March 24-30, 2024: Issue 619


The Palladium Palm Beach (1930 to 1974) + Palm Beach Studio (1976 to 2024)

March 2024 Meeting of the Avalon Beach Historical Society

Palladium, the corner of Ocean Road and Palm Beach Road - FX Holden (1948-50 Series) out front
At the first Meeting for the Avalon Beach Historical Society for 2024, held on Tuesday March 12, Members and Guests were treated to a great insight on the iconic Palladium building at Palm Beach, now a private home.

The owner for he past 50 years, David Elfick, gave a Talk on his time in the Palladium. This was preceded by a slide show from Geoff Searl OAM, supplemented by research undertaken by William (Bill) Goddard, all of which allows for a more definitive record than that first run on Art Deco influences in Palm Beach buildings.

Geoff explained a little about the first and sales, the building just north of the Palladium, which was one of the earliest ones built on the oceanfront, and the building of Ocean Road in the mid 1920's, which provided easier access to those beachfront Lots. 

Geoff Searl OAM, President of ABHS, explained some of the early context for land sales at Palm Beach by the then aptly named Barrenjoey Land Company, the name most people knew the location by due to the headland's function as a Lightstation from 1868, a Lighthouse from 1880, and the Broken Bay Customs Station from 1862.

Past the initial 1900 land sales for this 400 acres, with only Pittwater side lots, the equivalent of 31 acres, being bought by a Mr. Charles ForssbergSome time between then and 1911 a James Channon, Manufacturer, bought the parcel of Lots 1 to 18 from Barrenjoey to Whale Beach and Careel Bay. 

As a rule in commercial circles a public holiday tends to make a broken week and restrict the usual volume of business. Last week's transactions in the estate market were no exception, few sales being noted either by auction or private contract. During the next few weeks several important sales of city properties and well-known suburban estates (in subdivision) will come under the hammer.

Messrs. Batt, Rodd, and Purves, Limited, at their rooms on Tuesday, offered, under instructions from the surviving trustee of the Bassett-Darley Estate and the administratrix of the late Benjamin Wentworth Darley, a marine site, comprising 400 acres of land at Pittwater, on the main road and close to the lighthouse at Barranjoey. This estate embraces on the ocean side the well-known Cabbage Tree Boat Harbor, and in Pittwater the much valued camping ground in Careel Bay. The property was offered, in subdivisions, the lots ranging from one acre to 74 acres, the first buyer having the option of picking his lots. Bidding was started by Mr. C. Forssberg at £5 per acre. Then bids, after considerable animation, rose quickly to £12 per acre, at which figure Mr. Forsberg took 13 lots, altogether about 30 acres. This land was described as having a sandy frontage to Pittwater and Careel Bay. The first lot on entering the estate from Manly, 4 acres 3 roods 16 perches through from the ocean side to Careel Bay, went to Mr. Trevor Jones at £10 per acreand the end lot on the beach, a block of a little over 4 acres, at £9 10s per acre. On the Pittwater Estate a block of land, 21 ¼  acres, near the Hole in the Wall and Bilgola Head, with large frontage- to the main road, was passed in at £1 17s 6d per. acre.  
THE PROPERTY MARKET. (1900, January 31). Evening News (Sydney, NSW : 1869 - 1931), p. 2. Retrieved from 

The lots were re-advertised in June 1900 with mention of the tram towards Pittwater being used as a selling point and 18 lots up for sale at 'upset prices'!:

Messrs. Batt, Rodd, and Purves will sell by auction next Tuesday at their rooms 88 Pitt-street, 18 allotments at Pittwater, belonging to the Bassett-Darley estate. The lots vary in size from 74 acres down to 4 acres, and the upset prices at which bidding may start are quoted in the firm's announcement in our business columns. The sale is to be without reserve. No title (1900, June 3). Sunday Times (Sydney, NSW : 1895 - 1930), p. 4. Retrieved from

The land was part of 400 acres (Portion 18 of Parish) initially granted by the Crown to James Napper on the 16th of March 1816. 

The remainder was then offered for sale by the Barrenjoey Land company, who acquired the same from James Channon in July 1911. 

In June 1911 the Barrenjoey Company was registered:


Barrenjoey Company, Ltd, has been registered with a capital of £6000, In 120 shares of £50 each, the object being to purchase 410 acres of the Bassett Darley subdivision. The first directors are Messrs H. Wolstenholme, E T Jones, J T Ralston, J Young, and H R Nolan. NOTES AND COMMENTS. (1911, June 3). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 15. Retrieved from 

When the 'Barranjoey' Land Company was formally registered in June 1911 the first directors were named as Harry Wolstenholme (son of Maybanke Wolstenholme Anderson of Bayview), Ernest Trevor Jones, John Thompson Ralston (father of John Malbon Ralston, a founding Member of the PBSLSC who had attempted to save Johanna Rogers and Lieutenant Colonel Douglas Marks DSO, MC, in 1920 and which initiated the setting up of the surf club in 1921), James Young, and Herbert Russell Nolan. Many of these partners were either students together at Newington College, the well-known Wesleyan School at Stanmore, or related through marriages - James Young, for instance, was the solicitor for Ada Blanche Wolstenholme, the widow of James Wolstenholme, grandfather to Harry Wolstenholme. James Young was also another in generations of Youngs who had tended to the legal matters of the Wolstenholme family - as shown when James Wolstenholme (the youngers') will is ratified in 1911 and assets in real estate placed under Blanche and a new Trustee:

In July 1911 and October 1911, Ernest Trevor-Jones, solicitor, and the wife of Harry Wolstenholme, Edith Lucy, bought the parcel of land and conveyed this to the then just registered Barrenjoey Company. The bulk of this, including the whole of Palm Beach and most of Whale Beach, including over the hills to Careel Bay, became that owned by the Barrenjoey Company - although the Trevor-Jones family held onto Block 19, at the southern end of the beach and ranging over the hill to Careel Bay, with this placed in the name of Margaret Trevor-Jones, the wife of Ernest. 

Transactions from HRLV: Book 939-800 and 944-259(Lot 1 and 19) provide:

The Certificate of Title for the Barrenjoey Company Limited series is Volume 2289 – Folio 43, which will also bring up, if you use this to search through the Historical Land Records View (HRLV) those early lands sales until they sold what was left to the 1924 formed Palm Beach Lands company; See Vol-Fol: 3758-71 for the Palm Beach Land Co. phase

In January 1912 the first land releases were advertised for sale – Book 956-Volume 82 shows that a James A Ramsay and David B Ramsay loaned £1500 on Lots 2-18, the Palm Beach-Whale Beach sections, to facilitate these sales. Interestingly, the company dedicated the beachfront reserve to the Warringah Shire Council at this time, although that was not ratified until they were selling the remainder to the Palm Beach Land Company in 1920, which was formalised in 1924, when those dedications were also formalised with the council.

One person who attended that initial sale tells us:


How many of the Sydney folk have heard of Palm Beach, situated on the neck of land ad-joining the Barrenjoey Lighthouse reserve and Pittwater Harbor ? One of those most glorious spots, given by Nature to the Sydneyites, where rest from the weary toils of the week may be enjoyed. As a comparative stranger in your midst, I would never, perhaps, have feasted on its exceptional beauty and the environs surrounding it had I not chanced upon a small red booklet, circulated on account of a land sale held there on Friday afternoon. 

I took the trip, at a cost of 2/6 return — cheap enough in all conscience ! — and on arrival at the pretty little jetty on the estate was so charmed with the natural beauties and picturesqueness of the scene that I feel it a duty to enlighten others of this most charming spot. A glorious day, one of happy Sydney's best, and the beauty of the scene at Palm Beach will long live in my memory. The harbor, with its beach of sand, hard and white, its clear and placid waters for the children, the wild, natural scenery of the hills, the living fragrance of the bush and the beautiful Palm Beach for the surfers, with its ever sounding ocean roar, contrasting strangely with the harbor's peace, and calm, the stately palms in the numerous gullies, and the whole scene clothed with a sea and sky, of exquisite blue. From the hills cape after cape comes into view, both north and south, and to the west we see the Pittwater Harbor, with its numerous bays, "The Basin," Kuringai Chase, the majestic and awe-inspiring Lion island, Ettalong, and several other points of interest. If you have never been to Palm Beach, go. It would be difficult for me to express the treat in store. There is nothing I have seen on your coast to approach it, and it is a matter of much wonder to me that with a splendid service of cars from Manly, and subsidised by a regular launch service (1 1/2 hour from Manly), it has not been availed of ere this. 

