November 26 - December 2, 2023: Issue 607


Pittwater High School Alumni 1963 To 1973 Reunion For 2023: A Historic 60 Years Celebration + Some History

PHS Alumni: Gillies Family members with Tom Burlinson at the PHS 2023 Reunion
The first ten years of students, the Pittwater High School Alumni  of 1963 to 1973, gathered at the Royal Motor Yacht Club on Saturday November 25th for their annual Reunion, this time celebrating 60 Years since the first class commenced.

The site for the school was resumed in 1961.

Top photo: Bay View Road Mona Vale circa 1900-1905(current day Pittwater road right to Bayview and Church Point) looking north from Mona Street. St John's Church can be seen to the left of the photo - this had been moved there from the Mona Vale north headland in 1888. By 1904 the wooden church had deteriorated to such an extent that it had to be demolished and a small stone church was built by James Booth on the present site at 1624 Pittwater Road Mona Vale, much closer to the village centre and was built in 1906 and opened in 1907. The residents raised funds by holding entertainments in the now demolished 'Booths Hall' at Mona Vale as well as by other means.

The cottage at the right front, which appears to have a turret, is actually James Shaw's house on the hillside above the corner of Cabbage Tree and Bayview roads. The two Cabbage Tree Palms marked the old border between Bayview and Mona Vale.

Above; the Bayview road looking south towards Mona Vale.  Mona Vale was once called 'Rock Lily'; people born in the area even into the 1920's had their birthplace recorded as 'Rock Lily'. Images from State Library of NSW and State Library of Victoria

Mark Horton, whose family have lived in the Mona Vale and Bayview areas for three generations, says:

'The land in the top photo, right hand side, is the stretch of Bayview Road, now Pittwater Road running past the now Pittwater High School site. The houses on the right were on the Pittwater High School site and were demolished in an early morning clandestine action by the Department of Education in the early 1970s. Instead of preserving a bit of local history on the school site two houses with historic significance were demolished. The area where they stood is still green space.'

Guy and Joan Jennings 'Mona Vale Stories' (Arcadia Publishing Newport NSW, 2007) records:

On the eastern side of Bayview Road here were three cottages. They were built by Tom Arter who was commissioned by the Esbank Estate in Lithgow to build them as Show Houses. Tom's grandson, George Johnson, recalls that the bricks came from the Wilcox family in Bassett Street, however a Mr. Shreinert remembers the bricks coming from the kiln near the Rock Lily (hotel). The roofing iron was delivered by steamer to Bayview Wharf. There is some evidence to suggest the cottages were let for short term holidays. However for most of the time they were associated with a number of permanent residents'.

The northern most at 1686 Bayview road was called 'Eskbank', a name that came from an old house at Lithgow. This is the cottage that Louisa Dunbar came to in 1909 after the death of her husband, with he three children. She ran the bakery there until the Maiseys took over around 1913. The Maiseys stayed until their father George died in 1931 and most of the family returned to Parramatta. Henry 'Joe' Johnson and his family became the residents during 1938-1940 and he worked as a groundsman at Bayview Golf Course for 47 years.

The family that spent the most time in the house were the Lewis' who bought the property in 1946 and stayed until 1973 when they sold to Mr and Mrs Symonds who planned to restore the home. It was demolished in suspicious circumstances in 1978.

The middle cottage, No. 1682, was owned by Sam, and Mabel Perry from around 1916 until the 1960's when it was taken by the Education Department and demolished.

The southernmost cottage, No. 1678, closest to the corner of Mona Street, was first owned by Richard and Margaret Reid. The next resident was John Thomas Hewitt, policeman and Shire Councillor who later owned the Mona Vale Hotel site, where they built a home, and acreage along present day Golf Avenue. This was then taken over by the Shreinert  family who at one time ran refreshment rooms here.

In 1961-62 the Education Department resumed around 2 acres each from the three homes; Lewis', Perrys and Shreinerts, leaving around half an acre to each house. When Mabel Perry passed away her house and remaining and were sold to the Education Department and the house was quickly demolished. By 1973 both the Lewis' and Shreinerts were weary of living surrounded by the school yard with no proper fences. The Shreinerts sold to the Education Department, and as recorded above, they sold to the Symonds, who also found the site too much and also sold.'

Local lore states that, keen to stop a heritage listing for this last cottage, which it was of course, the Department knocked down Eskbank on the October long weekend of 1978.

The land resumptions, officially published in the NSW Government Gazette, shows 15 acres were resumed at first - all part of the land bought by the Mona Vale Land Company from the Darley estate. Land Resumption Notice:


IT is hereby notified and declared by His Excellency the Governor, acting with the advice of the Executive Council, that so much of the land described in the Schedule hereto as is Crown land is hereby appropriated, and so much of the said land as is private property is hereby resumed, under the Public Works Act, 1912, as amended, for the following public purpose, namely a High School at MONA VALE, and that the said land is vested in the Minister for Education as Constructing Authority on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen.

Dated this twenty-fifth day of October, one thousand nine hundred and sixty-one.

E. W. WOODWARD, Governor. By His Excellency's Command,

ERN. WETHERELL, Minister for Education.

