Monthly Archives: February 2023

Robertson’s Point Lighthouse, Sydney Harbour.

While we’re still at Cremorne Point, I thought I’d introduce you to the Robertson’s Point Lighthouse. Just to clarify any confusion, Robertson’s Point is the original name of Cremorne Point and the lighthouse is located in Athol Wharf Road.

Constructed in 1909, Robertson’s Lighthouse is identical to the lighthouse located at nearby Bradley’s Head near Taronga Zoo and very cute. Ideally, I would’ve walked down to see it close up, but with my mobility questionable I decided against it, especially as you need to walk down (and up) a ladder to get there. So, these photos were taken from the ferry to Mosman Bay.

While the lighthouse itself is very photogenic, it also has a great back story. Although postcard Sydney is always blue skies and sunshine, Sydney Harbour also gets a lot of fogs which can make navigation difficult. While it seems hard to believe now, ferries used to get lost in the harbour prior to the light house. Indeed, on the 24th November, 1908 the Australian Star reported:


The decision of the, Harbor Trust Commisioners to place a powerful’ light in Cremorne Point has not been made a moment too soon. In foggy weather Mosman’s Bay has been a difficult place to find. On very dark nights the low-lying headland looms up threateningly, and the ferrymaster has to pick up his course from the lights on the hills beyond. Just how the skippers in the old days fared without hardly a guiding light to give them the cue to their position can be imagined. Someday, perhaps, a genius will invent a light that will completely pierce our wintry logs, and then the spectacle or ferryboats bound around Bradley’s bringing up in Rose Bay, and others from Neutral Bay or Mosman finding themselves in Farm Cove instead of in Circular Quay, will be events of the past.” 1.

Golly, so hard to imagine a ferry getting lost these days as they manoeuvre their way around the harbour and I even photographed ferries chugging along through the fog and rain myself and they were staying on course.

By the way, if you go down to the lighthouse at night, you could well hear the animals across at Taronga Park Zoo. Miss was down there for a midnight walk and could hear the elephants and the seals. That would’ve been extraordinary.

Well, I’m going to keep moving as this was only a quick stopover today.

Best wishes,



Australian Star (Sydney, NSW : 1887 – 1909), Tuesday 24 November 1908, page 4

If Only MacCallum Pool Could Talk…!

Located right on Sydney Harbour, MacCallum Pool is like the Pool of Siloam. In case you don’t know what that is, it’s where Jesus healed the blind man. Looking at the stunning views and tranquil waters, you have to wonder if there isn’t anything a swim in MacCallum Pool wouldn’t fix?!

Map showing the location of MacCallum Pool at Shell Cove on the Western side of Cremorne Point.

While generations have dived into it’s depths, thrived on it’s aquatic wonders and almost inhaled the breathtaking views, I’m delving into the old newspapers to find out what and who has gone before. These stories are my buried treasure, and add so much meaning to what I see.

That said, there’s no doubt that a lot of “what happens at MacCallum Pool stays at MacCallum Pool”, and no matter how deep we dive in, we’ll never reach the bottom.

Of the stories which can be made public, I’d like to focus on the incredible drive, persistence and grit of Cremorne locals who raised the funds and constructed the original pool themselves. We have them to thank for being able to wander freely into this magnificent pool free of charge and get in a few laps. What an incredible legacy to leave behind.

The vision for a harbour pool began with local resident and Olympic medal-winning swimmer, Fred Lane, who rearranged the rocks to create a natural pool.

Later, a group of keen locals under retired businessman Hugh MacCallum, took up the challenge in earnest. Work finished on the pool on Saturday 23rd November, 1924 after: “Fifteen years of patient, unostentatious work at week-ends and on holidays, work of the youngsters and the parents living around Shell Cove — and at last the monument was completed.”

