Barangaroo Reserve

Barangaroo Reserve is a headland park on the former container port north-west of Sydney’s CBD.

About Barangaroo Reserve

Barangaroo​ Reserve opened to the public on 22 August 2015. The area had been closed off to the public for more than 100 years.

The topography of the six-hectare parkland was inspired by the shape of the 1836 shoreline, which was cut away over time to make way for wharves and docking activities. The reserve lets visitors get up close to the water of the harbour.

The park includes a cultural centre, bike and walking paths. There are lookouts, grassed areas, and a natural amphitheatre. The reserve also includes tidal rock pools created from sandstone excavated from Barangaroo and a cultural centre, known as the Cutaway, built inside the headland.

“Phallic” shaped boulders, arranged in a Stonehenge-style at the northwestern tip of the ­Headland Park, stirred Aboriginal elders a few months before the opening. They claimed these boulders undermined the sacredness of the precinct that is supposed to pay homage to women and the Aboriginal matriarchy.

“We want to pay homage to the fact that we are a matriarchally driven culture and we never had it that it was men ruling the majority,” said Nathan Moran, chief executive of the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council [1]

Five permanent rock engravings, known as petroglyphs, were added to the park in March 2017 for the Barangaroo Ngangamay (Barangaroo Dreaming) artwork project. The engravings were hand-carved into five sandstone rocks by male Elders Vic Simms, Steven Russell and Laurie Bimson using hand tools such as stones, mallets and chisels.

Who was Barangaroo?

The reserve was named after Barangaroo, a powerful Cammeraygal Aboriginal woman, and the headstrong companion of cross-cultural Bennelong.

Barangaroo was a fisherwoman and an influential member of Sydney’s Aboriginal community in the late 1700s. For much of her lifetime, she controlled the precinct near Millers Point and Ballast Point.

She was known for her striking authority and was described by one early settler as having a “fierce and un-submissive character,” and while other Eora women donned clothes, Barangaroo refused, wearing only a slim bone through her nose even at the governor’s table.

‘Barangaroo’ was chosen for the name of the new waterfront precinct, formerly called East Darling Harbour, after a state-wide naming competition in December 2014.

The Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council is lobbying for a statue of Barangaroo at the site.

Where exactly is the new park?

The park is to the west of Millers Point and within walking distance of Circular Quay, Sydney Harbour Bridge and Wynyard Station. It is at the northern end of Barangaroo, where the precinct meets the inner-city Sydney suburb of Millers Point.

Barangaroo Reserve map

Map of Barangaroo Reserve

Barangaroo Reserve Aboriginal names explained

The Barangaroo precinct has given Sydney 18 new place and road names.[2] More than 40% of all names at Barangaroo reference Aboriginal people and culture:

  • Baludarri Steps: A set of steps at the northern end of Barangaroo Reserve. Baludarri is the local Aboriginal word for leatherjacket, a fish commonly found in Sydney Harbour.
  • Barangaroo Avenue: The main north-south road at Barangaroo.
  • Burrawang Steps: A set of steps at the western end of the reserve. Burrawang is the local Aboriginal word for a local cycad, the seeds of which were an important source of starch for the Gadigal people and early settlers. They are very long-lived plants, typically surviving for more than a century, and symbolise the park’s future longevity.
  • Girra Girra Steps: A set of steps at the southern end of Barangaroo Reserve. The local Aboriginal word girra girra for seagulls was recorded by early settlers and referred to “fishing gulls”.
  • Nawi Cove: The largest cove situated between Barangaroo Reserve and Central Barangaroo. Nawi is a local Aboriginal word for the bark canoes used by local Aboriginal people in the late 18th Century; it is believed that Barangaroo would have used a nawi.
  • Marrinawi Cove: The small cove adjacent to Moores Wharf. Marrinawi was a local Aboriginal word created to describe the vessels of the First Fleet and meant “big canoe”.
  • Wulugul Walk: Foreshore promenade from Walsh Bay to King Street Wharf. Wulugul is the local Aboriginal word for kingfish, commonly found in Sydney Harbour. Kingfish have a golden band along their blue-green skin, similar to the foreshore walk’s golden sandstone lining the blue of the harbour.
  • Barangaroo Reserve statistics

    75,000
    Number of native plants on the reserve.
    83
    Number of different species of trees and shrubs native to the Sydney region.
    5.7ha
    Size of the reserve. Total size of the Barangaroo precinct: 22 ha.
    10,000
    Number of sandstone blocks excavated from the sandstone on site. 6,500 were used to create the naturalistic foreshore.
    18,000sqm
    Size of the cultural facility.

    The designer of the park, renowned US-based landscape architect Peter Walker, was also the man behind Manhattan’s 9/11 memorial.

    Barangaroo Indigenous tours explain the history of the area and inform about Aboriginal culture. See www.barangaroo.sydney.

    How to get there

    The best option is to walk or get public transport.

    For the most scenic walking route, get off the train at Circular Quay. Head through the Argyle Cut and along Argyle Street to the reserve entrance at Argyle Place. Alternatively follow the harbourside walk from Circular Quay, under the Sydney Harbour Bridge to Walsh Bay and enter the reserve at Towns Place.

    From Town Hall station, take Kent Street, via Margaret Street and enter the reserve at either Argyle Place or Towns Place.

    From Wynyard station you can walk underground via the Wynyard Walk Tunnel.