The Schedule

All that piece or parcel of land situate in the Shire of Warringah, parish of Narrabeen and county of Cumberland, being part of the land comprised in Real Property Application 20,799, part of the land firstly described in Deed Registered Book 733, No. 445, and part of the land described in Deed Registered Book 2,038, No. 592: Commencing at the intersection of the north-western side of Mona-street with the north-eastern side of Pitt water-road; and bounded thence on the south-west by the said north-eastern side of Pittwater-road bearing 324 degrees 5 minutes 264 feet 101 inches to the westernmost corner of the land comprised in Certificate of Title, volume 4,215, folio 27; on the north-west by part of the north-western boundary of that land bearing 30 degrees 38 minutes 30 seconds 164 feet; again, on the south-west by a line bearing 326 degrees 9 minutes 10 seconds 404 feet li inches to the north-western boundary of the land comprised in Certificate of Title, volume 4,360, folio 148; on the south-east by part of that boundary bearing 210 degrees 20 minutes 176 feet 4 inches to the said north-eastern side of Pittwater-road; again on the south-west by that side of that road bearing successively 330 degrees 36 minutes 40 seconds 96 feet, 334 degrees 57 minutes 40 seconds 96 feet 31 inches, 339 degrees 19 minutes 5 seconds 96 feet 31 inches, 343 degrees 40 minutes 30 seconds 96 feet 3  ½ inches and 348 degrees 1 minute 55 seconds 64 feet 101 inches to the northwestern boundary of the said land firstly described in Deed Registered Book 733, No. 445; again on the north-west by part of that boundary bearing 30 degrees 33 minutes 678 feet i inch to the northernmost corner of that land; on the northeast by the north-eastern boundary of that land bearing 143 degrees 57 minutes 380 feet 1 inch; again on the south-east by part of a south-eastern boundary of that land bearing 210 degrees 20 minutes 5 feet 8 inches to the northernmost corner of the said land comprised in Real Property Application 20,799; and again on the north-east and south-east by the north-eastern and south-eastern boundaries of that land bearing successively 143 degrees 58 minutes 15 seconds 659 feet 6 1/2 inches, 220 degrees 29 minutes 2 feet 3 inches and 210 degrees 13 minutes 30 seconds 801 feet 7i inches to the point of commencement,—having an area of 15 acres 3 roods 5 ½ perches or thereabouts, and said to be in the possession of Phyllis E. John and others. (586) NOTIFICATION OF RESUMPTION OF LAND UNDER THE PUBLIC WORKS ACT, 1912, AS AMENDED (1961, November 10). Government Gazette of the State of New South Wales (Sydney, NSW : 1901 - 2001), p. 3588. Retrieved from 

Six acres came from

In 1963 Pittwater operated with 200 students and 20 staff out of one building built on flood land resumed in 1961 with Stage I costing; Pittwater High, new school, £279,644; Nearly £12 Million on Schools (1963, September 6). Western Herald (Bourke, NSW : 1887 - 1970), p. 13. Retrieved from

When speaking to Christine Homer, of that Homer family who owned so much land and had a dairy and horses at Mona Vale - Bayview, Christine explained that as part of the first cohort they commenced at the beginning of 1963 in just one building which is now the Science block. Subsequent buildings were added as the school progressed and new 'forms' or years came to start.

Jenny and Christine Homer

Christine was a Prefect and her sister Jenny explained at the reunion that she 'dobbed her in' for some misdemeanour during her time at Pittwater High School.

''I wasn't one of the cool kids,'' Christine chuckled, ''I was one of the goody-two-shoes.''

The Homer and Hawkins families are synonymous with Mona Vale and Bayview. Brian Friend OAM sent in a few years back;

This is down where Pittwater High School was built.

The house on the corner of Mona Street/Bassett St was the Homers home. Sir Edward Halstrom (refrigerator builder) also leased the paddock when he supported Taronga Zoo to grow Lucern. The Olivers lived on the other corner and were part of the Mona Vale history. Ronnie Hawkins owned the property where the school is and had a trotting track for training 'trotters'. Ronnie was a real character and I remember changing a set of spark plugs in his old Holden FX ute after it had done just over 100,000 miles (true story).

Dorothy Hawkins

a new film by John Illingsworth

Dorothy Hawkins shares some wonderful local history of Bayview and Mona Vale in this new film by John Illingsworth.

Dorothy Hawkins family ran a dairy near Winnererremy Bay at Mona Vale from 1936. Mona Street is in the foreground of the painting shown in the film, Bassett Street with the ocean beyond in the far distance. Brock’s Folly (La Corniche) is on the hill to the right of the ocean. 

Dorothy, still 14, lived in this house and worked in these fields. Her father, Joseph Homer, later purchased all the land seen here bounded by Bassett and Mona Streets, including the buildings on the hill. 98 year old Dorothy’s story as told here is a case study of a young woman living a semi-rural life at Mona Vale prior to WWII through to the late 1960s. 

Dorothy was the last person to live on what is now Winnererremy Bay Park. Her account of eviction from the home she loved, following a brutal forced resumption, is wrenching. This was a private development by Warringah Shire Council in partnership with developer ‘Pacific Paradise’. After examining numerous documents and newspaper clippings and listening to Dorothy and her children, it seems doubtful due process was followed. A significant injustice may have been perpetrated against Dorothy and her sister, co-inheritors of the Centenary Estate Land which 32 years later became Winnerrremy Bay Park.

Joseph Homer's Dairy - Bassett Street, Mona Vale

Koalas Found In Bush At Mona Vale
Residents of the Mona Vale district declare that if a thorough search were made of their area many koalas would be found.
On one property, Homer's dairy, Mr. J. Homer says that they are to be found in the gum trees. When a "Sun" representative visited the property to-day, one koala was quickly located on a tea-tree, but he left it, ran across the ground and then mounted a large grey gum. The koala showed smart climbing prowess and was soon as high as lie possibly could get in the tree. There, he quietly munched away at the surrounding leaves. Another resident of Mona Vale, Mr. F. Mason, who has a tropical garden, also says that koalas are in the district. He said that it was difficult to find them readily, but he and his wife had often seen them in gum trees around their home. Mr. W. Brewer who has lived in the district for more than 40 years, said that, although koalas were not as plentiful as they had been, probably because of the cutting down of trees, he believed that if a thorough search were made, many would be found. Koalas Found In Bush At Mona Vale (1936, September 30). The Sun (Sydney, NSW : 1910 - 1954), p. 18 (COUNTRY EDITION). Retrieved from 

Diary farm at Mona Vale. Circa 1940. Courtesy Olwyn Johnstone, Pittwater Historical Image Library; Mona Vale Library.

