About Garden Island
Garden Island has supported naval activities since 1788 with the role and utilisation of the island varying over the years. Originally the small island of 4.6 hectares was literally used as a garden bed to produce food for the ship's company. By 1946 land had been reclaimed between Potts Point and Garden Island, expanding the Garden Island site to 27 hectares.

Garden Island was also the site of the sinking of the accomodation ship KUTTABUL in 1942 by Japanese midget submarine with the death of 21 Australian and British sailors. At this time, the site had been designated Australia's main naval port and ship repair site and the construction of the Captain Cook Graving Dock was underway. Hundreds of war ships have berthed at Garden Island over the past two hundred years, including many that have docked for repairs and maintenance.
The two main users of Garden Island are the Navy and Thales Australia. Garden Island is the main base for the Navy Fleet on Australia's East Coast. Thales Australia manages and operates a graving dock (dry dock), a floating dock and a range of ship engineering and maintenance facilities at Garden Island. Garden Island is part of the rich fabric of the Port of Sydney and one element fulfilling the stated desire of the State Government to have a working harbour.
The general population at Garden Island varies depending on the work that is being done and the number of ships that are in port, including visiting foreign war ships, at any one time. The normal workforce consisting of Naval and non-Naval personnel can vary between 3000 and 4000 people. Where a number of visiting ships arrive at the same time the population can increase by a further 5000 to 6000. Activities on Garden Island make a significant economic contribution to the local and state economy.
Since WW II management of the site has been centralised through the Navy and the whole of GI has been deemed a defence site and operated under Commonwealth Government jurisdiction. Thales Australia (formerly ADI Limited) commenced operations in 1989 when the Commonwealth Government formed ADI as a company with a number of existing defence production establishments, including Garden Island.
The subsequent privatisation of ADI in 1999, and the change of ownership to Thales Australia in 2006, has changed the nature of how GI is managed, notably:
  • Thales Australia now operates as an independent commercial entity and complies with State and Federal Government jurisdiction and approval processes; and
  • Thales Australia continues to play an integral role in ongoing maintenance and upkeep of the Garden Island site and the naval fleet to ensure its operational readiness.
Garden Island is one of two primary Navy repair and refit locations in Australia (the other being south of Perth) and is of strategic significance in both berthing and maintaining the Navy Fleet and associated regional defence activities.
Garden Island is an industrial and administration site, however a number of amenities are provided for the personnel on-site. These include catering and transport services and a medical centre.
Related Links
Thales Australia
The Navy
Garden Island Occupants
History of Garden Island
Garden Island Location
Image Gallery
Garden Island Panoramas
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