Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Ballast Point Park

Ballast Point Park at Birchgrove
Today we visited Ballast Point Park (Walama), located at the end of Ballast Point Road at Birchgrove on the Balmain Peninsula in Sydney Harbour. It is a 2.6 hectare parkland which was opened to the public by the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority in July 2009. As a headland it stands directly opposite Balls Head, and together they mark the entrance into the western reaches of the Harbour.

Tank 101 and the Caltex sign
The site was variously:
  • A sandstone quarry in the 1850s supplying ballast to the nearby shipyards at Balmain andBirchgrove;
  • 1864-1928 - the location of the two storey marine villa, Menevia, home of Thomas Perkins and his family; and later a boarding house from 1893 to 1915.
  • From 1928, the first seaboard terminal for the Texas Company (Australia) Limited, later Caltex. Used as a fuel storage and major oil distribution point for Sydney. Caltex phased out its operations in the 1990's. 
  • Public land from 2002. Clearing of the infrastructure of tanks.
The concept of the park is unique as it stands as a  testament to the history of the site, bringing it back to life  through design, art and poetry. In one sense, the area has come full circle from the days of its Aboriginal habitation by the Dharug and Wangul peoples,to its heritage in the maritime and oil industries, and now its return to natural parkland. The Aboriginal name for the park is Walama, meaning "to return".

Tank 101
The main feature of the park is the large 'sculpture' on the site of Tank 101. It is built from panels of curved sheet steel from the tank which were rescued from demolition. It also incorporates eight wind turbines to harness the power of the sea breeze to create energy to offset the energy used in the park lighting.

Tank 101 was the largest of the crude oil storage tanks on the site and was constructed using rivet technology. The rivet typeface is used extensively throughtout the site including the etchings of lines from the poem, 'The Death Issac Nathan" by Les Murray, around the structure.

Glass display of artifacts from Menevia
Decorative Dinner Plate
Elsewhere in the park, encased in a glass display, are domestic artifacts recovered from the Menevia site during site remediation works. A decorative dinner  plate in the photo above, took my attention.

Love/friendship padlocks.      
Throughout the park are numerous walled areas made from recycled materials from the site. They are enclosed by wire meshing to which have been clipped a collection of love/ friendship  padlocks. This is a novel idea reflecting present day history.

Again another wonderful area of parkland for Sydney!


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