Joseph James Homer kissing Annabella goodbye when he sold his dairy at Mona Vale in 1950. Photo courtesy Kevin Hawkins

Interestingly sand to fill in what was then part of the Winnererremy Bay (or Swamp) came from the Barrenjoey High School site and the back dunes of Avalon Beach. Barrenjoey High school was also mooted for a new high school, although the first intake for there didn't occur until 1968 (See; Barrenjoey High School Inaugural Students: 1968 To 1973 - 50 year celebration of Inaugural graduating class). Warringah Shire records record in August 1962:

Named for the estuary it was built beside, the first headmaster was Spencer James Gorrell, known as 'S.T.A.G.' to the first cohort, and apparently quite strict.

Mr. Gorrell was born in Kelso in 1910 to Isaac and Ida received his Primary and Secondary education in Bathurst (Bathurst High School). This insight into his childhood may lend some understanding into why a man who was born in the first decade of a new century baulked at what came with the 1960's and 1970's in Australia:


At the week-end the Rev. Canon Wilton and the Rev. Leicester Johnson, accompanied by Messrs. F. Carter, K. Waddell and Master Spencer Gorrell, came by car to O'Connell. Their mission was to give services and to introduce the new rector to his parishioners.

A very large congregation attended the service on Saturday evening. During the service Master Spencer Gorrell sang a sacred solo. After the service the congregation crossed to tho Church Hall, where a very enjoyable, social evening was held. During the evening songs were given by Miss Colloy, Mr. F. Carter, Mr. K. Waddell, Master Spencer Gorrell and the Rev. Canon Wilton, Supper was provided by the parishioners, and the evening finished with dancing. On Sunday morning Holy Communion was celebrated, and the parly then moved off to give services at other centres of the O'Council parish, namely, Yetholme, Meadow Flat, Bydal and Mount Lambic. DISTRICT NEWS (1925, August 4). The Bathurst Times (NSW : 1909 - 1925), p. 1. Retrieved from

He married Mabel Isabel Belford Mooney, a fellow high school teacher, in Taree, in 1939. 


A wedding of considerable local interest was celebrated at St. John's Church, Taree, at 5.30 p.m. on 28th August when the Rector, Rev. Walter Latham, officiated at the marriage of Miss Mabel Belford Moonev, third daughter of Mr. and Mrs. E. D. Mooney, of Taree, to Mr. Spencer Gorrell, only son of Mrs. Gorrell, of Coff's Harbour (and formerly of Bathurst) and the late Mr. I.. Gorrell. The bride and bridegroom are on the staff of the Coff's Harbour High School. The bride entered the church on the arm of her father, who st bsequently gave her away. She was attired in an attractively designed dress of Japonica romaine, with navy accessories, and car-ried a spray of orchids. The bride's sister, Miss Edna Moo-ney, was bridesmaid. Her dress was of navy wool romaine, and her spray com-prised orchids and hyachinths. Mr. H. S. Ingersole, of Bathurst, an uncle of the bridegroom, carried out the duties of best man. 

Later there was a family reception at the home of the bride's parents, after which Mr. and Mrs. Gorrell left for their honeymoon, which was spent in Sydney and on the South Coast. Their home is to be at Coff's Harbour. WEDDING BELLS (1939, September 16). The Northern Champion (Taree, NSW : 1913 - 1954), p. 2. Retrieved from

For the ten years to 1948 "Jim" Gorrell was a well respected and active member of the Coffs Harbour Community, as sportsmaster and maths teacher at the local high school, but also actively involved in other community ventures such as promoting development of Brielsford Park (now Brelsford Park), organising sporting events, and the development of evacuation plans in the event that Coffs Harbour should be attacked during the war.

He was then, as teachers were and are, sent elsewhere:

MR. "JIM" GORRELL (1948, January 16). Coffs Harbour Advocate (NSW : 1907 - 1942; 1946 - 1954), p. 7. Retrieved from

1963 Pittwater High School Teachers - Mr. Gorrell at the front in centre. At the back, second from left is Walter 'Wal' Wardle'.

Photo: Inaugural School Magazine Committee Back left to right Michael Coombes Peter Woods, Malcom Lambe, front: Sue Johnstone, Shenagh Fitzpatrick, Megan Mare and Mrs. Boland (teacher) – the school grounds can be seen in the background - Looking norwest towards Winnererremy (Winjijimmy) swamp. Photo: Peter Woods - the magazine was called 'Kalori', meaning 'message stick', which also became the name of the first yacht built by students at PHS, a programme which commenced with the opening of the school through the work of Wal Wardle.

Walter 'Wal' Wardle' also commenced teaching out west. He said during the interview for his Profile:

You were a teacher, what was your subject?

History. Initially I trained as a Primary School teacher at Bathurst Teachers College. This is where Freda and I met. I was one of the few teachers who experienced the lot: primary school,  a one teacher school in the bush, teaching infants, and one of the proudest things I can remember is teaching kids to read. Now that’s going to effect their whole lives. Later on in the end, at High School, you’re going to affect them not be reading but by encouraging them to think and to question.

