The National Trust and the Heritage of Sydney Harbour

  • Cameron Logan


Campaigns to preserve the legacy of the past in Australian cities have been particularly focused on the protection of natural landscapes and public open space. From campaigns to protect Perth’s Kings Park and the Green Bans of the Builders Labourers Federation in New South Wales to contemporary controversies such as the Perth waterfront redevelopment, Melbourne’s East West Link, and new development at Middle Harbour in Sydney’s Mosman, heritage activists have viewed the protection and restoration of ‘natural’ vistas, open spaces and ‘scenic landscapes’ as a vital part of the effort to preserve the historic identity of urban places. The protection of such landscapes has been a vital aspect of establishing a positive conception of the environment as a source of both urban and national identity. Drawing predominantly on the records of the National Trust of Australia (NSW), this paper examines the formation and early history of the Australian National Trust, in particular its efforts to preserve and restore the landscapes of Sydney Harbour. It then uses that history as a basis for examining the debate surrounding the landscape reconstruction project that forms part of Sydney’s highly contested Barangaroo development.