March 14 - 20, 2021: Issue 487


Avalon Beach Reserve Heritage marker for old Kiosk Installed

L to r:  Peter Mayman, President of APA, Geoff Searl OAM, President of ABHS and Roger Sayers OAM with a heritage marker which offers the history of the footings of the Avalon Beach kiosk which can be seen to the right. photo:  A J Guesdon.

In 1932, Avalon Beach pioneer A.J. Small, erected a kiosk on the south Avalon headland. The kiosk catered for the day-trippers who were flocking to the northern beaches on weekends. In particular, in these early days of settlement in Avalon, the kiosk provided a source of boiling water for tea.

Avalon Beach Historical Society (ABHS) President and Avalon Preservation Association (APA) committee member Geoff Searl was alerted to the site by Pittwater Council in late 2011. Geoff worked with Council on preserving the site and designing a plaque to commemorate this slice of Avalon history. 

This process was interrupted in 2016 when the 3 northern beaches Councils were amalgamated. Avalon Surf Life Saving Life Member and Avalon Preservation Association committee member Roger Sayers offered to help to restart the process with the new Council. After numerous discussions, NBC CEO Ray Brownlee was approached on behalf of ABHS and APA and approved the plaque on a sandstone base. 

Geoff finalised the wording and graphic images on the plaque, which was finally fixed in place and revealed in early March 2021.

Geoff commented that this process, although very lengthy, was productive and worth it in the long run to commemorate an interesting piece of Avalon history.

ABHS' first meeting post COVID restrictions attracted 56 keen members and guests interested in our local history last Tuesday night at the Bowlo, in a COVID Safe environment. 

President Geoff Searl OAM arranged a fun and informative "digital slide night" covering a range of topics, which as usual disclosed never before seen, or forgotten images and stories.

As one long time resident member remarked afterwards "Its amazing how much you realise you've forgotten when you see some of these photos'' [of local scenes, people and places].

Subjects of photos included - The Bilgola Bends;

A photo from 1914 of before the Bends and Bede Dalley’s (Premier of NSW) weekender Bilgola House built in the 1880s:

Avalon Beach and Bilgola residents provided a legacy to Sydney in 1970s by helping stop destruction of Livistona Australis Palms, some of which have been dated as 250 years old and up to 30 metres high, by road widening works to save a few minutes drive time on a no through road.

Water dragon carving by Chris Bennetts in 1999. This along with an RTA/ Pittwater Council sign commemorating Bilgola Bends environmental works is currently overgrown and needs some clearing.

The earliest recorded reference to the name Avalon Beach by Arthur Jabez Small, the 'father of Avalon Beach', was on 4 December 1921 - This year being the 100th anniversary, there will be the major ABHS Exhibition over the October Long Weekend.

A J Small opened a kiosk on the south headland at the beach in response to finding Warringah Shire Council had allowed Stan Wickham to erect one a little further up on the headland, just out from where a palm still stands. 

The kiosk was moved down on the current flat area and was later known as 'Gonsalves' kiosk while that up on the headland was rented out to others after Mr Wickham ceased to lease it. 

The remains of the octagonal footings of Mr. Small's one were uncovered in 2011. 

1968 - Avalon Looking north west and showing original Wickham kiosk structure in reserve (at left side of photo). Gary Clist photo

1970 Gary Clist photo: Milk Bar Craig F; That “shed” on the hill was also known by locals as Barney’s hut

Below - The Wickham kiosk - ABHS photos

Warringah Shire Council  Minutes of Meetings record that on April 26th, 1932, by Cr. Austin, seconded by Cr. Hughes; ''That in regard to Mr. Wickham's trading kiosk on Avalon Beach Reserve, the rental be reduced from 5/- to 1/- per Week for the period I commencing 1st May and ending 31st August of this year.''

The Meeting of 4th December 1933 records: BUILDING SUB-COMMITTEE'S REPORT - Cr. Austin, Chair of the Committee, verbally reported, and it resolved that A J Small’s plan for a tea and refreshment kiosk at Avalon Beach and for pergola extensions to existing kiosk in Avalon be approved.

This was during the years when the Warringah Shire Council was trying to extend the Reserve area adjacent to Avalon Beach and in negotiations with Mr. Small to acquire the land.