I did enjoy teaching at all levels, One of the things that helped me a lot at Pittwater was that so many kids sailed. I remember I had one, Year 11 Class, and we’d get into class on a Monday morning, first period, and Jack’s son Geoff would say “Oh, wasn’t that a beautiful breeze on Saturday Sir?” ; so we’d talk sailing for 10 minutes !

That helped me with the kids; we sort of bonded. The kids in the class who weren’t into sailing at the start of the year, by the end of the year they were almost all into it; About two of them weren’t of the 24 kids. I think about 8 or 9 of them picked it as a sport; they thought ‘we’ve got to be part of this’.

When did you start at Pittwater?

When Pittwater High School opened in 1963. So it is it’s 50th year in 2012. We dropped off a model of Kalori for this; it’s in the Library. I was appointed to P.H.S in its first year. I was still doing my degree then; mainly because there’s more money as a salary when you do the degree. You did two years, three years or four years training and that was also reflected in the scale of your income; not whether you’re a good teacher, or just your years of experience.

Where did you do your degree?

I did the first bit of it at Sydney (University of Sydney) and then the rest of it at New England through the Correspondence school. We’d go up there in September for a week and meet our tutors and that worked out very well; you were also working at school, preparing lessons at night and doing the study. It was a busy time.

How did the Kalori come about ? What was the first conversation that eventuated in a yacht being built in the canteen at Pittwater High School?

It’d have to be the 1968 Sydney-Hobart Yacht Race. At the time, Harold Vaughanwhom I used to sail with on his Diamond which was called ‘Saltash’. We were halfway across Bass Strait in the yacht “Shimaal”,  in quite a storm, and Harold said,  “Well, how would you like to build a Diamond at the school?”.

I said “Oh, that’d be great Harold.” Then forgot about it.

I thought maybe, with the storm and all, it’d got to him. But Harold at the time was President of the Australian Diamond Association.  It was promoted by the English magazine ‘Yachting World’. The Yachting World Diamond Class was designed by Jack Holt with the idea being that you could build it yourself. So I just forgot all about it until Harold rang me up one evening about May the next year (1969) and said “Well, I’ve got all the materials; when are we going to start?”. So we started in June 1969.

The school was all for it?

Oh yes. We had to go and talk to the P&C Association. The headmaster Jim Gorrell, he lived in Bayview, and Jim was all for it; I don’t think he understood what he was in for, but it was built there by volunteer parents, probably would have been 10 parents, and we had a group that would come in two nights a week; I’m guessing it was the Tuesday night and Thursday night, and they would work through from 6 or 7 o’clock until whatever time the job took.

I remember one occasion when we had the by-laws inspector from the Council come around; he’d had a complaint about noise. What was happening was we were riveting and you know; Bang … BANG… BANNG!

I explained to him what we were doing, because we had glue setting, riveting etc. and he said “I’ll come back in half an hour.”
He went away, came back and by then we’d finished, and then he ordered us to stop. What a decent chap! He understood, had the spirit, exactly.

Did the students help build her as well?

Oh yes. They worked odd afternoons except Sports Days. There wasn’t a regular pattern with that. We’d just stay after school. I used to co-ordinate with the different parents on the Tuesday and Thursday evenings. Then on two or three afternoons a few of the kids would stay and do a little bit and then go home. If we ran a bit late we’d go in on the weekends and try and catch up.

Why did you choose the name ‘Kalori’; Alan told us it meant ‘Message Stick’, where did that idea spring from?

It’s a corruption of an aboriginal word; I can’t remember what the original word was, but ‘message stick’ we thought was a good word because we were going to use it as a training boat.

Message sticks were also traditionally used or given to someone who was going into another ‘country’ as a passport, passing between the different tribes; in this way it parallels sailing the different parts of the oceans as well; it translates across all those areas.

The word ‘Kalori’ was in the school anyway; it was the name for the yearbooks and magazines. Then they had one called ‘Nunana’ Kalori which was a pamphlet; a small edition. This one here, from 1972; with some pictures of Kalori. The yachting Diamond Association heard we were building a boat and they asked us would it be ready to display at the Boat Show, which was about six weeks off at the end of July, so instead of not giving them anything we did a scale model. I think it was one sixth to scale. That number, on the sail there, was never Kalori’s number, the chap who made the sails for it, Jack McKellar, he only died recently, so he used the number off his boat; I think 396. Kalori, when she came out, her number was 702, and then it became 122.

How long did it take to build her?

We started in June 1969 and launched her on March the 9th the following year, 1970. With the school Xmas holidays there would be a big break; so  it took  about six-seven months.

Where was she launched?

She was launched at Prince Alfred, at the slipway by Lady Cutler. When it was launched, it was about three o’clock in the afternoon, March the 9th; it was the tradition with launching yachts that you launched quickly. The cradle ran down the slipway, no braking at all, with the crew on board.  The skipper was Barry Byerley.  Philip Frost was another member. Into the water and off they went sailing and had its first collision in five minutes.  It was only minor and not caused by the crew but by a spectator craft, and I  thought, ‘Well thank goodness, we needn’t worry now;  its had its first ding;

So sailing became part of the curriculum at Pittwater?

It already was. We introduced it in the Summer of ’63/64; as soon as the school returned in 1964. The chap who helped a lot was Zachary Stolznow, to get it established. He had a boy at the school, he had a restaurant too at French’s forest.

Can you remember Michael Jeffries or Campbell Knox?

