It was originally thought that the Watchtower at La Perouse was built at the end of Governor Macquarie's term. Further research has shown that it was built earlier during Governor King's tenure around 1810 probably as part of his strategy to combat the rum trade. The original design allowed room to house a Corporal and two or three privates. The soldiers who manned it directed and reported on shipping entering Botany Bay.
Between 1831 and 1904 it was used as a Customs Station and David Goodsir was the first civil coastguard. In 1868 the Botany Heads Public School was established in the building. The students were the children of local market gardeners, fishermen, Customs employees and local aborigines. In 1873 the Customs Officer built an additional room to the Watchtower for use as a schoolroom. The school continued until 1910 when a new public school was built at Phillip Bay.
In the 1950s a fire damaged the tower and the La Perouse Kurnell Trust rebuilt it. Today it is the oldest structure standing on the shores of Botany Bay.
List of References
- Sketches of Old Randwick (LH720.99441/LUM)
- Gregory's National Parks of NSW (919.44/GRE)
- History of La Perouse Monument Historic Site (LH994.4/STA/B)
- Historic La Perouse Management Plan (LH711.4/MUSE)