Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Secrets of Berry's Bay

Down the hills to Berry's Bay - Roland Wakelin  1916
Art Gallery of New South Wales
Inspired by a 1916 painting entitled "Down the hills to Berry's Bay" by Australian artist Roland Wakelin, we set out today to explore Berry's Bay along the Waverton Peninsula in Sydney Harbour.

We had a bit of difficulty in locating the exact spot form where Wakelin may have sat in 1916 to do his work. The area is so changed: the trees have grown, there are a lot more boats and of course there is the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Nearby Waverton Park was a popular haunt of Wakelin  and fellow artist Lloyd Rees, and yes Wakelin probably did take some artistic licence. But we did discover some very interesting history of the area. 

Berry's Bay - May 2012
We parked in Larkin Street and walked along the ridge of the present day Waverton Peninsula Reserve. Wakelin's position was probably fairly close to the spot in the photo above. But the site had had another life from its use in 1916.

BP Site - Waverton Peninsula Reserve, May 2012 showing
the remains of the main Bund Wall.   
From 1922 to 1993 it was a major oil storage facility operated successively by the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, Commonwealth Oil Refineries and BP Australia. It housed an extensive piece of infrastructure containing thirty-one above ground tanks and at least thirty kilometres of associated pipelines. There were bund walls, an administration building, roads and wharves -the remains of which can still be seen in various stages today.

Overlooking Sydney Harbour from the site -May 2012

When BP cease operations in 1993 the tanks were demolished and environmental rehabilitation commenced. The site, along with the Caltex and Coal Loader sites on the western side of the Waverton Peninsula were opened as public parkland on 12 March 2005.   

Another piece of history found in the Wakelin painting is the steam train in the upper left-hand corner. In our current photo today, you can see a Sydney suburban train. But what is this railway line and where did it go ?

It is, in fact, the 1893 extension of the North Shore Railway line from St Leonards to Milsons Point along the Sydney Harbour Foreshore. Before the coming of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the original station at Milsons Point was located near the site of the present northern pylon. Passengers were transported to Sydney by ferry. 

Most of the North Shore line was duplicated between 1900 and 1900 but was not electrified until 1927. Hence our steam train.

When construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge commenced, the southern terminus of the line was moved to Lavender Bay where a station was opened on 27 April 1924. New stations at North Sydney and Milsons Point were built on the northern approaches to the Bridge. After the Bridge  was opened on 19 March 1932, the North Shoreline was diverted to its current route. The Lavender Bay site became a storage depot for electric trains which remains in use today. It joins the main line today at Waverton Station. It was reduced to a single track which can be seen in the photo below.

Lavender Bay Railway Line - Munro Street overbridge
May 2012

The history of the Lavender Bay Railway is very interesting. But that is an excursion for another day!


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  1. Thank you so much for the above. I'm currently researching Berry's Bay for a novel

  2. Thank you for the above. I'm researching Berry's Bay at the moment for my new manuscript set in 1924.