Macquarie Watchtower, La Perouse

Randwick & District Historical Society Inc.
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Macquarie Watchtower

Watchtower, Feb 2010 prior to refurbishment

Macquarie Watchtower Restoration

Watchtower in Aug 2010 surrounded by scaffolding during refurbishment

Macquarie Watchtower, also known as the Barrack Tower, was probably built around 1821 or 1822. It is Randwick City's oldest building and an important heritage site.

Although it is often referred to using Governor Lachlan Macquarie's name, no documentary evidence has been discovered that positively identifies when and why the Tower was built. Macquarie did not claim it as one of his building works.

It was originally staffed by a few soldiers who were tasked to be on a lookout for problems in what was in the 1820s an isolated back door to the Colony.

Patrick Lally was made Watchman in 1827. When the Tower became a Customs post David Goodsir was appointed Coast Watcher, the first in a series of officials charged with undertaking Customs Duties. Coast Watchers also had to help capture escaped convicts, keep local order and rescue distressed seamen.

The octagonal tower was altered over the decades. In 1864 a conically shaped roof was added as well additions attached to the Tower by skillion roofs. A fire in October 1957 destroyed the additions and parts of the Tower. The La Perouse Monuments Trust, then in charge of the building, cleared away rubble and "restored" the Tower to what was then thought to be the original 1820s shape. It is likely that the crenulations that were added were more numerous and solid than the original.

The National Parks and Wildlife Service commissioned a major restoration project in 2010. See Chronology for more history of the Tower.