Sunday, July 19, 2009

Ballast Point- Interpreting Industrial Heritage

In the wonderful world of heritage there often seems to be two options when it comes to managing an industrial site with heritage values – adaptive use as some form of community building like a museum or gallery or demolition. There are limitations to both approaches demolition is forever and with museums and galleries often sites are transformed so that their heritage disappears or the sites gradually fall into disrepair as profits seem never to be directed into maintenance.

Ballast Point in Birchgrove is the site of the former Caltex Depot. Purchased in 1928, by Texaco (later Caltex) who demolished a large house, Menevia, which was on the site to construct a fuel depot, manufacturing and packaging facility. Ballast Point formed Texaco’s and later Caltex’s major distribution point in Sydney and continued in use until the late 1990s.

Ballast point 1943

Ballast Point in 1943

In September 2002, the derelict site was returned to public ownership after compulsory purchase for A$24m by the NSW Government. Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority worked with McGregor + Coxall Landscape Architects to design the park and Landscape Solutions for construction. The site as opened on the 11th July 2009.

Jane, Alistair and I have been there twice. It is really great. it is not a sanitised landscape but one that actively engages with the industrial remains there to provide a rich experience for dogs and people. Ballast Point Explorer

Here is Alistair exploring some sort of structure. He has has a great time climbing in and out of things and generally being “Action Dachshund”. For the rest of us the park offers fabulous views of the Harbour, well designed and interesting walks, great toilets and interesting archaeology.

Ballast Point 1 Here it all is you can see the base of a tank, the Bridge and that rotten old Blues Point tower and the foundations of a building underneath where the tank was.

The past is not hidden, it coexists with the present so that a trip to Ballast Point is exciting whether you are an Industrial Archaeologist, landscape designer, 92 year old Mother in Law, excited dog or one of the many kids rolling down a grassy embankment.

Ballast Point is a great example of how industrial heritage can live on.

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