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Balls Head, Sydney

Date: 1880s - 1890s
Image: 152 x 189 mm
Mount: 510 x 408 mm, 2 mm
Sight: 147 x 180 mm
Overall: 510 x 408 mm, 2 mm, 0.13 kg
Medium: Photographic print on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Photograph
Object No: 00009434
Place Manufactured:Sydney
Related Place:Balls Head Bay,

User Terms

    A photograph by Charles Kerry of Balls Head on Sydney Harbour.
    Titled '1970 Balls Head. Kerry Photo' the image depicts three sailing skiffs or yachts with a cliff in the background. Kerry and Co Photographers produced postcards of places of interest around Sydney and New South Wales including beaches, buildings and associated activities.
    SignificanceBalls Head was originally the home of the Cameragal people. Traditionally known as Yerroulbine, the region was an important source of food for the Cameragal and became part of the area where early contact with Europeans took place.
    HistoryThe name Balls Head, refers to Lieutenant Henry Lidgbird Ball. In addition to being the commander of the First Fleet ship SUPPLY, Ball also surveyed this region on the north side of Sydney Harbour.
    Balls Head became the site of contention in 1916 when plans were announced to build a coal loading facility there. Many locals protested including the Australian poet Henry Lawson who wanted the area to remain a public bush reserve. He wrote a poem against the plans titled 'The Sacrifice of Balls Head':

    They're taking it, the shipping push,
    As all the rest must go —
    The only spot of cliff and bush
    That harbour people know.
    The spirit of the past is dead
    North Sydney has no soul —
    The State is cutting down Ball's Head.
    To make a wharf for coal.

    Where picnic parties used to go
    To spend a glorious day,
    With all the scenery of a coast
    And not a cent to pay.
    The deep cool tangle shall be cleared
    To make the glaring roads
    And motor lorries jolt and grind
    And drag their sordid loads.

    And strings of grimy trucks shall run
    In everlasting trains
    And on the cliffs where wild trees are
    Shall stand the soulless cranes,
    To dump their grimy loads below,
    Where great brown rocks are grand;
    And the deep grass and wild flowers grow —
    And boating couples land.

    No more shall poorer families
    Give "Grandma" and "Grandad"
    A glimpse of nature's mysteries
    To make their old hearts glad.
    No more our eyes shall be relieved
    In the city's garish day —
    A sordid crime has been achieved!
    And none has aught to say.

    A smaller area was set aside which became known as Balls Head Reserve in 1926 and the adjacent coal loading facility was operational from 1920 to 1992.
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