February 18 - 24, 2018: Issue 348
Pittwater Fishermen: Great Mackerel and Little Mackerel (Wilson's Beach -Currawong)
During their occupation of the property the Stiles also constructed a house and garden later known as Wilderness or Southend. Southend was constructed prior to 1937. The building was constructed in a Federation style, however it was destroyed by fire sometime between 1946 and 1949. The site contained gardens which were reportedly quite extensive and included vegetables and fruit trees to the northwest of the house. Bernard Stiles junior recalls that this building [Southend] replaced an earlier structure which also had gardens containing jonquils and geraniums. Southend was also used as a general store by the Stiles family and for a brief period as a guest house.
Other features noted as being present or built during the time of the Stiles family include post and rail fencing, a jetty at the northern end of the beach and extending northwest following the tidal flat and south creek; tennis courts, flower gardens, a windmill, a dairy/stables and a well. The structure located just northwest of the farmhouse may have been the site of the kitchen for the homestead, later known as Canning Cottage, were the telephone was installed in the 1930s.
Mrs. Stiles subdivided Portion 10 into a further 3 allotments during the Stiles family ownership of the property. These included the sale of lot 4/DP 978424 to Isaac Barry Evans and Harriet May (32 ¾ perches) in August 1918; Lot 1/DP 166328(1acre, 1 rod and 36 perches) to Hector Henry Forsayth in June 192038 and Lot 1/DP 337208 (29 ½ perches) to Sophie Rock in 193739.
Forsayth and his wife constructed a house known as Northend within their allotment which fronted the beach in the 1920s. They also constructed a boatshed, a flagpole and a concrete retaining wall in an effort to obstruct the tide which was undermining the foundations of Northend (Figure 7). The concrete wall constructed to assist the retention of the Northend house did not stop the erosion of Northend’s foundations and it was demolished in the 1970s. A pine tree is shown in an old photograph of the house.
Great Mackeral Beach
In 1934 the site was used as a camp for a Chauvel film with the Chauvels staying on site - the image below looks similar to Little Mackerel's open flats:
"HERITAGE." Plans for Crowd Scenes. GOVERNOR PHILLIP'S LANDING.
More than a hundred men. most, of them unemployed, have been given work for to-day as "extras" in the Australian picture, "Heritage."' which Mr. Charles Chauvel is producing for Expeditionary Films. Ltd. Seventy of the men were selected in Sydney, and a large number in the district about Pittwater. To-day, all these will be transported to Great Mackerel Beach, where they are to take part in scenes depicting the landing of Governor Phillip.
The settings for Governor Phillip's camp have been faithfully reproduced from sketches prepared by Mr. Ray Lindsay from original sources in the Mitchell Library and elsewhere. Much difficulty has been experienced, however, in damming the small stream which flows from the hills to the beach, and which is Intended to represent the historic Tank Stream of Circular Quay. Several hundred bags, to be filled with sand for that purpose, were sent from Sydney yesterday. Hitherto, the tides have moved all the sandbags available at Pittwater.
It is hoped to make a start with the crowd scenes at Pittwater this morning. The film should be sufficiently advanced by the end of the week to be taken to Melbourne by Mr.Chauvel for "cutting." RE-ENACTING SCENES FROM THE FIRST SETTLEMENT. (1934, October 25). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 16. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article28021154
THAT enterprising couple, the Charles Chauvels, have found the quaintest little beach. In among the rocks and tea-tree, high above Mackerel Beach, near Pittwater, from which they will be able to keep an eye on the extras to be utilised in finishing their film, "Heritage," and, incidentally, the social-lights across the bay at Palm Beach. And what do you think they found there? Pasted on the front verandah was a large photograph of a group of those luscious Mack Sennett bathing girls, just too, too Mae Westy for words. It quite brought Charles' 'Hollywood days back to him when ho used to scamper round as one of Douglas Fairbanks' publicity men. Incidentally, this week Pittwater will resound to the commands of Governor Phillip's military, and the curses of his convict men. Nevertheless, Mrs. Chauvel thinks her little pill-box on the hill is the most restful spot since she left the Blue Lagoon in Tahiti. Catty Communications (1934, October 27). Smith's Weekly (Sydney, NSW : 1919 - 1950), p. 21. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article235490112
Photograph: RE-ENACTING SCENES FROM THE FIRST SETTLEMENT. (1934, October 25). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 16. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article28021154
Visit: Filmed in Pittwater
Pittwater Basin, New South Wales - by Charles Bayliss circa 1880, Image No.: PIC/11549/1-60 LOC PIC Album 85, courtesy National Library of Australia.
