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Battery Point

Sculpture by Numbers

Battery Point is a blunt promontory that shelters Hobart's port to the north and looks south towards Storm Bay, so it has intimate links to the harbour and shorelines of the River Derwent. No part of Hobart has more significant cultural heritage than the Battery Point precinct. It is the location of some of the city's oldest surviving residences, the site of Hobart's largest suite of historic buildings and the place where many of Tasmania's first industries and commercial enterprises were established. The Battery Point Sculpture Trail celebrates this heritage and reinforces the link to the shoreline through installations of public artwork. The project's concept "sculpture by numbers" evolved from the multitude of stories about Battery Point that are articulated by measures of time, date, weight and amount. While numbers, in themselves do not tell stories, they provide gateways or windows through which aspects of Battery Point can be understood.

The sculpture trail takes about an hour to walk in one direction. If you start at the 1833 sculpture at the southern end of Salamanca Place, you'll reach the end at the 1909 sculpture on Marieville Esplanade. On the return walk, detour through the Battery Point village precinct and return to Salamanca Place via Arthur Circus, passing some of the city's oldest houses. You'll find directions along the way.

A map is available to give additional information both on the sculpture trail and the Battery Point precinct. Get one by calling in personally to the Council Centre or the Hobart Travel Centre, download a copy of the  Battery Point Sculpture Trail brochure here, or call (03) 6238 2100 to arrange a copy to be posted.

Awards for Battery Point Sculpture Trail Project

Since completion of the trail, design team Futago has received numerous design awards for this project including:

    2010 Australian Graphic Design Association National Awards, a Distinction in the Environmental Design category.


    2011 Interpretation Australia Bronze Award


    2012 Society of Environmental Graphic Design (SEGD) awards, Global Merit Award.


    You can read more about the SEGD award here:



Concept and design by Futago in collaboration with Judith Abell and Chris Viney.

Photo by Jonathan Wherrett

Sandstone first laid down more than 200 million years ago was quarried by convicts in chain gangs, then chiselled into golden cubes. On the cleared space by the water, the rubble was dumped to establish the foundations of the wharf. This was the New Wharf of 1833, where ships tied up in front of the sandstone warehouses to load and unload their cargoes - timber and wheat, livestock and leather, rum and flour, salt pork and muskets.

Photo by Jonathan Wherrett

Twice a day, a metal float sinks into a saltwater-filled pit cut through a rock beneath the tiny building opposite. Twice a day, the float rises with the tide. Robert Huckson's gauge has been working since December 1889. Behind the tide-house there's a square socket cut into a stone step. It's the positioning point for a surveyor's staff. Measured at exactly 12.43 feet above sea level, the socket was the base datum point for all levels surveyed in Tasmania.
 Photo by Jonathan Wherrett

Every Boxing Day a buoy bobs in the ocean off Port Jackson; at that point, the Sydney-Hobart racing fleet turns south. 628 nautical miles later, the first yachts hear the blast of an airhorn from this finishing box as they cross the line.

At the peak of the last Ice Age 18,000 years ago, you would have been looking over a wide, grassy valley with the ancestral River Derwent winding through it to meet the sea beyond the entrance to Storm Bay, somewhere south of Tasman island.

Photo by HCC

Thousands of workers have laboured in the slipyards, furnaces and factories in this location. Etched in metal are the shadows of some of the generation's of Battery Point  women who walked to work in the fruit cannery and jam factory here. All day they chopped, peeled, stirred, ladled and labelled - then they strolled home together, laughing and chatting ... about chores and children, purchases and pay packets, husbands and houses.

Photo by HCC

 This sculpture is a living and growing reference to the manicured gardens of the first imposing residences on the Secheron Estate, which was subdivided in the 1920's. If William Finlay had his way back in 1923, this land would have been open parkland all the way to the river's edge, a public reserve owned by the people of Hobart.

Photo by Jonathan Wherrett

Shipbuilding was the first important industrial enterprise in the new colony of Van Diemen's Land. Between 1825 and 1872, the boom days of Hobart shipbuilding, 313 vessels were built on Battery Point slipways, sliding into the Derwent to begin their working lives at sea.

Securely anchored, but rising and falling with the tide, the sculpted number is just one 'craft' among the flotilla of working barges, fishing boats, bluewater racers and cruising yachts that anchor off Battery Point.

Photo by Jonathan Wherrett

At peak capacity, the technologically-advanced, steam-powered winch of the Ross Patent Slip had the power to manage vessels of up to 1,250 tonnes deadweight. But few ships of that size were built here - most of the slip's work was in maintenance and repair, hauling the vessels from the water in a cloud of hissing steam and billowing smoke.

Ross's Patent Slip operated here from 1866 before being dismantled in 1903. Later slipways and shipyards took over the lower part of the site and are still working today.

Photo by HCC

For tens of thousands of years fires marked the camping places and hunting grounds of the first inhabitants of this area: the Mouheneener to the east and Moomairemener to the west. Spires of smoke by day, points of glowing red by night, their fires never died. Those who came later also burned fires twenty-four hours a day. She-oak logs blazed under iron try-pots to render oil from whale blubber, brick ovens melted lead for ships keels, steam hissed from wood-fired boilers, softening planks of Huon pine to be coaxed into the graceful curve of a hull.

Photo by Jonathan Wherrett

There are few things we know definitely about Errol Flynn. That he was born in 1909 and that he lived in Sandy Bay at some point in his childhood we know. On a River Derwent beach, not far from his home in Sandy Bay, his birth date stands tall in white letters that echo the shape and style of the famous outdoor sign that dominated over the place where he found stardom.








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