Date built: 1891-1893
Other Names: Wollongong Fort
Address: Cliff Road Wollongong NSW 2500
Function/purpose: Gun Battery and Fortification. Built to defend Wollongong from a possible Russian attack.
Category: Battery (fortified structure on which artillery is
mounted; a unit of artillery usually consisting of 6 guns with men who operate them)
Physical Description: Dug into side of hill, visible walling is painted brickwork – partly cement rendered. 64 metre long wall. 3 gun emplacements with 2 original guns in place 1 recently restored. Guns were 80-pound muzzleloaders built in 1872. Each was capable of firing a shell weighing nearly 35 kg over a distance of 2000 metre. Several underground ammunition rooms. Dug out and restored in 1988.
Smith’s Hill Fort was built in 1891-1893 in response to a possible Russian attack upon Wollongong Harbour. In 1885 the NSW government bought around 2 ½ acres of land reserved for the military. The land was chosen because of its location; overlooking the harbour and backing onto Cliff Road, which was useful for communication.
In 1892 Parliament approved the building of Smith Hill Fort at a cost of £2000 pounds. This was part of the solution to the guns on Flagstaff Hill being inadequate for protecting the shoreline. It was a hidden battery on high ground above Wollongong Harbour, with underground rooms for supplies, ammunition and shelter. It had two 36 kg cannons and a 3.8cm quick firing gun. The fort was manned by a team of 9 Volunteer militia (Army Reserves).
The threat of an invasion disappeared before the fort was finished in 1893, but the cannons were still used extensively for company training under Major Henry Osborne MacCabe and maintained by the Wollongong-Bulli Half Company. In 1946 the fort was filled with rubble and dirt. In late 1984 Wollongong City Council allowed an examination of Battery Park guns. The Ordance Factory at Bendigo had offered to do the restoration free of charge. In total, the rehabilitation of the site cost $35 000. It was dug out and restored in 1988, and 2 cannons were restored and reinstalled at the fort.
For more information: http://wollongongfort.org.au/