OTHER RESORTS NEAR THE CITY.
THE BASIN. PITTWATER.
Net fishermen long ago killed the Basin as a whiting and bream haunt of repute, but outside it the fish are still occasionally caught. This is one of the first places near Sydney whence the whiting used to be reported, and it is still possible before the netters get to. work, and in the deep water beyond their limit, to snare a few of the tasty fish. At the entrance to the Basin in times gene by splendid hauls used to be. caught. . . THE BASIN, PITTWATER. (1906, August 29). Referee (Sydney, NSW : 1886 - 1939), , p. 11. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article120326946
Messrs. Fraser, McKeown, Long and Goodwin, during a ten days' camp near the Basin (Pittwater) struck a rich variety of fish, including red bread of takeable size, black bream, flathead and a 71b black rock cod. During one heavy thunderstorm a flock of terns was killed, probably by hail, and their bodies were washed up on the beach. ROD AND LINE (1922, December 17). Sunday Times (Sydney, NSW : 1895 - 1930), p. 13. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article128220598
MAN INTERFERES WITH NATURE TRUST INVITES SUGGESTIONS
Nature unadorned and unaided by her highest animal development sometimes blunders, and humanity sometimes blunders in trying to help her. In most of her domains Nature discords symmetry and arranges her beauties in orderly confusion, but when man tries to help her to readjust her boundaries, he unfortunately generally thinks and plans in straight lines — harsh utilitarian contours— that rob her of her pristine loveliness. At the basin in the Pittwater Arm of Broken Bay Nature has given humanity a rich inheritance, and, because one of her elements has been breaking the bounds of others, mankind, as represented by the Kuring-gai Park Trust, has come to her assistance, with success in some respects, and with artistic failure in others. The Basin has been misbehaving itself. Ordinarily it is a delectable lake-like expanse of deep marine water, nestled in a huge amphitheatre clothed with eucalypts and other rich forest growths, -situated - near the mouth of the Pittwater Arm of Broken Bay, on the Kuring-gai Chase. During many years, however, it has been quietly eating into part of the peninsula that nearly encloses it, and the trust has felt called upon to protest. In doing this the Trust has done well, but its aid has been chiefly solid and mathematical, rather than artistic. When it builds a retaining wall it forgets that exactly the same rigidity may be achieved by curves and irregularities of upper structure as by lines of block masonry. The artistic conception is dwarfed by the useful and '; possibly the expedient. Much splendid work has been done, and is still being done, under the direction of the trust in and outside the. Basin. The channel entrance, which was threatened with shoaling by the sand from a little outer bay, is now protected, and. probably something more will be done to pro-vent tile Basin from cutting further into the peninsula from inside. Across the outer Inlet a retaining wall of sandstone blocks has been constructed, but provision has not been made for the scour from the hills to get rapidly away, and the consequence is that the reclaimed land is often a knee-deep bog. A channel to let the water away is needed, and the lines of the wall itself should be in keeping with nature's beautiful outlines round the Basin. Only in basalt country does one see squares and oblongs, and' the country round this attractive spot is not basalt, but irregular sandstone, with intrusions of other rooks. To relieve the 'uncouth symmetry -of the retaining wall, natural rock buttresses might have been substituted for the top ungraceful oblongs.
ALRIGHT IN TIME.
Mr. Harrison, secretary of the trust, maintains that the wall has improved one of tho . camping 'grounds just outside the channel entrance, and that in time the land at present boggy just inside the wall will drain and give more well-grassed camping space. He says that most of the yachtsmen and motor-boat owners who frequently visit the Basin are pleased with a newly-erected wharf and shelter-shed near the littlo southern outer beach, even if it has spoiled a fisherman's hauling ground. The main outer beach is not being touched.
