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Joint Media Release
Greg Hunt MP
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Federal Member for Flinders
The Hon Tony Abbott MP
Member for Warringah

30 January 2006

New lease of life for old Gunners' Barracks

The Hon Greg Hunt MP, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage today officially opened The Tearoom Gunners' Barracks at Georges Head, giving the former army barracks site a new lease of life as a restaurant and function centre.

"The Australian Government has been committed to providing public access to this iconic heritage building and now, after being off-limits to the public for 125 years, the building and its spectacular position can be appreciated by the public," Mr Hunt said.

"I am very pleased to open The Tearoom Gunners' Barracks overlooking Chowder Bay and welcome the people of Sydney to the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust's newest public open space."

"I would like to congratulate the Federal Member for Warringah, the Hon. Tony Abbott MP, for his commitment to the project."

The Hon. Tony Abbott MP, Federal Member for Warringah said he was pleased to see the Trust's progression.

"The Federal Government is spending more than $150 million over seven years to ensure that the Trust is able to make the most of these priceless environmental and cultural assets and I'm very pleased to see the latest stage in the Trust's work, Mr Abbott said.

Mr Hunt said the historic site was steeped deep in the history of Sydney.

"In 1870 the British government passed defence responsibilities onto the colonies."

"This resulted in the NSW government building a line of defence at Georges Head, Middle Head, Bradleys Head and inner South Head in the early 1870s, with the Gunners' Barracks being constructed in 1873.

"The barracks housed the artillery's gunners throughout the 1870s and 1880s and became an Officers' Mess in the mid-1950s, and a home for the Women's Royal Army Corps before the army relocated and the site was transferred to the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust in 2002," Mr Hunt said.

Mr Hunt said the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust had sought appropriate uses for the Gunners' Barracks in accordance with the Georges Head Management Plan adopted by the Trust in March 2004.

An Expression of Interest process was undertaken in late 2004 to elicit a range of proposals for the use of the site.

Already operating at the historic Queen Victoria Building, this new venture for the Tearooms is in-line with the building's recent former use and the restaurant setting provides ongoing public access to the building.

"The Harbour Trust has worked closely with The Tearoom throughout the fitting-out process to ensure that important heritage features of the building were preserved."

"This cooperative approach continues with the Harbour Trust's monthly guided tours having access to the building," Mr Hunt said.

Media enquiries:
Kristy McSweeney (Mr Hunt's office) 0415 740 722
Kate Miranda (Mr Abbott's office) 0417 425 227

Commonwealth of Australia