Department of the Environment

Archived media releases and speeches

Senator the Hon Don Farrell

Parliamentary Secretary for Sustainability and Urban Water

Greening Sydney Harbour landmarks

Media release
30 May 2011

Two iconic Sydney Harbour landmarks, Cockatoo Island and North Head Sanctuary, are now showing the benefits of water harvesting, energy generation and energy efficient technology funded through the Australian Government's Green Precinct Fund.

Visiting Cockatoo Island to mark the completion of the project, Parliamentary Secretary for Sustainability and Urban Water, Senator Don Farrell, said that the sites demonstrated the Australian Government's commitment to energy efficiency and sustainable water saving measures.

"The Sydney Harbour Federation Trust received $861,500 in funding through the Australian Government's Green Precinct fund to help turn this unique World Heritage listed site into a sustainable heritage, tourism and events hub.

The Trust has installed one of the largest solar photovoltaic arrays in metropolitan New South Wales. The array generates 20 per cent of the island's electricity needs and saves more than 110 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year. The water harvesting systems provide the island's total non-potable water needs.

At North Head Sanctuary, the former School of Artillery, two solar farms are generating 20 per cent of the site's electricity needs and saving over 65 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year. The site's water harvesting systems provide all non-potable water required for toilets and irrigation.

"Cockatoo Island and North Head are prominent Sydney landmarks that, under the Sydney Harbour Trust's management, are becoming integral to the cultural life of the city," Senator Farrell said.

"In a few short years, Cockatoo Island has been transformed from a contaminated industrial site that was closed to the public, into what is now a hub for tourism and a public venue for large contemporary art and other events."

Whilst on Cockatoo Island, Senator Farrell also announced the completion of the restored 1891 Morts Dock steam crane. One of the oldest surviving steam cranes in Australia, it was brought back to life by a team of Trust volunteers, some of them former Cockatoo Island workers.

"On a recent visit to Cockatoo Island, I had the pleasure to meet many of the hard-working and highly-qualified volunteers who restored this magnificent piece of machinery.

"Their commitment to this project represents some 4,608 hours of skilled labour. I congratulate them on their skill, hard work and passion for heritage."

Last year, Cockatoo Island was added to the World Heritage list as part of a serial nomination of 11 convict sites around Australia.

For more information on the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust, visit: . For information on the Trust's demonstration projects on Cockatoo Island and North Head, call Patrick Fletcher, Sydney Harbour Federation Trust, (02) 8969 2114.

For more information on the Green Precincts Fund, visit