The red-roofed shelter is certainly a pleasant color relief to the rest of the structures, and on the whole the artistic sense of visitors is not outraged by that improvement. - Inside the' basin a wharf has -been completed. It, too, is needed, but it is at present ..devoid of grace. It is not perhaps too late for the suggestion of some regular visitors to be acted, upon, that it be given a rustic finish. Utility may be combined with grace by the utilisation of natural timber shapes, instead of sawn rectangular timbers. Even sawn triangles look better than quadrilaterals in certain places.
Another Improvement meditated is an enclosure for swimmers in. the basin near the new wharf. This is necessary; but again, the wall proposed to be erected is to be topped by quadrilaterals, and be an evidence of the acquaintance of mankind with Euclid's squares, instead of Nature’s harmonious irregularities. It is not too late for the trust to instruct its workmen to construct the wall so that its top, at least, may be rocks from the hillside, and not a footworn horizontal pathway. It is not necessary for anyone to walk along it, but if of squared masonry It will invite wandering feet. .
At the seaward end of the outer beach, where parties find safe swimming water, the trustees are proposing to place another wharf of stone, and to run from it a netting to prevent sharks entering a bathing enclosure. Opinions amongst yachters and motor-boaters vary respecting this. Some condemn the proposals entirely; preferring the natural surroundings. Others say the idea is good, as they have always felt they would like to swim in a bit deeper water, but they feared the huge sea-sharks that swim around Barranjoey and West Head and chase whiting and red-bream up into the Basin. The trustees are not obstinately wedded to any proposal. Inquiry shows that they welcome ideas, especially artistic ones allied with practicability, but they do not have them given to them often. They find critics wait till something is done, and then fall upon it with scorn. Any yachtsman, therefore, who has a thorough appreciation of the necessities of the Basin and puts his ideas into writing, will receive attention. For instance, another improvement meditated is the planting of trees about tho 20 acres surrounding Peggy's house. The trees on the camping area are not as beautiful as they might be. One proposal before the trustees was to plant an avenue of pines along tho outer edge of the camping ground — the straight line business again— and another to plant here and there a few silverbark tea trees, Port Jackson fig trees, and flame trees. The latter proposal seems to find the greater favor amongst those who visit the Basin oftenest.
WATER FOR CAMPERS.
One thing needed greatly has apparently not yet been authorised by the trustees, and that is a cement water well, . as Irregular in shape as may be possible, on' the line of the little creek at the northern end of the peninsula. Once the old users of the place had a cask there to hold the water, but it has fallen to pieces, and in dry weather campers have to pull a long way across the Basin to a spring up the hill-side. No doubt the trustees will see to this. They are anxious to please and anxious to adorn, not to disfigure nature. By the way, nobody wants to shift Peggy, who has a life tenancy of part of the peninsula at 1s a year rental, and who is one of the picturesque identities of the place. She is Mrs. Mary Ann Morris, and she has lived , there for 47 years. THE BASIN (1915, May 30). The Sun (Sydney, NSW : 1910 - 1954), p. 23. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article229334724
THE BASIN, BARRANJOEY. 1903 The Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser
This shows how wide the entrance to The Basin was and why steamers may have been able to access the 'Inner Basin' or 'Blind Cove' as shown in the 1883 sketch above.
A FAVOURITE HOLIDAY RESORT
THE BASIN, BROKEN BAY
A FISHERMAN'S HOME AT THE BASIN, WHERE MRS. MORRIS HAS RESIDED FOR 37 YEARS.
MRS. MORRIS AND HER PETS.
ENTRANCE TO THE HAWKESBURY RIVER. -THE BARRANJOEY LIGHTHOUSE.
HEAD OF THE BASIN. THE BASIN, BROKEN BAY, NEW SOUTH WALES.
BAY VIEW, PITTWATER. (possibly included here as the photographer was transported to The Basin from the Bayview Wharf)
AN IDEAL CAMPING GROUND, HAWKESBURY RIVER.
A FAVOURITE HOLIDAY RESORT. (1903, December 30). The Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1871 - 1912), , p. 1706. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article164902107
Above: "AN IDEAL CAMPING GROUND, HAWKESBURY RIVER. "1903 The Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser article
Below: "GRILLED FISH FOR BREAKFAST." 1903 The Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser article
Barrenjoey, the Southern Sentinel Headland of Broken Bay.