The opening up of the estate will probably attract the populace, and I am informed Palm Beach is an ideal surfing one, and with all its other natural attractions should bring many an advocate to the shrine of its temple. The land facing the beach has been dedicated to the Council as a reserve for a public park. I understand that every lot was sold at satisfactory prices, including the pretty little bungalow residence recently erected, and the vendors must be highly complimented on opening up such a beauty spot for the permanent use of the people. BEAUTIFUL PALM BEACH, BARRENJOEY. (1912, January 28). Sunday Times (Sydney, NSW : 1895 - 1930), p. 12. Retrieved from 

                                                  Barrenjoey - Palm Beach Estate - Pittwater - Barranjoey Rd 1912 - part of brochure. Item: c052700024, courtesy State Library of NSW

The first land sales attracted those who liked access limitations by the lack of built roads.  The Palm Beach Road which runs over the hill from Barrenjoey road just before Observation Point, was the only southern access point for residents and visitors alike to the beachfront itself. Barrenjoey road itself was little more than a dusty, dirt and rock strewn track.

Those who wanted to build weekenders of homes of any size had to offload materials at Snapperman beach, alongside the current day Palm Beach wharf, or further north, on to the southern end of Station beach, and hire contractors, usually the ones who were also building these places, the Verrills, Gonsalves et al, to move them via horse and wagon.

Description beneath photograph - 'On the Pittwater side, linking the last hill before descent to Barranjoey', November 21, 1909 - Allan family Album. Courtesy State Library of NSW

James Brown Craig, the middle brother of the Craig family members who bought so much land and then built homes at Palm Beach, bought the lots next door to the Palladium years earlier than when this was registered. In 1915 Mary Brown Craig (wife of Francis Brown Craig - youngest son) acquired three blocks on Sunrise Hill (Lots 161, 162, 163) where Craigie-Lee was built - set in what is now Canara Place (off Pacific road), Maria Graeme Craig had a cottage (circa 1915-16 - Lot 42 bought by Robert Gordon Craig registered July 17 1918 Vol-Fol: 2861-62) bought Lots 30, 32, 34, 36 and 38, over 2 acres, Vol/ Fol: 2861-63 Cert. of Title registered July 18, 1918. Maria was the wife of Dr. Robert Gordon Craig. Here their family would later built what is known as 'The Pink House'.

James Brown Craig bought Lots 61, 62 and 63, north of the Palladium, with the Certificate of Title registered in April 1921 from Vol-Fol 3172-113:

James, who worked at his father's company, Prescott & co. Pty Ltd "Commission Agents, Produce and Wholesale, Provision Merchants, Auctioneers", had a house named Tigh-Na-Mara (Scottish Gaelic 'the house of the sea') was built next door to The Palladium but no longer exists - a victim of fire. A property given the same name was rebuilt on the same site, eventually was sold to the Toohey family and held by hem for five decades, and recently sold again.

The house named Tigh-Na-Mara is present in the landscape prior to the Certificate of Title being registered and predates the late 1920 early 1921 finished Peters residence that is the current Palm Beach SLSC Clubhouse:

Tigh-Na-Mara. Enlarged sections from EB Studios (Sydney, N.S.W.). (circa 1917-1924). Panorama of Palm Beach, New South Wales, 7 Retrieved from

Raine and Horne Ltd at their indoor auction sale next Thursday will submit the following:
Palm Beach Tigh-Na-Mara Ocean road modern bungalow close to beach with five rooms garage etc with or without furniture 
Richard Stanton and Sons, Ltd., report that at their next auction sale, to be held in their rooms, Stanton House, 133 Pitt-street, Sydney. next Tuesday, October 18, the following properties will be offered:
Palm Beach, furnished cottage, five rooms,etc known as Miami, Florida-road, REAL ESTATE. (1934, October 13). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 8. Retrieved from

This was one of the places from which an Honourable former Prime Minister of Australia could be heard 'yelling through Christmas' for years:

SURFING enthusiast at Palm Beach these days is the Hon. W. M. Hughes, who is staying at Tigh-Na-Mara, goes for his dip in the early mornings and again in the afternoons. At the same address are Joy Minnett, Betty Oxenham, and Gwenda Ashcroft. ROUND THE TOWN. (1940, January 5). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 4. Retrieved from

Tigh-Na-Mara was passed in for private treaty.

Advertising (1947, January 8). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 17. Retrieved from

NEWEST and smartest playground for the social set is Bob Stephen's Palm Beach Country Club on Ocean Road . . . you may remember the hostelry as former guest house Tigh-Na-Mara. Look Who's Here (1948, October 28). The Sun (Sydney, NSW : 1910 - 1954), p. 15 (LATE FINAL EXTRA). Retrieved from

Bill's research found that on the 2nd of August 1923, Edward Harold Fulcher Swain purchased what would become the Palladium land from Barrenjoey Company Limited. At this time the lot had two street frontages with Ocean Road at the bottom and Sunrise Road at the top of the lot. The lot had an area of two roods, seventeen and three-quarters perches, and measured 66 feet wide and 420 feet long. 

The Certificate of Title for Mr. Swain's Lot is registered in Volume 3486 – Folio 50 on August 2nd, 1923:

Edward (1883-1970), a forester, who was born at Balmain and attended the University of Sydney in 1901, Sydney Technical College in 1902 and studied eucalypts under J. H. Maiden at the National Herbarium of New South Wales in 1904, was a brother to Edith Muriel Maitland Swain (1880-1964), public servant and physical-fitness advocate, who bought 1112 to 1118 Barrenjoey road, Palm Beach (lot 36 in 1918 and Lots 34 and 35 in 1925) where the old Palm Beach burger place once stood, just north of Barrenjoey House.

Lawrence Gallagher, a WWI veteran who owned Florida House, won the contract to build Ocean Road in the second half of 1926. This is likely to have been built by his then great mates the Verrills and Gonsalves men with Laurie. The Gonsalves were also founding Members, with Laurie, of the permanent residents part of Palm Beach Surf Life Saving Club.  Records from Warringah Shire Council Minutes of Meetings provide:

9th of February, 1925

Resolved, - 9(Crs. Hewitt, Hitchcock) That the construction of Ocean Road, Palm Beach, from its junction with Palm Beach Road, southward, in accordance with the (Vote) Engineer's report, at an estimated cost of £678 be carried out. Resolved, - (Crs. Hitchcock, Atkins) That prices for the work be obtained by tender and compared with the Engineer's Estimate. 

Going north: 

61. Palm Beach Progress Asst. 2/1/1926. setting out the matters which the Association desires the Council to give attention to Resolved, - (Crs. Hitchcock. Simpson) That a "Caution - Drive Slowly" SIGN that the requested notice be erected on Ocean Road; for the extension of Ocean Road northward to Phillip Park be referred to A. Riding representatives for their consideration, and that the Association be informed of the of Council's intentions regarding the other matters.

5th of July, 1926: Ocean Road Tenders

10. Resolved, - (Crs. Hitchcock, Hope) That tenders be called, for the construction of Ocean Road from the intersection of Palm Beach Road northward, in accordance with the Engineer's Report. 46. E. Kenny 28.6.26. submitting, on behalf of Palm Beach  Lands, Ltd. plan of subdivision of about 2 acres of land, between Nos 2 and 3 Subdivisions of Forssberg Estate' (Dealt with in Engineer's report)

July 19th, 1926:

E. Kenny 14.7.26. submitting D.P. of 10th Subdivision of Palm Beach Estate : Referred to the Engineer.

Two tenders were received for the construction of Ocean Road, Palm Beach, and it was resolved, - (Crs. Simpson,. Hitchcock) That the lowest tender, that of L. Gallagher for £399/10/.., be accepted, and the Contractor be notified not to touch the big boulders on the beach, and that this be made a part of the Contract.