This little snippet from the 19th January, 1927 does a good job of relating what went into creating the pool:

“This is a story that should make every alderman beam with delight — Every Mayor chortle with joy— .And every ratepayer gasp with admiration and envy. It is told simply in the following letter, which, accompanied by a photograph of a bathing pool, was received by the North Sydney Council last night. “As an example of what can be done by the residents of any suburb, where the people are willing to co-operate and provide the needful, it may be mentioned that, by doing a little every year, this series of potholes at Shell Cove has taken shape, until now it is a safe, shark-proof pool with a graded depth from 2ft, 6in. at the children’s end to 6ft. 6in. at the other end. “Up to date over £700 has been spent during a period of 15 years, and this sum has been voluntarily subscribed by the residents, no outsider’s help of any kind having been asked for or received.” Council expressed its appreciation of the fine public spirit which had prompted the construction of the swimming bath…” 1.

Council -took over the running of the pool in 1930 and on the 29th April, 1933, a plaque was unveiled naming the pool after Hugh MacCallum who had “collected £600 in the locality, and after several years of strenuous labor constructed a swimming pool about 40 yards long and which at high tide has a depth of over six feet. Many North Sydney youngsters have learnt to swim in the pool, and it has become a popular picnic spot.”2.

Here’s an interview with Hugh MacCallum’s grandson which was filmed at the pool:

Meanwhile, as I alluded to earlier, there was another side to MacCallum Pool. On the 5th March, 1930 the Evening News, ran a headline: “CREMORNE POOL: HIGH JINKS ALLEGED”. It continued:

“In a letter to North Sydney Council last night, a resident of Cremorne Point scathingly criticised the conduct of bathers in Cremorne Pool, and asked that the baths be removed. “Since this bathing pool has been in existence, it has been an intolerable nuisance to those who live nearby,” he wrote.

“Bathers use it up to and sometimes after, midnight, and indulge in singing, shouting, laughing, screeching, and often use very bad language. Many bathers, of both sexes, lie on the rocks sunbaking, and others run about the reservation in scanty bathing costumes at all hours of the day.” Ald. Norden asked that the pool be allowed to remain. The engineer will report on the cleaning of the pool.” 3.

Sunset Near MacCallum Pool

I had thought there was further scandal to report until I had a closer read. It turns out there is also a Cremorne in Mackay, Queensland. Of course, I couldn’t let you miss out on a scandal. So here goes. On the 18th October, 1917 a letter to Mackay’s Daily Mercury lamented:

“About a dozen men were lying about in prominent positions, with absolutely nothing on. One man was also swimming about in a state of nudity. These occurrences prevent the place being used by ladies, and surely they have as much right to the place as men.  On Sunday it is just as bad.

Yours, etc., DISGUSTED.” 4.

I guess this leaves us with the dilemma of whether we are going to be a force for good and make a contribution to our local community. Or, are we going to be the “fart in the lift”? That’s not to say the two are mutually exclusive. You can be community-minded and still have fun. Yet there’s a balance, and at least a consideration of one of my favourite principles: the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. I’m also a fan of trying to walk in someone’s shoes. Although living this way may not leave a concrete legacy like MacCallum Pool, it could very well build invisible, luxury mansions inside those we meet, especially those who need it most.

Have you ever been to MacCallum Pool or something similar where you live? Do you have any memories to share?

I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Best wishes,



1.Sun (Sydney, NSW : 1910 – 1954), Wednesday 19 January 1927, page 14

2.Daily Telegraph (Sydney, NSW : 1931 – 1954), Friday 21 April 1933, page 8

3. Evening News (Sydney, NSW : 1869 – 1931), Wednesday 5 March 1930, page 3

4. Daily Mercury (Mackay, Qld. : 1906 – 1954), Thursday 18 October 1917, page 6

Weekend Coffee Share – 27th February, 2023.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

How are you? I hope you’ve had a good couple of weeks. For those of you on the Northern side of the equator, I hope you’re not counting your Spring chickens before they hatch! I’m not quite ready to give up on Summer yet.

The big news here last week was that Miss turned 17 on Friday. Naturally, we had to roll out the red carpet or at least get her presents wrapped and bake a cake. I asked her what she wanted for a cake and she chose Key Lime Pie, and I suspect I’ve actually eaten most of it. I managed to get her an eclectic assortment of things along with her main gift which was active wear from Eckt. She lives in dance and gym wear so it made good sense. Of course, so many memories flood your mind on birthdays…the ghosts of cakes and parties past and memories of that very special baby when they first entered the world with nothing but a cry and how you loved them more than life itself.