The photograph was taken from The Basin, an inlet of Pittwater, where for years the various yachting clubs of Sydney used to rendezvous at Easter. Around The Basin; a path has been cut, leading- zig-zag fashion through a wealth of tropical foliage to the Flagstaff -Lookout at Lovett's Bay, whence a beautiful panoramic view is obtained to .the southwards. . Around the foreshores there are a .number of caves', .while the Kuring-gai Chase trustees have built fireplaces and provided shelter-sheds with tables and watertanks, making the region a delightful one for the holiday-maker..There are several ways of reaching The Basin and the surrounding' country, but the easiest from Sydney is by way of Manly and Newport. A good service of motor boats, several .of them run by returned soldiers, make regular trips.CALL OF THE AIR AND THE SEA. (1920, April 28). Sydney Mail (NSW : 1912 - 1938), , p. 9. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article159028149
YACHTSMEN'S FRIEND. THE LATE MRS. MORRIS.
Mrs. Mary Ann Morris, better known to Sydney yachtsmen as "Sally" or "Peggy," died on Monday last at her home at the Basin, Broken Bay, where she had resided for the past 63 years. Her death will be regretted by the yachting fraternity of Sydney, as her hut was a port of call for yachtsmen, when visiting Broken Bay, and they obtained from her supplies of fresh milk and eggs.
Mrs. Morris was the wife of the late Dicey Morris, and, prior to 1867, resided with her husband at Balmoral Beach. About that time her husband sold wood to Admiral Hornby's Flying Squadron during its visit to Sydney, and, with the money thus made, he built the hut at the Basin, Broken Bay, in which Mrs. Morris lived. The couple went to live in this hut at the Basin In 1868, and the husband engaged in fishing there. He did not live long after settling at Broken Bay, and his boat was acquired by a fisherman named Sam Strongman, who also lived at the Basin.
Mrs. Morris kept a few cows and fowls, and was always ready to supply visiting yachts-men with milk and eggs. She also often baked a very welcome damper for them. She adopted three lads at different times, one of whom was with her up to the time of her death. She possessed a good collection of yachting pictures, and recognised every yacht as it dropped anchor In the Basin. Her memory for faces was also very good, and she never forgot the owner of a yacht which had visited the Basin.
She was known to many as "Peggy," while to others she was better known as "Sally." Amongst the oldest members of the yachting fraternity who were well acquainted with Mrs. Morris were the late Mr. H. C. Dangar, the late Mr. James Milson, the late Mr. Grafton Ross, the late Mr. Jack Want, and the late Sir James Fairfax and their various successors, including Mr. F. J. Jackson, who owned the property at the back of the reservation which was subsequently resumed by the Kuringgai Chase Trust.YACHTSMEN'S FRIEND. (1921, June 9 - Thursday).The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), , p. 9. Retrieved fromhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article15960831
The memorial. In the form of a sundial, erected by Sydney yachtsmen- at "The Basin," Pittwater, to the late Mrs. Morris, well known to all visitors to Broken Bay as "Peggy" will be unveiled at noon tomorrow (Easter Sunday) by Mr. Alfred G. Milson. A large fleet of yachts and cruising craft journeyed to tho Bay for tho Easter holidays, and a good muster of yachtsman is expected at the function. Mr. Paul Ross, commodore R.P.A. Y.C.. is hon, treasurer to the fund, and will be pleased to receive further contributions, as the amount already subscribed Is far from sufficient to cover expenses. "PEGGY' MEMORIAL (1922, April 16). The Sun (Sydney, NSW : 1910 - 1954), , p. 7. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article223948591
PEGGY OF THE BASIN.
A sundial mounted on a trachyte pedestal was unveiled as a memorial to the late Mrs. Morris at The Basin, Pittwater, Broken Bay, on Easter Sunday by Mr. Arthur Milson, of the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron, in the presence of a number of yachtsmen, by whom the funds for its erection were subscribed. Mrs. Morris, who was known to and respected by sailing men as Peggy, lived at The Basin for many years, and was a general favorite. She made it her business and pleasure in life to see to. the comfort of the campers at that favored spot, and her death last year was a great loss to frequenters of the place. PEGGY OF THE BASIN. (1922, April 26).Referee (Sydney, NSW : 1886 - 1939), , p. 5. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article127924554
IN HONOUR OF 'SALLY.'
