It is a green oasis featuring a short bush walkway, picnic areas, a gated playground and panoramic views of the Sydney Harbour. Berry Island remains the most rugged and natural of all Sydney's islands and it is located two kilometres upstream of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
The caves and mounds of the island are carpeted with shells collected by generations of Aborigines who once inhabited the shores of Sydney Harbour. Following the loop track here is the perfect way to experience the beauty and serenity of this unique place located within walking distance of the city, and it is a great free activity to do in Sydney.
Now a peninsula, Berry Island is therefore no longer an island but in the past it used to be one of Sydney Harbour’s islands.
Berry Island was once known to be a fishing, hunting and camping spot for Aboriginal communities in the 19th century. In addition, the numerous sandstone overhangs provided necessary shelter against low temperatures, as well as shade from the scorching sun making it an ideal place for settling for the aboriginal tribes.
Evidence of the Aboriginal lifestyle, including mounds of shells and grinding of axes, can still be seen today and there are panels in the area you can read to learn more about their habits, culture and traditions.
Connected to the mainland by an artificial grassy area, in the early 19th century Berry Island became part of a large land concession becoming private land but, in 1926, Berry Island became public once again and got to become a natural reserve for public recreation.
Berry Island Reserve is now a pleasant spot where to have a barbecue on one of its many public grills, relax or walk the short circular path which takes you to a small beach.
Berry Island Reserve is easily accessible, both by car and public transport.
The short but fascinating loop trail is a 1-kilometre walk that winds around Berry Island.
The starting point of the route is clearly visible with a large sign and an information panel with interesting basic information on the walk, the island and its significance for the Aborigines.
This trail is called Gadyan and Gadyan is a local Aboriginal word for the Sydney clam which grows here. The short walking trail guides visitors along several rock carvings and mounds of shells.
The highlight of the walk is perhaps a large Aboriginal carving on a flat rock surface.
The island had indeed great cultural significance for its inhabitants as evidenced by a vast sea creature carved from a flat grey ceremonial rock a short distance from the shore.
The engraving today is almost as faded as the dream stories it evokes but, nonetheless, it is a piece of art and history very precious for this country.
A short side path leads to a small wooden lookout point at the southernmost point of the Berry Island Peninsula.
It's a fun, unassuming lookout with panoramic views of Greenwich to the west and the reserve to the south right in front of you.
Here you can find a lawn where you can sunbathe, play or even take a swim in the summer but I have also heard it is one of the best spots where to observe the Sydney Bridge firework show on New Year’s Eve.
I’m still hoping to get to see it after it was cancelled for the pandemic in recent years.
I’ll therefore certainly make my way back to beautiful Berry “Island.”