The works had been completed by later that year as the Minutes of Meetings record:

17, Palm Beach Recreation Club. Ltd22.11.26. advising that the Club has appointed Mr. Harriman as Caretaker of the Park; Governor requesting(1) that two signposts indicating the camping areas Phillip be erected, another at the end of the road indicating - "To Park. Ocean Road and Surf", a double one at the junction of New Road, indicating ‘’To Barrenjoey" and to "Ocean Beach and Surf", and (2) that the fees collected from campers be applied towards paying the wages of the caretaker. Resolved, - (Oms. Hope, Hitchcock) That the signs be erected, as requested. Resolved,. (Crs. Hitchcock, Hope) That Caretaker Harriman be given authority to collect camping fees, the fees to be applied towards the payment of his wages. He also be appointed as Honorary Ranger of the Park, - the appointment to be under seal of the Council. 

WSC Minutes of Meeting held 6th of December, 1926:
6-. Resolved, - (Crs. Simpson, Hitchcock) That £20 extra be voted for making trafficable that portion of Ocean Road  (Vote) outside of Gallagher's Contract.

With access along the beachfront now secured those Lots of land now became attractive and their value went up as a consequence.

Edward Swain subdivided the lot into two, and on the 2nd of May 1929, he sold the lower lot (64b) to Joseph Henry Graham (of Coogee, Foreman Joiner). The Certificate of Title is registered in Volume 4294 – Folio 164. On the 20th of August 1946, he sold the top lot (64a) to Ivan George Philips (Potts Point Manufacture). Joseph Henry Graham's Certificate of Title, registered June 28th 1929, for lot 64a is Volume 4294 – Folio 164, the Palladium Lot:

John Thomas Pike, later a Contractor, then just a Carpenter, won the bid to build the Palladium on the lot. With places like Jonahs at Whale Beach newly opened, and Barrenjoey House becoming popular, both of which offered some accommodation that compared well with boarding houses such as Florida House, along with food, the Barrenjoey end of the peninsula was set to become the premier Sydney holiday location. 

Listings of works approved show Mr. Pike also won a bid to do works for the Palm Beach Golf Links at the same time -:

Buildings and Works Approved
Palm Beach. — Paladium Building (shops and Offices), Ocean-Road..— Mr. Pike, Strathfield
Golf Links, Barrenjoey Road. — Mr. Pike, Barrenjoey Road, Strathfield. Buildings and Works Approved (1930, November 26). Construction and Real Estate Journal (Sydney, NSW : 1930 - 1938), p. 2. Retrieved from 

The design and materials still extant point to an art deco aircraft hangar influence in style. With the new owner, Joseph Henry Graham, listed by occupation as a 'Foreman Joiner' and also among the records of those who served in France in World War I and witnessed the first aircraft flights there, and his build occurring soon after Charles Kingsford Smith crossed the Pacific Ocean, the first transpacific flight, and a short time before he piloted the first flight between Australia and New Zealand, it would be hard not to see the aircraft and aircraft hangar influence here. 

It's also worth remembering that these first planes were built from wood and became airborne due to the skilled craftsmen who built them; joiners, carpenters, and the foremen who were both.

The Palladium building at Palm Beach is the epitome of a 1930's aircraft hangar. Called ''Streamline Moderne'', this style of architecture was inspired by aerodynamic design, it emphasised curving forms, long horizontal lines, and sometimes nautical elements. In industrial design, it was used in railroad locomotives, telephones, toasters, buses, appliances, and other devices to give the impression of sleekness and modernity.

Records confirm the Palladium was already built by late 1931.

Macquarie Grove Airfield in the 1930s at Camden, Sydney. Photo courtesy Camden Images.

Palladium, Palm Beach - 2019

Charles Kingsford Smith at Palm Beach after a surfing session, circa 1929-1931 (Chorley's 'The Rest' to left behind him). Source: The Mitchell Library, State Library of NSW.  NB: his brother, Wilfrid Kingsford-Smith, had a place in Pittwater

During World War I, Charles Kingsford Smith, known as ‘Smithy’, served in the Australian Imperial Force before transferring to the Royal Flying Corps. He was awarded the Military Cross for bravery after being badly wounded in one dogfight. On his return home he set up as a bush pilot and established a small airline with two colleagues, Keith Anderson and Bob Hitchcock, working throughout the 1920's until he was approached by Charles Ulm in 1928 to take that transpacific flight. The 1920s and 1930s were the golden age of record-breaking flights, and this was incorporated into our buildings as well as everyday items, and even wearable fashion. This persisted for years in architecture - another example is the Bayview art deco premises 'Little Mountain'

Arrival of Charles Kingsford Smith in "Southern Cross" at Eagle Farm Aerodrome, Brisbane, Australia, after first crossing of the Pacific Ocean from San Francisco, 9 June 1928. Photo: Queensland State Archives

Australian National Airways was founded by Charles Ulm and Charles Kingsford Smith in 1929 and began operations in January 1930. They flew Avro 618 Tens, similar aircraft to Kingsford Smith's famous Southern Cross. However, the airline folded in 1931 after the crash of VH-UMF Southern Cloud in the Australian Alps between Sydney and Melbourne, and VH-UNA Southern Sun in Malaya. Tom Perry, a Narromine grazier and philanthropist who was the enthusiastic president of the local aero club provided financial backing to a new venture, which Wilfrid Kingsford Smith was due to start a few months later. From 1932 Wilfred Kingsford Smith travelled from Adelaide to Goulburn establishing regional air travel and airmail as W.A.S.P (Western and Southern Provincial) Air Lines. Despite this being the Depression era, this new business seemed to flourish. In 1933 the brothers were planning on extending air travel and airmail to New Zealand.

The Palladium soon became a popular dance place, utilised by the PBSLSC as a place to hold events to raise much needed funding for heir volunteer activities. Some Notices and insights from the pages of the past provide:

Two dances are being organised at Palm Beach, to raise funds for the Palm Beach Surf Life Saving Club; The first will be held on the evening of Boxing Day, and the second on New Year's Eve. Both will take place at the Palladium, on the ocean beach. The ticket secretaries are Mrs. A. Samuels and Mr. Burford Dawson. NEAR AND FAR. (1932, December 16).The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 3. Retrieved from 

I HAD A NOTE to tell me that the usual shorts and shirts parties — well, at least for the men folk — will be arranged again this year by the Palm Beach Surf Club, and the two dances will be held at the Palladium at this popular colony tomorrow night and New Year's Eve. Mrs Samuels, Rod Brown, Pete Hunter, and Adrian Curlewis are the leading lights behind the plans, and tickets may be procured from all club members at the club. CHRISTMAS 1932 (1932, December 25). The Sun (Sydney, NSW : 1910 - 1954), p. 20. Retrieved from

The Palm Beach Surf Life Saving Club was moved from their 'shed' in to be named Hordern Reserve in 1929 to the beachfront - they would purchase Chorley's circa 1914 built 'The Rest' after he passed away, in 1936, but prior to that had to fund any improvements to the new structure, on the beach, themselves - 


Warringah Shire Council has decided that the Palm Beach Surf Club's club-house must be pulled down and that any new structure must be erected on a more suitable site. The existing club-house, a plain erection on a public reserve, has been the subject of an offer by Mr. J. A. Hordern, who has expressed his willingness to lend the council £100 for improvements to the reserve, and to assist the club financially towards the erection of a new building.

It has been stated that the members of the surf club did not want to move, and Councillor Corkery said that if they would not go, the club should be disbanded and a paid life-saver put on the beach. It would never do to allow the council to be dictated to by the club, which was on the beach for the purpose of life-saving only. The council will have a meeting with Mr. Hordern and the members of the surf club, to discuss the question of finance. PALM BEACH. (1929, July 10). The Sydney Morning Herald(NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 19. Retrieved from


In a letter to the Editor, the captain of the Palm Beach Surf Saving Club (Mr. Kenneth Hunter) states that there has been no dispute with the Warringah Shire Council. Discussions that have taken place with regard to new premises for the club have been of a most harmonious character. PALM BEACH CLUB-HOUSE. (1929, July 11). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 12. Retrieved from


The Palm Beach Surf Club's hut is to be removed from its present situation in a valuable public reserve to a more suitable site, near the centre of the beach. The Warringah Shire council will erect the new hut, which will cost £300. PALM BEACH SURF CLUB HUT. (1929, August 31). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 22. Retrieved from

By December 1929 this building opened, south of the council dressing sheds. This structure comprised a club room, shower room, casualty room, lavatory, verandah and boatshed. Water came via a well and windmill, with any additions funded by members.