The other news was that I went down to Sydney for an appointment with my lung specialist on Tuesday, which went reasonably well and on the way home we visited my Mum and Dad. We haven’t seen much of them since covid and they’re still being very cautious and largely keep to themselves. There’s Romeo’s Pies near the hospital and Mum has a really special connection with the ladies who work there. When I last bought pies for her the, they drew bright happy faces on the boxes and were so friendly. They just adore my mum.

So I thought I’d get them more pies and hopefully more lovely messages while I was there. Well, they didn’t disappoint and they were soooo lovely. It’s a shame mum wasn’t there to hear them herself but they wrote on the box again for her. How precious is that!!! They were such an inspiration to me and a reminder that kindness isn’t rocket science.

Meanwhile, I’m back to posting the photos I took while we were house minding at Cremorne Point on Sydney Harbour. I realized I’d got badly derailed doing what was supposed to be background research on Watson’s Bay and a few weeks I think had gone by and I realized I’d dug myself quite the rabbit warren and disappeared completely. So, I put that on hold and wrote up about walking down to MacCallum Pool via Cremorne Reserve. Of course, I couldn’t resist looking for some background stories there either and I found quite a few interesting goings on at the pool which I’m yet to post. So many stories, so little time!

Sunset Hardy’s Bay, NSW.

Lastly, I’ll leave you with a photo taken around sunset yesterday locally at Hardy’s Bay. Obviously, it’s very muted especially compared to the very dramatic sunsets I photographed in Sydney. The sun is currently setting behind the hills on the left and there wasn’t much colour to be seen. At the same time, this softer sunset was peaceful and relaxing in a Monet kind of way.

Not bad for a handheld shot of the lights at Hardy’s Bay

After going for a short walk along the jetty, we ran into some friends who were having a pizza picnic on the foreshore and we joined them for a few hours. I was fully engaged in conversation and oblivious to the lights illuminating the darkness behind me looking stunning. How could I miss them? Humph! I miss a lot of things.

Anyway, it’s time for me to get to bed now. It’s already Monday.

Well, I hope you’ve had a great weekend and I look forward to catching up on your news.

This has been another contribution to the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Natalie the Explorer.

Best wishes,


A Swim At MacCallum Pool, Cremorne Reserve, Sydney Harbour.

If you’ve been following my posts, you’ll know that I was house minding for a friend at Cremorne Point for three weeks in January, and we exchanged texts while she was away including one rather pertinent text: “Have you been to MacCallum Pool yet?” At this point, we’d been to Circular Quay and around The Rocks, off to Manly on the Northern headland and Watson’s Bay on the South but aside from a quick visit when we picked up the key in December, we hadn’t been to MacCallum Pool and I certainly hadn’t been for a swim.

MacCallum Pool has the best views and it’s free of charge open to the public.

So, this swim was clearly overdue and I didn’t want her arriving home and having to confess I couldn’t get around the corner. After having a quiet day having coffee with a friend, I hoped I had plenty of oomph for a swim and set off on the short walk to the pool. The only trouble was that I needed to walk home uphill, which I knew was going to be challenging for my lungs, and so I had to take it slowly in the pool. Pace myself.


Actually, I took it very slowly getting in the pool, which is an unfortunate fault of mine. I’m one of those comical characters who agonise their way into the water starting with their big toe and taking forever to put their head underwater if they do at all. Just to compound my shame, there was a group of teenaged boys beside me who really must’ve thought I looked ridiculous. However, in my book I was a champion even for getting wet, and pleased I was able to do two laps (conserving my energy for the walk home, of course).

A Photographer’s Paradise

While Mac Callum Pool was built with a view to swimming, it also makes for amazing photography and I was much more in my element on that front and I’ve also done a much better job at excavating stories about the history of the pool from the old newspapers online (Trove). I will write them up in a separate post as I need to put some thought into that.

Have you ever been to MacCallum Pool and do you have any stories to tell?

Best wishes,


A Walk To Cremorne Point Reserve, Sydney.