Yes. They were very good sailors. Michael was a very good helmsman. His dad Brian built a Diamond  called ‘Lucy Anne’ which was the first name of Michael’s  mother. Michael was a very very good helmsman, he was … maybe the third Skipper. Another early skipper was Hendrik, Martin Visser‘s son, he was very good too, they both did very well at the State and Australian level.

You put her into the State Championships?

Yes straight away, in 1970. We also towed it to Melbourne. Brisbane and Hobart for the Nationals held each year. I can remember Melbourne and the presentation; they all came dressed up in dinner suits but they were wearing sailing shoes that looked like sandshoes. They made a grand entry after everyone had settled; and we all had a good laugh; sailing shoes with dinner suits! There was Hendrik and Roy Baker.

A photo from Alan's archives entitled 'Lunch break on Pittwater'.

How many Championships did she win?

I don’t think it won a championship; mainly seconds and thirds. I know later on, when I owned a boat I won some, and they were seconds and thirds in the same series (Diamonds). In fact, I can remember having not incidents but close encounters with Kalori when Michael Jeffries was sailing her. I think in one Melbourne there was one decision against them.

left to right: Bill Henshall, Cmdr. Royal Melbounre Yacht Club, George Winter, Sandy Ferguson, and Wally Wardle

There’s a few stories of the Kalori having problems sticking to the course and sailing rules; too much Pittwater freedom in them?

Yes ! (laughs).

How long were you at the school?

I left there at the beginning of 1974; that was one of the things I missed a lot, the involvement with Kalori.

Where did you move to?

I went to Barrenjoey High School as History Master. I certainly missed the school sailing. I went there in ’74 and retired in 1989, so fifteen years.

So Barrenjoey seemed to take on surfing as a sport, with the ocean on the front door;

What happened most frequently was if there was good surf up some kids would be late to school. They also used the beach; when I was teaching Year 9 kids we’d go down to the beach and build Medieval sandcastles; and that was a competition. The kids loved it. We’d get the headmaster down to judge. I’ve got some photos of that at home…

I was only 55 when  I retired and started up a one man one boat Sailing school on Pittwater called ‘Sailwell’ which I finished in  about 2005. We used to have brochures that said ‘Sail Well with  Sailwell’. We started out with an Adams 31 in 1993. Freda’s a social sailor, she steers very well. When we’d go up to a mooring I’d go to grab it and Freda steers straight to it.

Did you teach in the area too Freda?

Freda; I was at Bilgola Plateau. It’s an excellent school. Wal: I was the first President of the P&C Association there. I was teaching there in 1965 and until 1980, then Deputy of Infants at Nth Narrabeen till 1987 then I returned to Bilgola Plateau and  retired in 1995.

Of course, Pittwater High School Alumni continued excelling in sailing - among those listed as having attended the school are Colin Beashel – member of the crew of Australia II (1983 America's Cup winning yacht), and 8 times Olympian; James Spithill – yachtsman and twice America's Cup winning skipper; Jason Waterhouse – sailor, Australian Sailing Team: Mixed Multihull – Nacra 17 – Rio Olympics 2016.

All three Spithill siblings attended Pittwater High School, with Katie also excelling at representing her school, as she persists at representing in women's sailing still, most recently taking part in the MC38 Australian Championships as part of the all-women Women Racing team

This little insight provides:

Pittwater team to represent Australia Sailing

PITTWATER High School sailing team captain Ben Bianco praised the competitiveness shown by the other teams at last week's Secondary Schools Team Racing Championships on Boston Bay. The Pittwater team, representing New South Wales, staved off gallant efforts from Western Australia and South Australia to take out the prestigious title. Ben said the competition was good, with all teams putting up an excellent fight. South Australia was represented by the Port Lincoln High School team. 

The High School side has been very successful in the past, winning a number of titles. Team captain Tiffany Evans said this year's side showed lot of promise for the future. "They are a young team, and they are also the lightest team we have ever had," Miss Evans said. "When the conditions are rough like they were over the weekend then the heavier teams have an ! advantage. "I think we will be a force in the future." 

The Pittwater team will now represent; Australia at the interdominion against New Zealand team Keri Keri in September.

The victorious Pittwater High School team was made up of (back) Angus Gordon (coach), Ben Bianco (captain), Peter Mullholland (manager) Nick Garland (skipper), (middle) Nadine MacCaurin, Lauren Bianco, Katie Spithill, Murray Gordon and Emily MacCaurin. Pittwater team to represent Australia (1998, July 16). Port Lincoln Times (SA : 1927 - 1965; 1992 - 2002), p. 39. Retrieved from

From the 1972 Kalori yearbook

From 1974 Kalori Yearbook:

For many pupils, sailing continues to be an important part of school life at Pittwater. Because of this there is always a demand for use of the school's small boats. There are four Manly Juniors and a fourteen foot sailing boat painted orange which has been named "Orange Peel". This particular boat also functions well as a fishing boat. In summer time the learners class, taken by Mr. Jones makes good use of these boats. In winter they are used by those beginners who have graduated or by other pupils who haven't got their own boats.

