Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Depression Era Housing on Sydney Harbour.

Today we went on a very pleasant bush walk in the Balls Head Reserve at Waverton. This sandstone headland in Sydney Harbour has panoramic views across to the Sydney CBD and Barangaroo; Goat island, Mort Bay, Birchgrove and Balmain; and on the eastern side to North Sydney and McMahons Point.

There are several walking tracks, including the Middens Walk, and it is easy to forget that this very peaceful place is just some 1.5 kilometres from the heart of the City.

One point of interest is the various caves such as Tom's Cabin that we came across. During the Depression years, people came to live in the caves and shelters on the headland. To provide income, they cut timber to sell for firewood and clothes props. By 1931, most of the trees across the top of Balls Head were gone.

Toms Cabin (above left)

After the Depression, a Beautification Scheme was organised and due to the cooperative efforts of residents, naturalists and forest league groups in conjunction with North Sydney Council, some 2350 trees had been planted in 17 annual tree planing days up to 1948.

Bush regeneration began again in 1979 and Balls Head is now managed as a bushland reserve. It is an important refuge and habitat for wildlife including possums, bats, gheckos, blue-tongued lizards and many species of birds.

I couldn't resist a little history:
  • Balls Head is originally home of the Cammeraygal people;
  • It is named after Lieutenant Lidgbird Ball who was the Commander of HMS Supply of the First Fleet.
  • In 1825, Edward Wollstonecraft received a land grant of 212 hectares from Crows Nest down to the Harbour and including Berry Island and Balls Head.
Edward Wollstonecraft and his brother-in-law and business partner, Alexander Berry were significant landowners in the early days of New South Wales.

History Services NSW has some 447 records of convicts assigned to Wollstonecraft and Berry.

If you are researching a convict ancestor , you should go to our website at:http://www.historyservices.com.au/convicts.htm