Roads To Pittwater: the sandspit punt and spit bridge
The Spit was originally known as the Sand-Spit. In 1846 John Burton acquired 30 acres opposite The Spit at present day Seaforth.
OVERLAND TO MANLY
The establishment of an overland route to Manly such as would place that beautiful suburb within easy reach of Sydney, is a project which has now acquired considerable strength, and has advanced to a stage from which its fulfilment at an early period ought to be ensured. Under the present conditions, the overland trip to Manly is something of a task, a journey full of delay and obstacles, which are only counterbalanced by the enjoyment of the supreme beauty of the surrounding scenery. On leaving the city the first delay takes place at the ferry, where according to circumstances, the vehicle may have to wait any time under a quarter of an hour. At the other side the horse has to face the long stiff ridge on which St Leonards is built, and which at length reachs a level on the Military-road, beyond the reserve. The usual wheel route to the Military road follows the main thoroughfare of St Leonards, now occupied by the cable tram line, and owing to the direction of the roads in conformity with the formation of the country, this route takes one right away from the desired direction, and on account of this detour and of the uphill work to le got over, the St. Leonards section is a very considerable part of the journey, and it involves a deal of dead of dead work. The is a shorter route cutting of a part of this deviation and meeting the Military-road near the, brick works but it is reckoned too steep for vehicles. Other short cuts could be made by working in round the head of Neutral Bay but the roads would require to be adapted to this plan It is by simply making use of the existing route, and enlarging its capabilities, that it is proposed to bring Manly within an hour and a-quarter of Circular Quay, or perhaps an hour clear. The drive along the Military Road is well known as one of the best about Sydney. It opens up views of the city and harbour not to be obtained elsewhere, and not surpassed by those that are.
There is one magnificent panoramic view of Sydney to be seen from the high ground just beyond the reserve, that that is of itself worth a trip to the spot. But the popular knowledge of this picturesque drive is limited to the road to the fortifications, from which many lovely scenes are visible. The Manly-road, branching to the left at Bueno Vista, leads the visitor into a new sphere of beauty, teeming with pictures of hill and sea and what is virtually the lake scenery of the winding arms of Middle Harbour. As you approach the Sandspit above Clontarf, to reach the ferry, there is splendid aspect of Sydney Heads to be observed from this spot alone, and still nearer to the ferry the view opens on a broad stretch of blue, in which the waters of Middle Harbour merge with the swell of the entrance and are lost in the smooth line of the horizon away out at sea. The approaches to the Sandspit Ferry form an important part of the new scheme. These approaches were positively dangerous, but they have been abandoned for new roads opened a few weeks ago, which will render this crossing perfect so far as that part of it it is concerned. The new road on the south side leaves the old line just at the top of the hill above the spit; and instead of the steep descent on the inner side of the hill, we have now a splendid drive round the Middle Harbour side, leading to the ferry at such a gentle gradient that one can trot his horse down it without using the brake. The road is broad and level with a strong fence on the edge; and as it winds along the face of the hill the scenery of the harbour entrance is exhibited in many new and beautiful aspects.
At the Sand spit ferry the traveller meets with the most serious check of the whole journey, owing to the want of a proper ferry boat. The punt now in use is worked by a pulley and cable, and usually takes about a quarter of an hour to cross the water, under the most favourable conditions 12 minutes. The punt is left at the landing place to which it is last brought, and the next arrival on the the side of departure has to wait for it to come back thus breaking half an hour in crossing. On the Manly side there is now an easy approach cut round the lull, the first few hundred yards rising from the water being twined round the head of a little inlet, with the most picturesque effect. From the upper part of the slope fresh views of Middle Harbour, both above and below the spit, are opened up, and there is a grand general view of Clontarf and the crossing-place. A great deal of work has been done on these roads, extending ever eight or nine months, and the result is very satisfactory.
The roads have still to be metalled but are even now in capital condition. The passage of the ridge on to Manly leads past Dobroyd where a piece of Government land is now being cleared for sale for building purposes and some fine sites will be rendered available In fact, this route to Manly opens up a large extent of unaliented land peculiarly well suited fur residences and there can scarcely be a healthier or more beautiful situation.
On reaching the last height above Manly, a fine ocean view breaks on the sight, and away on the left is the hilly country stretching towards Narrabeen. There has been another improvement in the approach to Manly, by which the steep descent of the Red Hills road is avoided. The new road turns down towards the harbour just beyond " The Chalet," a pretty residence on the top of the hill, and it skirts the slope on the harbour side though many; attractive scenes till it teaches the level in Manly itself. This is the route as it now stands, and as it is proposed to be further developed. When it becomes properly known it will be one of the most popular drives of Sydney But the idea is to shorten the trip so that the whole of the locality traversed be made available for the residence of those having business in the city. The horse ferry at Fort Macquarie, it is urged, should be improved to such an extent that the north and south shores would be connected by a ferry trip of merely a few minutes duration, by means of a steam bridge working with properly constructed docks and approaches. The proposal includes a suggestion that the Sydney end should be placed on Dawes Point. So far as the passenger traffic is concerned, a more rapid service and the existing tram line would provide tor this section of the trip.
