The 32nd Heritage Festival – Innovation and Invention was the perfect opportunity to commemorate the long and hard efforts of the local resident activist groups who fought a 15 year battle to save Ballast Point from development and the clutches of the Walker corporation. On April 26th a lively crowd gathered at Balmain Town Hall to hear Fergus Fricke, Helen Styles and Roger Parkes talk about their role in the battle which began in 1989 when the 5 sites in Balmain, Unilever, Caltex, Ampol, Monsanto, Balmain Power Station, were up for rezoning and development. They were an innovative group of resident/ community activist starting with the Snails Bay Action Group then the Ballast Point Action Group, White Bay Action Group, Mort Bay Action Group and the Balmain Association. They all united to create BURST (Balmain United, Residents, Strategic Taskforce). They were innovative in their tactics, and strategies, raising money with Harbour cruises and evening dinners at Taronga Zoo, getting the media onside and taking it to the Land and Environment Courts.The Battle was won in 2002 when the Bob Carr Government purchased the land for Public open Space for $24 million. (Alot of the leg work had been carried out by BURST) Mcgregor and Coxall won the contract to design and landscape the site. They responded to the history of the site and incorporated the industrial features of the old caltex site into their design along with leaving the skeleton of the oil tanks and clanking iron stairs. Echoing further the history of the site, is the display of crockery from the original house that stood on the land “Menevia” The park’s design is loaded with symbolism and meaning with references to the Balmain Tigers, Caltex, when it was used as a Ballast, it also features a three teared environmentally sound draining system. Jan Woods of Woodland productions created footage of the key events of the Local Community activists, on the victory harbour cruise, sausage sizzle and opening of the new Ballast Point Park in 2009. Larry Hand, June Lunsmann, Jan Wood, Helen Styles, Fergus Fricke, Kathleen Hamey and Susan Callaghan.
The audience included ex mayor of Leichhardt Larry Hand, Tom Uren, Trevor Snape, June Lunsmann, Kath and Val Hamey, Diana Garder and Malcolm Garder and Balmain photographer David Liddle.