Best Kept Secret: The view from Balls Head Reserve

There are many views in Sydney. The open bowl of the harbour lends itself to being admired from virtually 360 degrees of different view points. Not to mention the views from taking a ferry through the harbour.

We found our favourite view less than a mile from the flat we rented in Waverton and all thanks to a tip off from the landlord.

This was our view from Balls Head Reserve a decent sized chunk of green park and bush land overlooking Sydney Harbour from the north west.Admittedly we weren't as close as Blues Point and it wasn't the same headily involved view you get from the Sydney Opera House, but sometimes you need a bit of distance to fully appreciate the bigger picture - literally as well as figuratively.However, because it is not central Sydney it is quiet. We discovered that it was overlooked by tourists and locals alike in favour of other smaller parks closer to Sydney's city centre. Yet even for a tourist coming from the other side of the Harbour Bridge it is well worth the short journey to explore, take a picnic and marvel at a unique city from a distance.

As I like to do, I did some research into Balls Head Reserve and found out some interesting information about what I thought was just a nice place to while away a few hours:

  • Part of the park includes the old site of BP Berry's Bay, a former refinery which dominated the harbour front next to Balls Head. BP left the site in 1993 and following the destruction of the tanks the land was handed over to the local council and now forms an interesting part of the parkland as they have kept paving and metal pathways to highlight where the refinery's tanks and infrastructure lay.
  • Until 1916 the area was popular with a local Aboriginal community and apparently rock engravings can be found dotted around the park. We didn't see any, just some amateur chalk graffiti on the ground by local kids.
  • It is thanks to local residents campaigning for the site to be kept as a public area in the early 1900s instead of being sold for commercial or business that the park exists today and is one of the most popular places to watch the fireworks on the north shore.

Maybe one day we will be able to add to this list of facts and history that it was also the place where Bird first fell in love with the Sydney Harbour skyline... maybe?

Frances M. Thompson

Londoner turned wanderer, Frankie is an author, freelance writer and blogger. Currently based in Amsterdam, Frankie was nomadic for two years before starting a family with her Australian partner. Frankie is the author of three short story collections, and is a freelance writer for travel and creative brands. In 2017, she launched WriteNOW Cards, affirmation cards for writers that help build a productive and positive writing practice. When not writing contemporary fiction, Frankie shops for vintage clothes, dances to 70s disco music and chases her two young sons around Amsterdam.
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