School excursion

Tour de Forts Middle Head

Stage 5 (Years 9-10), History, Sydney Harbour National Park

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In the early days of colonial Sydney, the Middle Head area formed a key line of defence against attack via sea. This Tour de Forts history excursion for Stage 5 students (Years 9-10) explores these fortifications, including lookouts, gun placements and ammunition stores.

Read more about Tour de Forts Middle Head

Students will navigate tunnels and passages and learn what drove this new and distant colony to invest in these hastily built defensive structures.  

Through stories and anecdotes students will gain an in-depth understanding of the geographical remoteness and vulnerability the new colony felt at the time. They'll explore why the colony took the decisions and actions they did in response to their circumstances. 

For program outline, safety and practical information about this excursion, see info for teachers

Stage Stage 5 (Years 9-10)
Learning area History
Student outcomes

HT5-1. Explains and assesses the historical forces and factors that shaped the modern world and Australia

HT5-2. Sequences and explains the significant patterns of continuity and change in the development of the modern world and Australia

HT5-4. Explains and analyses the causes and effects of events and developments in the modern world and Australia

HT5-7. Explains different contexts, perspectives and interpretations of the modern world and Australia

HT5-9. Applies a range of relevant historical terms and concepts when communicating an understanding of the past


Students will:

  • Explore the gun placements, ammunition stores and lookouts of the Middle Head area
  • Walk through tunnels and passages built in 1870 by settlers in the new colony 
  • Gain an understanding of why and how the fortifications were built, and how they were used and neglected over time 
  • Learn about what was happening in the world at the time from a political, geographical and philosophical perspective. They'll examine how global events affected the lives and work of people in Sydney.

Excursion details


By arrangement.

Guided. Available September to July during the school week. Not available June, July or August, because the endangered bent wing bat hibernates in the Middle Head tunnels throughout the winter months.
1hr 30min

$16 per student. Minimum 20 students. Price includes GST.

Meeting point
Boom gate entrance to Middle Head
If you would like to organise a NPWS school excursion please get in touch with local staff or use the 'Enquire' link for the online form.
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There are no current alerts in this area.

Local alerts

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Park info

  • in Sydney Harbour National Park in the Sydney and surrounds region
  • Sydney Harbour National Park is open sunrise to sunset but may have to close at times due to poor weather or fire danger.

  • Park entry fees:

    Bradleys Head carpark: $8 per vehicle per day. North Head carpark: $5 per vehicle per day. There are pay and display machines that accept cards and coins - no change given. Chowder Bay Road parking: Monday-Friday: $3 per hour, to a maximum of $16 per day. Saturday, Sunday and Public Holidays: $4 per hour, to a maximum of $20 per day. If you hold an NPWS All Parks or Multi Parks Pass, you can park free for up to four hours per day - additional time can be purchased. Car parks operated by Sydney Harbour Federation Trust or Mosman Council are not covered by your pass. Please check signs carefully. You can also pay for your visit via the Park’nPay app.

    Other fees:

    Landing fees or tour fees apply to visit Sydney Harbour islands. All public visitors to Shark, Clark or Rodd Island, need to pay a $7 per person landing fee. To arrange, please contact 1300 072 757 (13000 PARKS). Annual NSW Parks Passes do not cover landing fees.

    Buy annual pass (//
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Info for teachers

All the practical information you need to know about Tour de Forts Middle Head.

Program outline

  • Welcome, acknowledgement of Country and safety talk
  • Morning tea, toilet break 
  • Introduction to the site and overview of what the excursion will entail
  • Exploration of the fortifications 
  • Discuss the 1815 land grant for Georges Head awarded to Bungaree, leader of the Broken Bay Aboriginal tribe – and what drove this 
  • Explore the tiger cages where soldiers underwent training for potential capture and torture 
  • Lunch
  • Walk to the gun emplacements – the first fortifications purpose-built in Sydney Harbour in 1801
  • Farewell and depart on bus 

Getting there and parking

Get driving directions

Get directions

    Middle Head is in the Middle Head precinct of Sydney Harbour National Park. To get there:

    • From Mosman, follow Middle Harbour Road to the end.
    • It's approximately 100m walk from the carpark to Middle Head Forts and lookout

    Road quality

    • Sealed roads

    Vehicle access

    • 2WD vehicles

    Weather restrictions

    • All weather


    Paid parking is available at Middle Head carpark. Follow Middle Head Road past the Chowder Bay Road roundabout, to the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust managed carparks.

    Four hours free parking is available for NPWS Annual Pass holders along sections of Chowder Bay Road. Please check the parking meter for the NPWS logo to ensure your vehicle is parked in an NPWS managed carpark.

    What to bring

    Remember to bring a hat, sun protection, wet weather gear and adequate drinking water. It's a good idea for students to bring their gear in a backpack or similar (not plastic bags).

    Maps and downloads

    Safety messages

    Pre activity briefing: participants will be briefed at the start of the activity/day.

    Safety equipment: NPWS staff carry radios and first aid kits, hold current first aid certificates and are aware of emergency procedures.

    Staff accreditation: NPWS staff have current Senior First Aid accreditation. They are experienced in working with groups of students in the natural environment and have excellent knowledge of the specific areas they are visiting including potential hazards. NPWS is committed to a Child Safe and Friendly Environment. Our staff have been screened for child-related employment and have completed a Working with Children Check.

    Emergencies: NPWS staff are trained to deal with emergencies and emergency procedures are in place. Ongoing supervision of a student following first aid treatment will be the responsibility of the visiting school.

    Risk assessment and risk benefits

    Our rangers and guides have the technical skill and experience to assess the risks and the benefits of a variety of activities delivered as part of our learning programs.

    We believe in including opportunities that allow students to learn and experience for themselves through exploration in the natural environment.

    Please make your own risk assessment based on the information provided. Detailed potential risks and controls are provided for the site to assist teachers in risk management planning. Teachers and carers should be aware of, and consider the needs, abilities and medical conditions of students when visiting this site. The supervision of students remains the responsibility of the teacher. The school must ensure an adequate number of adult supervisors are present.


    Disability access level - hard

    Limited wheelchair access. Please let us know in advance if you are bringing someone with special needs so we can plan accordingly.