Warringah Shire council records show that the Valuer General wrote, letter dated 20/12/34, advising the value placed on the land and improvements for proposed enlargement of beach reserve at Avalon, and stating that as there is a business kiosk  erected on part of the site, some extra compensation for business disturbance may be necessary. Council Resolved that the matter be referred to the Finance Committee.

The Meeting of March 31, 1936 records: 

PROPOSED EXTENSION OF AVALON BEACH RESERVE and acquisition of Mr. A. J. Small’s land there for – Letter from H. Collins, 31/3/36, stating he has acquired an option from Mr. Small on behalf of a proposed Company, with a view of conducting a road-house or cabaret, cafe, etc. and requesting permission to address the Council on the matter of a shark-proof net for Avalon Beach; Mr. Collins addressed the Council on the Avalon matter. He stated that he represented gentlemen who were forming a Limited Liability Company to erect a modern cabaret and road-house on land over which they had acquired an option, and which it was considered would be a boon to the district They invited the Council's co-operation by offering the Council a shark-proof net for Avalon, which would be free to the public. The Company would not only put the net, but would keep it in repair, and would keep the beach within the confines of the shark-proof enclosure in a tidy condition. He produced a sketch illustrating the proposed road-house. The co-operation they sought of the Council was that the Council should either remove its kiosk on the reserve, or leave it there and use it for the purposes of a sun-shed. The land they had an option over was Lots 5 and 6. Section 26, at the corner opposite the garage. There was a tree growing in the front, and he understood the Council was going to put a road through, but they were not concerned about that. When informed by the President that the Council had resolved at last meeting to resume the land, he expressed surprise, and produced a letter from Mr A. J. Small, dated 14th March, 1936, granting them, consideration of the payment of a sum of £1, an option until 14th May to purchase the land for £1665. 

The President impressed upon the speaker that the Council was not in a position to discuss the matter with him, as it had already resolved to resume the land: and he thereupon withdrew. 

Over a year later the Local Government Dept., letter dated 9/9/37, wrote re: resumption of land for extension of Avalon beach Reserve, inviting expression of opinion regarding an objection which the Department received from A. J. Small to the effect that adjoining properties and tenancies will be injuriously affected if road access is not provided for under the resumption and extension, and that an excessive amount of land is being taken. Council Resolved; 'That the matter be deferred, pending a reply from the Department. re the Shire Clerk's letter.' 

Another year passed and the Avalon Beach & District Progress Assoc., letter dated 29/9/38, were requesting (a) that a line of white posts be erected between the two kiosks at Avalon Beach at such distance apart that cars could not pass between, thus preventing them from entering the only grassed area adjacent to the surf sheds; (b) that something be done immediately with the open drain on the south side of Mrs. Metcalf property. 

Interestingly, later that same year, at the Meeting of December 20th, 1938:  Item 20 lists the Re-erection of Mona Vale band-stand as a kiosk at Mona Vale Beach and that the Mona Vale kiosk be charged for at the same rate as the kiosk at Deewhy Beach Reserve. Meanwhile, the Avalon Beach Parking & Camping Consideration of the appointment of a collector was deferred for consideration with the Inspector's report in regard to this matter, and an N. J. Hogan (letter dated 12/12/38), was applying for a renewal for two years of his lease of a kiosk on resumed land at Avalon Beach Reserve, and requesting that the rental be reduced as the rental or the other kiosk is much smaller than what he pays.  Council Resolved, - That Mr. Hogan be granted an extension of two months at the Present rate, the matter to be then reviewed.

By October 1939 the council (Meeting of October 10th, 1939) was looking at the site and thinking too many kiosks were in place. Item 12 states; Re Trading kiosks at public reserves at Avalon Beach, Avalon Bch. tenanted by J. Hogan and S. Wickham, recommending (a) that when compensation in respect of the resumption of  Mr. A. J. Small's land is finalised, consideration be given to the advisability of removing one of the kiosks; (b) that Mr. Hogan's tenancy be renewed from 1st October to 30th April next at a rental of £2.3.4 per month as heretofore, and that rental charges between ...

