Balls Head Reserve and Waverton Peninsula Reserve
Balls Head Reserve in the Sydney lower north shore is a true bushland oasis overlooking the beautiful Harbour.
The reserve is home to a number of different bush walking tracks that combine natural beauty with great views across Sydney Harbour, taking in the CBD skyline, the Harbour Bridge, Goat Island and surrounding peninsulas.
Next door neighbour Waverton Peninsula Reserve is a must-visit too, as its rich history, serene walking trails and panoramic views will not disappoint.
– Distance: 2 km
– Time: 1-2 hours
– Grade: easy
– Dogs: on a leash
Small parking area available in the middle of the reserve. Street parking is available on Balls Head Drive/Road. Catch a train to Waverton station and walk 10 minutes.
Balls Head Reserve History
Boasting 9 hectares of beautiful bushland, Balls Head Reserve is still a hidden gem, only 1.5 kilometres from the Sydney CBD.
The Reserve is located at the southern end of Balls Head Drive in Waverton and can be accessed from Waverton railway station which is only a short 10 minute walk away. There is also a car park in the Reserve and street parking is available on Balls Head Road.
Balls Head Reserve was named after Henry Lidgbird Ball, a Royal Naval officer and commander of one of the ships that was part of the First Fleet that arrived in Botany Bay in 1788.
Before the arrival of white settlement, the Cammeraygal people lived in this area or New South Wales. Middens, art sites and rock engravings are still present in Balls Head Reserve and in the wider area. Yerroulbine is the Aboriginal name for Balls Head.
In 1926, Balls Head Reserve was declared a public parkland area. During the depression years of the 1930’s that followed, the area was heavily used for shelter and a lot of the original vegetation was lost.
A beautification scheme was introduced to restore the natural beauty of this sandstone headland. Now managed by North Sydney Council, the Reserve is a truly beautiful place to wander around.
Balls Head Reserve has several short bush walking tracks that are all interconnected. One of the tracks, the Habour View Walk is suitable for wheelchairs and offers amazing views of the Sydney Harbour and the CBD.
Hiking on Balls Head Reserve is a unique experience in the sense that it’s true bush walking, while still being very close to the city. The tracks are easy to follow but there are quite a few steep climbs. Appropriate shoe wear is therefore definitely recommended.
Even though the different tracks are well sign-posted, things can get a bit confusing, especially when you don’t know where to start.
My recommendation is to follow the path north from the car park (Midden Walk) and follow the shoreline of the reserve clockwise.
When you get to the most eastern point (a grass area) of Balls Head Reserve, choose the Ballasters track going west.
This eventually connects with the Harbour View Walk at the picnic area. From there follow the Isabella Brierly track heading further west.
You can then choose to follow the Coal Loader Link track to the Coal Loader Centre for Sustainability, or head back to the car park. See the map further below for more information.
You’ll find some interesting rest areas, benches and caves along the way where you can sit, rest up and enjoy the views.
Balls Head Reserve is also one of the designated vantage points for the famous Sydney New Year’s Eve fireworks.
While not as popular as Circular Quay and The Domain, Balls Head Reserve doesn’t get as crowded and has quite a relaxing atmosphere to enjoy the fireworks in the Sydney Harbour.
Waverton Peninsula Reserve
When you visit Balls Head Reserve, you should visit its neighbour too, the Waverton Peninsula Reserve. This reserve is not as well known as its big brother next door. But it’s one of those magical places where you can enjoy breathtaking views of the Sydney CBD and the Harbour in silence.
Overlooking Berrys Bay, Waverton Peninsula Reserve has quite a rich history. In the 20th century the area was used as a major oil storage facility. BP Australia ceased its operations there in 1993 and in 2005 the Waverton Peninsula was re-opened as a public parkland.
In the years following 1993, a transformation project changed the area from industrial to recreational. BP Australia also invested heavily in this transformation.
Some remnants of the industrial use were retained and incorporated into the new design. For example, the big circles in the park is where the big oil tanks used to be.
The Reserve now offers some great walking paths that guide you through very peaceful bushland and take you to beautiful lookout points.
With excellent facilities, Balls Head Reserve is a great day out for the family. It’s still a bit of a hidden secret which means it won’t ever get really busy. With an electric BBQ, large tables, a water fountain and toilet facilities,
Balls Head Reserve is not only a perfect destination for bush walking, but it’s also a great place to have a relaxing lunch get-together in natural surroundings.
Don’t forget to wander around Waverton Peninsula Reserve too, and enjoy even more views and natural bushland.
Visit the Coal Loader Centre for Sustainability after the walk if you have spare time as it’s definitely worth it. The Coal Loader, run by North Sydney Council, has transformed a former industrial site to an exciting place where people can come to learn more about sustainable living.
– BBQ and picnic tables
– Water fountain
– Walking tracks
– Shelter and benches
– Free parking area
Balls Head Reserve Map
Starting from the car park, it’s best to follow the path towards the north and go clockwise around the Reserve.