October 27 - November 2, 2013: Issue 134


By George Repin

In the late 1940’s the Pittwater Peninsula was a popular destination for a short drive from Sydney.  The northern beach suburbs from Warriewood north were undeveloped, with holiday homes and “weekenders” but relatively few permanent residents. The great postwar transition from holiday resorts to residential suburbs was yet to come.  

On a drive north towards Palm Beach visitors often diverted to Bungan Head with its breathtaking views of the headlands up and down the coast to see a small castle, built from stone quarried on the site.  “Bungan Castle” as it was known at the time had been built by Adolph Albers, an art dealer, who bought the land in 1919.  It is said to have seen riotous parties through the 1920’s when Albers’ artist friends came for the weekend. 

The Newport Hotel, the only hotel north of Narrabeen, was a popular place to stop.  Behind the hotel a grassy slope stretched down to the shore of Pittwater.  Arriving with a few pounds of prawns and a loaf of bread – or a more elaborate picnic basket – patrons, while enjoying the view over the water, relaxed on the grass or sat on the few available benches, drinking their beer carried down from the bar. 

View from the Beer Garden to Rowland Reserve, Bayview Park and the sand spit on which dogs frolic

The original weatherboard structure which became the Newport Hotel was built in 1880. It and the Newport pier built the previous year were the nucleus around which the village of Newport grew.  It was not long before steamers offering low excursion fares started to bring Sunday trippers from Sydney.  With passengers crowding the decks the steamers pulled up at the pier to disgorge trippers laden with picnic baskets. They happily explored the area around the village in the two hours before the steamers’ sirens called them back for the return trip to Sydney.

Patrons enjoying the sun in the Beer Garden

The Newport Hotel changed hands a number of times.  At one time it was under the management of Stuart Greig who advertised it as “The only Licensed Hotel in Newport” offering Superior Accomodation for Boarders for 6 shillings per day or from 30 shillings per week (children under 12 Half Price) and Table D’Hote meals daily and Sundays at 1pm for 2 shillings.  His advertisement continued “All Coaches Stop at Newport Hotel” and advised that boats and motor launches were available and there were enclosed baths at the foot of the grounds.

With time, development on the ocean beach side of Newport outstripped the village on the Pittwater side. However the hotel prospered and continues to this day.  It has been rebuilt several times and is now the Newport Arms Hotel.  The whole area behind the hotel is a beer garden with a series of paved terraces at different levels, with parking underneath.   There are multiple service points for drinks and food. The Terrace on Pittwater is a fine dining restaurant in the main building restaurant while the Garden Bistro opens on to the beer garden.  Sporting events can be watched on a large screen in the open air. 

Sporting events projected on the big screen

The Newport Arms Hotel today is very different from its simple beginnings - or even from the 1940’s pub with its grassy slope running gently down to the  water -  without doubt a very popular place.

A quiet spot in the grounds

 Copyright George Repin 2013. All Rights Reserved.