Photo caption: 'Palm Beach as it was' - note PBSLSC bunkhouse/clubhouse building in background with dark walls and light coloured roof. The Club applied to place a room for surfboards underneath but was knocked back by the council. Clearly simply stacking them against the exterior walls for quick access was practised. From: (Vol. 20 No. 2 1 February 1939 ). The Palm Beach myth, The Home : an Australian quarterly Retrieved from

The dances at the Palladium provided this funding - a few examples of those record raising funds at this venue occurred throughout the establishment of facilities for PBSLSC Members from the beachfront 'clubhouse' into the Chorley years for what today is known as the Cabbage Tree Club:


Three hundred visitors, many of whom motored from Sydney for the occasion, were present at the successful dance held at the Palladium, Palm Beach, last night, to raise funds for the Palm Beach Surf Life-Saving Club. Hosts and hostesses who are entertaining large house-parties took their guests to the dance, adding to the record attendance. Another dance will be held at the Palladium on New Year's Eve, with the same object. Mrs. A. Samuels and Mr. Burford Dawson, who were the hon. secretaries for last nights dance, are also arranging next Saturday's party.  NEAR AND FAR. (1932, December 27). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 2. Retrieved from

The list of attendees for the New Years' dance at the Palladium, again to rise funds for the surf club, lists a who's who of Palm Beach surf club and visitors during this era:



Palm Beach Surf Club's dance at the Palladium on New Year's eve was a specially bright affair, and eclipsing, in gaiety and attendance, all previous records for the club's revelries.

SHORTS, shirts, and pyjamas' were the wear, some of the men's outfits eclipsing the women's in brilliance. Conspicuous among these was a man In scarlet shirt and light blue shorts— the latter complete with one ferocious-looking dagger in the belt. Doug. Levy tied a gay scarlet bandana, cowboy fashion, round his neck, while brother Pat's canary pullover, blue shorts, and scarlet golf hose made a bright blotch , of color. Mrs. Graham Body, who has taken to brushing- her auburn hair straight back from her forehead, looked cool in blue and white spotted pyjamas. Mrs. Betty Grlgson wore quaint overalls of blue and white checked gingham, which were a piquant contrast to the pink embroidered silken suit tavored by Mrs. Laurie Foster. 


Joy White, from Muswellbrook, chose chocolate flannel slacks, and tied a gaily patterned silk handkerchief round the top. Mrs. Alrenn Samuels, In black satin trousers, also favored the handkerchief top, and was so busy with her official duties she scarcely found tlmo to danoe. Others In the huge crowd which romped and -formed crocodiles round the room at the stroke of 'midnight were Mr. and Mrs. John Gunning, Mr. and Mrs. Hunter McPherson, Mr. and Mrs. Tom Vincent. Mr. and Mrs. Ted Keep, Mr. and Mrs. Philip Lloyd-Jones, Mrs. Walter Keith-Elliott, Mr. and Mrs. Graham Pratten, Mr. and Mrs. Jack Prat-ten, Mr. and Mrs. Doug. Doyle, Mr. and Mrs. George Mervale, Mr. and Mrs. Paul Cohen. Mr. and Mrs. Vernon Dlbbs. Also In the throng were Mrs. Fat Levy, Mrs. R. A. Eakln. Mrs. J. W. Plckburn, Mrs. Dorothy Shepherd, Mr. and Mrs. John Wardlaw. Barbara and Sheila Smart, Pamela Osborne. Pamela McPhlllamy, Babe Pain, Noel Boyd, Mary Adams, Cherry Davles. Mary Wells. Joan Ord, Pauline McDonald. Janle Kelth-EUlott, Muriel Cob-croft, Margaret Hagon, Dletje Andrlesse. Nancy McNaught, Audrey Favlell, Jean Ruthven. AUne Edwards, and Nuttle Mackellar (fresh from the Strathaird cruise), Betty Stuart Murray, Peggy Street, Elsie McWillam, Mollie Wolfcarius, Peggy Royle, the George Chapmans, Pat McDonald, Audrey Peters, Madeline Mackay-Sim, Mrs. Dick Kirby, Peter Stewart, Owen Rees, Lieutenant and Mrs. Max Clark. 


Other dancers were Sam Hordern (who wore his Oxford blazer), Captain Beale, Angus Macpherson, Dick Royle, Alastair Alexander, Paddy Kenny, Keith Hardie, Captain de Traftord. Ken Hall, Alan Major, Asenath, and Bruce Rylance, Adrian Curlewis, Hugh Luscombe-Newman, John Wood, Claude Healy. Dr. Seelos, John Hawkes, Elton Ifould. George Elfbeck, Neville Malley, Bing Carson, Pete Hunter, Jim Fraser, Laurie Foster, and John Ralston. PALM BEACH DANCE (1933, January 2). The Daily Telegraph (Sydney, NSW : 1931 - 1954), p. 3. Retrieved from

A KIND of farewell- to- Palm-Beach-night is being held tomorrow at the popular seaside resort. The event is really to raise more money to pay off the debt of the Surf Life Saving Clubhouse, which cost £170 to build. The Christmas and New Year dances realised £125 and the club members arc holding the dance to-morrow night with the idea of attracting those people whose house-parties have already broken up, and those for whom the dance may be a final gay flutter — incidentally wiping off the balance of the debt. The Palladium, Palm Beach, will be the ballroom again. Brevities (1933, January 27). The Sun (Sydney, NSW : 1910 - 1954), p. 6 (CRICKET STUMPS). Retrieved from

Warringah Shire Records of Meetings show a Clifton Wooden was applying to make petrol supplies available outside the Palladium in 1933:

C.R. Wooden, 28/8/33, applying for permission to erect a Petrol petrol pump in front of "The Palladium" on the ocean beach at Palm Beach. Resolved, 4 That the Engineer inspect and decide whether permission should be granted. Crs. Hitchcock; Sterland

Geoff and Bill's research shows permission was granted because two filler covers are still visible on the footpath at the northern end of the building in some of the Milton family photos. One could also assume that the fuel tank remains as the filler covers are still in place. Interestingly, none of the current historical photos show the fuel pump itself.

Ray Henman, whose family had a garage on the Pittwater side, shared some family photos in his 2022 Profile that indicate what may have been in place.

Palm Beach garage on Pittwater side of Palm Beach (near and in current day line of shops). Photo: Ray Henman family albums.

Clifton Wooden also 'made the papers' for:


For selling liquor without a licence at the Palladium, Palm Beach, on November 11, Duncan Osborne, 57, storeman, was fined £30 or 60 days by Mr. Arnott, S.M., in the Metropolitan Licensing Court yesterday. Clifton Wooden, 27, storekeeper, charged with appearing and manager of the premises and having  failed to produce the authority to sell liquor, was fined £10 or 20 days.  SLY-GROG SOLD AT PALM BEACH (1933, November 21). The Labor Daily (Sydney, NSW : 1924 - 1938), p. 6. Retrieved  from

Duncan was selling beer. The dances went on though:

Society Plays Up in the Moonlight: .
How They Did It At Palm Beach
And What a Morning After
THERE was a sound of revelry by night. Palm Beach was about to see in the New Year. Not on Sunday night, mark you; but on Saturday night. Any old night between Christmas and New Year is likely to become New Year's Eve at Palm Beach. The dance at the Palladium was in full swing. Things were commencing to liven at the Laurie Foster's big party in their pretty green bungalow on the side of the hill. And all the while Old Man Barren joey winked a wicked beam from his single eye on the revellers. 
WHEN "Smith's" arrived at Palm Beach on Saturday afternoon, all was quiet on the ocean front. Most of the holiday makers had gone to Pittwater to witness the regatta. But two or three notices, displayed here and there on trees and fences, indicated that matters would liven up in the next few hours. "Get your aspirin and ice at the local store while the supplies last," read one notice. Another bore the direction: "Private detectives park here." A third read: "No more bottle-ohs need apply. The twenty successful applicants can start work at once." About nine o'clock, the dancers began to arrive at the Palladium, and one of the first to take the floor was Eric Campbell, with his wife. Eric was coatless and sported a blue shirt. "Just for to-night I am General O'Duffy," he laughingly told "Smith's." 

