About the Bar Island

Rich in Aboriginal and European history, this uninhabited island is well worth a visit. Among the historic sites are a cottage, church and cemetery, as well as Aboriginal middens. Enjoy the native flora and fauna, making sure to keep an eye out for the threatened glossy black cockatoo and whistling kites.

icon
Location
Bar Island.
icon
Car Zone

facilities

icon Picnic Tables
icon
Bar Island Heritage Trail
icon
Contour interval 50cm above sea level
icon
Points of interest
icon
Start/end points
icon Points of Interest

The earliest evidence of a jetty on Bar Island dates from 1878. The current structure was installed in 2011, and the foundations of a previous 1972 jetty can still be seen underneath.

Coastal Saltmarsh can be found on the northern and western tip of the island. This rare ecological community is made up of low-growing plants that are able to survive in the harsh, salty conditions of the intertidal zone. River Mangroves (Aegiceras corniculatum) fringe much of the island, providing natural habitat for creatures such as the Sydney Rock Oyster (Saccostrea glomerata), Semaphore Crab (Heloecius cordiformis), and the Sydney Mud Whelk (Pyrazus ebeninus).

As you begin the trail, notice the layers of shell fragments in the soil. This whole area is thought to be an Aboriginal midden – a place where debris from people’s day to day life has accumulated over the centuries. Middens can contain the remains of animals such as shellfish, fish, birds, and land and sea mammals used for food, as well as charcoal from campfires, and tools made from stone, shell, and bone. They can help give an insight into past Aboriginal activities, the type of marine environment that was utilised, and the way it may have changed over time. Please keep to the trail and avoid disturbing this special site.

A hand-cut inscription on a large sandstone slab close to the trail reads “H E BRITTEN”. This may refer to (and been inscribed by) the son of H. H. Britten, the first Anglican minister of the islands church.

This cleared area was the site of St Johns Church of England, opened in 1876 by the Reverend Henry H. Britten, Anglican minister of the immense Castle Hill parish. The weatherboard building with stone chimney served as church and school for the local river community. In 1892, the building fell into disuse as settlements began shifting eastward to Brooklyn. The school reopened briefly from 1901 to 1903 but since then the building suffered the effects of termites and weather, before finally being destroyed in a bushfire in 1906. All that now remains standing is the stone chimney.

From around 1875 to 1915 a cottage stood at this location, housing the caretakers of the Church building and cemetery. As with the church, nothing now remains of this structure save the possible footings of a fireplace.

Records suggest this cemetery contains the remains of over 58 river residents and workers. The earliest known colonial interment was 5 month old Caroline Mary Banks in 1879, however it is possible there were burials occurring before this. In 1880 a local matriarch Sarah Ferdinand (known as “Granny” Lewis), was buried on the island, though the exact location of her grave is unknown. She is considered to have been the last tribal Aboriginal person from the local Guringai people. With the destruction of the church building and the opening of the Brooklyn cemetery, use of Bar Island for interments seems to have ceased around 1906.

The memorial at the summit of the island is to commemorate J. O. Sandell and M. J. Buckman, two Outward Bound instructors who drowned in 1963 attempting to rescue students from the Hume Weir near Albury.
As you pause and reflect at this peaceful spot, keep an eye (and ear) out for the threatened Glossy Black-Cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus lathami) feasting on the seeds of the Forest She-oak (Allocasuarina torulosa), and the Whistling Kite (Haliastur sphenurus) often seen circling overhead.

Due to areas of limited mobile coverage, remember to download this map (PDF) before you begin Visit.