They were still discussing this in April 1940 as well as receiving requests from the local residents organisation:

Avalon Beach Progress Assoc., 1/4/40, (a) requesting that the temporary barrier on the Beach reserve between Council's kiosk and the existing fence be made permanent by means of posts so spaced as to prevent cars passing between them, but with a chain between the two posts in the centre to permit a car to pass so that the surf boat can be taken in and out, the chain to be locked and the key kept by the Ranger; (b) requesting that some of the money derived from parking and camping fees on the reserve be expended in erecting shelter sheds similar to those on Collaroy Beach, and that the kiosks be not interfered with as they are required for the convenience of the public; (c) requesting that the Ranger be instructed not to permit picnickers to erect tents or flies over the branches of the pine trees; (d) requesting that any compensation money to be obtained from the Main Roads Department be expended in covering the drains now intersecting the resumed land; (e) requesting that camping be not permitted at Avalon on private property nor land other than the reserve; (f) requesting that the Council's Inspector make an inspection, stating that camps have been in existence at the foot of the sand-hills at North  Avalon since Xmas without sanitary conveniences, requesting Council to take action against these campers; and (g) requesting that moneys be made available for completion of Old Barrenjoey Road in a substantial manner. Council's decisions:- (a) that posts be erected in the position of the temporary barrier, (Crs. O'Reilly, Hitchcock); (b) to (g) referred to Works Committee in conjunction with "A’’ Riding Councillors.

By July 2nd 1941 N J Hogan was applying for renewal of the tenancy of the kiosk on the resumed land at Avalon Beach at the rate of £13 per year, which was granted. Then, at the Meeting Meeting held August 5th, 1941, Item 49. shows N. J. Hogan,( 29/7/41), (a) requesting Council's approval to his transferring to the Avalon Branch of the Red Cross Society his tenancy of the trading kiosk on the resumed area at Avalon Beach; (b) reporting that the verandah guttering of the  kiosk needs attention, and that a new Chimney pipe for the chip heater is necessary. 49a. Avalon Branch Red Cross Society, 29/7/41, requesting Council to approve of the proposed transfer, and stating that "Mrs. Prince, as President; will be the responsible party". Council Resolved; ''That the transfer be approved, and that the Clerk's recommendation regarding the conditions be adopted, viz - and that Mrs. Prince be required to give a written undertaking to be responsible for the payment of the rent, and that Mr. Hogan also give an undertaking to pay the rent should default be made by Mrs. Prince. (Crs. Batho, O'Reilly)

By August the council's staff, 19/8/1941, were submitting estimate, £20, for repairs to roof and water service, gutter, etc, at the trading kiosk on the resumed area at Avalon Beach. Council Resolved, - That £20 be voted for carrying out this work. At the same meeting correspondence was received from Mrs. T. Prince, President Avalon Branch Red Cross Society, agreeing to accept responsibility for the payment of the rent of Avalon the trading kiosk on the resumed area at Avalon Beach for the ensuing season. and J. Hogan, tenant of same kiosk, 11/8/41, agreeing to remain responsible for the rent in the event of default on Mrs. Prince's part. 

The next month -  16/9/1941: By Cr. Hitchcock - Has any finality been reached in regard to the promised repairs, etc, at the trading kiosk on the resumed area at Avalon Beach now rented by the Avalon Branch of the Red Reserve Cross Society? The President replied that the roof of the kiosk had been taken off, and that the Council's Carpenter would be sent down to finish the other authorised work as soon as possible. The President also reported, in regard to the same matter, that Mrs. Prince, the President of the Branch, had informed him that the heater at the kiosk was of no use, and he recommended that a Miley copper hot-water boiler, costing approximately £15, should be purchased, and the cost charged against the Avalon Parking Income Account. Council Resolved, - That a boiler, as recommended by the President, be purchased and installed at the kiosk.

In the February 29th 1944 Meeting Councillors Dunbar and Spicer were recommending the demolition of the existing iron lavatories and the erection of new brick lavatories and shower recesses: Resolved, that the report be adopted and the "A" Riding Councillors make an inspection for the purpose of selecting a Site; such inspection to be held on 7th March at 10am, ‘’Wickham’s Kiosk" to be inspected at the same times. 