Soon the hall was packed with hundreds of dancers. Young girls and matrons alike danced in slacks, shorts, and gaily striped pyjamas, while most of the men sported open shirts and shorts. The night was hot, and mosquitoes buzzed, but everyone was happy. Here, in a quiet corner, a couple kissed surreptitiously, while there, a lad, armed with a mosquito spray, hosed the bare and shapely legs of the girls as they drifted by. A bewitching creature in biscuit-colored pyjamas, with a rope of amber beads around her lovely white neck, smiled into her sweetheart's eyes. Some night, some moon, some wonderful girl! Most of the dancers glided smoothly to the haunting strains of the jazz band, while others were almost grotesque in their endeavors to trip' the light fantastic. Eric Campbell, with head erect and graceful carriage, might have been an expert dancer but for his recent acquisition of weight. One of the most charming dancers on the floor was Miss Mary Wells in black open shirt, and black slacks. 

Captain Rex Beale, dancing with Mrs. Alrema Samuels, looked suspiciously upon "Smith's" and whispered to his partner that he thought Sergeant Chuck was "among those present." But all this gaiety was only a preliminary, an aperitif an appetiser for what was to follow. About eleven o'clock, the dancers began to dwindle, for lots were leaving and wending their way up the hillside to the charming residence of Mr. and Mrs. Laurie Foster. Mr. Foster extended an 1'nvltation to "Smith's" to be present. On our way up to the party, a little after midnight, we tripped over a couple of Scots in kilts. They were resting by the roadway, and seemed to have lost all interest in the festivities. Their bagpipes were nearby, deserted, looking like murdered turkeys. Here, at the Foster's, was a party, indeed — an orgy of music, dancing, cocktails, and other refreshments, frankfurts and potato chips — a whirlwind party made up of sixty people, mostly in startling fancy dress. And everyone was called "playmate." There was Mr. Foster himself in- a Chinese costume. His wife was charming in white slacks. Eric Campbell still . had his blue shirt. Mrs. Kitty Hay made a striking gipsy, and also of the party were Mrs. D. Kirby, Mr. and Mts. Noel Richards, Colleen Gray, as a Chinese girl, and her fair sister, Goldie; Kirrie Cade, Kath Hay, Mrs. Merle Poulton, Mr. and Mrs. Toykander, Miss Waddell, Bill Dawson, Mrs. Trikojus, Dr. Lee Brown, Mr. Pat Levy (a South Sea Islander), Mrs. Betty Grlgson, Mr. Doug. Levy, who made an excellent study of Gandhi, his wife as a Javanese; Mrs. Alrema Samuels, Mr. Byron Wrigley, Mr. Peter Horlick, Mr. Bill McMahon, Mr. Byng Carson, Mr. Alan Major, a "Night of the Bath," Bobble... as an overgrown kid, his wife as a Fijian, Lin Armytage as a sheik, or, perhaps, it was a ghost; Nancy Mac-naught, yet another Chinese; Dr. Rex Money, the modern woman; Mr. and Mrs. John Gunning, .Mr. and Mrs. Harry Hyne, Miss Babe Pain, Dr. Hal Cram... Miss Sheila.

Lowe, Captain Rex Beale, Mrs. Audrey Favlell, as a jockey, and Mr. John Hedge. The party finished when the sun was peeping over the horizon. That morning — but not too early — the revellers straggled down to the beach, and lay about lazily under huge sunshades. Eric Campbell sprawled over the sand in a maroon costume and topee. Mary Durham— jet black hair and spark-....white costume with red straps. There were many beautiful chassis spread over those golden sands. Mrs. Laurie Foster was there in a blue costume, enjoying a siesta under a big silk sunshade. Her husband strolled around, lost in thought. Colleen Gray sported a red and white costume. Her sister Goldie, vaunted a backless white (and howl), and Kirrie Cade wore blue, Doug. Levy had a 1926 model in faded blue. His wife, Barbara, looked wonderfully fresh "the morning after the night before." Pat Levy, in woollen shorts, displayed a hairy chest, but not quite so hairy as that which brother Doug, revealed when he rolled his costume down. Dr. Matt Banks accompanied his wife to the beach, and received congratulations on his fresh and spruce appearance. Mr. Ronald Bruce Walker, M.L.A.. propelled his long shanks over the sands. With him were his wife, Mrs. Stuart Mitchell, and Mr. Bruce Tebbutt. Dr. Hal Cramsie engaged Miss Heather Field and Miss Sheila Lowe in animated conversation while Mrs. "Sammy" Samuels stretched out on the sand, allowing the sun to do its best and worst to the epidermis of her pretty back. Pyjamas of every hue were to be seen on the beach. Some were floral, others were striped like zebras and snakes. One young girl, who had nothing stronger than two cups of tea the night before, complained of a hangover ! But you must do that at Palm Beach. You simply must have a hang-over !! Lots of the beach loungers — you could hardly call them surfers — had acquired a lovely bronze. Most resembled cooked lobsters. During the morning, a couple of people were carried out by the surf, but even such distressing events failed to arouse much interest in the weary gathering. 

Captain Rex Beale was responsible for a magnificent rescue, but his brave deed passed almost unnoticed. That day, Reg. Prevost entertained Admiral Dalgleish. In the evening, Mr. and Mrs. C. B. Wilshire held a big cocktail party at their, home, "Kendall," and, later, the hosts and guests went to the Palladium to an invitation dance to see the real New Year's Eve in. The dance, which began at midnight, was a great success, but tame when compared with the revels of the night before. The night was cool with sea breezes and the moon shone brightly; but there was something missing. Perhaps it was the aroma of fried chips and frankfurts. Anyhow, so far as Palm Beach was concerned, New Year's Eve had passed twenty-four hours before.

A trio at the Palladium. — Mr. "Chang" or "Tarsan" Mackenzie, one of the 50 police trainees....

Miss Edna Ottoway, and Mrs. Alrema ("Sammy")Samuels. 

ABOVE RIGHT. . — Miss Ruth Allen, of Point Piper, looked very attractive in her black and white striped slacks as she danced at the Palladium with her fiancé, Mr. Charlie Buchanan,- of Point Piper: ... Society Plays Up in the Moonlight: Intimate Flashlight Photos on Page 6 (1934, January 6). Smith's Weekly (Sydney, NSW : 1919 - 1950), p. 1. Retrieved from 

Midnight Merrymakers coolly and informally dressed, caught by the nightflash camera of PIX at Palm Beach.  “The Spirit of Palm Beach?” Some say it’s gin; others, whisky. This picture shows Tim Osborne, one of the  well-knowns, preferring beer.  Car Bars at Palm Beach are common when dances are held at the  Palladium, a small hall near the beach. Palm Beach lacks elaborate  rooms, so most drinking is done at the parked cars of the smart set. They  are usually well-stocked with liquor.  
Bare-Legged Dancers. Formal evening dress is scorned at Palm Beach  parties. Shorts and sandals are worn by both sexes.  

(1938). WHEN THE SECOND-WETTEST PLACE IS THE SEA, Pix Retrieved  from  Vol. 1 No.1 (29 January 1938)

A few more of those Palladium interiors for this 1938 End of Summer dance from 'Palm Beach, 6 January 1938' photographed by Ray Olson, courtesy Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales and Courtesy ACP Magazines Ltd. that ran and didn't run in that Issue of the PIX Magazine:

Warringah Shire Council records parking improvements:

October 11th, 1938: The SHIRE ENGINEER'S ADDITIONAL Supplementary REPORT was dealt with as follows:- ... 2. Palm Beach Parking Area - Suggesting a vote of £100 for extension of the parking area at Ocean Road in front of The Palladium; Resolved (Crs. Nicholas, Butcher) - That this be referred to the Works Committee.

October 3rd, 1939: Parking By Cr. Hitchcock - Will you direct that the Police Department be requested to agree to the erection of "No Parking" signs on the western side of Ocean Road between The Palladium and Governor Phillip Park? By Cr. Hitchcock Could the adjustment of the areas of the camping lots on Governor Phillip Park be expedited? 

Corner of Palm Beach and Ocean roads, circa 1937-39. Photo: Goddard family

It was a place Whale Beach SLSC utilised for their annual events and fundraisers as well:


The Whale Beach Surf Club's social committee will hold a dance at the Palladium, Palm Beach, tonight, to raise funds towards providing the club with a surf-boat. SURF BOAT DANCE (1938, March 5). The Daily Telegraph (Sydney, NSW : 1931 - 1954), p. 19. Retrieved from


Trophies won by Whale Beach Surf Life Saving Club members last season will be presented at the club's dance, at the Palladium, Palm Beach, tonight. The annual meeting will be held tomorrow, in the public dressing sheds, at 3 p.m. WHALE BEACH SURFERS (1940, October 5). The Daily Telegraph (Sydney, NSW : 1931 - 1954), p. 14. Retrieved from

Joseph Henry Graham defaulted on his loan, and this resulted in a mortgagee sale. In 1943, the Palladium was sold for £1550 by Richard and Wrench Ltd.