Last night, I received a sudden wake up call. While writing up about our three week holiday house minding at Cremorne Point, I’d become seriously waylaid in Watson’s Bay consumed by back story after back story after back story, which we writers and researchers colloquially call a “rabbit warren”. I really loved Watson’s Bay and I was also drawn into it’s history via Christina Stead’s first novel Seven Poor Men of Sydney, which was set there. However, it was now time to get back on the ferry and had back to Cremorne Point and onto the next day’s events.

After coffee with a friend and meeting up with our son at Circular Quay and catching the ferry back together, I decided to go for a swim at MacCallum Pool located in Cremorne Point Reserve. However, before we get to the pool, we’re going to walk down Cremorne Road and I’ll share a few stellar views along the way. While I was doing this walk just before sunset on this occasion, I’ve also included some photos from a previous walk so you can see what the reserve looks like during daylight. I’d also like to emphasise that Cremorne Point offers an excellent vantage point to watch the sun set on Sydney Harbour and the reserve itself is a great place to watch it over a casual picnic.

Meanwhile, I’d just like to let you know that Cremorne Point was originally known as Wulworra-Jeung by the Cammeraygal, the Aboriginal people who inhabited the land on the lower northern shores of Port Jackson prior to the arrival of Europeans. Initially known as Robertson’s Point, it became known as Cremorne after the Cremorne Pleasure Gardens which were established in 1856. Although they only survived six years, the name stuck. There were attempts to mine coal at Cremorne Point and to sell off the harbourside land which was declared the reserve in 1905 but thankfully resistance conserved the natural beauty of Cremorne Point for the future and for all.

Magnificence everywhere you turn!

While my photos brilliantly capture and share Cremorne Point’s captivating natural beauty, and sensational views of the harbour and ethereal skies, they fail to relate my personal struggle. As I’ve mentioned before, I have dodgy lungs and 50% lung capacity and struggle to get up hills, stairs or even gentle slopes on a bad day. Unfortunately, Cremorne Point is quite hilly which is fine when I’m walking down to the point, but at best “a challenge” walking back up. I’d had trouble getting back up the hill when we’d previously done the walk to MacCallum Pool.

How incredibly relaxing!

However, I’d been doing more walking and thought I might just pull it off. Besides, the pool was only round the corner. If I took it slowly, I’d be fine. The only trouble is that I wasn’t. I’d got myself into deep water and with no other way to get home, I had to keep going. Every single step at this point was like moving feet of lead and my breathing was very strained. What I also didn’t know at this point, was that there had been a botch up with my prescription and I’d been on half the prescribed dose on and off for a year and the muscle weakness was returning. I was battling extreme shortness of breath on top of muscle weakness and I really did feel like I was about to break down. Although I did make it back, I have no doubt doing that walk was a mistake.

Sunset from Cremorne Point Reserve

Yet, at the same time, the photographer in me not only loves and cherishes the photos I took on that walk, but also the experience of merging with that magnificent sunset over the harbour and becoming one which invigorated my soul as well as my senses.

Hope you enjoy my journey and I’ll be back with a focus on MacCallum Pool in my next post.

Best wishes,


Ferry Doors of Sydney Harbour.

During our three week stay at Cremorne Point on Sydney Harbour, I became something of a crazed ferry catching maniac and couldn’t stay off the things. There were numerous, almost daily trips across to Circular Quay which is essentially ferry central on Sydney Harbour, although I’m not sure that it’s fair to say all ferries go via Circular Quay, it certainly seems to be the case.

I love Sydney’s ferries. Although they’re relatively modern and only date back to the mid 80’s, they seem older and have a aged, vintage feel and are ubiquitously part of the harbour as though they’ve always been there. Of course, that obviously not the case, and even I vaguely remember the wooden ferries from my childhood, but even they were Johnny-come-latelies and for tens of thousands of years the various Aboriginal people who were the traditional owners of lands around Sydney Harbour fished from their boats in a timeless procession. That is, until they were gone.

At times, I sense all this history yet much of the time I was tantalized by the magnificent views, exhilarated as the ferry picked up speed and the wind was blowing in my face and I was having the most thrilling time of my life living right on the very edge of the waves.

There was definitely something deeply captivating about these ferries which remains very hard to translate into words on the page. You just have to be there.

