COVID-19: Updates

Last updated: 18 December 2020

If you have any COVID-19 symptoms you should stay at home, self-isolate and get tested.

If you live in or have visited any of the NSW local government areas (LGAs) or suburbs listed on the NSW Government website in the past two weeks, get tested even if you have mild COVID-19 symptoms such as a runny nose or scratchy throat.

Plan your visit to Fort Scratchley

Modified access to the historic site includes the barrack grounds, galleries and shop, with social distancing to be practised.

Visitors to Fort Scratchley will be able to witness the time-honoured tradition of firing the gun at 1pm on weekends. As part of the staged approach to reopening other services, such as events and group bookings, remain suspended. Modified Tunnel Tours will resume from 1 November. Read more.

Fort Scratchley will be staffed by dedicated volunteers from the Fort Scratchley Historical Society, who will be monitoring capacity of the site to ensure it remains at a safe level.

For more information, read the Frequently Asked Questions below.

What are the opening hours?

Fort Scratchley is open six days per week, 10am to 4pm. The Fort is closed to public access on Tuesdays.

Visitors are asked to practise social distancing and if you are feeling unwell please reschedule your visit.

What do I need to know to plan a visit?

  • General admission entry to Fort Scratchley is free. No booking is required.
  • Visitors are required to scan a QR code on entry for contact tracing purposes.
  • During operational hours, the external grounds, galleries, and static exhibitions are open for members of the public to enjoy.
  • Tunnel tours are running with a reduced capacity of twelve people per tour. Tours must be pre-booked online and are subject to availability.
  • Cashless payments are preferred at the onsite shop.

Please note that while Fort Scratchley can be accessed by people with a range of mobility issues, there is uneven ground on site. There is also a significant incline to reach the top of the site. You can find out more information on our Accessibility page.

Public toilets will be open to the public, with additional cleaning regimes in place.

There is limited public parking onsite.

What experiences are there at Fort Scratchley?

Fort Scratchley is arguably one of Newcastle’s most spectacular vantage points, showcasing panoramic views of the ocean and harbour.

The large grassed headland is the perfect spot for a picnic, or for whale watching during the winter months.

The museum exhibition rooms are open, yet capacity limits apply. We ask visitors follow signage, floor markings and the direction of volunteers.

Fort Scratchley has reinstated the time honoured seafaring tradition of firing a gun at 1pm (during opening hours) to coincide with the Customs House time ball drop.

Programs such as guided tours, events and group bookings remain temporarily suspended.

What time is the gun firing?

The gun is fired at 1pm, during opening hours (weather permitting). Read more on Time Gun Firings.

Are guided tours running?

Tunnel tours are available. Tours are limited to twelve people per group and must be booked and prepaid online.

Read the Tours page for more information and how to book.

Large group tours remain suspended until further notice.

What COVID-19 safety measures are in place?

Fort Scratchley Historic Society have developed a COVID-19 Safe plan, in conjunction with City of Newcastle. Volunteers will closely monitor the capacity levels of the indoor spaces and the comfort level of the public in the outdoor area.

The following hygiene measures have been implemented:

  • Visitors must register on entry by scanning a QR code with a mobile device. This is for contact tracing purposes.
  • Touchfree hand sanitiser stations at entry points
  • Additional signage and floor markers indicating entry and exit points, as well as social distancing
  • Increased cleaning regimes during operational hours
  • Monitoring capacity of the internal spaces, such as the museum rooms

When visiting Fort Scratchley, we ask all visitors to help to keep each other safe from viruses, please:

  • Keep a distance of 1.5m between you and other people
  • Clean your hands with soap and water, or hand sanitiser
  • Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze
  • Avoid close contact with anyone with cold and flu-like symptoms
  • Stay at home if you are sick or have any flu-like symptoms