PALM BEACH THE PALLADIUM OCEAN ROAD Shop and Dance Hall - Cafe with small Dwelling at rear. Mortgagee sale. RICHARDSON and WRENCH LTD Auctioneers. Advertising (1943, September 30). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 1. Retrieved from

On the 24th of January 1944, Starr and Bowkett Building Co-operative Society No 7 Limited sold the property to Jessie Eliza Milton (nee Atkins), the wife of Leslie Fredrick Milton (Palm Beach Garage Proprietor). Their son Allan Maxwell 'Max' Milton would marry Ruth 'Peggy' Gertrude Hammond of the Hammond dairy family at Careel Bay. 

The August 29th, 1944 - Warringah Shire Council Minutes record:  

J. E. Milton's proposed alterations at "The Palladium'', Palm  Beach, That approval be granted.

It is likely that the precast cement 'dining room' window boxes were added at this time. They are not visibly present in the above photo from between 1937 and 1939. 

Then, as now, Council permission needed to be gained to add signage to anything facing a main street. Later Milton family photos show these were made to stand out, although not large to begin with, through the application of a darker colour on the lettering backed by white relief or a white panted background for the main walls of the building, as can be szeen in the postcard below.

Palladium, ABHS  Postcard: Murray Series - Views No. 7 - the photo this was taken from:

On one side of the Palladium building the precast cement 'Dining Room' widow boxes have been retained.

The other main change soon after the Milton family took over was to change the dance hall to a dining hall, permanently:


(L.s.) F. U. JORDAN, Lieutenant-Governor.

If is hereby notified that Part II of the abovecited Act shall no longer apply to the premises specified in the appended Schedule, as such premises have ceased to be used for public entertainment purposes.

Signed and sealed at Sydney this 10th day of July, 1946.

By His Excellency Command - J.M. Baddeley 



Palm Beach, The Palladium.

THEATERS AND PUBLIC HALLS ACT, 1908-1940.—PROCLAMATION. (1946, July 26). Government Gazette of the State of New South Wales (Sydney, NSW : 1901 - 2001), p. 1695. Retrieved  from 

With the 'dance hall' aspect of the Palladium gone the focus was on providing food and also general store supplies, which the Milton family excelled at into the early 1960's.

Palm Beach beachfront, 1946. Item: FL3736087, courtesy NSW State Records and Archives - Note the scalloped top to the building in this image from the Milton family albums

On the 28th of June 1963, the property was sold to Alexander Laurence Rentoul (Kirribilli Manager) and on the 14th of April 1967, he leased the property to William Julian Moore (Palm Beach Restaurateur). Alexander had a loan from the National Bank of Australia Limited. The mortgage was discharged on the 22nd of August 1969.

On the 18th of April 1969, the property was transferred to Naroma Investments Pty Ltd On the 22nd of August 1973, the property was transferred to William Skountzos and Leo Papadolias as joint tenants.

Johnny 'Super' Stewart, the famous speedway racer and Wallamatta Road, Newport resident, owned the restaurant in the building back in the early 1970s according to residents memories of dining there. Then it was called the 'Blue Pacific Restaurant'. It passed out of his hands in 1973. 

On the 20th of February 1976, the property was purchased by Geoffrey Roy Watson (Architect), David Lane Elfick (Film Producer), and Garth David Murphy (Salesman), who were tenants in common in equal shares.

On April 14, 1978, the property ownership changed to only two parties, David Lane Elfick (Film Producer) and Garth David Murphy (Salesman), who were tenants in common in equal shares. The title number is Volume 13611—Folio 95.

Mr David Elfick's Address to the March 2024 ABHS Meeting

David Elfick is an Australian film and television writer, director, producer and occasional actor. He is known for his association with writer-director Phillip Noyce, with whom he has collaborated on films including Newsfront (1978) and Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002).

David has won numerous awards including Australian Film Institute (Best Picture), Berlin Film Festival Crystal Bear (Jury prize), International Catholic Film Critics Award (Best Picture), Australian Writers Guild (Best Screenplay twice), Rio De Janerio Film Festival (Audience prize), Taormina Film Festival (Best Film).

However, it is as the long-term owner of the Palladium art deco building on the Palm Beach beachfront that most of us know him, including being the host of some of the best parties in Palm Beach during the 1980’s, attending films there, and the great work being done there when it became the Palm Beach Studio under his and a group of friends from the mid-1970’s on.  

David Elfick on the Palladium and Palm Beach Studio
Talk given at the March 2024 ABHS Meeting

I first became aware of the building around 1970. I was living in a flat under a house on Barrenjoey road, near the ferry wharf. It was a Saturday morning and I was engaged in idle chitchat with my neighbour Cath H. I asked her what she did last night;

‘We went to the Greek restaurant in the Palladium,’ she answered
‘Any good?’ I enquired
‘Not really,’ she said, ‘the manager shot his wife dead before we got the main course.’

Years passed.

After the murder the building struggled as a nightclub, with a fish and chip shop in the front, lost its licence, closed and began the descent into a derelict building.

With two other friends who needed space to work, we rented the building and worked hard to turn it into a suable creative space. This involved many trips to the tip with such objects as the fish shop vats, still containing congealed fat with a dead cockroach topping.

The building is a unique structure, in the great tradition of the Australian farm shed.

The main room is 11 metres by 13 metres. With a ceiling height of 4 metres, the truss roof is supported by 8 190 centimetre square hardwood columns. It’s a large open room, the feature being a secretly nailed tallow wood dance floor with rubber pads on top of the supporting pylons to give the floor some bounce.

We succeeded in turning the Palladium into a usable space and soon the landlord was hovering, talking about rent increases. So 4 of us decided to buy the property. We went to the bank for a loan but were refused. Back in the 1970’s banks only made property loans to married couples. Then, a gay couple from Mosman were refused a loan to buy a flat, challenged that discriminatory ruling, and were successful. Our loan approved, we owned the Palladium; now we could start renovating.

The first thing to go was the shop awning, which was eaten away with rust and was about to collapse anyway. We hacksawed through the remaining rusted metal supports and it crashed onto the pavement below. 

We removed the fish shop entrance and replaced it with plain glass and a pillar to give the façade a uniform appearance. We added garden beds that matched those near the main entrance. 

Over the next 14 years the building underwent constant changes. The art deco influenced interior windows on either side of the entrance were replicated for interior walls on the eastern side of the dance floor. Fibro sheeting was removed and replaced with opaque Perspex to let more light into the building. At the back we opened the building up and created a courtyard by demolishing the dank laundries that were not part of the building. The corrugated asbestos roof was replaced with a Colourbond one.

The Palm Beach Palladium became the Palm Beach Studio.  From being a public building it became a communal building, a wonderful creative space; it was an Editing Room, we built sets and filmed scenes for movies. In one set, for the film Chain Reaction, the postmistress of a country town is murdered; art imitating life.

We had some great parties, art exhibitions, book launches, weddings, significant birthdays, it was even an animation studio for a few months back in 1975, the animation desks lined up along the front windows.

That Winter the biggest seas I have ever seen at Palm Beach were lashing the beach and the building. The car park, then unsealed, was dotted with the 44-gallon drums that were the garbage tins in that time. The power of the ocean had washed away all the sand from under the art deco toilet block and change rooms of the ‘Pavilion’ building across the road. High tide was approaching; I knelt down so my eye was at the bottom of the full-length glass and could see the waves were above the car park.

A Kombi van pulled into the car park and stopped. The driver checked out the spectacle then drove off. Minutes later a massive set came through. The biggest wave washed across the car park, across Ocean Road and lapped up against the building. The 44-gallon drums were like corks, sluiced 50 metres up Palm Beach Road before they came to rest. That Kombi driver was both foolhardy and lucky. If he had stopped a few minutes later the van and is occupant could have been washed into the raging seas. I called the police and asked them to close Ocean Road.

