History and humpbacks on offer as Fort Scratchley reopens to the public from July 4

BOOM: The firing of the canon at Fort Scratchley in Newcastle, which reopens to the public on July 4. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers
BOOM: The firing of the canon at Fort Scratchley in Newcastle, which reopens to the public on July 4. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Immerse yourself in Newcastle's military history and check out one of the city's best whale watching vantage points when Fort Scratchley reopens to the public on weekends from Saturday.

Following the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, visitors will once again be able to explore the grounds of the historic Fort, which has been standing sentry over Newcastle since 1882.

"It's fantastic that both locals and visitors can once again explore one of Newcastle's most iconic landmarks and learn more about the important role Fort Scratchley played in our city's history," Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said.

"Visitors may also be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the humpbacks currently migrating north along the coastline, with the Fort headland offering one of the city's most spectacular vantage points for whale watching."

Access will be granted to the outdoor areas of Fort Scratchley, allowing self-guided tours around the barracks and above-ground defence structures, while visitors can witness the time-honoured tradition of the firing the gun at 1pm on weekends.

Humpback whales are currently easy to spot off the coast of Newcastle as they migrate north to breed in warmer waters. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Humpback whales are currently easy to spot off the coast of Newcastle as they migrate north to breed in warmer waters. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

The large grassed headland is also ideal for those wanting to enjoy a picnic or take advantage of the panoramic views of the ocean and harbour.

Capacity limits will apply for those who want to visit the museum exhibition rooms, gift shop or onsite cafe, while guided tours of the historic tunnels and group bookings remain temporarily suspended.

Newcastle councillor Peta Winney-Baartz said the staged reopening of the Fort will allow visitors to access many of its unique experiences whilst ensuring the health and safety of volunteers and the public.

"While it will be wonderful to visit the Fort, I remind visitors to continue to practise physical distancing and follow the signage, floor markers and direction of the dedicated volunteers from the Fort Scratchley Historical Society, who will be monitoring capacity to ensure it remains at a safe level," Cr Winney-Baartz said.

Fort Scratchley will reopen from 10am to 4pm on weekends only, from July 4.

General admission entry is free and no bookings are required.

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