Anyway, today I decided to fuse my love of catching and photographing ferries with a blogshare I also enjoy called Thursday Doors, and I always find it interesting to see where people have spotted doors this week and where their adventures have led. Photographing doors can tell a much, much broader story than something that simply opens and shuts.


Of course, in the case of the ferries, the doors can also have a safety function, especially on a rough crossing. However, much of the time you don’t see much of the doors on the Sydney ferries because they’re open allowing passengers to move freely out onto the deck to enjoy the views, wind and salt spray in your face. Then, there’s that moment when the ferry pulls in and the deckhands madly thrown the gangplank out across the wharf to allow passengers to disembark. This whole process seems very old-worldy these days when everything is getting automated and there are even driver-less trains. I like it and it’s good to see people around and operating something and having a human interface. After all, we are not machines.

Emergency doors on the Manly Ferry

By the way, I think I’m going to put my mind to writing some poems and possibly a song about catching these Sydney ferries. Much to my surprise, there don’t seem to be many around and certainly nothing which immediately comes to mind. That said, I did come across two songs about catching the Manly Ferry:

There was also this Song about Manly ferries, written and sung by Pippa Johnson.

While whizzing around the Harbour on board the ferries was a lot of fun, there’s also that awareness that journeys come to an end.

Ferry From Rose Bay to Circular Quay.

Indeed, ferry timetables are something you really need to keep an eye on at night. There was only one ferry on the hour to Cremorne Point after 7.00pm I think it was and the last ferry leaves Circular Quay at midnight during the week and they don’t start up again until 6.05am which is a long wait unless you fork out for a water taxi.

Manly Ferry with the reflection of the Sydney Harbour Bridge in the window.

Every a ferry needs a goodnight’s sleep!

Do you have a memories of catching ferries? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Best wishes,


In His Own League…Friday Fictioneers 23rd February, 2023.

“Friggin’ heck,” Dad blasted. “Look at ya sister. She’s a star, and you can’t even kick the ball.”

Timmy just stood frozen on the spot and tried to let his father’s insults bounce off. Dad and his father before him had both played Rugby League for Australia. “How did I end up with this runt of the litter who loves maths?” He said. “Must’ve been switched at birth.”

The smokes had killed his dad before he’d become Dr Tim James – the first Australian in space.

None of his mates ever understood why he never watched the footy.


This has been another contribution to Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields at Addicted to Purple.

Best wishes,


Frozen: Friday Fictioneers: 16th February, 2023

More Cyrano de Bergerac than a handsome Romeo, Josph knew Jasmin would never love him back. still, he dreamed. A musical theatre obsessive, he’s pass by Jasmine’s flat singing: “Jasmine, I once met a girl called Jasmine!” at full blast in his head. No humble crush, Joseph was burning up.

Suddenly, Joseph stopped. A voice was mournfully singing: “Where Is Love?” from Oliver.

He knew he voice anywhere. They’d played Danny and Sandy together in Grease the Musical together.

As much as he yearned to sing: “I Can’t Help Falling In Love With You,” Joseph was frozen.

What to do next?


100 words PHOTO PROMPT © Lisa Fox

This is another contribution to Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields from Addicted to Purple.

Best wishes,




Ferry Trip to Watson’s Bay, Sydney Harbour.

For those of you who have been following my travels in Sydney, you’ll know that I’ve been home for a few weeks now and am well and truly backtracking with these posts. Well, today’s post takes us back to the 15th January, 2022 and “yesterday” Geoff and I caught the ferry over to Manly which is located near Sydney Harbour’s Northern Headland (known simply as “North Head”) and “today” we’re off to Watson’s Bay, over near South Head on the opposite side of the harbour and while yesterday there was just Geoff and myself, Miss joined us for this adventure While our son, J.P. was back home.

In many ways, Sydney is a fragmented city divided by the harbour. To a certain extent where ever we live, we tend to live within the bounds of our geography. Back home, we live on a peninsula and what they say about “insular peninsula” is certainly true of us, although Geoff works in Sydney. Moreover, in addition to geographical constraints, there’s also time and possibly health considerations. Staying put can be very comfortable.