At the Basin, Broken Bay, recently, a sun-dial was unveiled by Mr. A. G. Milson in the presence of a large number of boating men in honour of the late Mrs. Morris ('Sally'), who for: very many years was a friend of the yachtsmen who visited that beautiful spot-. No title (1922, May 10). Sydney Mail (NSW : 1912 - 1938), , p. 32. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article169770154
Unveiling Memorial to Mrs. Morris (Sally) - The Basin, Broken Bay - Easter 1922.
SCENES AT THE MOUTH OF THE HAWKESBURY RIVER (N.S.W.).
(1929, March 30). The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 - 1946), p. 66 (METROPOLITAN EDITION). Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article140820173
INNER BASIN, PITTWATER.
The objection raised by yachtsmen to the Kuring-gai Chase Trust's proposal to close the Inner Basin, Pittwater, against yachts and launches, and to reserve it for the exclusive Use of bathers, evoked the reply from the trustees that they had been driven reluctantly to consider such a proposal by the action of yachtsmen themselves. The basin is almost entirely enclosed, and there is practically no scour by the tides. Sanitary conveniences have been provided on shore by the trustees, but, it is stated, the obvious requirements of the situation have been ignored by most owners of craft using the basin. The result has been to create within the pool so serious a nuisance that the only alternative appears to be the closing of the basin altogether. Before reaching a final decision, the trustees intend to confer with the committee of the Pittwater Yacht Club. INNER BASIN, PITTWATER. (1934, November 12). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 4. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article17138900
"The Basin Swimming pool Pittwater" - "Looking across water towards bushland rising in background, fence visible across surface of water." Title continues: "The fence is to keep the sharks out." [ca. 1926-ca. 1928].by Gladys E. Moss, 1900-1950, photographer. "The Basin; Pittwater" - Title inscribed on album page beneath image.- Courtesy State Library of Victori, Image No. :701711210
"Looking along water towards two men walking across wooden bridge". Inscribed on album page next to image: "The netting under the footbridge keeps the sharks from the bathing-pool on this side. The rock in the foreground is jagged with oysters." [ca. 1926-ca. 1928].by Gladys E. Moss, 1900-1950, photographer. "The Basin; Pittwater" - Title inscribed on album page beneath image. Courtesy State Library of Victoria - also described as 'an inlet of Cowan creek' for Image No.: 701711211
THE BASIN, PITTWATER.
Mr. A. D. Walker, commodore of the Royal Motor Yacht Club, Broken Bay branch, said yesterday that opposition was being expressed to the proposed closing, by the Kuring-gai Chase Trust, of the Basin, Pittwater. More than 200 yachtsmen and their crews attended a meeting of protest, and a petition had been sent .to the Minister for Lands. Many public bodies, and aquatic clubs had expressed opposition. He had received copies of many letters sent to the Minister, objecting to the trust's proposed action.
Mr. Walker said that during the Christmas holidays his club appointed a committee to investigate statements made by Mr. Orchard, chairman of the trust, about yachtsmen polluting the Basin. It found that the allegations were Incorrect, and that large parties were swimming in the baths without complaints of any kind. The committee discovered that the trust granted permits for a number of .well-conducted camps on the flat, for which It charged 5/ a tent a week. THE BASIN, PITTWATER. (1935, January 8). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 10. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article17137390
TO CONFER - Pittwater Closure
The honorary secretary of the Parks and Playgrounds Movement (Mr. C. E. W. Bean), said to-day that the Minister for Lands had informed him that he was calling a conference of the trustees of Kuring-gai chase, and three representatives of yacht clubs and other objectors to the proposed closing of the Inner basin at Pittwater. Pollution of the water is the reason for proposing to close the basin. Yachting bodies, supported by the movement, have asked the trustees to keep the basin open In the Interests of the boating public. TO CONFER (1935, February 8). The Sun (Sydney, NSW : 1910 - 1954), p. 11 (FINAL EXTRA). Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article230271797
The Thomas Wilson Family
References and Extras
Pittwater: Lovely Arm of the Hawkesbury
By NOEL GRIFFITHS
I HAVE before me a map of Pittwater, showing every bay and point, every beach and wharf and creek. This much-used map is not crowded with detail, but is just sufficiently complete to satisfy all the requirements of an imaginative mind. There is, in fact, all the material for the background of a novel— aboriginal lore, tales of pioneers, of piracy and smuggling, hidden treasure, shipyards and sailing races.
