November 25 - December 1, 2012: Issue 86

 MV Elvina (Falcon)

The Elvina, built by William Joseph Goddard at Palm Beach, is considered by many the original Pittwater ferry. Launched as the Falcon in 1928, although some sources state she was on the water by 1911, this vessel was built as a motor launch for an A Sutton of Brooklyn.  The dual dates for her launch may be attributed to W J Goddard’s father, William Reuben Goddard (1847-1916), also being a boatbuilder of smaller vessels;

LATE MR. W. E. GODDARD.
The funeral took place yesterday at Gore Hill Cemetry of the late Mr William Reuben Goddard who died at his residence,8 West-Street, North Sydney, on Saturday last. The late Mr Goddard was an old resident of North Sydney, where he carried on the business of boatbuilder, his workshop and yards being situated at Berry’s Bay. Mr Goddard launched many small craft from his yard in the early days, devoting most of his time to building small boats and skiffs. He was noted for his skiff building.  He was 68 years of age. He left a family of four sons and two daughters
. LATE MR. W. R. GODDARD. (1916, February 15). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 10. Retrieved from 
http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article15646800


Mr W J Goddard purchased land at Palm Beach near the southern end of the golf links in 1917 and commenced building vessels there from at least 1919. The Elvina, 6 tons, 25 feet long (7.6m) by 10 feet with a passenger capacity of 30 may have been a Storeboat on the Hawkesbury, a means for people to receive everything they needed in water access only places and one of numerous vessels that did so then, a small passenger ferry or used simply as a private vessel. There was an Albert Sutton, fisherman, a resident of Brooklyn resident from at least 1905. The amount of fish that ran in this river and at its mouth as well as into Pittwater at this time as the mullet season, among other fish seasons is legendary and fed a young hungry colony. This gentleman may well have been able to afford a new vessel as by 1916 he seems to be a trustee of the recreation ground at Brooklyn among other civic duties.

Albert Sutton, a fisherman, residing at Brooklyn, deposed that on the 3rd instant he went home about a quarter past 5 o'clock, and missed his towel from a rack on the back verandah. He gave information to the police, and between 12 and 1 o clock that night he was .shown a ratchet brace and  canvas water-bag at the police station, which he identified as his property. A BROOKLYN CASE. (1905, April 8). The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate (Parramatta, NSW : 1888 - 1950), p. 10. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article86179107

From their base at Brooklyn boats of various types and sizes leave throughout the day for many destinations, some upstream, some down, a few to the opposite shores, and others with articles of trade on a weekly cruise of the numerous waterways which are flung out like giant antennae. The housewife, denied access to the city perhaps for weeks at a time, looks forward to the arrival of the shopping boats, and takes the opportunity to replenish supplies of groceries, fresh meat, flour, and vegetables, and, if not the possessor of a wireless set, to hear the news from "outside." The trade to these isolated dwellings is fairly extensive, and the boats contain a varied assortment of wares. SHOPPING BOATS. (1936, March 14). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 13. Retrieved November 22, 2012, fromhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article17341476

She was sold back to Mr Goddard in 1942, perhaps to add capital value to his own assets briefly as he then sold his business to the Port Jackson & Manly Steamship Company the same year, including the Falcon, his ferry business (to Western shores of Pittwater) and a general store that had liquor licence.  This company had begun purchasing land at Newport during 1933 in anticipation of a ferry boom or simply realizing how many thousands travelled to and stayed in Pittwater.  The Falcon was then one of four PJMSC ferries operated in Pittwater and her surrounds by 1946, the other two being the Currawong and Swanhilda.

ATTENTION Is invited to Notice in Government Gazette of 7th December 1934, calling for objections to application by the Port Jackson and Manly Steamship Co., Ltd., to reclaim and purchase about 32 perches of Crown land below the high-water mark of Pittwater, fronting Lots 3,4, and 5. of Section E. of the private township of Newport. Objections, accompanied by a deposit of £10. and lodged with the Metropolitan District Surveyor on or before the 4th January, 1935, will receive consideration. G. F. ALLMAN, Under secretary for Lands. Advertising. (1934, December 7). The Sydney Morning Herald(NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 9. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article17142562

FERRY FOR BROKEN BAY; The Port, Jackson and. Manly Steam-ship Company announced yesterday that the Rover is expected to sail tomorrow from Circular Quay to begin a ferry-boat service at Broken Bay. The vessel will join the three other ferries operating in the Palm Beach, Hawkesbury River, and Pittwater-area. ; During the war the, Rover was, used as a patrol boat by the R.A.N. FERRY FOR BROKEN BAY. (1946, May 3). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 10. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article17992931 

During World War II, like all vessels in Pittwater, she was put to war work moving troops to the gun emplacements on West Head as well as people around Pittwater. When peace resumed she was returned to the PJMSC and continued her Pittwater runs. By 1950 this company was experiencing financial difficulties and the Falcon, along with the Swanhilda and Currawong, were sold to sold to E.H. Caldwell of Church Point in December 1951 who renamed her ‘Elvina’ after beautiful Elvina Bay. This man appeared to have financial difficulties too as the company took back their fleet in 1952.

