own pace (pick up a self-guided leaflet on your way in) or join one of the guided tours which go deeper into the facility. It’s quite a labyrinth so a tour can be helpful!

The site is closed on Tuesday.

Getting to Fort Scratchley

Fort Scratchley is in East Newcastle, not far from the beach. Newcastle isn’t big – you can walk here from anywhere in town. Newcastle itself is about a 2 hour drive north of Sydney on the A1: there’s a direct train which takes just under 3 hours.

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