The Coal Loader Centre for Sustainability

Coal Loader Centre for Sustainability

A place to go green!

Ah The Coal Loader – what a fantastic space for anyone interested in sustainable practices or in learning about some of the really interesting history of the Balls Head area. The Coal Centre for Sustainability is truly one of my favourite places in Sydney. I love bringing friends here when we are looking for something different to do – it is a great blend of outdoors, indoors, education and exploration.

The Coal Loader gets its name because it is situated on a former Coal Loader industrial site. It was here that coal was delivered and loaded onto ships right up until the 1990’s. The site is full of history combined with sustainability. And it is the history of this site that also adds to its charm!

First stop the gardens

The Coal Loader is a great place to get some inspiration on how to green your garden! Housed within the Community Garden are vertical gardens, container gardens and water gardens. There are also great examples of composting and worm farms.

Coal Loader Centre for Sustainability Mango

Be inspired by the gardens

There is also a native nursery onsite where visitors can explore some native plants (plants not for sale). Don’t forget to visit the chooks – there is a stairway down to them near the Genia McCaffery Centre or take a ride on the outdoor lift to them.

The Genia McCaffery Centre is a great place to visit for inspiration on greening your own home as it is a fully retrofitted building. Here you can also swap books, drop off batteries, compact fluorescent lightbulbs, toner cartridges, corks, soft plastics or mobile phones and their accessories for recycling.

Coal Loader Centre for Sustainability Chooks

Make sure to stop by and see the chooks

Coal Loader Tunnels

One of the coolest parts of this site is the Coal Loader Tunnels. These are a true combination of interesting, eerie and fascinating. However I think most people who visit the Coal Loader don’t know they exist! The tunnels really are absolutely fascinating and a stark reminder of the working history of Sydney Harbour.

To reach them take the outdoor lift down (or wander down through the paths) to the ground, harbourside level of the site.

Visitors are able to enter the tunnels. They are 160m long and in Tunnel 1 you are able to see the coal feeders still intact. Look up, look around, take in the amazing sandstone structure and marvel that these are still here today. It is a bit wet in places in the tunnels so take care.

The Tunnels lead to a beautiful walk up to Balls Head Reserve. The walk is a bit rocky and steep so not suitable for prams or wheelchairs.

The magical Coal Loader Tunnels

Coal Loader Plaform

A new addition to the Coal Loader Centre is the Coal Loader Platform. Awarded Park of the Year in 2018 by  Parks and Leisure Australia this place is awesome. It’s not a park full of bike tracks and playgrounds, it’s more an ode to green living and enjoying the simple things in life.

The AMAZING space includes views across the harbour, open grassed areas perfect for a picnic as well as community garden beds. The platform incorporates many sustainable features including solar panels, water recycling plant as well as a Native Garden Demonstration Area. 

I love coming here and wandering around the garden beds, relaxing on the green area and soaking up the views. You will often see people here reading, painting, kids playing ball and people enjoy a picnic.

Marvel at the beauty of the Coal Loader Platform

Even more to do

While you are here make sure you wander down to the water to look out across to HMAS Waterhen. The front of the Centre is also home to a wonderful Aboriginal Rock Carving.

HMAS Waterhen and Aboriginal Rock Carving

Make sure to stop by Balls Head

Balls Head Waverton

The views are pretty spectacular

Just up the hill from the Coal Loader is Balls Head Reserve. 

This gem of a place has amazing views of the Sydney skyline, some rustic picnic spots and a few good bushwalks.

Explore the squatters caves and marvel at the beauty of Sydney.

You’ll find Balls Head Reserve at the end of Balls Head Drive, Waverton NSW 2060.

Five reasons to visit The Coal Loader

  1. Learn some new skills at the Genia McCaffery Centre
  2. Wander the historical Coal Loader Tunnels
  3. Picnic on the Coal Loader Platform
  4. Admire the view across to HMAS Waterhen
  5. Visit the chooks and native bees

Freedays summary

  • Entry: Free
  • Toilets: Yes
  • Wheelchair friendly: Yes
  • Free carparking: Yes (on-street)
  • Free BBQ facilities: No
  • Time to spend here: 2 hours to all day
  • Food available: Yes
  • Address: 2 Balls Head Drive, Waverton NSW 2060
  • Further details: Visit The Coal Loader Centre for Sustainability’s directory listing


More free things to do 

After exploring the Coal Loader why not:

  • Go for a bushwalk and admire the views at Balls Head Reserve
  • Picnic at Berry Island Reserve
  • Explore Milsons Point and Lavender Bay



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