It’s often a unique experience owning a public building that is no longer public. One Saturday night about 8 of us were sitting around a table having dinner when a very elderly man walked through the door and sat down to join us. He was unaware that the Palladium restaurant had been closed for some years. He said he had driven from Bourke to see his daughter, who lived up in Bynya Road. She wasn’t home. He was hungry so we fed him. After his meal and a cup of tea he left, getting into an ancient Holden covered in red dust with chicken wire across the windscreen to ward off the stones. He really had just driven from Bourke.

On another occasion a staggeringly drunk young woman lurched through the door, announced she was too pissed to drive home and needed a room. We had one spare so we obliged.
The problem with owning a former tea room is that friends and acquaintances continue to drop in unannounced or invited and expect to be refreshed. At the end of a warm Sunday we had had over 30 unexpected visitors. I’d had enough. I took a hammer and chisel and chipped off the art deco ‘Dining Room’ lettering that was on either side of the front door.
This act of vandalism I will forever regret. It may warrant my expulsion from the Historical Society.

The studio was also a storage place for props and costumes left over from my movie productions, a constant source of fascination for our Sunrise Road neighbour Mouche Phillips, who first walked through the back door when she was 4 years old and was a constant visitor for the next decade.

Some of the props and costumes were stored in the roof cavity and Mouche decided to take her girlfriend Joanna Farrelly up there to show her this Aladdin’s Cave of delights. I was out back having a shower when I heard the screams. I jumped out of the shower, gathered a towel around myself with one hand and rushed into the studio. Mouche lay on the floor, dust and props around her, and hanging from a gaping hole in the fibro ceiling was Joanna. Letting go of the towel I rushed underneath her just as she fell, and with my arms and body managed  to break her fall. Joanna emerged unscathed, Mouche sustained a broken arm.

The highlight of those first 14 years was the Palm Beach Film Club. Back in the 1970’s there was no VHS, no DVD and no SBS, so the only way to see foreign films after their limited cinema release was 16mm prints hired to unregistered film clubs. We had a projector and a big roll down screen from my surfing movie days so we cut a hole in the wall, put glass over it for our bio box, and we had a cinema. 

The driving forces behind the film club were Sally Edwards and Sue Watson. They booked the films, which screened once a fortnight, set out the chairs – we had plenty left over from the restaurant days – and provided tea and Arnott’s plain assorted biscuits afterwards. The Entrance fee was $2 which included supper.

From October 10, 1977 edition of Tharunka (Kensington, NSW : 1953 - 2010) 

We screened wonderful films from Scandinavia, France, Germany and Japan.  We always got a crowd, a real cross section of the local community. Everyone stayed on afterwards to have a cuppa and talk about the film we had just seen. I remember after the screening of a great Renoir film, The Rules of the Game, eavesdropping on a conversation between a very wealthy retired stockbroker and a single mother on the dole; both enlivened by the film, its themes, its ideas, its depiction of France in moral decay just prior to World War II. Cinema had brought together two people that would never have met otherwise. It made the effort of the film club worthwhile.

For the first 40 years we had a wonderful tolerant neighbour in Marie Toohey. With her dry wit and astute observations about the cricket, she was always good for an entertaining chat. Despite the nose and the madness which sometimes came from the studio we only had two disagreements. 

The studio is a cold building in Winter so we decided to build a stone fireplace along the north wall of the main room. Our first fire was a roaring blaze that did take the edge off the chill but unfortunately the smoke from the chimney was blown straight into Marie’s kitchen window.  We never lit the fireplace again.

The building was painted white and was looking a bit shabby so the time had come to spruce it up. Marie’s house was pink and it looked a pretty good colour, especially at sunrise, so we painted the studio the same colour. Marie was furious; I was informed in no uncertain manner that good neighbours never painted their houses the same colour, a neighbourly protocol I was unaware of. After chewing me out she went home and rang her painter, who turned up the next day and painted her house a different colour.

Marie was always invited to our various events; she liked to run the bar as a way of introducing herself to our guests. No one ever went thirsty; being a Toohey, she ran a bar brilliantly.
Over the first 14 years the other owners changed and then in 1988 I had a new partner in the building; an esteemed English film producer who was a very close friend. This meant the Studio entered into another phase as his friends and colleagues, Actors, Directors, Designers, Writers and Producers, came to stay in the building and sample the pristine waters of Palm Beach. I made an interesting observation; the Americans, especially the ones from Los Angeles, fretted over the lack of security and air-conditioning, while the English loved the beach vibe, especially the outdoor shower.

The building has a ghost; a woman ghost. I’m not sure whether she is from earlier times or is the ghost of the murdered managers’ wife. There have been various sightings of her, none of them unpleasant, but I thought it best not to mention her presence.

The wonderful English actor Jeremey Irons came to stay with his talented Irish wife, Sinead Cusac, who was appearing in an Australian film. 

After their first night I enquired if they had slept well. They both did, and Sinead mentioned, almost as though it was a bonus to the good night’s sleep had within earshot of the lapping surf, that she saw a ghost whom she found to be very pleasant. Irish Sinead was not troubled in the least by a ghostly presence. 

Julian Schnabel, the American Painter and Film Director, loved the place and was unfazed by the ghost, lack of air-conditioning and security. He’s a surfer from Texas now resident in New York. Julian and his Swedish girlfriend Louise cut quite a figure in Palm Beach. They dined most evenings at Barrenjoey House in cream silk pyjamas; the only attire they wore after sunset.

Julian is a man of strong opinions and didn’t like our art collection of local artists Tony Edwards, Bruce Goold and Rodney Black, as well as our Marin Shapes, so Julian turned them al over so they faced the walls, but liked a painting by Artist and Palm Beach Store owner Wayne Magrin so much he bought 10 of his paintings.

Julian then began work on his paintings, commencing by stapling 3 large canvases along the wall of the back verandah. The canvases were old and had paint, grime and patches on them. They had been used to cover stalls in a Mexican market. They appealed to Julian; the patina of experience engrained into their weave would underpin paintings he created. The Mexican vendors were no doubt delighted, if somewhat astonished when he purchased their stall covers.

I believe that the history of the building is embedded in the dance floor, just like those Mexican canvasses now covered with Julian’s ideas. It is a building that has delivered enjoyment to many many people. That’s why kids love the building; they feel the positive vibrations of this rusting tin structure that has endured for almost 100 years.

The Royal Shakespeare Company were touring Australia. They came up to spend a few days at the studio. By day they frolicked in the ocean and got sunburnt as only the English can. At night they sat around in the main room and played charades. It seems hat some Actors never stop acting. Diana Quick was their leading lady; she’d been on the road for some time and missed her home so offered to help me with the gardening. As we gardened away together she told me about her career. In 1981 the British tv series Brideshead Revisited, which she starred in with Jeremy Irons, had taken America by storm. Being flavour of the month, Diana was off to Hollywood, a beautiful young actress on the cusp of international stardom, then something happens which changes her life. The night before leaving she was hurrying down Oxford Street in London when she tripped and smashed her face on the gutter, breaking her nose and teeth. It took more than a year of operations and therapy before she could speak properly again.

My tripping on the gutter moment came late last year when the new owner of Marie Toohey’s house next door put in a Development Application to demolish the house, turn the block of land into a quarry, as is the current building fashion in Palm Beach, and in that quarry construct a very large 4-storey building which for zoning purposes is called a home. Such an undertaking, if it goes ahead unchanged, will cast a shadow both physically and metaphorically over the studio. One can only hope that something more considerate and reasonable will eventuate.

Some things happen that can really change your life.

Well, as you have probably reached the anecdote saturation point, I will conclude by thanking Geoff Searl and the Avalon Beach Historical Society for this opportunity to speak about the Palladium, and the Palm Beach studio that has been such a rewarding part of my life for the last 50 years.

Thank you. 

