December 15 - 21, 2013: Issue 141
Carl Gow and Frank Gonsalves Boatshed, Palm Beach
Any research into the life and times of the Gow and Gonsalves families of Palm Beach indicates a matter of fact down to earth honesty, a love of the simple things in life, and of serving others. Records indicated numerous rescues of vessels and people in peril, rescues that were carried out by younger and older generations in launches and even in surf boats. As year round permanent residents and founding members of Palm Beach SLSC, who were quite happy to row the surf boat to Newcastle for carnivals, a fishermen’s legacy of knowing the seasons and their tides and weather, of being kept healthy while rowing open whalers to catch fish, or a heritage of lightkeepers who kept an open door, established this boatshed as yet another community meeting place long before the Palm Beach RSL eventuated. Anecdotes from relatives and scant reports found all point to a few handfuls of Palm Beach families looking out for each other and any visitors who came to the waters off Palm Beach or in its estuary.
Situated at the north end of Snapperman Beach, Carl Beeston Gow returned from WWI a quiet hero and was, as Peter Verrills described him, “a man full of knowledge”. His father Robert, stationed at Barrenjoey Lighthouse as a relieving lightkeeper, welcomed home his son mid –winter 1919.
Carl Gow and a fellow veteran took over this property from a man named Ellis who in turn had taken it over from James Booth, Church Point gentleman who was a consummate builder employed by the Barrenjoey Company from the outset. Above this Jetty the first General Stores, known as 'Booth's Store'. A biography from a gentleman who once holidayed here in the summer of 1919/1920 points to Carl Gow having taken over the jetty and store by that season:
DISTRICT COURT. (Before Judge Backhouse.) CONTRACTOR'S CLAIM. Alfred Wrigley Ellis, of Palm Beach, near Barrenjoey, sued Bernard Stiles, of Yarrandi, Church-street, Newtown, medical practitioner, and P. M. Stiles, his wife, for money alleged to be due under a contract. The claim,£68 19s 1d, was for time and money lost owing to the stopping by the defendants of their contract with the plaintiff for the erection of a cottage at Palm Beach. The defendants paid £18 15s into court, and denied further liability. Mr. A. R. J. Watt, instructed by Messrs. John M’Laughlin and Son, appeared for the plaintiff, and Mr. Clive Teece, instructed by Mr. J. T. Ralston, for the defendants. His Honor returned a verdict for the plaintiff for the amount paid into court. DISTRICT COURT. (1918, March 13). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 9. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article15773331
"The Jetty, Palm Beach" places the spectator on a high grassy bank, with trees, below which stretches a sandy shore and a breadth of dimpling water. The warm, purplish haze which hangs over the further coast is very tenderly suggested, and the eye dwells upon it both with pleasure and instruction. THE LISTER EXHIBITION. (1917, May 8). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 5. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article15712131
HAWKESBURY RIVER, PITTWATER, NEWPORT, and PALM BEACH.-S.S. CHARLOTTE FENWICK leaves Macleay River Wharf, oil foot of Bathurst street, every MONDAY, 10 a.m.; and THURSDAY 5a.m. Cargo received daily. _Tel., Citv 1018. Advertising. (1918, November 22). The Sydney Morning Herald(NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 1. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article15812038
The first general store was at Palm Beach, on the Pittwater side near the jetty, as early as 1914, and was known as Booth's store. Later it became Ellis' store, and then after the last war two returned Diggers, Mr. Fred Howlett and his partner, Gowe, took it over. Their general supplies came by ship from Sydney by the Erringhi and the Kallawatta, and meat and bread came by launch from Newport. They made their own ice-cream in those days, and froze it in old fashioned freezers with coarse salt. It was just as popular as the well known brands are today. It was not until 1929 that Howlett's store was established on the beachside of Palm Beach. Before that there was no road through from Pittwater, and the top road was used by residents. Palm Beach setting for smartest sea and sun togs. (1946, January 12). The Australian Women's Weekly (1933 - 1982), p. 22. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article47245736
PALM BEACH.-Furnished Cottages to Let and For Sale.- Gow and Howlett, Store. Phone. 24. Advertising. (1921, April 23). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 4. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article28086899
Prior to the first World War transport to the Peninsular and Palm Beach in particular was, to say the least, difficult. Proceeding from Circular Quay one took a ferry to Manly, then a horse-drawn streetcar to Narrabeen where a ferry crossing was made of the lake. A sulky continued the journey to Church Point and finally one took another row-boat ferry to Palm Beach.
At the time we were there, the Summer of 1919/20, transport had improved to the extent that we were able to travel by launch from Newport to Palm Beach where a small wharf had been built at Gow's boat-shed, immediately south of Observation Point. From there we proceeded by row-boat to the old Customs Jetty.
At that time Palm Beach Telephone Exchange had only 14 subscribers, and the Barrenjoey Lighthouse was still lit by a kerosene lamp consuming 4 gallons of kerosene each night.