On the ferry Bungaree leaving the Sydney Harbour Bridge behind.

Obviously, what the Sydney Harbour divided, has been connected via the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Harbour Tunnel. However, while the Bridge might stand as a magnificent welcoming structure, it represents pure terror for an anxious driver or out-of-towner and you hear the phrase often enough: “I’m not going over the Bridge”.I remember the first time I drove white-knuckled with my dad’s encouragement: “Does your licence state you can’t drive over the Bridge?” Of course, it didn’t and with fear and trepidation I set out and was mighty jubilant when I arrived safely on the other side in Glebe. I thought it was ridiculous that one of my mother’s friends wouldn’t drive past Chatswood and yet now I understand completely. Once you get out of the swing of city driving and specially the high pressure traffic on the Bridge during the day and needing to be in the right lane because Good Samaritans who’ll let you in are few and far between and you could end up anywhere. You also have to watch out that you don’t stray into one of the feeder lanes onto the Bridge either. Then again, you could spend your entire life parked safely in your couch at home and bypass seizing the day entirely. Indeed, perhaps it’s worth getting lost a few times on the likes of the Sydney Harbour Bridge to gain your wings.

Wow! Yacht off Rose Bay

All of that is just a very long winded way of saying that Sydneysiders usually don’t hop around the harbour like we were doing especially by car and the idea of going to Manly for the day one day and spending the next day in Watson’s Bay is rather extraordinary. That is, unless of course you’re on the ferries in which case all of Sydney Harbour is your oyster. I loved ferries before but I love and appreciate them even more now!

Ferry Wake, Rose Bay

Of course, someone else from Sydney might disagree with all of this, but that’s okay. I don’t claim to speak for all of Sydney.

Sea Plane, Rose Bay.

Anyway, as you can see ferry ride to Watson’s Bay was spectacular and I was almost flying along in the breeze with my camera zooming away on overdrive. Indeed, now that I’m back home, I’m missing the ferries dearly and looking forward to going back in April. Indeed, I’m reminded of Louis Armstrong’s unforgettable line: Oh what a wonderful world!

Watson’s Bay’s imposing Moreton Bay Fig Tree viewed from the ferry

Arriving in Watson’s Bay felt like arriving in another world. The weather was beautiful and the beach was lined with tanned sunbakers soaking up the rays like mobile phones plugged into the charger invigorating their souls without any consideration to the possible consequences. However what struck me most when we first arrived in Watson’s Bay was a massive Moreton Bay Fig tree on the shoreline and of course the famous Doyle’s fish and chip shops.

So please join me in my next post as we explore Watson’s Bay itself.

Watson’s Bay – How relaxing!

Have you been to Sydney or Watson’s Bay? Any stories? I’d love to hear from you!

Best wishes,


Manly Flash Back 1899 -Manly: The Queen Of Australian Watering Places

Doubtless, there’s no shortage of historic newspaper accounts of daytrips to Manly or descriptions of the place. However, not all of them are so well illustrated and I appreciated how this story in the Australian Town & Country Journal from 1899 covered some of the businesses in town as well and added people to the scene, which made t much more personal.

So, here goes….

Manly – The Queen Of Manly is to Sydney what Brighton is to London -the people’s. watering place. It is the resort par excellence of holiday-makers. On New Year’s Day-or, more correctly, January 2, for the year opened on Sunday-the five steamers of the Port Jackson Co-operative Company carried, exclusive of season ticket holders, no less than 22,000 people to the deservedly popular suburb. Not only is Manly the objective point of pleasure seekers at holiday times, but all through the summer season it is visited by hundreds, sometimes thousands, daily. A more ideal place for family picnics would be hard to find. Juveniles delight in the magnificent ocean and harbour beaches, the merry-go-rounds, the splendid baths, the fishing, the rambles by rocky glens and fairy bowers, and other attractions which make up the sum total of a day’s outing at Manly. Young ladles, while their male acquaintances are at work in the city, slip down there for afternoon tea and gossip, and in the evening, when the labour of the day is over, a “blow” on the harbor, and a walk on the ocean promenade with sweetheart, wife, or sister, has become almost as much a part of the city denizen’s existence as his pipe or newspaper. As the recreation haunt of the metropolis, Manly has steadily and satisfactorily increased its attractions, considering our somewhat tardy recognition of its advantages and possibilities. A good band is badly wanted, or, for the matter of that, two bands, one for the (harbour) Esplanade, and another for the (ocean) Parade. Occasionally the Port Jackson Company secure the services of a band for the Esplanade, and the popularity which attends these performances points to the desirability of establishing the band as a permanent institution.