The pier at Pittwater, local 'headquarters' of the yachting and sailing fraternity.
SEE, here at the mouth of Broken Bay, is Lion Island, officially known as 'Mount Elliott,' but its more popular name will live after the other is forgotten because of the island's amazing resemblance to a lion couchant. And here is Barrenjoey. Where the well constructed lighthouse now stands with its fixed white light, visible for fifteen miles, there was once only afire basket and a tall white pillar.' At that time smugglers crept round into Pittwater, for it was easy to discharge contraband there and send it to Sydney without paying duty. So serious did this illegal traffic become that, after the detection of a vessel aptly named the Fair Barbarian engaged in, this illicit trade, a Customs officer was stationed on the .inner beach near the headland to report suspicious happenings. To bluff intending smugglers, this ingenious officer constructed a tall wooden soldier equipped with a drawn sword, to suggest, armed vigilance, but, alas, an irate skipper mistook the intention and hurriedly put ashore to 'rescue' the redcoat who was signalling in distress.
IT is hard to believe that in this serenely beautiful spot piracy preceded smuggling, yet we are told by Collins in his 'Account of the English Colony at –Port Jackson' that in September, 1797 —'A boat, the largest and best in the Colony, belonging to the government, was, on her passage to the Hawkesbury, whither she was carrying a few stores, taken possession of by a part of the boat's crew, being at the same time boarded by a small boat from the shore, the people in which seized her and put off to sea, first landing the coxswain and three others, who were unwilling to accompany them, in Pitt Water in Broken Bay. These men proceeded overland to Port Jackson, where they gave the first information of this daring and 'piratical transaction.' But there are earlier historical references to Pittwater even than that. In fact, in Governor Phillip’s first despatch from the settlement at Port Jackson to Lord Sydney he recounts how on 2nd March, 1788, he set off to explore Broken Bay, about twenty miles north, in an urgent search for land suitable for cultivation, and came across: '. . . . the finest piece of water I ever saw and ' which I honoured with the name of Pitt Water.* Wm. Pitt the younger was at that time Prime Minister of England. It would contain the navy of Great ' Britain'.
RIGHT: A Paradise for the boating man and the fisherman, yet near enough to the city to be easily accessible, Pittwater is a much frequented resort in holiday-time.
Phillip described in this despatch his encounters with the natives, one of whom proved friendly and helpful, .. but when Phillip chided him with the theft of a spade 'this destroyed our friendship in a moment and seizing a spear he came close up to me, poised it and appeared determined to strike.' But Phillip fixed him firmly with his gaze, for he chose 'rather to risk the spear than fire on him,' so that at last the native capitulated and, dropping his spear, left.
When the natives discovered that Phillip was minus a top tooth there was a great clamour, and the loss gave him some merit in their eyes, because the forcible removal of one of their own front teeth was an indication that they had attained manhood and the status of warrior.
Pittwater was once a busy farming district, but few traces remain of the old homesteads and orchards.
LONG after the district was settled the aborigines proved troublesome, and present-day residents whose grandparents pioneered it describe how the 'Barrenjuee' tribe roamed the bush by day, calling at lonely bark and split-log shanties when the husband was away, demanding flour and tobacco of some lonely girl-mother who kept a musket near the door for her protection. At night these black marauders 'bandicooted' the crops of potatoes and stole the settlers 'maize. Slowly vanishing memorials to this large and troublesome tribe are their rock carvings on the headlands of Kuring-gai Chase and their middens, great heaps of oyster, whelk and cockle shells.
