A freelance writer with an interest in just about everything.
Published March 28th 2013
Former industrial site now pristine harbourside parkland
Everyone has those special places where they take visitors from out of town to show them the best Sydney has to offer - from restaurants and bars to historical sites and famous beaches. But the next time I want to show a tourist some of the best views of Sydney Harbour and the city, I'll be taking them to Waverton Peninsula Reserve.
[ADVERT]Located on Larkin Street and adjoined by pretty Waverton Park, this beautiful reserve is full of history. For more than 40,000 years before the arrival of British settlers in 1788, the area of the reserve was home to the Cammeraygal Aboriginal people.
Once white settlers arrived, the site had several uses - as a warehouse for agricultural produce, a whaling station, coaling depot, ship repairs, torpedo station and even distillery. But from 1922 to 1993 it was the site of a major oil storage facility, operated by the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, Commonwealth Oil Refineries and eventually BP Australia.
The former BP site was re-purposed for recreational use in 2005, but plenty of reminders of the reserve's industrial history still remain. During the peak of operations the site contained 31 above-ground storage tanks, some of which were fit into place after huge sections of the sandstone cliffs were cut away. These semi-circular cuttings give a good idea of the impressive scale of these tanks.
Well-signposted pathways run through the reserve as part of the North Sydney Circle Walk (Waverton to Wollstonecraft section) and the regional Harbour Circle Walk (Balls Head Loop). You can find more info on the North Sydney Circle Walk at the North Sydney Council website, while more information on the Harbour Circle Walk can be found on the NSW Department of Planning's website.
The paths lead you through this peaceful bushland reserve, and if it wasn't for the sound of planes overhead you might forget how close you are to the centre of Sydney. Quiet bush paths take you past frog habitat ponds that were created when the site was being transformed from industrial area to parkland. Two frog species, the Striped Marsh Frog and the Common Eastern Froglet, live on site.
Entering the reserve from Waverton Park, follow the paths down towards the water and gaze around to the shipyards and nearby Balls Head. Then you can climb the staircase that winds its way up the sandstone cliff to a lookout above.
There, you're rewarded with some truly enviable views of the harbour, the bridge and the city itself. On a clear, sunny day it really is quite beautiful. I'll certainly be bringing plenty of visitors back here.
brings back memories, I used to work for Telephone Accounts and the office was moved from the GPO to Waverton and we would walk down to have our lunch.
This was a long time ago, probably late 50's. Wonder if anyone else remembers this? Thanks.
Have walked a lot of the Coastal trails which are beautiful. Laraine
Yes I worked at Telephone accounts in 1961, ended up getting fired when I tried to ride my motorcycle into the building. I used to like riding out around Bald Head. Anyhow I had a great career driving trains for QR.