Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Ballast Point

One wonderful feature of Sydney Harbour is the 'points'. It has so many jutting out into the harbour and many of them are parkland, although many are not and have houses built on them for the the lucky few.

Julie suggested I take a look at one such park, Ballast Point. I had no idea where it was or knew anything about it. Right, Birchgrove. The last time I looked at Birchgrove was to see Rowntree Street where the tram used to travel. The Birchgrove tram diverted off the more important Balmain line, that is more important if you did not want to go to Birchgrove. The Birchgrove tram was replaced by noisy smelly buses in 1954.

Hmmm, Ballast Point appears to be a construction site with googly satellite. Near Map has a recent photo, but the site still looks raw.

I better look elsewhere. Ah, the park only opened early this year, or officially last year. It was an industrial site. I suppose chunks of the point were cut out and used as ship ballast. There must be bits of Ballast Point in England!

It just occurred to me that at some point there would have been a change whereby instead of adding ballast to a ship for its return journey to England out, the ship would be loaded with Australian exports. Maybe that did not happen in sailing ship times.

Ballast Point had been private land from 1800 until about 1930 when it was bought by oil giant Texaco to be used as a fuel storage depot site and was used as such until the 1990s.

Caltex, the renamed Texaco, sought to make a killing by selling the land to a property developer who also would make a killing, but one of those pesky little activist groups was formed, Save Ballast Point. A no doubt disappointed state government was no longer going to make a killing too compulsorily bought the land in 2002 and the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority started making plans. Sites like this always need a lot of expensive decontamination, and this was no exception. $16 million was spent on the clean up and creation of the park.

The park does sound quite spesh. Now, who is silly enough to put photos up on the net for me to steal?

This photo from Landscape Solutions.

So what is there? There is this sculpture to remind us of the park's oil tank history.

Oh, Harbour Bridge views, by Jeremy Hills.

The park has a wetland area to filter its drainage water before the water runs into the harbour. and eight wind turbines to generate electricity. It has all the usual things that a park should have, shelter, barbecues etc, nice walks, local native plantings. I would say it was money well spent.

While doing some research for this post, I came across another point park at Balls Head, proclaimed in 1925 by the Lang government. How progressive. Also from my reading I have learnt a bit about the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority and I am very impressed with what it has done over time. Maybe I should learn about what it hasn't done.

A couple more photos by Julie.


  1. You triggered a memory. My post and (silly me) some photos will appear tomorrow morning.

  2. Victor's post can be seen at

  3. I have not toured the site, but value your background. I have a few shots that I have taken last year and this that you are welcome to. I have posted them here

  4. Thanks Julie. It will be added to my ever increasing list of things to see in Sydney next time.