The shape of Prospect Hill

The shape of Prospect Hill is not at all clear from most viewpoints and may thus come as a surprise to some people. The Hill is in fact a narrow ridge curved round in the shape of an incomplete oval, about one kilometre from west to east and 2 km from north to south. The most accurate description of the shape of the ridge is to say that it is J-shaped, with the upright of the J pointing a few degrees east of north. There are several high points on the ridge, at least two of which are separately identified as Prospect Hill by different authorities. I shall refer to the whole J-shaped ridge as Prospect Hill and use other names for its various summits (See quotation). Since they mostly do not have distinct names that I have been able to find out, I have given my own names to some of them.

The photographs in this Section were mostly taken in 2008 and 2009 when the area inside the J-shaped ridge was being transformed from a quarry (which finally ceased extracting rock in 2010) to a large industrial area. It looks very different now (in 2015) with a new highway, Reconciliation Road, passing right through the Hill from north to south. I shall keep these images on the website as a historical record of this transition.

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The six tops of Prospect Hill

At the end of the curl of the J is a hill crowned by two water towers which I have called Water Tower Hill (A on the map). Its summit is 116 metres above sea level, just a metre less than the highest pont of Prospect Hill. From here the ridge descends gradually in a curve which runs slightly west of south, then south and then slightly east of south towards the foot of the J, rising for a short distance to another summit over 100 metres above sea level. I shall refer to this as Reservoir Hill (B).

There is next a deep gash in the ridge just to the left of the foot of the J which is known as The Gap. This is at the south-west edge of Prospect Hill. Beyond the Gap, the ridge rises rapidly to over 100m and a summit which is at the most southerly point of the ridge. I will call this the South Top (C).

The ridge now runs north-east, losing only a little height and so staying above the 100m contour until it reaches another peak. This is really a bluff jutting out north-westwards towards the inside of the ridge and is surmounted by a large Moreton Bay fig tree. This summit has a definite accepted name. It is One Tree Hill (D).

The ridge now drops below 100m for a while as it goes down in a north-north-east direction to a noticeable dip. It then starts a steady rise, curving more northward, until another high point is reached. This point is now reported to be 117m above sea level and is therefore the highest point of Prospect Hill. I have called it Greystanes Hill (E). (The trig point which was formerly on the summit is named Greystanes on the NSW Lands map although that point has been quarried away.)

From Greystanes Hill the ridge now continues northward to a further summit. On the way however, it is cut through by a pass or col through which a road, Butu Wargun Drive, passes. Continuing north of the road, the ridge climbs the short distance to its final summit, Prospect Lookout (F). This lies at a height of 112m above sea level. The ridge now drops down northwards towards the M4 Motorway and Great Western Highway.

Which is the highest point?

To start with I thought that the highest point was the hill I have called Water Tower Hill. The NSW Lands map shows a triangulation point here 140 metres above sea level. However I started to have doubts. There is no sign of a trig point on the ground. Perhaps it's at the top of one of the towers, in which case the summit at ground level is much less than 140 metres high (1). Contour maps support this view and there is other evidence for a ground level height of 116 metres above sea level (2). It seems that Greystanes Hill, a summit on the east ridge of Prospect Hill, has a height of 117 metres (See quotation) and is therefore the highest point by a whisker. It was not always so. The main high points have been quarried away within the last twenty or so years and the highest point before quarrying was neither Water Tower Hill nor Greystanes Hill. See the Topography page.

Inside the J

Quarrying has occupied an increasing proportion of Prospect Hill inside the oval-shaped the ridge over the last 190 years or so. It started in separate quarries at the north and south ends. By about 2000 the whole of the area inside the ridge had become one huge quarry. The area inside the ridge of Prospect Hill is now a relatively flat surface, though what it was like before quarrying started, say 200 years ago, is an interesting question which I have discussed elsewhere in this web site. The area is now being developed as a huge industrial estate as quarrying comes to an end. This is also described elsewhere.


Water Tower Hill with (inset) the trig point on the top of the water Tower. Click on the image to see a full size version.

(1) It seems I was right. Close examination of a couple of photos I had all along shows a trig point of the type used in the 1970s mounted on top of the older of the two water towers. (Wikipedia, Triangulation Stations) («Back).

(2) A map "after Wilshire 1967" based on topography by Cumberland Co Council 1964 gives the height as 380 ft which converts to 116 metres. This seems the most likely height of Water Tower Hill at ground level. (Wilshire). The Prospect Hill Liverpool 1 Mile Series map of 1955 shows a height of 453 [feet] labelled "(Top Tower)" at my Water Tower Hill. This is equivalent to 138 metres. No trig point symbol appears. Significantly there is no 400 ft contour around the summit, the highest being 350 ft. This implies that this summit is between 107 and 122 metres in height at ground level (Liverpool map). The latest Lands Dept topographical map shows a trig point with height 140m but the highest contour around it is 110m. This again suggests the trig point height is at the top of the water tower and that the ground level height is 110 to 120m (Prospect map). The 1964 figure of 116 m seems the most likely height. («Back)