Arrangements are now in progress for continuing the journey to Manly by means of coaches, one line connecting with the train terminus and running to the sandspit, whence passengers will be taken on by another line into Manly. It is also proposed that a bridge should be built over the spit crossing to connect with the two new roads. The roads have been laid out with the view to this future connection and it is understood that plans for the bridge are in existence. The bridge would have a clear height of 40 feet from the water, and this it is believed, would pass all craft likely to go up the harbour for a very Long time. A further important part of the project is the construction of tram from the present terminus to Manly. The gradients are said to be all sufficiently easy to permit of a line being laid successfully, while the construction of the tints would solve the difficulty as to the crossing. It is suggested thit in the meantime a better ferry boat should be provided at the Spit. The tram line could be laid on the south side first, and perhaps on the north side also pending the construction of the budge; but in any case, the ordinary road traffic would require better ferry accommodation. With these proposals earned out in their entirety, a most desirable residential district would be opened up with great advantage, both to those who chose to place their homes there, and to the citizens of Sydney in search of recreation. OVERLAND TO MANLY. (1887, May 18).The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 4. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article13656391
Opening: of the Military-road Electric Tramway.
THE SPIT, MIDDLE HARBOUR, TERMINUS OF THE LINE.
ON THE SPIT TRAM ROUTE— VIEW OF MIDDLE HARBOUR.
NORTH HEAD AS SEEN FROM HEIGHTS MILITARY-ROAD.
VIEW ON THE SPIT-ROAD -MIDDLE HARBOUR TRAM EXTENSION.
THE TRAM EXTENSIONS TO MIDDLE HARBOUR AND WATSON'S BAY. (1900, September 1). The Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1871 - 1912), p. 510. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article163693858
A YEAR'S TRAFFIC.
The Spit Bridge, over Middle Harbour, having been open for traffic for twelve months, the traffic returns for that period were made available yesterday. During the period from December 24, 1924, to December 23, 1925, inclusive 581,817 vehicles crossed the bridge, the total tolls collected amounting to £15,486.
The bridge, which cost about £70,000, was built by the Sydney Harbour Trust for the Manly Municipal Council, which body is res-ponsible for the financial and other arrangements. The council borrowed £60,000 for the construction of the bridge, and an additional £10,000 (provided out of revenue) was ex-pended on the approaches to the bridge. The Act under which the bridge was constructed provides that as soon as an amount equal-ling the cost of the structure, and interest and other charges, has been collected, the toll system shall be discontinued. It was originally considered that to free the bridge of debt would take 10 years or 12 years, but on the first year's traffic figures it seems certain that the structure will become free within a much shorter period — probably eight years or nine years.
A conservative estimate is that not less than £7000 or £8000 of the first year's revenue will be available for the repayment of the loan, which was floated at 6 per cent. The interest totals nearly £4000, while the working expenses make up the balance. SPIT BRIDGE. (1925, December 31). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 8. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article16270799
References and extras
Peter Ellery of the sandspit
Destroying a Fishing Net. — The Pitt Water People Again.
James Wheeler, the elder, James Wheeler, the younger, and Frank Poyner were charged with having, at Narrabeen Lagoon, near Pitt Water, destroyed a fishing net of the value of L5, the property of James Wilson. Mr. Gannon appeared for the complainant, and Mr. Driver for the defence. The evidence disclosed that on the night of the 5th instant, between 10 and 2, the fishing party, consisting of Wilson, Sly, and Pashley, were camped in a gunyah on Miss Jenkins's property, which runs down to Narrabeen Lagoon. Pashley was aroused by hearing a peculiar whistle, and called Sly, who aroused Wilson. Pashley and Sly went out through some rushes to where the net with which they were fishing was stretched out to dry. They there saw the two Wheelers and Poyner standing on the net. The younger Wheeler came off the net and walked towards them, close to the rushes.
They saw Poyner with a can or jar in his hand. He poured something out of the can on to the net. They were on the net about ten minutes, and then went away. When Sly called Wilson, he (Wilson) went in the direction of the only path anybody could take from the net, to get away from the lagoon, and saw the elder Wheeler running away from the net. He also saw two other men, but could not tell who they were. In the morning they examined the net, and took it up in their hands, but it fell to pieces. Evidence was given that sulphuric acid (oil of vitriol) had been poured on the net. The defence set up was that Wheeler and his son never left their house, at Narrabeen on that night, and that Wilson stated he did not know whether it was old or young Wheeler that he saw. The witnesses for the complainant were Wilson, Pashley, Sly, and Mr. Watt, Government Analytical Chemist; and for the defence, Mrs. and Miss Wheeler, John Farrell, Mileswater, and Skinner. — The bench disagreeing, there was no adjudication. Thomas Wilson, of Mona Vale, Pitt Water, complained that on the 6th instant, Sarah Farrell temporarily impounded four head of cattle, and neglected to feed and maintain them. — The case was not concluded when we went to press. — Mr. Redman appeared for the complainant, and Mr. Driver for the defence. Police Courts, This Day. (1871, October 31). Evening News(Sydney, NSW : 1869 - 1931), p. 2. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article129969185
William Scott Fell
(20 July 1866 – 7 September 1930)
The Spit - circa 1929 - William Riddle's boatshed with 'Riddles' on the roof - Image No.: a1470196h, courtesy State Library of NSW