An optical fibre refractometer using a ball lens as a sensor head has been developed and characterised. Light from a superluminescent diode is directed to an optical fibre sensor head and the intensity of the returned beam gives a measure of the refractive index of the medium at the ball lens fibre tip. A second beam is used to reference the intensity measurements. The system is capable of detecting changes in refractive index with a resolution of 0.003 RIU. The ball lenses have been coated with an 80nm thick layer of palladium and the potential use of this system as a micromirror hydrogen sensor is demonstrated. This technique offers a simple sensor head arrangement, with a large signal sampling area compared with that of a bare fibre.