May 26 - June 15, 2024: Issue 627


Autumn Sojourn: Cowan Water - May 2024

photos and captions by John Vaughan OAM

history snippets: John Vaughan OAM and A J Guesdon

John Vaughan OAM, who many would know through his father's and uncle's connections with the formation of the Avalon Sailing Club, has spent some idyllic days during May 2024 cruising on the Cowan Creek and Water - that parallel 'estuary' to Pittwater -  which has so many family connections and memories for him - including this tree which is well over 100 years old by now; - 

John says: ''This giant old tree at Cottage Rock was my Mother's favourite. The tree now serves as a reminder of the many generations of Family that have relished this great waterway over more than a century.''

Mum's favourite tree at Cottage Rock

Eileen Bessie Vaughan at Castle Rock, Cowan Water, circa 1930 - photo by Les Vaughan.

John cruises there on his yacht 'TONDELAO', a Halvorsen Gowland 31 launched at Wyong, New South Wales in 1976 and still motor-sailing. Here she is in Cowan Water this month. Photo by Jim Vaughan of sister ship GALINI.

Family afloat near the Cottage Point courtesy mooring which services The Kiosk, a very popular eating spot with its own coffee roasting facility, wonderful!:

Upmarket brunch at The Kiosk, Cottage Point.

Cottage Point Store 1950s (now the upmarket Cottage Point Inn) was the essential supply depot for 'boaties'. The store was run by the Anderson Family

Anderson's Store early 1960s. Appears to be Mr Anderson fending off the Halvorsen cruiser, 'Karen'.

Tondelao off Barrenjoey on her way to Cowan Water.

'Merlin the Magician' guardian of Barrenjoey headland at the entrance to Broken Bay. May 2024. Photo: John Vaughan

This name joins a long line of cliff markings and landscape/ geographical features that have acquired other names for sailors - 'Hole in the Wall' (and the Stone Woman) and St Michael's headland or Indian Head, both at North Avalon beach, Maitland Bay, Bombora and the storm that sank the steamer Maitland in 1898, while Cape Three Points, which can be seen from Barrenjoey, was named in 1770 by Captain James Cook  when his ship was becalmed off "some pretty high land which projected out in 3 bluff Points, and occasioned my calling it Cape Three Points." The cape comprises almost half the coastline of the Bouddi Peninsula.

Within Pittwater there is Observation Head, now 'Point', at Palm Beach, and even a place named for an event - Haystack Point at Newport, named after floods of 1867 according to some sources, caused a haystack to float down here on its log framework from  farms on the Hawkesbury and settled on that point. Local lore states a number of pigs were on the haystack and fed on the hay until rescued by fishermen from Mona Vale.

Other sources state it was an 1832 flood, still others claim a 1873 Hawkesbury flood as when Hay Stack Point as a name occurred - however, this appears in March 1803 edition of The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser first as; -  

''Many of the stacks of wheat and barley that were floated off were forced by the current into the ocean; upwards of sixty were seen by one observer to clear Cumberland Reach, and twenty were seen by two lime burners in a very short space of time, drifting towards Pittwater where they had but little obstruction to encounter: upon some of these were many pigs, dogs and prodigious quantities of poultry, a great many of which took flight and got to land as they occasionally approached the banks.'' HAWKESBURY, MARCH 27. (1806, March 30). The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 - 1842), p. 2. Retrieved from

Andrew Thompson, of Scotland Island, was involved in helping people during this 1803 flood event

Illustrations/photos: The Hole In The Wall, Avalon Beach (also once called St. Michael's Arch)  - ON 165/929 Item No.: c07771_0006_c - photo by Rex Hazlewood, Image Courtesy The Mitchell Library, State Library of NSW; showing the Indian Head silhouette of North Avalon headland - taken 24/6/2016 - A J Guesdon photo and remembering that this geological feature fell in 2017, changing that coastal cliff face ; 

Australia East Coast - New South Wales Broken Bay [cartographic material] London : Great Britain. Hydrographic Office 1869, section showing Observation Point, Item: FL16079143 courtesy State Library of Victoria; and Haystack Point, section from Carto map, dated 1908 - but also shows the Land Grants formalised n 1840 and surveyed for in 1842.

Back to John's captures of the places in and adjacent to the Cowan 'Creek' this May.

Tondelao at rest in glorious Cowan Bay:

Tondelao at rest in Yeoman's Bay:

The well worn sandstone rocks of Yeoman's Bay:

The sculptured honeycomb rock in Yeoman's Bay:

Up the lovely creek in Yeoman's Bay:

The clinging fig a feature of Trafalgar Bay under the Pinta Ridge in Jerusalem Bay:

A popular and protected overnight mooring spot for the Vaughan clan is Trafalgar/Pinta Bay. Tondelao and Galini with Brother Jim polishing the topsides:

Ready for a cold shower at Cottage Rock:

Tondelao leading Galini on Cowan Water:

Galini underway on Cowan Water, Smiths Creek:

Fishing is usually successful in Snapper Rock Bay:

Snapper Rock Bay:

Snapper Rock Bay and fresh water flow over well worn rocks:

Snapper Rock Bay is home to stingrays:

Snapper Rock Bay with our boats in view:

Snapper Rock Bay with towering Mount Murray Anderson in the background:

A large Aboriginal midden in Smiths Creek near Snapper Rock Bay:

Ultimate calm and tranquillity:

How many cormorants at Cottage Point? Don't linger under these trees:

Seaplane transport to and from the Cottage Point Inn (departs from Rose Bay):

Passing Tondelao for take-off:

Looking Glass Rock on a tranquil damp day from Tondelao:

The Looking Glass (earlier versions can be seen in  Oct 1894 - Looking Glass Rock - Harry Wolstenholme collection that ran in Pittwater Online News):

Spectacular falls near Cottage Rock:

Cottage Rock view to Challenger Head with more rain:

Multiple waterfalls at Cottage Rock with Tondelao having a close look:

Fresh and very cool when showering at Cottage Rock:

Cottage Rock overflow from Tondelao:

Refuge Bay waterfall. During WWII 'Z' Force for Operation Jaywick was encamped above the falls:

Refuge Bay waterfall:

A long, long shower for Tondelao:

Refuge Bay waterfall, most impressive sight after rain:

The two sister-ships, HG-31s Tondelao and Galini moored at Hallets Beach:

Hallets Beach reserved for our two old 1970s craft. A rare blue sky suddenly appeared:

Hallets Beach with a fresh water stream across the sand:

Hallets Beach is a popular spot in Summer:

Skipper of Tondelao, John Vaughan OAM, guides her from Fisherman's Beach to Hallets: