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Minister for the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts 2001-2004

The Hon Dr David Kemp, MP



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Media Release
The Hon Dr David Kemp, MP
Minister for the Environment and Heritage

14 April 2004

Future Assured for Mosman Scouts' Heritage Barn

The Australian Government has pledged urgent dollars and will work with all interested parties to save this valued last relic of Mosman Bay's whaling history and an important Indigenous site.

Announcing special Australian Government heritage funding of $50,000 today, the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, said, “Somebody needed to step in to sort out the complex issues of saving not only this building, but a cave behind it, which was the home of the last known Aborigine in the Mosman area.

“I had encouraged the owners, the Mosman Scout Troop, to apply for heritage funding under the Australian Government's Cultural Heritage Projects Program, which they did.

“I have made special heritage funding available and instructed my Department to organise urgent talks with the Mosman Council, the New South Wales Heritage Office and Parks and Wildlife Service, the Mosman Scout Troop and their consultant heritage architect to work out a solution to save this building and the cave, not only for the future but so that the Barn can continue as the home of the Mosman Scout Troop.

“The Barn is, arguably, the heart of Mosman as it was the site of the public meeting to decide that North Sydney Borough should divide and establish Mosman as a Municipality. It is also significant in worldwide Scouting history. The 1st Mosman Scout Troop in 1908 became the first registered Scout Troop in Australia, and second in the world.

“The area is also significant for ‘Tarpots Cave', an Aboriginal heritage-listed cave, directly behind ‘the Barn' in the middle of the cliff face. It is reported that the last tribesman from the Cammeragal Tribe occupied the cave. The project to stabilise the cliff will also protect this cave into the future.”

The building is listed on the Australian Government's Register of the National Estate, being one of the few remaining buildings associated with the whaling industry – one of, if not the only surviving early colonial maritime industrial building left in Sydney and a relic of Mosman's grand scheme for centralised whaling ship servicing so typical of early colonial entrepreneurial optimism.

The Whaling Station comprised a stone wharf and five strong buildings, being the Barn, a large storehouse, and quarters for the ships officers and crew. The Barn was used by Archibald Mosman as a storehouse and sail loft until 1851 when the whaling supply station was closed. It was subsequently a candle factory, a tannery, a hall, a skating rink and a Sunday School.

It is the last remaining structure from the original Whaling Station built by Archibald Mosman in 1831. It was saved from developers in 1925 when it was purchased by scouting parents for the use of the 1st Mosman 1908 Scout Troop after being left vacant for some years and was a Scout Hall from 1928 until recent fears of imminent collapse of the cliff behind made it unsafe for occupation.

Commonwealth of Australia