These photographs of a Sydney Red Gum (angophora costata) and cave were taken at Balls Head Reserve, Waverton.
Originally named Yerroulbine by the Cammeraygal people, this small stretch of land juts into Sydney Harbour.
It has an interesting story, having been claimed for industrial use by the Australian Army in 1912 and later used as a coal loading facility between the 1920s and 1990s.
Walking around today, with bird life, lizards and trees thriving, it's only when you stop to read some of the signs around the site that you understand how much pressure was put on the land and how much incredible work has gone into nurturing it back to life.
One sign, at the top of the reserve, shows a black and white photograph taken in the early 1930s, when the top of the headland was completely denuded of trees . During the Depression years, when some of the city's homeless and destitute took shelter in the caves dotted around the site, the trees were cut down for fire-wood or sale. Only the trees on the extreme lower edges of the headland escaped the axe.
The NSW Parliament website describes how shanty towns of homeless people sprang up in many areas during this time and the caves dotted around the Reserve today are retained as an important historical record of the way the site was used.
These days, the place is home to a thriving pocket of angophoras which are well managed by the volunteers and rangers. There are plenty of walking trails with scenic views of the harbour, two community gardens and the Coal Loader Sustainability Centre - which, as an education facility, tells a new history for this area themed on sustainable living practices.
2021 will mark 90 years since locals advocated for and led a push to rebeautify Balls Head and surrounding sites and it will be nice to acknowledge their living legacy and forward thinking when that anniversary comes around.