Wellington hill walks: Mt Crawford (Pt 2) Fort Ballance via bush scramble
In the absence of an obvious path down the steep and scrubby hillside, Mike was appointed chief trail blazer. I tagged along behind in slightly more hesitant fashion, clambering with one hand where required due to the other gripping the DSLR. This made the fence crossings especially awkward.
We must have encountered about five fences, some could be climbed through, others over. Lots of potential to do mischief to oneself, but we coped. I like to think my farm upbringing makes me extra qualified to deal with fences.
Eventually, after scrambling uphill and downhill and trudging through bog (tried to use my lightest footsteps to minimise the mud effect, but who am I kidding), we emerged back in civilisation. Though we were initially perturbed by the 10 foot high fenced off complex.
On the other side we joined a paved road for the short walk to Fort Ballance. I’d been there once before and for me it is the most interesting place on Miramar peninsula. The fort was the first in Wellington, constructed in the late 1800s as a result of the Russian war scares. It remained operational during the two world wars before closing in 1959. The second photo on this page shows the fort during its construction years.
I spent a blissful half hour or so tearing around taking photos.
This diagram shows the general layout of Fort Ballance.
Last year it was announced that this area is to become a public reserve which will see the fort restored. It is fantastic that a concerted effort will be made to preserve this local history and make it more accessible. Though I have to say, it does have a certain charm in its current state and isolation.
I’m not actually sure that were allowed to be there – public access may not be openly permitted given some of the potential hazards around the ruins – but any signs instructing otherwise have long since been defaced or removed.
On the same website which I use as a bit of a resource, I was really interested to see some photos from around 1999/2000 of the fort without any graffiti whatsoever. Perhaps access was more robustly controlled then.
Fun though this was, we were still a wee ways from home so it was time to get going. We followed an overgrown track down to Scorching Bay, which was thronging with people (a tad cleaner than us) enjoying the summery day. As has been customary with walks recently, cold treats were procured and we walked and slurped our way home. One more hill was in our way and my legs definitely felt a bit poked after the afternoon’s exertions.
Very interesting Ley. There is more to your area than I had any idea about
We discovered Fort Ballance by walking up the hill from Scorching Bay. Amazing site – the Historic Places Trust has solemnly declared it a Category One site, but obviously done nothing more (keeps them in work I guess). I liked your comment about the prolific graffiti – it adds a certain charm to the rich history underneath.
It’s excellent isn’t it. I haven’t seen/heard either when anything tangible conservation-wise is happening up there; in the meantime it’s kind of a best-kept secret.