I'm not sure how my parents came to choose a Barrenjoey custom house for a holiday but I have a vague recollection that it was through their friends Ma and Pa Shimmels who was superintendant of Prison Farm Homes for Juvenilles at Mittagong. Retrieved from; http://rus.shorter.net/a_life_enjoyed.txt and from: Woodley’s Cottage
Henry Francis Gonsalves was born at Watsons Bay in 1868 to John Gonsalves (1843-1882) and Mary Barry. In 1894 Woollahra was seeking to become a separate shire. Amongst those recorded as signing a petition for this was one Henry Francis Gonsalves - Henry Gonsalves Toogood-st. Advertising. (1894, September 8). Freeman's Journal (Sydney, NSW : 1850 - 1932), p. 10. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article115547731
In 1896 he married Caroline Emily Walter, born at Waterloo, also in 1868. In 1900 the same gentleman applied was an assignee of an official bankrupt;
Re Henry Mealing and Henry Francis Gonsalves. The bankrupt Mealing was examined at some length by the official assignee, after which the matter was adjourned until September 5. BANKRUPTCY COURT. (1900, August 23). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 8. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article14332267
Three years later he had a new business with the same Henry Mealing, registered in NSW State Records as:
H MEALING & COMPANY - Eastern Markets Woolloomooloo; registered 26 Jun 1903; MEALING, Henry; GONSALVES, Henry Francis. Peter Verrills kindly fills in the gaps here:
I was born in Waratah street, Palm Beach. My granny Gonsalves delivered me. Dad was away in the Army and so mum lived with her parents in their home while he was away. When the Gonsalves first arrived they settled on what we call today ‘Portuguese Beach’; they were coming here for around three years before they moved in permanently here. They’d row around every Summer because old Goni was a fisherman and Mrs Gonsalves was a Walter from the Newcastle ferry family from Stockton, how they met I don’t know, but he probably went up and down the coast fishing, and they settled over on Portuguese Beach. They were a Portuguese family, the Gonsalves, and that’s how it has got its name; Portuguese. The authorities eventually got them off out of there and they then bought land in Waratah street also. She set up a dairy there and grew veggies and everything to supply the weekenders with milk and veggies, and all the golf course here; they had that as agistment for their stock. In some of the old photos you’ll see cows wandering around on it. The Gonsalves and Verrills have all inter-married, and then the Goddards.
Caroline E Gonsalves (nee Walter) wife of Henry F Gonsalves, married 1896, holding Peter Verrills.
Gonsalves family home in Waratah Street, Palm Beach. From Verrills family album.
In 1908, at Woollahra, Francis Joseph Gonsalves was born. Francis J (Frank) was the sixth of seven sons and five daughters. Francis Joseph junior married Mary Jane Delaney in 1941. His sons were Frank and Carl. Of Frank seniors sons, Henry (Tim) and Sydney (Sid) Frederick, Harold (Midge) Edward appear with Carl among Palm Beach SLSC's earliest records:
Above and Below: Gow's Store in its early days courtesy Peter Verrills
Tom Gilbert (in middle) atop Carl Gow's/Gonsalves Boatshed, 1949. Annual fundraisers were held in the park near the ferry wharf to raise funds to support the Randwick Hospital with the Carl Gow/Gonsalves Boatshed put into use as the 'Beer House'. This became an annual event: HOSPITAL BENEFIT AT PALM BEACH. The Randwick Auxiliary Hospital will benefit from a deep sea fishing and sporting day at Palm Beach tomorrow. Professional fishermen operating from Palm Beach and private owners are providing the trawlers. HOSPITAL BENEFIT AT PALM BEACH. (1950, March 18). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 5. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article27575067
Carl Gonsalves, son of Frank J (Jnr.) passed away in 2009. A very popular Palm Beach gentleman and founding member of the Palm Beach Yacht Club, owner of the ketch 'Van Dieman', he too was known for making his boatshed available for gatherings after sailing with PBYC. His children Carl and Caressa still live at Palm Beach and Carl now runs the boatshed.
Gow's jetty was link with the outside world for visitors to Palm Beach - this image circa 1920-21. Courtesy Peter Verrills.
Snapperman Beach and Gow-Gonsalve Boatshed and Wharf, circa 1923.
Panorama of Palm Beach and Pittwater, New South Wales, panorama by E B Studios circa 1917 -1946. (Must be pre-1928 as original home of Albert Verrills in this picture burnt down prior to then)Image: nla.pic-vn6195128, courtesy National Library of Australia. This is all same photograph - we have enlarged it in portions to show details
Above: Frank J Jnr. in his early 20's. Below Frank Gonsalves. Courtesy Peter Verrils.
Carl Gow at far right, back row. Image Courtesy Tom Gilbert who is wearing the white hat, pictured with members of Lipscombe, Gilbert and Gonsalves families.
Activity around Gonsalves - 1940's. Picture Courtesy Peter Verrills.
Carl Gonsalves, son of Carl and Caressa Gonsalves, current proprietor. 2013.
Gonsalves Boatshed 2013 - 1151 Barrenjoey Rd, Palm Beach NSW 2108. (02) 9974 4409.
Gow and Gonsalves Boatshed threads collected and collated by A J Guesdon, 2013. Many Thanks to Peter Verrills, Carl Gonsalves (Jnr.), Beryl Driver, Tom Gilbert and Brian Friend.
Observation Point, Palm Beach, Newport Digital Order Number: a106120 circa 1912, Broadhurst Image, courtesy State Library of NSW.