The school boats from time to time need maintenance and this is looked after by Mr. Jones and the crews of the boats concerned. The costs of this maintenance is in part paid by the sailing fees charged at the beginning of each season, and to some extent by the school sports fund. In April the Warringah Zone Sailing Championship was conducted on Pittwater. As in previous years, Pittwater High was the host school, but this did not prevent the school from beating its guests. As overall points leader, Pittwater won the "Kalori Shield" coming first in both the yacht and A division and fourth in B division. The better individual places scored by pupils were as follows:-

Yachts - 1st Peter Isaacs 3rd P. Woolley
A. Division - 2nd J. Bulpitt 3rd S. Hill
B. Division - 1st P. Davidson

The results were very pleasing because the number of boats entering has risen to over ninety and the ability of the top half of the fleet has improved greatly over the years.
"Kalori" has come back to school and is in the same place where she was built. I hope most earnestly that by the time you read this, "Kalori" will be back in her element. Dry rot had got into the gunwale and doubler on the starboard side and had run along a line of sap for about seven feet. Aft major surgery the gunwale has been replaced and a new strip of ply inserted in the damaged area of the top-sides. To prevent any future problem with rot the rubbing strip right round the yacht has been removed, the joint between the deck and topside has been stripped, micro-ballooned and sheathed in dynel. New teak external gunwales have been seated on a flexible compound and these measures should keep the rain water out and prevent further rot.

It has also been possible to allow "Kalori" to dry out which has helped with the repairs and paint ing. The keel has been taken off the hull to allow it to be faired in correctly and re-painted. After this major overhaul the yacht will actually be a more potent racing craft than when first launched. Whilst one famous "Kalori" crew of previous years has been conspicuous by its absence I must thank those few boys who have regularly stayed back after school to help. In particular I would thank the two first form boys who have never sailed on "Kalori" yet turn up to help - they help to make it all worthwhile.

While a group of boys worked on "Kalori" on Tuesday afternoons, Mr. Jones and Mr. Hamilton conducted the winter sailing in all types of weather. For the sake of sailing at Pittwater it is to be hoped when these teachers move on to other schools,
that they were not indispensable.
W. Wardle.

In 1980 a Celebration of ten years of the Kalori was held at the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club, where the Kalori was moored, without cost, throughout her years on Pittwater. The invitation read:

Kalori – 10 Years Celebration at RPAYC on Friday 14th of March - Invitation
Many months of hard work by parents, students and teachers culminated in the launching of the "Kalori" on Monday 9th March, at the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club, Newport, where the boat will be moored free of charge. The launching was attended by Sir Roden Cutler, the Area Director for Education, Mr. McKibbon, as well as other guests, parents, senior students and members of the School's sailing fleet.
At three o'clock the Governor and Lady Cutler arrived. The ceremony proceeded with the Commodore of the R.P.A.Y.C., Mr. L. Armitage presiding. Mr. Gorrell, who spoke first, gave a brief history of sailing at the school, traced the development of the "Kalori" and thanked those who had helped in the building of the yacht and those who attended the ceremony. Next to speak was Mr. H. Vaughan who listed the people who had donated to the project.
After Mr. Vaughan had spoken, Barry Byerley, the yacht's captain, accepted the boat on behalf of the students. His Excellency then spoke, commenting on how he had always enjoyed sailing and expressing his hope that the school would be able to make good use of the "Kalori".
The crew of the boat, A. Pratt, R. O'Neill, P. Frost and B. Byerley were then introduced to the guests. After this, Lady Cutler officially christened the "Kalori" at 3.25 p.m.
With the help of cheers from the crowd the maroon, grey and white hull slid easily down the slipway and into the water for the first time. The sails were quickly hoisted and with its new sails billowing and the School's small yacht fleet in tow the "Kalori" moved up the bay.

Among Alan  Jones’ records, as he was the teacher who took over sailing at PHS when Wally was made History Master at Barrenjoey High School, and is the same gentleman resposible for Sailability Pittwater, is a timeline to accompany the ten year celebration:

March 9th 1970: Launched by Lady Cutler. Crew: Barry Byerley, Allyn Pratt, Philip Frost, Richard O'Neill.
October 1970: State Championships: Hendrik Visser, Roy Baker, Rick McGrath, Richard O'Neill
January 1971: National Championships, (N.S.W.)
January 1972 National Championships, (QLD.) Crew: Hendrik Visser, Roy Baker, Rick McGrath, Richard O'Neill
January 1973 National Championships, VIC.)
February 1973  State Championships, LAKE MACQUARIE. Crew: Wal Wardle, Peter Davidson, Michael Gorman
February 1974 State Championships, GOSFORD. Crew: Wal Wardle, Rick McGrath, Roy Baker, Hendrik Visser
Winter 1974 re-fit
Spring 1974 Crew: Wal Wardle, Jeff Bulpitt, Brett Dunstan, Campbell Knox.
Summer 1975 Crew: Jeff Bulpitt, Brett Dunstan, Ian Collopy, Jim Davies.
December 1975 State Championships, LAKE MACQUARIE.Crew: Jeff Bulpitt, Ian Collopy, Jim Davies, Tony Marchant.
January 1976 National Championships, LAKE MACQUARIE.Crew: Jeff Bulpitt, Michael Jefferys, Campbell Knox, Stephen Hill.
November 1976: State Championships, SYDNEY HARBOUR.Crew: Michael Jefferys, Campbell Knox, Tony Marchant, Allan Jones.
January 1977 National Championships, VIC.Crew: Michael Jefferys, Campbell Knox, Tony Marchant, Allan Jones.
Spring 1977  Crew: Wayne Torpy, Ruth Cunningham, David Preston, Peter Hindle
December 1977 State Championships, WHALE BEACH.Crew: Wayne Torpy, Greg Torpy, David Preston, Peter Hindle.
January 1978 National Championships, HOBART.Crew: Wayne Torpy, Greg Torpy, Peter Hindle, Lee Cooper.
Spring 1978 Crew: Wayne Torpy, Greg Torpy, Peter Hindle, Mandy Molloy.
Summer 1979 Crew: Matthew Cudmore, Grant Crowle, Mandy Molloy, Stuart Shimeld.
Spring 1979 Crew: Matthew Cudmore, Greg Parkes, Linda Jefferys, Richard West.
January 1980 National Championships, SYDNEY HARBOUR.Crew: Matthew Cudmore, Greg Parkes, Richard West, Bob Hamilton.
Summer 1980 Crew: Grant Crowle, Linda Jefferys, Michael Hole, Peter Ross.