As the settlements on the Hawkesbury flourished, so Pittwater grew in importance. It was a port of call for vessels bound for Sydney. Mails came from the north, via Gosford and Brisbane Water, to the wharf at Newport. Farms on the foreshores produced grain, vegetables, and butter. Shipbuilding began to rival farming in importance. There were shipyards at Stoke 's Point, Scotland Island and McCarr's Creek. On Scotland Island, so it is recorded, is buried a three-legged pot full of 'holey' dollars, hidden by two men who came down the river in a stolen boat, laden with booty. These men, it is said, were arrested at Pittwater and sent back to confinement, never to return to retrieve their loot.*
When the sun is setting behind Pittwater Nature is seen in one of her most peaceful moods.
PITTWATER has lost most of its economic importance since those stern days when sloops were tediously built on the different points and great logs of timber were hauled from the nearby woods, when there was a salt works on 'Salt Pan' Creek and Ah Chuey ran a flourishing fish-drying business near Careel Bay. But it has gained a new importance. Boats are still built on its foreshores — luxurious pleasure craft in sheds crammed with a wonderful assortment of masts, chains, canvas, spars, paint, and cordage. And in those peaceful, secluded retreats boats are being scraped, cradles made, masts repaired, and sweet-running engines overhauled. Here are sunburnt men who carry on the traditions of a century and more who, if not lineal descendants, are worthy successors of the stout-hearted pioneers; men like Gus, the Swede, who lives on his launch and occasionally signs on for a cruise to the Barrier Reef — a man of Viking strain, holder of a mate's certificate, too old now for an active life, but who can't escape the lure of lapping water beside a boat or the tang of fresh salt breezes in his nostrils.
Then there's Billie ? , who has fished the length of Pittwater for forty years or more, who knows every bend and nook of it and can read its every mood. When a southerly blows and ruffles its surface he is dull and listless, but when a sharp 'nor'-easter' sweeps across the hills he is all activity — fish will be plentiful and in no time he'll be chugging past Great Mackerel Beach with its two uncharted graves, past the Basin, past Soldiers' Point. Soon the bucket in his launch will be filled with bream and leather-jacket, flounder, mackerel and whiting. He'll 'threadle' his hooks as he goes along, with juicy earthworms from near the mangrove swamps, for the fishing itch is in his makeup and will be till he dies.
RIGHT : A view with a glimpse of Lion Island (officially known as Mount Elliott). This is one of the most beautiful vistas on the coast.
THE great occasion of the year at Pittwater is the annual regatta, when the week-end cottages nestling cosily at the water's brink all spring to life. The hundreds of neat white craft, riding at their moorings, assume a new activity. Boats are pushed out and sails unfurled, hydroplane engines 'rev.' and roar, and soon the blue stretch is graced with gleaming sails which sweep majestically past while luxurious cruisers plough importantly towards the club house. On them will be seen happy, charming girls and sun-bronzed men and older men with grizzled hair and keen blue eyes, and robust, clean-limbed youngsters growing up in the best traditions of yachting and cruising and a glorious outdoor life. Aye, it is a kind retreat, this beautifully clothed arm of the Hawkesbury. It is good to tramp its shores, to penetrate the almost virgin bush where wattle, waratahs, Christmas bells and flannel flowers luxuriate ;to lie on some green, shady slope and watch the sun scintillating on its broad expanse the while large white clouds float majestically high above tall and stately trees. It is the peaceful playground of a busy city; meet place to retire to adjust one's perspective when work grows wearisome and details assume quite wrong proportions.
A sunset behind Church Point, the vicious tug and flurry of a fish on the end of a well-baited line, the strong caress of wind against a sail, the tense moment after the skipper's curt 'prepare to go about,' bump and scrape of fender against wharf — and life resumes its zest again.*
AS I have said, it is an ideal background for a book... if you can resist the lure of it and settle down to work.
The serene appearance of Pittwater to-day conveys no suggestion of its turbulent past, though visitors blessed with imagination do not find it difficult to conjure up visions of long - dead smugglers, pirates, and revenue, officers. Some bad men plied these waters in the 'good old days,' and the local bushland was peopled by warlike blacks, who harried the settlers and stole everything they could lay hands on.
*See Vol. VI. (1920) Inl. and Proceedings of the Royal Australian Historical Society.
Pittwater:. (1938, December 28). Sydney Mail (NSW : 1912 - 1938), p. 12. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article166525296