References - Extras - notes

  1. John Thomas Pike - Deceased Estates Index 1880-1958. Item No: B31485 [20/4772] | Place: Strathfield | Remarks: Occupation: Retired Contractor
  2. PIKE William E - Deceased Estates Index 1880-1958 Item No: [19/10248] | Reel No: 3032 | Date Duty Paid: 06/12/1917 | Place: France and Strathfield 
  3. Johanna Maria Pike - Date of Death 07/04/1926, Place of residence Strathfield NSW
  4. L. T. Carron, 'Swain, Edward Harold (1883–1970)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1990,
  5. Heather Radi, 'Swain, Edith Muriel Maitland (1880–1964)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2002
  6. TROVE - National Library of Australia
  7. Art Deco Inspirations In Palm Beach: The Palladium Dance-Hall, Cafe and Shop - The Surf Pavilion - The Beacon Store
  8. Pittwater Summer Houses: The Cabin, Palm Beach - The Pink House Of The Craig Family
  9. Barrenjoey Lighthouse - The Construction
  10. Light Keepers of Barrenjoey Lightstation
  11. Broken Bay Customs Station At Barrenjoey: 2023 Reprise 
  12. Iluka Park, Woorak Park, Pittwater Park, Sand Point Reserve, Snapperman Beach Reserve - Palm Beach: Some History
  13. Pittwater Roads II: Where The Streets Have Your Name - Palm Beach
  14. Florida House Palm Beach: Some History
  15. The First Weekenders On The Palm Beach Beachfront + A Look Into Palm Beach SLSC Clubhouses In The Club's 101st Season
  16. Pittwater Summer Houses: Kalua, Palm Beach
  17. Pittwater Restaurants You Could Stay At Jonah's Road House – Whale Beach
  18. Pittwater Restaurants You Could Stay At Barrenjoey House – Palm Beach: 100 Years Young In 2022 - celebratory reprise
  19. Wilfrid Kingsford-Smith: 12th Of March, 1882 -  January 13, 1960 - aviators round of 4 for Avalon Tattoo precursors, 2012
  20. 'Little Mountain' Bayview - The Modernistic Art Deco House William Watson Sharp Built For Kenneth Gordon Murray During The Rise Of The K G Publishing Empire
  21. Early Pittwater Surfers: Palm Beach I  - Alrema Becke: Queen of Palm Beach
  22. Early Pittwater Surfers: Palm Beach I  - John Ralston and Nora McAuliffe
  23. Palm Beach Pavilion To Be Renamed The Lieutenant Colonel Douglas Marks DSO, MC Pavilion 
  24. Harry Wolstenholme; June 21, 1868 - October 14, 1930, Ornithologist Of Palm Beach, Bird Man Of Wahroonga
  25. The NSW Women's Legal Status Bill 1918: How The 'Petticoat Interference In Government' Came Of Age - A 100 Years Celebration Of Women Alike Our Own Maybanke Selfe-Wolstenholme-Anderson
  26. Ray Henman ACS - Profile
  27. Whale Beach Ocean Reserve: 'The Strand' - Some History On Another Great Protected Pittwater Reserve
  28. Palm Beach Golf Course 1924 To 2024: Some 100th Year History Celebratory Insights
  29. Barrenjoey Artists' Commune In The Lighthouse Cottages: Post WWII Social Infrastructure Investment Enriched Australia's Cultural Evolution
  30. The Advent Of The Surfoplane Phenomenon On Our Beaches Led To An Increase In Lifesavers Responses, A Fatality, Along With Lives Being Saved (John ‘Johnny’ Morgan Hawkes who had the Beach Buffet atop old surfboat shed alongside Pavilion notes)

15 Ocean Road Palm Beach. DA2023/1532 - from Issue 618 Community News page:Updates: Land & Environment Court Hearings + Other DA's'

This is a proposal for a 4 storey dwelling alongside the iconic Palladium building. 
A Clause 4.6 height variation request was submitted as 8.5 metres is the applicable standard for this block, and two-storeys, however 13.6 metres height is proposed to accommodate the 4-storey DA proposed, or 19.57m TOW (top of wall) on a sloping site overall, a 60% to 140% breach of what is allowed. 

This property is in an area zoned C4 Environmental Living. 
Objectives of this zoning are -
  • To provide for low-impact residential development in areas with special ecological, scientific or aesthetic values.
  • To ensure that residential development does not have an adverse effect on those values.
  • To provide for residential development of a low density and scale integrated with the landform and landscape
The Applicants agents submitted amended  plans for this proposal to Council on Friday March 15 2024 and a letter stating the height has been reduced to TOW 18.37m or 12.4m, a 53% breach of height. Council's DA webpage for that proposal provides the new details.

The address, 15 Ocean road, is one of three blocks James Brown Craig, the middle brother of a family who bought so much land in Palm Beach during the first land sales for the same, who worked at his father's company, Prescott & co. Pty Ltd "Commission Agents, Produce and Wholesale, Provision Merchants, Auctioneers". Here a house named Tigh-Na-Mara (Scottish Gaelic 'the house of the sea') was built next door to The Palladium but no longer exists - a victim of fire. A property given the same name was rebuilt on the same site used as a guesthouse for a while, bought by the Toohey family and held by them for 5 decades before being resold in 2020.

A few notes from PON History pages;

Raine and Horne Ltd at their indoor auction sale next Thursday will submit the following:
Palm Beach Tigh-Na-Mara Ocean road modern bungalow close to beach with five rooms garage etc with or without furniture 
Richard Stanton and Sons, Ltd., report that at their next auction sale, to be held in their rooms, Stanton House, 133 Pitt-street, Sydney. next Tuesday, October 18, the following properties will be offered:
Palm Beach, furnished cottage, five rooms, etc known as Miami, Florida-road, REAL ESTATE. (1934, October 13). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 8. Retrieved from

SURFING enthusiast at Palm Beach these days is the Hon. W. M. Hughes, who is staying at Tigh-Na-Mara . . . he goes for his dip in the early mornings and again in the afternoons. At the same address are Joy Minnett, Betty Oxenham, and Gwenda Ashcroft. ROUND THE TOWN. (1940, January 5). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 4. Retrieved from

Tigh-Na-Mara. Enlarged sections from EB Studios (Sydney, N.S.W.). (circa 1917-1924). Panorama of Palm Beach, New South Wales, 7 Retrieved from

Under 'new management'.

Advertising (1947, January 8). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 17. Retrieved from

NEWEST and smartest playground for the social set is Bob Stephen's Palm Beach Country Club on Ocean Road . . . you may remember the hostelry as former guest house Tigh-Na-Mara. Look Who's Here (1948, October 28). The Sun (Sydney, NSW : 1910 - 1954), p. 15 (LATE FINAL EXTRA). Retrieved from

Conversely, a DA for 14 Ocean Road (DA2021/2262), next door, was approved by Council on June 22, 2022 with only 2 concerns from residents, immediate neighbours who would be impacted, being lodged. 

This too is a four level structure. 

An amended roof plan nominated the natural ground levels below the southern edges of the proposed upper-level roof form with the south-eastern corner of the Level 2 having a maximum parapet height of RL 19.71 located immediately above interpolated natural ground level of RL 10.00. This, according to the proponents agents, confirmed a maximum building height of 9.71 metres, which, it was stated, is below the 10 metre concessional standard which may be considered on steeply sloping sites.

The areas of the development which exceed the 8.5 metre height standard have been significantly reduced through a reduction in overall building height achieved through the provision of increased setbacks to the southern boundary at each level and a pulling back of the upper level of the development relative to the street, the agents stated.

However, this will still be a significant change of what front the ocean at Palm Beach from the two storey norm.

Both these developments, at 14 and 15 Ocean Road, are costed at over $4million to build.

15 Ocean road and the former house at 14

14 Ocean road in January 2024

Concept image of how the new build at 14 Ocean road will look on completion

13 Ocean Road Palm Beach - 'Rocklands' home

ABHS March 2024 Meeting: a few photos

Those gathered: photo by John Stone:

Guest Speaker David Elfick (centre) with Geoff Searl OAM, President of ABHS (left) and William Goddard (right), who helped with the research and took interior photos of the Palladium for the slide show:

John Stone, Patron of the ABHS, who also helps out with supplying photos from his great cache and catalogue of images, taken over decades, of our local area:

Four OAMs attending: Brian Friend OAM, Warren Young OAM, Brian Friend OAM and Roger Sayers OAM:

A few more Palladium pictures from 2019 

taken by AJG/PON

The Palladium Palm Beach (1930 To  1974) & Palm Beach Studio (1976 To 2024); March 2024 Meeting of the Avalon Beach Historical Society - report and research by Geoff Searl OAM, William James Goddard Jnr., David Elfick, A J Guesdon, with assistance from Rogers Sayers OAM and Brian Friend OAM