Alan, smiling, regaled us with stories of students who could not afford cars taking girlfriends out on the yacht for dates, of struggles to get the yacht to and from the various championships in other states she competed in. Fundraising, seeking sponsorship from the community, working out shipping costs, securing ways and means to transport crews took up a lot of his after teaching hours as evidenced here:

Wally attributes Alan as having a passion for Diamonds and a passion for teaching his students sailing that knew no limits. The Kalori was a Diamond class yacht, a vessel designed by legendary boat designer Jack Holt. The first one to be launched in Australia was on Pitwtater in 1962. Alan went into a little bit about how particular he had to be when entering the yacht in any championships that she fulfileld specifications required.

YW Diamond Class Specifications
Overall Length 9.182 m.
Length at Waterline 7.3 m.
Beam 2.026 m.
Displacement 1075 kg.
Draft 1.3 m.
Mast Height 9.144 m.
Spinnaker Pole Length 3.048 m.
Boom Length 3.57 m.
Construction Marine Plywood, GRP or Aluminium.
Sail Area 
Mainsail 14.3 sq.m.
Genoa 14.5 sq.m.
Spinnaker 42.0 sq.m. (approx.)
Jib (optional) 6.3 sq.m.
Racing Crew Three or Four

YW Diamond Class History
1960 Editors of Yachting World approach Jack Holt.  The resultant boat is known as the Yachting World Keelboat.
1961 Prototype shown at the National Boat Show in London.
1962 The First Diamond launched in Australia on Pittwater
1967 Name Changed to Yachting World Diamond
1980s Fibreglass replaces marine ply as the preferred construction material

One of the insights Wally Wardle shares in his Profile is how a yacht may be 'tuned' by her sailors to become a much finer vessel. A document among Alan Jones' files sheds light on what he means:

Before any 'tune up procedure is under taken it is more important that the the hull be faired in and smoth, that all the fittings and equipment are up-.odate and easy to operate and that the spars and sails are more than satisfactory. If your Diamond is deficient in any of these areas tuning becomes useless for a very simple reason. A badly prepared hull with poor gear and sails will be up to 30$ slower than a top boat. Tuning on the other hand will only give you perhaps 2 or 3, So start with the basics.
The following ideas suit "Wy-ar-gine" and the sails and gear we carry, therefore they can only be considered as starting points for other diamonds. It is vital that you know your sails and the characteristics of your spars so that they can he used to complement each other and the prevailing weather.
On a still, calm day use a plumb-bob to setup the mast so that it is vertical. Tie Up any slack (no more) on the backstay. The mast head could move back 411 but allow no more. Use the forestay adjustment to bring back to" if need. be. Next adjust the upper shrouds so that the head of mast is over the centre line. (Hull should be level in the water of course). Upper shrouds should be quite t. ht0 If the mast is not quite straight use the lowers to straighten itp then take off the same number of turns on the port and starboard bottle. screws • Don't worry if the warp comes back, concentrate on the slackness needed in the lowers. Under load on different tacks the mast will be in the same position. Have the lowers looser than the uppers. They shouldn't flop too much, say about two inches about five or six feet above the deck.
The jumpers are set up next. The jumpers can be used to lower or raise the bend when the backstay is applied.0 Tighten the jumpers to lower the bend.. If you need to flatten the middle or lower area of the main tighten them, if the top is too full loose jumpers will allow The top to bend more easily. I believe that a mast with a soft top allows the bend to come too easily and results in less tension on the genoa luff and too much sag. Our jumpers run through a small block at the mast head and this allows some athwartship move- merit. The theory is that in a gust the head falls away and allows the lowers to pull the centre of the mast up to weather opening the slot in the gusto Wear on The block has proved it does move.
2 .BOOM.
The boom is approximately a 3" section, The main sheet is attached to three wire hangers It does not add thrust to the gooseneck so is not used to bend the mast. Some diamonds do use the boom for this purpose quite successfully. If I tried this I would attach the sheets to a boom track and slide to allow more or less thrust to suit the breeze. At present the yang is only just taut on the breeze but we will try more load on it in the coming season, Incidentally the yang is controlled by the helmsman on tight shy— spinnaker runs to prevent broaches.

