The affluent harbourside suburb of Wollstonecraft is located on Sydney's lower North Shore. Wollstonecraft is distinguished by its fine homes and million dollar views of Balmain, Hunters Hill and Birchgrove. Bordered by the affluent suburbs of Crows Nest, North Sydney and Greenwich, Wollstonecraft is five kilometres north-west of Sydney's CBD and is only one square kilometre in area.

Berry Island Park

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Berry Island

Located at the end of Shirley Road, Wollstonecraft, Berry Island, which was joined to the mainland by early white settlers, is one giant midden, a dumping ground of shells, bones and refuse from centuries of meals enjoyed here by the local Aborigines. Berry Island remains the most rugged and natural of Sydney's Islands. Two kilometres upsteam from the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the island s caves and middens are still carpeted with shells collected by generations of Aborigines who once dwelt around the shores of Sydney Harbour.

The island held great cultural significance to their occupants, the Cadigal and Wangal tribes, as evidenced by a vast sea creature carved into a flat grey ceremonial rock on the forested island a short paddle from the shore. The carving today is almost as faded as the dreamtime stories it evokes, of victories for the Camaraigal people whose culture was decimated soon after the arrival of European settlers in 1788.

The Europeanisation of the island and the peninsula on the end of which it sits, began in 1819 when British merchants Edward Wollstonecraft and Alexander Berry settled in Sydney. Wollstonecraft took up a 524 acres grant that included present day Wollstonecraft. He built a house on the highest point, and named it Crows Nest, a name which is still in use today. Berry received a much smaller land grant next to Wollstonecraft's, which included the island which now bears his name. Berry rarely visited the place - his interests were in pastoral properties in the Shoalhaven district, and it was perhaps his lack of interest in developing the island that has seen in stay in its natural state. After he died age 91, the property was passed to his sister. By this time, the waters around the island were popular among fishermen, and had become an official breaking up ground for derelict ships. Many skeletons of ships still rest in the deep water surrounding the island.

In the early 19th century, Berry Island was attached to the land of Edward Wollstonecraft by a stone causeway over mud flats (now reclaimed as lawns). The island was dedicated as a nature reserve for public recreation in 1926. Today there are public toilets, picnic areas, seats and benches and a children s playground, but care has been taken not to let these creature comforts encroach on the natural beauty of this small island. This award-winning Gadyan Track is a 20-minute bushwalking track around the island, guided by interpretative signage detailing the island s Aboriginal and European history.

Gadyan Track: Follow the Gadyan Track and learn the story of the Cammeraigal who used the area as a campsite. Sites include numerous middens and a carving of a giant sea creature, a waterhole and axe grinding grooves. Regular walking tours of the Gadyan Track are conducted by the North Sydney Council (Tel 02 9936 8100), the guide being the Council's Aboriginal Heritage Officer.

How to get there: If arriving by car, turn off the Pacific Highway at Shirley Road, North Sydney, and follow it to it s end. There is limited street parking. By public transport it is a short five to ten minute walk from Wollstonecraft railway station.

Smoothey Park/Milray Reserve

Just three bays up from the Harbour Bridge and five stations up the railway line from Town Hall station, the Lower North Shore suburb of Wollstonecraft is encapsulated on three sides by a delightful ribbon of natural bushland on its harbourside shoreline. Just 20 metres from the railway station exit is Smoothey Park, a pleasant bushland reserve through which flows Gore Creek, bouncing its way over rocks and through splashing pools on its way to Gore Cove.

A walking path alongside it meanders through Milray Reserve to the cove then follows its shoreline to the isthmus connecting Berry Island to the peninsula. The walk around Berry Island includes Aboriginal rockart and harbour views to the city. Easy walk. Walk from station to Berry Isld via Smoothy Park, return to station via Shirley Rd. 1.6 km.

Gore Creek Reserve

Lilly Pilly Falls

The valley of Gore Creek on Sydney s lower north shore is a beautiful, tranquil strip of bushland that has managed to survive the urbanisation of the surrounding area. The walking track alongside Gore Creek gives access to the Lane Cove Bushland Reserve which is dissected by River Road at Northwood. The section below River Road contains the picturesque Lilly Pilly Falls which can be viewed at close range via stone steps. The falls and water pool below it were once a popular picnic and bathing spot. Urban development upstream has severely affected the amount of water coming over the falls and he pool is heavily silted, but they are still quite impressive after heavy rain.

Gore Creek enters Lane Cove River through Gore Creek Reserve where barges were loaded with timber cut from the surrounding area. Vegetation north of River Road is a mix of open forest and rainforest, the latter being predominant in the steep-sided gullies of the upper section where the creek flows through a series of pools and races. A century ago, Paddy's Flats, located above a series of rapids, was once lush, shaded pasture where cattle grazed. Access to the reserve is from St. Vincents Road, Greenwich; Ronald Avenue, Gore Hill; River Road, Northwood; Cogan Place, Osborne Park. UBD Map 215 Ref H 7

Oyster Cove Gas Works

The foreshore of Oyster Cove (Wollstonecraft Bay) contains the remnants of the largest coal gas manufacturing works on the North Shore and one of the largest in Australia. The remaining structures on site are the Boiler House, the Exhauster House, the Carburetted Water Gas Plant and the Chimney (above). These have been included in the recent landscaping of a recreation area for the Wondakiah residential development now occupying the site. Wharfage remains largely in place.

Robey's Sugar Works first operated on the site which was taken over by the Colonial Sugar Refinery Co. In the late 1860s the Australian Mineral Oil Co. established a kerosene works there, to treat kerosene shale and handle imported case oil. The adjacent part of Sydney Harbour was consequently known as Kerosene Bay. From approx. 1889-91, part of the site also used by the Neokratine Safety Explosive Co. of N.S.W., in the old CSR buildings. The North Shore Gas Co., formed in 1875, took over the site in 1912, with construction of a new gasworks taking place between 1913 and 1917. The site remained operational (at least partly) until 1987. The Wondakiah residential development now occupies the site and has incorporated numerous gasworks buildings into the complex.

About Edward Wollstonecraft

Edward Wollstonecraft (1783-1832), after whom the suburb was named, was a merchant and land owner who became the first settler to receive a land grant of 500 acres in the area, in 1821. Wollstonecraft said that he left England to escape the notoriety of his aunt Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-97), an eighteenth-century English writer, philosopher, advocate of women s rights, and the author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. Edward and his sister Elizabeth were cousins of the ill-fated Fanny Imlay and of Mary Godwin who became the second wife of Shelley and was the author of Frankenstein. His business associate was Alexander Berry, another prominent resident in the area.

In spite of ill health Wollstonecraft became a magistrate and a central figure in the Sydney commerce of the 1820s. As a director of the Bank of New South Wales and of the Bank of Australia, and as chairman of the Chamber of Commerce, he appears to have been chiefly concerned with maintaining the general financial liquidity of the colony s economy. A nearby suburb of Crow s Nest was named after his cottage.

Wollstonecraft never married. In March 1846 his remains were removed from the Sydney burial ground and placed with those of his sister, who died on 11 April 1845, in a magnificent tomb erected by Berry in the cemetery near St Thomas's Church of England, North Sydney.

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