The island lies on the shore of Balmain and Millers Point, at the junction of Darling Harbour with the main channel of Sydney Harbour.
Over the years, the island has served a variety of roles. In the early 1830s, many began to worry about keeping explosives in its stockade at the time in central Sydney.
As such, a group of convicts embarked on a project quarrying stone to level a site on the southwestern portion of the island.
A large, stone, bomb-proof powder magazine was completed on this site in 1839. At the same time, a water police station was built on the northeast tip of the island.
A water ditch was cut to separate the northeastern tip of the island from the bulk of the island to clearly divide the domain of the police and the military magazine. This ditch is still visible today, although now, there are bridges over it.
Goat Island: The history
Later, when a larger magazine, the Queen’s Magazine, was built. The police station was converted into a laboratory to prepare cartridges for the explosives. By the 1870s, additional magazines were built on the east side of the island.
The island continued to serve primarily as a magazine until 1900, when all explosives were removed from the island.
At this point, it is believed the island was used to investigate an outbreak of bubonic plague in the Rocks district. However this is debated. What is clear is that in 1901, the island became a depot for the Sydney Harbour Trust.
Between 1925 and 1931, the magazine area of the island was converted into a shipyard for repairing the trusts vessels and the floating plant. The Maritime Services Board gave up control of the island in 1995 where it subsequently became a part of the Sydney Harbour National Park.
Since then, it has been used as a film set for the television show Water Rats, as well as the site of a number of concerts, with bands such as Foo Fighters, Kings of Leon, Green Day, and Midnight Oil having done shows on the island.
Recently, Goat Island has been reopened to the public, with tours available on the weekdays. The island was also a part of the 2010 Crave Sydney International Food Festival’s Sydney Harbour Island Hopping Tour.