Though it is only with-in the last three or four years that Manly has come to be known and appreciated at its proper worth, the now more than village has been growing nearly half a century. There are still one or two Manlyites who remembered the narrow isthmus which connect North Head with the mainland as a scrubby waste with rude tracks leading here and there to the ten or twelve, cottage residences, where lived as many families, the sole population of the neighborhood forty odd years ago. Mr. Henry Gilbert Smith, the proprietor of the estate, had a house on the hill where now stands Dalley’s “Castle,” or “Folly,” as the unfinished pile has been called, and of the other residents one or two were “some-thing in the city,” and the remainder were mostly fishermen. Communication with the city was maintained by the Parramatta steamers, which plied from the wharf at the foot of Erskine-street, and made two trips a day in fine weather, and whenever was convenient-perhaps but one trip a week in bad weather. A return fare then cost 3s. The steamers of those days were the Victoria, Black Swan, Pelican; and Emu, comparatively small craft, but capable of covering the distance-something over seven miles-in three quarters of an hour. To-day we have those fine saloon steamers Brighton, Manly, Fairlight, Narrabeen, and Brightside, which make the run a slightly shorter one certainly, in 35 minutes (the Manly does it in 25), and are together capable of transporting with, comfort 5000 people in one trip, or an average of 1000 per steamer. Instead of the two trips a day. there are now twenty-seven from each end, and fair weather or foul the service is maintained with the regularity of the English mail. Such a service as this, such fine steamers, and such cheap fares, is unexcelled anywhere.

In other respects also great strides have been made. The little fishing village has become, perhaps, the most picturesque watering place on the Australian seaboard. Nature has done nearly everything for Manly. The residents have done the rest. They built the Corso, the main thoroughfare connecting the harbor beach with that of the ocean, and as population grew, cut up the land on either side into residential blocks, planted shady trees by the way-side, created a park and recreation reserve, constructed the Esplanade, and defined the Ocean Parade, the completion of which the local council will, doubtless, leave as a legacy to a future generation of aldermen. More might have been done but for the circumstance that the Municipality of Manly, like most similar bodies in this country, finds itself hampered by monetary considerations.

The village had grown into a township, but the atmosphere of the village still clung round it. Manly was at best a dead and alive sort of place. Families who could afford, it sojourned there during the summer months, but the eighteen penny fare which obtained was not calculated to encourage permanent residents, and even the holiday fare of 1s seldom brought more than a few thousand visitors on any single occasion. A stimulus was wanting to galvanise the place into activity, and it came two or three years ago, when a number of influential residents, failing to se-cure a reduction in fares from the Port Jackson Company, organised, and ran an opposition line of steamers, at the ridiculously low rate of 3d. The competition which ensued was keen and suicidal, but “all’s well that ends well,” and Manly, as the saying is, has never looked back since. The great public having once tasted of the joys of a trip to Manly, must needs go again, and often, so by and bye, the rival companies amalgamated, a sixpenny return fare was established, and where, in 1893, the number of visitors was 376,777, the number in 1898 reached the grand total (exclusive of season ticket holders-a very numerous class, of course), 1,145,872-more than three times the number carried at the 1s 6d rate. Scores of new houses have been erected to meet growing demands, and from 3500 the population has increased to nearly 7000.

