This little cave and rusted door are located within Balls Head Reserve in Waverton on Sydney’s North Shore. It provides some of the last known evidence of the numerous ‘shanty-towns’ or ‘tent cities’ which formed during the Great Depression Years (1920s-30s).
During these years, thousands of people could not keep up with rent or mortgage payments and were forced into sites like this. These ‘shanty-towns’ or ‘tent cities’ formed mostly around La Perouse, Cammeray and the harbour foreshores, particularly in the natural caves such as this one. Balls head provided one of these sites and this cabin is believed to be of that era.
This particular cave is known as Tom’s Cabin and is converted with brick, concrete and timber, particularly to wall up the cave’s open front. It included a fireplace inside complete with chimney as well as a number of steel pegs driven into the rock to form hangers. While not somewhere you would necessarily choose to live, it was a neat set up and had a great view across Sydney Harbour to Goat Island.
There isn’t much recorded history on the inhabitants of the hut but it is said that it was originally occupied by a depression victim until the 1940s. In the 1950s it was taken over by a North Sydney Council worker by the name of Tom Stacey, hence the name Tom’s Cabin.
Visiting this site provides a nice walk around the headland and an intriguing glimpse of the past. But hopefully this isn’t a glimpse into our future as those years sound like they were extremely tough times.
Note: I try to be as accurate as possible but make no guarantees. Please use this information at your own risk.