There was also an interesting item about an estimate, £850, for construction of kerbing and Drainage guttering from Wickham's Store to the Air Force Camp at Avalon; which didn't happen then - everyone was busy fighting a war.

On that matter, this item from the following year bears further investigation as to where these trees actually were planted:

The Meeting of November 6th 1945 records: 

  -  (56) Narrabeen Sub-Branch RSSAILA 30/10/45, regarding planting of trees at Avalon  in "memory of the fallen", and asking the following questions - (a) when did Council grant permission, and to whom, for the planting of trees "in memory of the fallen"; (b were any representatives of soldier or other Service  organisations invited to attend the ceremony; (c) if not, asking that Council see that in future functions the President and Councillors and representatives of Service organisations are invited to attend. Cr. Forster explained verbally that the tree-planting had been carried out as a "hasty job", that there had been no dedication ceremony, but that provision had been made for one tree to be planted by an Ex-Servicemen's Association. Council Resolved, - That the Association be informed the Council had no, knowledge of the ceremony, and if and when the Council arranges such a function the Association will be invited to be present. (Crs. Green, Bathe) (57) Avalon Beach Process Assoc.,31/10/45, referring to tree- planting ceremony at Avalon Beach, stating members are of the opinion it is wrong to permit any one Association to interfere with public reserves, particularly where a wide difference of opinion exists, and requesting answers to the following questions (a who authorised the tree-planting; (b) who selected the site; a) who organised the alleged Dedication Ceremony; (d) why was he public ignored, particularly residents of the area; and..(e) why were Servicemen's Associations ignored. Resolved,,- That the Association be informed the trees were planted in replacement of trees formerly planted by the Council; and that the Council had no knowledge of the function. (58)-'Narrabeen Ex-Servicemen’s Club, 1/11/45, also regarding, tree-planting at Avalon and asking for information as to when the memorial planting took place, on whose authority, and what reasons can be advanced for holding such a ceremony without any Service organisations being invited to attend, Resolved, - That the Club be informed of the position. (5,) 

Avalon Beach Progress Association, 30/10/45, requesting Council to remove the sides and dilapidated screens from the old kiosk lately occupied by the Red Cross at Avalon Beach Reserve, and convert the building into a shelter for picnickers, using the materials removed to make more tables and seats. Council Resolved. That the request be complied with

The records indicate the hexagonal based kiosk was modified at this time. Council's records from December of that year record:

18/12/1945: (Cr.. Forster, Morrow) (41) Avalon Red Cross Branch, 10/12/45, regarding application by Mrs. Mackay for the use of the kiosk on Avalon Beach, forwarding letter from Red Cross Headquarters, suggesting that the Branch seek a continuance of the occupation of the kiosk for the purpose of helping P.O.W. and their families. Cr. Walsham moved, Cr. Forster seconding, - That the applicant be informed the Red Cross Branch desires to use the kiosk, and that tenders would have to be called. Cr. Forster moved as an amendment, Cr. Dunbar seconding. That the applicant be informed the kiosk is being used by the Red Cross, and it be suggested that she get in touch with the Branch with a view to coming to some amicable arrangement. The amendment was carried, and on becoming the motion, was also put and carried. 

The following year:

Thieves broke into the Red Cross kiosk on the reserve at Avalon Beach late on Saturday night and set fire to the building. At 12.15 a.m. Mr. Ted Hock, of the Avalon Fire Brigade, who was on his way home, saw the fire, which was quickly checked. POLICE WATCH STREETS (1946, August 26). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 4. Retrieved from

By June 8th 1948 Council was remonstrating with Mrs McKay about her use of Avalon Beach Reserve's Kiosk, recording  - 'That Mrs. McKay be permitted to sell her stock and fittings, but informed that in future the kiosk is not to be used for the sale of goods.' 

Two weeks later, Mrs. S Mckay (21/6/48), is stating she has changed her plans regarding the kiosk at Avalon Beach Reserve and now intends to appoint an ex-Serviceman as Manager during her absence in England, and will continue the business on her return. The Council had no objection to this proposal.