Under this new stimulus business, of course, went ahead by leaps and. bounds. Not a few shop-keepers found it necessary to rebuild, and extend their premises. Mr. J. W.Purves was one of these. He is the leading baker of Manly, and his refreshment-room at the Esplanade end of the Corso beats anything to be seen in Sydney for comfort, convenience, and general up-to-dateness. No wonder, for it cost him £2000 to build it. The floor is beautifully tiled, the ceiling is of the kind known as “Wunderlich,” and the furnishings and fittings are of modern type. What is more to the point, the confections, etc., are of the best quality, and as there are six waitresses in constant attendance, patrons are spared those trials of temper which invariably arise from “having to wait.” Mr. Purves’s establishment seats 80 people comfortably, and by utilising the balcony, he can accommodate 200. Not very long ago Mr. Purves had the satisfaction of seeing the Premier (Mr. Reid), and the Colonial Secretary (Mr. Brunker), sitting in his shop, enjoying a cup of tea “on their own.”

A little further along the Corso is the establishment of Mr. Charles J. Carroll, who, as chemist and druggist, has built up a large connection during the three years he has been in; business. This is the same Mr. Carroll whose “Instantaneous Headache Cure” has afforded relief to numbers of suffering humanity. Apart from his profession of chemist and druggist. Mr. Carroll is a skilled surgical and mechanical dentist, and residents can have their teeth attended to on terms as advantageous as can be obtained in the city.

The “Universal Providers” of Manly is a distinction enjoyed by Messrs. Butler Brothers, who, seven years ago, took over the business of Mr. Stephen Sullivan, and have since extended it so as to embrace all the needs of the town. A list of the things they sell would make tedious reading, but roughly, they may be summed up under the several heads of groceries, provisions, wines and spirits, produce, hardware, ironmongery, paints and oils, bedding, furniture, and building material. Tea blending is made a specialty of, and the Butler Brothers’ brands have many appreciative consumers.

Another well-appointed tea-room is that of Mrs. Frances Young, which is situated at the corner of the Corso and the Ocean or Steyne Parade-the best and most admirable site in all Manly. The building is quite new-it was only opened by Mrs. Young on Christmas Eve-and it is replete with modern conveniences. Here visitors may sit and sip their tea and look out upon the great ocean, and listen to the music of the waves, as they break upon the beach a few yards away. What further recommendation is necessary? Unless it be that the catering is excellent, and the attendance first-class.

In the matter of educational advantages Manly is ahead of most suburbs. The University College, conducted by Mr. John F. M’Manamey, B.A., Syd. (gold medallist in classics), with competent assistant masters, though only twelve months founded, has become one of the institutions of the district. It is both a boarding and a day school. The curriculum includes preparation for the examinations of the University and of the Public Service Board. Special instruction is given in shorthand and type-writing, and, of course, adequate provision is made for recreation, in the shape of sports clubs, with the additional advantage of a cadet corp for drill and discipline.

Dalley’s Castle “Marinella” (home by the sea) photographed c 1930

The completion of the sewerage system-the construction of which was begun fifteen months ago will add materially to the reputation of Manly as a summer and health resort. As is well known, Manly numbers amongst its residents some very distinguished and influential people. His Eminence Cardinal Moran has his home there, and within a stone’s throw of his palace; dominating the landscape, stands that magnificent sandstone pile of buildings known as St. Patrick’s Ecclesiastical College, the most conspicuous landmark of Port Jackson. Facing St. Patrick’s, on the heights opposite, rises the gaunt facade of the late W. B. Dalley’s “Castle,” another landmark and a striking monument to the vanity of human ambition. It was near by. on what used to be called Constitutional Hill, that was exhibited, forty-two years ago, the first camera obscura known in these colonies. Yet a third landmark remains to be mentioned-the kangaroo, which for forty years has, from the elevated pedestal on Kangaroo ‘Hill, beckoned a welcome to vessels making for the port. Many stories are in circulation as to the raison d’etre of this stony marsupial, but the “very oldest” resident assures us that it was erected by the owner of the estate, Mr. H. S. Smith, simply to attract .people up the hill, he supposed. No article dealing with Manly would be complete without mention of those other delightful retreats known to thousands of cyclists, to which it furnishes the key. These include Narrabeen, Rock Lily, Bay View, Newport, and Pittwater, with all of which there is regular communication by coach daily.


Australian Town and Country Journal (Sydney, NSW : 1870 – 1919), Saturday 25 February 1899, page 30

Hope you enjoyed this step back into Manly’s history.

Best wishes,