Wetlands Australia Journal, Vol 16, No 2 (1997)

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A cautionary tale: a study of the macro bivalve and gastropod molluscan fauna of Spectacle Island, Sydney Harbour

M Keats


Located in the Parramatta, Sydney Harbour, about 10 kilometres upstream from South Head, Spectacle Island today is a broadly equilateral triangular shaped man-modified outcrop of Hawkesbury sandstone and filled ground. Almost equidistant from Pulpit Rock to the NNW 400 metres, Cockatoo Island to the E 300metres, Drummoyne Peninsula to the SW 300 metres, and Snapper Island to the SE 400 metres, of the original outline of the island only fragments remain. There are the rock platforms and beaches at the NE extremity and the SE corner. It is a very different island today to that sighted by Captain (later Governor) John Hunter and First Lieutenant William Bradley of HMS Sirius, on 3 February, 1788.

The first description is that of John Hunter, who was undertaking exploration work for Governor Arthur Phillip, and decided to camp on Spectacle Island that night due to the presence on the mainland of large numbers of “natives”, many of whom had never seen a white man. Hunter writes in his diary: “It was a fairly unattractive place: ... two flat rock platforms, covered with scrub and divided by an isthmus 55 yards. The total area was less than 2 acres.”

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