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Spectacle Island is historically significant as the oldest naval explosives manufacturing and storage complex in Australia. Dating from 1865 it was originally built to hold government gunpowder. It was later converted for use by the Royal Navy for storage of naval munitions and subsequently the Royal Australian Navy when formed in 1911.
Spectacle Islands heritage significance is fully described in the National Heritage Database. Key points include;
- It was used for the manufacture of projectiles and has a direct association with Australian participation in the First and Second World Wars.
- The 1865 buildings are significant for their association with NSW Colonial Architect James Barnet. Barnet-designed Victorian Georgian buildings including the Residence, Guard Room and Barrack, Cooperage, Laboratory, Powder Magazine and the Labourers Quarters.
- Many of the 1890s-1900s era buildings, reflect Federation Free Style design including the Filled Shell Store and
- Contained within several buildings at the complex is the Naval Repository, a collection of relics and artefacts of key significance to the history of the Royal Australian Navy.