Fort Scratchley

I visited Fort Scratchley this month, an old coastal fort by the city of Newcastle in New South Wales. It is now a museum, exhibiting Victorian firearms and nineteenth-century paraphernalia, as well as showcasing local defence efforts in the two world wars. It is cheerfully administered by smiling volunteers and charges not a penny. It was built in 1882, at a time when this outpost of British imperialism feared an attack from Tsarist Russia. The only time it fired in anger, however, was against a I-21 submarine of Imperial Japan which was firing upon Newcastle. The fort was divested of its military purpose in 1972, with Australia presumably feeling more confident in its security. Yet when I arrived there in May, the new Labor government was sending its foreign minister, Penny Wong, to combat the machinations of Mr Wang, her Chinese opposite number. He has been making overtures to the Pacific islands, encouraging them to form defence deals with China, which could isolate and surround Australia.

It caused me to reflect that Australia’s perceived enemies have changed with each generation. From Russia, to Japan, to the USSR, to China. Perhaps the Australian defence forces will one day see the expediency of reoccupying Fort Scratchley, as it contemplates the growls of the northern dragon.


The Church of God has had different enemies in its different periods of existence. During the first few centuries it was aggressive paganism. Then it was Arianism and Popery. After that it was formalism and nominalism. Today, aggressive secularism rattles loud its sabre, and our generation, like those who went before, must reoccupy the old forts and stand firm, come what may.

Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. 1 Corinthians 16:13