Department of the Environment

Archived media releases and speeches

Senator the Hon Don Farrell

Parliamentary Secretary for Sustainability and Urban Water

Former HMAS Platypus site restoration enters important new phase

Media release
13 April 2012

Parliamentary Secretary for Sustainability and Urban Water, Senator Don Farrell, today announced plans for the second stage of the restoration of the former HMAS Platypus site in Sydney's Neutral Bay.

The site has been off-limits to the Australian public for more than 130 years, having operated as a gasworks (1876-late 1930s), torpedo maintenance factory (1942-1967) and Royal Australian Navy submarine base (1967-1999).

Senator Farrell said the second stage of remediation works is a significant undertaking and a crucial step towards public access to the site, which is managed by the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust.

"In this second stage, 30,000 tonnes of tar, tarry waste and tar-impacted fill and bedrock material will be excavated and treated," he said.

"After the decontamination works are complete, the Harbour Trust plans to allow public access to the site for the first time in more than 130 years."

Following a select tender procurement process, the Harbour Trust has selected Thiess Services Pty Ltd as the preferred contractor to undertake the Stage 2 major remediation works. Stage 2 remediation works are scheduled to commence in May this year and expected to be completed by late 2013.

The first stage of the former HMAS Platypus site restoration, involving the demolition of redundant buildings, removal of hazardous materials and repairs to the wharf, is almost complete.

The Harbour Trust plans to make the site's oldest structure – the pre-fabricated, cast-iron Retort House, made in Britain and shipped to Australia in 1887 –the centrepiece of a new cascading parkland area.

There are also plans for other parklands; waterfront plazas, with improved pedestrian links to the neighbourhood; and the adaptive re-use of the former industrial buildings for a range of cultural, recreational, community and commercial uses to complement public use of the waterfront.

Senator Farrell said the Harbour Trust has an impressive track record of sustainably decontaminating and rehabilitating former Defence and government sites, and opening them to the public, as demonstrated by its work on Cockatoo Island

"Community consultation has been a critical aspect of the Platypus site remediation project so far and the Harbour Trust will continue to work closely with the Platypus Community Advisory Committee and the broader community as the project moves into its second phase," he said.

As remediation is being undertaken within a high-density residential area on the foreshore of Sydney Harbour, a negative pressure odour enclosure will be used during the works. All bulk materials will be transported to and from the site by barge to minimise the project's impact on the local community.

Thiess Services Pty Ltd has extensive experience over 20 years in remediation projects, including gasworks. The company has undertaken projects across Australia including the 51-hectare Mortlake Gasworks remediation project in Sydney.