A piece of history just a stone’s throw from Marina Square.
While there are fascinating locations all over the city, one of the best places to see Sydney’s rich industrial heritage is the Parramatta River. It’s no surprise that one of the most interesting relics of the past is just offshore from Wentworth Point.
If you look carefully along the shore south of Marina Square, you’ll see it: the SS Ayrfield. But it might not seem like a boat at first, because the first thing to catch the eye is a beautiful tree growing through the hull. It’s a majestic collision of Sydney’s industrial history and its natural world.
The SS Ayrfield was built in the United Kingdom in 1911. Originally called the SS Corrimal, it was a collier (a steam-powered coal transport ship) weighing 1,140 tonnes and ran between Sydney and Newcastle.
In World War II it was purchased by the Commonwealth of Australia and used as a supply transport ship to assist American troops in the Pacific. After the war, it returned to its previous role as a collier under the Miller Steamship Company, often travelling to the company’s terminal in Blackwattle Bay. In 1972 it was finally decommissioned at age 61.
The old ship was taken to Homebush Bay for breaking up, but in the middle of the process work ceased at the shipwrecking site. The vessel – like several others nearby – was abandoned in its half-demolished state.
And then nature took over.
107-years old, the Ayrfield now resembles a floating forest. It was rediscovered in the bay in the last ten years, overgrown with huge mangrove trees. The site is popular with photographers and tourists, but it can still be overlooked by many. Round out your day at Marina Square with a visit to the look-out point.
How to find it
Homebush Bay is about 30 minutes from downtown Sydney by car, but there are also bus and train routes. Don’t overlook the Darling Harbour ferry as an option to get there either.
The site is a half-hour walk from Rhodes Station, or 15-20 minutes from Marina Square. Once you get to the Olympic Park Archery Centre, it’s a stroll across the road to the waterfront. The ship can be seen most clearly from the walkway there.