Balls Head

Balls Head is a beautiful bush reserve just 5-10 minutes walk from Waverton station.  There is direct road access and easy parking.  Besides the beautiful bush including some spectacular Angophra trees with many photo opportunities there are also some  fantastic views of the harbour, the Harbour Bridge, the CBD, Darling Harbour and Balmain.


You can walk to Balls Head in just 5/10 minutes from Waverton Station.

To drive there take Bay Road from the Pacific Highway at North Sydney. Drive 1 km; the road changes name to Balls Head Road. Carry on for another 0.4 km.  The road does a loop round the Head. You’ll find plenty of easy parking at various points especially around the apex of the loop.

Here’s a general location map :-

General Information

There are several web sites giving you more information.  A few you may find interesting :-

  1. A North Sydney Council Site
  2. A Bit about History, Flora and Fauna, also from North Sydney Council
  3. Information on the Old Coal Loader which can be seen on the RHS as you walk into the Balls Head area.

Map of Balls Head

This is North Sydney Council’s map.  I think the walks indicated are neither totally accurate nor complete.  However they do give you a rough idea of where you can walk and the area is not dangerous so there is no harm in simply trying tracks and finding where they lead.  You will find one of two dead ends where tracks have been closed due to fallen trees, landslides, etc..

Photo Opportunities

Here’s a map showing places I have found good for photography.  There are four ‘Blobs”, red, green, blue and purple plus a Blue Anchor.  There are some comments on each spot and also the Angophra Walk below.

The Green Blob
Low Level Views Across the Harbour to the City

My favourite spot on Balls Head.  Walk along the track towards the south-eastern (bottom rhs) corner. The path reaches a large patch of grass.  At the far side, closest to the water you should find some old steps carved out of the sandstone rock. Go down the steps and you get to some low rocks. This is good but if you turn to the left you can walk along the rocks and find other options.

Here’s a shot around 7am in late March just before the end of daylight saving. This time of year gives me longer in bed !  It’s a 28 sec exposure and was taken just before the sun came up over the horizon.

Here’s a long exposure (also 28 seconds !) taken the same day a little later around 8am after the sun was up. I used an 8-stop ND filter to get the long exposure and the smooth look on the water. My tripod was set-up low on the lovely sandstone rock.

This is a particularly good spot pre-dawn and immediately after dawn. I have never tried it at sunset; the city would be illuminated with the setting sun but I think the rock would probably be in shadow; maybe a good opportunity to try some light painting.

The Red Blob
Views across Berry’s Bay to North Sydney and McMahons Point

Follow the bush path along the eastern edge of Balls head.  You will find old steps cut into the sandstone where you can walk down to the water’s edge giving some good photo opportunities.

The Blue Blob
Views over the Harbour, the Bridge, the CBD, Darling Harbour, Goat Island, Balmain and Birchgrove.

You can reach this point by walking along the bush path to the south-east corner.  You will find various view-points.  The best is where you will find a large area of grass and a railing showing the wide vista in the shot below.

This image is a Panorama from 8 shots taken around 8pm in February.

The Purple Blob
The Southern End of Balls Head.

Take the lower path at the southern end of Balls Head. You will find several points at which you can walk down to the water’s edge. One area that provides good photo opportunities has some large rocks at the waters edge; try from the top of the rocks but also go around the bottom edges for some framed views of the harbour and the bridge.

I thought I had a couple of good images from this southern end but I can’t find them.  I would be very happy to receive an image or two to put here.

The Blue Anchor
The historic Old Coal Loader operational from 1917 to 1992. For more information click here .

There are some good sunset opportunities here.

The Angophra Walk

This walk is in the middle area of Balls head.  It is well sign-posted and offers a few different paths.  Depending on the time of year the Angophra Bark can be very appealing.

You might also find some interesting patterns of dead leaves and bark on the ground.

Equipment Suggestions

In addition to your normal camera and lens I’d suggest you consider bringing along :-

  • A Tripod
  • Wide Angle Lens – I enjoy getting low and wide on shots harbour views across the water.
  • Graduated Neutral Density Filters – the sky can be a lot brighter than the foreground.
  • Neutral Density Filters – I use from 2-Stop to 8-Stop Neutral Density Filters to create long exposures to get that smooth water effect.

Author Bio

Steve Mullarkey

1 Comment

  1. David Haworth March 21, 2009

    refreshing — Nice to get a different angle on the city Brent. Good guide. Now you have me thinking of other places to see the city from such as Watsons bay or Balmain east or even the reserve at the end of Louisa rd. hmmm.

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