By March 22nd 1949 though J. A. Hunter was in possession of the kiosk lease. Mr. Hunter was elected President of the Avalon Beach SLSC on May 14th, 1947 and served as such for the 1947-48 Season.

By February 18th 1952, Councils records show; - Re; Avalon Beach Reserve Kiosk - Debt owing by J. A. Hunter, £45 - Recommending that Council offer to settle this matter by accepting £10 in full satisfaction-of the debt, on the understanding that Mr. Hunter waives and releases all rights to any legal action in respect of the damage he alleges he has suffered as a result of Council's neglect to carry out-repairs, etc: Council Resolved; - 'That the recommendation be adopted.'

By 1953 the Gonsalves family were in charge of the kiosk. Council's Meeting of February 16th 1952 records:

Avalon Beach and District Progress Association, (letter dated 23/1/1953), Re: Avalon Camping Area -, Referring to previous correspondence dating back Many years wherein the Association has requested the removal of the Avalon Camping Area stating that the following robberies breaking and entering occurred around the fringe of such area during the recent: Christmas-New Year holidays: Le Clerc’s Store - £30 reported stolen. Walroys' Beach Kiosk - £5 goods stolen. Grantley's, Bellevue Avenue - £17 goods stolen., Franklands Barrenjoey Road - Telephone money stolen. The Chalet, George Street - Thieves disturbed. Gonsalves Kiosk - £25 stolen. McDonald's Store -Thieves disturbed. Adding that the ratepayers of Avalon are incensed that this blot on the community should be allowed to exist, despite the Association's repeated representations to have this public reserve closed to campers.. Further stating that drinking parties on the area are frequent, sanitary-arrangements are a menace to public health, and unless the camp is closed or removed this year-‘’they’’ will be unable to support the present Councillors in the futures'.

It was Moved by Cr. Beach, seconded: Cr. Quinlan that this letter be received and no action ordered thereon. 

An amendment was moved by Cr..Mckay seconded by Cr. Berry; that the Avalon Camping Area be abolished from the cessation of "this season’’, or the 30 June, next, whichever first occurs and that camping sites be provided at Hitchcock Park with necessary facilities. Such sites to be occupied by campers for a Period not exceeding one(1).month. The amendment was LOST then the motion was then put and carried.

The installed Heritage marker compliments those placed in the south Avalon Beach Reserve and unveiled in November 2019 to honour Avalon Beach SLSC as the birthplace of the IRB and the phenomenal Avalon Beach SLSC carnival of 1956 at which thousands witnessed what you can do on Malibu boards and a brand new kind of surfing. 

The Heritage and History markers are to enhance the enjoyment of this space for residents and provide added connections between the past and the present for those who live here as well as add to the experience of visitors to Avalon Beach.

The Avalon Beach Kiosk Heritage marker

The footings remnants

Another local historical curiosity presented at the ABHS Meeting is the remaining "cobblestone" section of the original Barrenjoey Road route at North Avalon. The road took a shape right just south of where North Avalon Rd is now to cross Careel Creek then continued north along present Bangalley Way. The remaining piece of the original construction method is listed as a heritage item in the Pittwater LEP and was a larger section until Northern Beaches Council recently tarred it without consultation. Geoff personally ensured that the workmen did not completely cover this piece of local history. The engineer who used this method in difficult terrain was a Mr Thomas Telford, and the section is referred to as “Telford Lane".  ABHS is working towards erection of a plaque nearby to inform people of the historical significance of the road.

The North Avalon spur of the sand dunes was being mined up till the late 1960s and into the early 1970s. The spur covered the area from the beach North to Catalina Cres, where the High School is now situated.

Local resident action was again necessary to finally put a stop to sand extraction, before it ended up disappearing.

Another local memento Geoff had in his show and tell was an original tile from the Barefoot Boulevard, reminding people that the building originally had an area through it with internal shops and cafes.  So easy to forget until reminded.

An entertaining night for new and old residents.

Next meeting is scheduled for May 2021.

Report by Roger Sayers OAM
Avalon Beach Historical Society 

With thanks to Craig Boaden, Peter Mayman and Geoff Searl OAM

L to r:  Peter Mayman, President of APA, Geoff Searl OAM, President of ABHS and Roger Sayers OAM. A J Guesdon photo.