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Wayne Johnson

Wayne Johnson

Wayne Johnson is the senior archaeologist in the Heritage & Design division of the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority; the NSW State Government body which owns and manages much of the Sydney foreshore. The Authority's Heritage & Design division is responsible for the adaptive reuse of significant heritage sites such as The Rocks and Darling Harbour, as well as former industrial sites such as White Bay Power Station (1912), numerous wharves and warehouses (dating from the 1820s), the archaeological remains of Dawes Point Battery (1791-1925) and many other associated industrial remains and landscapes.

Most recently the Authority transformed the former Caltex oil storage facility at Ballast Point (1929) into a park, retaining and interpreting industrial features in the landscape design. Previously he was responsible for the conservation and interpretation of industrial heritage at the former Eveleigh Locomotive Workshops (1886) which had been the subject of a major adaptive reuse project by the Authority in the late 1990s. In 2008 Wayne co-authored the book 'A History of Sydney's Darling Harbour' which examines the industrial development of Sydney's major port facility from 1810-1970; its demise and rebirth as part of the 1988 Australian Bicentenary celebrations, and more recently the efforts to interpret its industrial history.

Wayne is also the Curator of The Rocks Discovery Museum, itself an adaptive reuse of an 1850s sandstone warehouse. Between 1984-88 he developed exhibitions for the Powerhouse Museum on steam-powered technology, including the museum's 1785 Boulton & Watt beam engine. Following this he worked with the NSW Heritage Council as the Department of Planning's archaeologist, during which time he served on the National Trust's Hunter & Newcastle Region Industrial Committee, and currently serves as a member of the NSW National Trust Industrial Heritage Committee.

Paper: Sydney's Darling Harbour: Two Centuries of Industrial Development, Decline, Transformation and Interpretation

Abstract: For much of the past 200 years the history of Darling Harbour has been embodied in the ships which used it, the shipyards and wharves along its shores and the myriad of factories and warehouses that grew up in the surrounding streets. In the nineteenth century the Harbour was a centre for change and particularly for the introduction of Industrial Revolution technology. It was here that the first steam engine in Australia started work in 1815, here the first iron hulled ship was assembled and here the colony’s first foundries belched smoke along its shores, as did the first steamship to be launched. Other important firsts were the Australian Gas Light Company’s gasworks, fired up on Queen Victoria’s birthday in 1842, and in the next decade Zöllner’s galvanizing plant, an important innovation in a country that was to find more ways to use galvanized iron than any other. In 1855 the railway line that ran from the old Central Station along the Ultimo foreshore was part of the first line in NSW. In the 1880s the first hydraulic pumping station in NSW opened and remnants of it still stand as part of an hotel. Around the turn of the century the Ultimo Power Station supplied electricity for Sydney’s first electric trams and its neighbour in Pyrmont supplied power to Sydney households through the first reticulated grid.

The Second World War stimulated trade and industry but by the time it ended the coastal shipping trade had disappeared and many industries around the harbour were decaying. This process continued after the war and, although the rail yards continued their growth for a few years, in 1984 the last goods train steamed out of the yards and the industrial history of Darling Harbour was ended. The same year however marked the start of a new era when construction started on the new entertainment and retail precinct which is now the focus of Sydney’s leisure scene.

This talk will focus on rediscovering a lost history, and the means of integrating that history into the built environment, along with the adaptive reuse of industrial structures in the vicinity.

Sir Neil Cossons
Paul Davies
David Dolan
Wayne Johnson
Euan McQueen
Robert McWilliam
Duncan Waterson
David Beauchamp
Trevor Butler
Matthew Churchward
Andrew Cleland
Rachael Egerton
John Fitzmaurice
Don Fraser
John Gibson
Owen Graham
David Hamilton
Bill Harvey
Peter Holmes
Kevin Jones
Paul Mahoney
Tom Williamson
Peter Lowe
Peter Marquis-Kyle
Gavin McLean
Rob Merrifield
Owen Peake
Miles Pierce
John Porter
Nigel Ridgway
Tony Silke
Jim Staton
Richard Venus
Ian Walsh
Daniel Woo
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