Originally used as a naval arsenal in the late 1820s, Goat Island was then transformed into a sandstone quarry manned by gangs of convicts in 1831. One working convict, Charles Anderson – aka ‘the tattooed seaman’ – was apparently publicly chained to a rock on Goat Island for two years and fed with a pole (yikes). The island was then used as a water police station, an ammunitions artillery and a laboratory up until 1900, when all explosives were removed. It is also speculated that it was used as a bacteriology station, for investigation of the outbreak of the bubonic plague in the nearby Rocks district. More recently the island was used as for the set for ’90s action series Water Rats.
Island hop? Historical tours of the island are held on irregular Sundays – the next tours are November 10, December 8, January 12 and March 9. Book on 02 9253 0888 for $37.50 and meet at Circular Quay at 10.30am.