Permanent protection for Shepherds Hill fort

Historic Shepherds Hill military fortifications will be given the state’s highest level of heritage protection under changes to be revealed today by the NSW government.

Minister for the Hunter Jodi McKay is poised to announce that installations, which include gun emplacements, pits and a 100 metre-long tunnel and observation posts, have been placed on the State Heritage Register.

Ms McKay said it had a rich history.

“Shepherds Hill co-ordinated Newcastle’s various coastal defences during World War II and I am very pleased it will be protected for generations to come,” she said.

The listing means that any major works for the installations would be subject to scrutiny from the Heritage Council of NSW as well as Newcastle City Council. The site will have to be maintained to a predetermined standard of repair and there will be increased access to heritage funding.

Ms McKay said military occupation of the Shepherds Hill site began in the 1890s to guard against possible attacks by Russia. It included the construction of a gun emplacement with underground rooms.

“The gun was designed to be a discrete, hard-to-spot weapon which would contract downwards, below its parapet to be reloaded,’’ he said.

“It remains the only unmodified eight-inch disappearing gun emplacement of its type in NSW.’’

Planning Minister Tony Kelly, who played a role in adding the site to the heritage register, said that during World War II the defence systems at Shepherds Hill were strengthened to include troop accommodation, searchlights and tunnel, which carried the cables from the engine room for one of the searchlights 60 metres above sea level.

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