Some sources state the Church Point Ferry service began in 1924 others favour 1940. As the first ever school ferry in NSW commenced from this wharf in 1900 in the form of the launch Patonga, there was definitely a ferry service at Church Point at then. One of the first 1924 drivers was a demobbed Norwegian seaman, Einar Holst Fredriksen, AKA Fred. Sylvia and Keith Egan of Scotland Island were operating the Church Point Ferry Service by 1960 and a 1961 Women's Weekly article on board the Cowan shows some of the duties this entailed. By 1966 an ML Russell is listed as the owner of the Church Point Ferry Service in Warringah Council records. This man had offered to act as agent and supervisor of the wharf and been recommended to fulfil this capacity by the Shire’s Clerk. By 1969 popular local lad, Laurie Duff, at the tender age of 18 bought the Church Point Ferry Service. The service was running the Curlew, the Wagstaff, and the Elvina in 1967 when Mr Duff began.

The Elvina, Scotland Island Ferry, 1971

Prior to 1984 she was slipped and her wheelhouse extended, the passenger cabin-saloon were also modified. In 1985 a Perkins 40 bph engine was installed.

The Elvina at Church Point, 1984

This wonderful vessel, with at least 75 years recognizable service in Pittwater, must be the longest continual passenger ferry run in NSW. She is still part of the Church Point Ferry Service, now owned by Penny Gleen and Simon Wastell.

Elvina charters

The Elvina became available from July 2012 for a more personal charter. Very safe for small kids, and perfect for a “pirate” birthday party. She has undergone extensive rebuild and is the original Pittwater Ferry.

The cost for the Elvina is $175 per hour for a minimum of 2 hours. The Elvina is licensed to carry 27 passengers. Contact Church Point Ferry Service for details.

Legs of a man and two women dangling from the roof of a ferry. Hood, Sam, 1872-1953, from Album Hood Collection part II : [Postcards: Australian and overseas]
Date of Work ca.1905-ca.1925. Image No. a342015. Courtesy State Library of NSW.

All photographs courtesy of  ‘Pittwater Offshore Newsletter Images’ and Penny Gleen, Church Point Ferry Service. All Rights Reserved.

 Elvina Bay Summer Welcoming

Alison McDougall was an actress, musician and writer. Although engaged in 1930 while in Canberra to an actor who formed part of the group she too was a member of, the Canberra Society of Arts and Literature, Alison McDougall does not appear to have married, the ‘roles’ for women during these decades being fairly black and white. An attendee of the Feminist Club in Sydney in 1925, her first story was published when she was nine years old. Her first book ‘Grit’ was published in serial form in The Bulletin. Further books were praised for ‘breaking new ground’ by some critics while others, usually male, claimed they were ‘sentimental’ and that she lacked ‘maturity or dispassionate insight’.

Nevertheless many of her works were best sellers in their time. During 1946 she worked as a script writer for the ABC on ‘The Q Story’ and travelled Australia seeking pioneers and their stories before they and their insights and experiences departed our landscapes.

In the summer of 1937-38 she stayed at Elvina Bay, Pittwater and wrote of her Summer experience here. As we farewell our first month of celebrating Pittwater Ferries in our History page with the Elvina/Falcon we also welcome Summer with a tribute from one of the bays that formed part of her run from one of those who was a Summer resident;

SUMMER SCENE On Pittwater.

The sombre hills brood over the water, unchanged since the beginning of things. Tall trees stand to watch their reflection tremble in the deep water, all the ground beneath them scattered with particles of lavender and greybark. Their newly discovered trunks are white as milk, or fawn, or rich rust-red, and smooth as flesh-smooth and cool.

In the little, undiscovered bays the shadowed water Ups gently against rocks, against a rim of pale sand. Beyond are gullies, rocky, cool, and damp, where water has made a course for itself down the hill-side. The trees in these gullies are big and gnarled, twined fantastically with long rope thick vines that strive to join them to each other, and great tree-ferns and palms strain upward to the light.

On the rocky escarpments that crown the hills grow Christmas bells, flannel flowers, Christmas bush. The bells flaunt their bright colours on a ledge covered with thick green moss, just below the sheer rock face. Some-where a hidden waterfall chuckles, and moisture drips continually down the rocks and over the moss and flowers. Like an accompaniment to the still heat that never ceasing buzz of the cicadas haunts the valleys and the hillsides.
The water is all a dazzle of bright sun and white sails and rowing-boats with the drops falling diamond bright from oar blades. Laughter, voices calling, flash of colours, tanned shoulders moving rhythmically, a little boat scudding before a puff of wind like a drunken butterfly.

Smoke is going up from picnicker's fires; the little waterside cottages are gay with coloured towels and bathing things.
Evening comes almost reluctantly, touching water and hills to a study in pastels. The water Is so still that it is possible to feather oars with a whisper of flat blades along the surface. On the narrow grey wooden wharves parties are fishing. The chorus of the cicadas is muted, but scents hang in the still air scents of gum and seaweed.

Night;-dark, cool, quietly moving. In its movement the quality of a symphony; branches stirring, clouds moving quietly in a wan sky, soft movement of the water against the shore, the air blowing cool on hot faces-bringing regret for the day gone, promise for the morrow. 
ALISON MCDOUGALL.
SUMMER SCENE. (1938, January 8). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 13. Retrieved from
http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article17443345

Mrs. Younghusband's visit to Australia is her first out of New Zealand, but her own country she knows well, and she has sketched wherever she has been. She showed me three pencil and chalk sketches for pictures she  made during last weekend at Elvina Bay,  where she was staying with Miss Alison McDougall, the novelist.  COLONY OF NEW ZEALAND WOMEN PAINTERS IN SYDNEY. (1937, December 2). The Sydney Morning Herald(NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 26. Retrieved fromhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article17436499

Photo of Alison McDougall from: Books. (1938, August 20). The Australian Women's Weekly(1933 - 1982), p. 34. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article52266186