The genoa halyard returns down inside the luff and therefore helps to prevent sag. The tack of our particular genoa is attached about 4- inches from the deck. This allows the foot to be on the deck and trap the air.
The genoa diew mast be set up in conjunction with and after the main has been set up. Use your barber hauler or genoa track to alter the relative loading on leech and foot. We raise the block (barber-hauler) in a breeze. The foot is usually a fraction slacker that the leech but at the same time the clew is adjusted so that the genoa leech when viewed from the bow seems to be parallel to the shape of the main and not constricting the slot.
The genoa luff is eased until wrinkled and then these are just pulled out and no more.
All these adjustments have to be altered with changing conditions as the race goes on.
4. MAIN.
Our main luff is adjustable through the halyard and then in a breeze the cunningham eye. The foot is tensioned so that there are no wrinkles or strain, lines but rather a fair shape. The cunningham eye, foot and leech are all operated by the crew from either aide while hiking. They must be altered as soonas conditions change. and as often as they change.
Take your sailmakers advice, on the weight of your battens • We shape ours so that the curve is 5$ back along the batten and they straighten out at the leech — each batten must be in the same relative plane, (parallel) when viewed from below. Battens should not corrugate the sails if they do ease off and then remove the wrinkles plus a. bit more tension.
It is very effective to be able to tighten and ease the backstays continually in the hard puffs. This should happen before the traveller or main sheet is adjusted. To do this you need a double ended backstay system adjusted by the for' a.rd hand as he swings to port or starboard.
To reduce backwinding in the main we tighten the backstays, flattening the sail, increase foot tension, increase cunningham eye tension and raise the genoa clew easing the genoa luff in relation to the foot. The genoa clew and backstay should be adjusted together: and. if this is not sufficient main foot and luff can be tightened next. Be prepared to ease off as soon as possible otherwise the boat will feel constipated,
THE CREW. Themselves must be highly tuned. If they don't know how to adjust the gear automatically- you should train them to do so. Then you should trust their judgement and let them make the necessary adjustments without waiting your command. You can then concentrate on the helm and the race.
Be systematic with your alterations to tune, keep records and don’t change more then one factor at a time. In other words it could take a good season before an untuned or badly prepared diamond approaches its potential. The above comments are based upon an obvious distinction between tuning factors race adjustments. If the boat loses "boat speed" ease gall your race adjust- ;s and systematically reset - particularly major items such as luffs, sheets backstay loads. Above all do something and gauge the result and keep records, of that for the future.

No one has tracked down where the Kalori is now. Wal thought he saw her front half in a nearby boatshed a few years ago. Wherever she is her spirit remains in the blood and memories of those lucky students fortunate enough to go to school that was built on an estuary where going sailing is akin to could it be otherwise...

Kalori  from material and insights provided by Walter Wardle and Alan Jones, ran in Pittwater Online News in 2013.

Also present at the 2023 Reunion was Susie Elelman AM who became and still is one of Australia's best known television presenters started out doing for others through the Miss Australia quest - the second girl from Pittwater High School to do so. 

In 2019 Susie explained 

' all began at my Year 12 formal when a wonderful lady, Doreen Cherry, who has remained a lifelong friend, approached me and said she thought I was Miss Australia material and wanted to sponsor me in the Miss Australia Quest.

I was unaware at the time that this very successful local businesswoman, who ran Avalon Fashions, had sponsored Rosemary Gatcliffe, who had become Miss NSW the year before and Doreen thought I had the potential to take the title once again.

Above: Stephanie and Doreen in Avalon Fashions for Me window, April 1967

Rosemary Gatcliffe, Miss NSW 1972

At first I thought she was joking and I looked around to see if I could spot which one of my school mates had put her up to it.

I’d been what my family doctor described as ‘pleasantly plump’ all my life and being a first generation Australian of refugee parents, with jet black hair and olive skin, who’d been bullied from any early age, I certainly didn’t think I fitted the mould of the quintessential beach blonde Aussie beauty queen and initially dismissed the idea out hand.

However, Doreen persisted and went to see my parents and discussed what she had in mind at length with them. After a family meeting I made the trip up to Allambie Heights to see the incredible set up at the Spastic Centre (now called Cerebral Palsy Alliance), who were the recipients of all the funds raised by the Miss Australia entrants. After seeing the remarkable things they did to assist children and adults with cerebral palsy (CP), I came home and deferred my studies at Teachers’ College for a year, did a modelling and deportment course and became a house model, while I devoted the rest of my time to conducting a total of 52 different fundraising events and raising many thousands of dollars.

No one could have been more surprised than me at the end of that year to firstly win the title of Miss Northern Beaches, then Miss NSW and to go on to represent the state in the national finals of the Miss Australia Quest in Brisbane...'

Caption: 'Miss Northern Beaches, Sue Elelman, 18 of Mona Vale, lent a hand in cleaning equipment at the Mona Vale Surf Life Saving Club this morning. Sue's father is patron of the club so naturally all the family help the club whenever they can.' Date Taken: October 7, 1972. Courtesy Fairfax Archives

Caption: 'Susie Elelman, 18, from Mona Vale, pictured after the crowning with her mother Mrs. Anne Elelman.' Date taken: October 13, 1972.  Courtesy Fairfax Archives

Miss New South Wales, 1973. Photo  Courtesy Fairfax Archives

Still one of our own, November 2023 - pictured here with Jayne Margo

Susie Elelman is an Australian television presenter, model, and an author, although most well-known for her appearances on television -= although in Pittwater she is known for what she does for others still.

Susie is among a host of Notable Pittwater High School that commenced with the first cohort and continues today. Among those people outside of the Pittwater High School community may recognise are Kirk Baxter – film editor; Tom Burlinson – actor and singer (The Man From Snow River); Tom Carroll – World Surfing champion; Rodney Clarke – senior Australian ice dance champion and Olympian; Rodney Clarke – senior Australian ice dance champion and Olympian; Tess Haubrich – actress and model; Andrew Lloyd – Olympic runner and Commonwealth Games gold medallist; James Morrison – musician; John Morrison – musician; Georgina Parkes – Olympic swimmer and Commonwealth Games gold medallist; Kerryn Phelps – former AMA President, professor; Peter Phelps – actor and author; Courtney Barnett – musician; Rebecca Lacey – actress; Tom Trbojevic – rugby league player for the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles; Jake Trbojevic – rugby league player for the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles; Ben Trbojevic – rugby league player for the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles; Shane Fitzsimmons – former Commissioner of the New South Wales Rural Fire Service and 2021 NSW Australian of the Year; Michael Stead – Bishop of South Sydney, Anglican Church Diocese of Sydney.

Others may not be well-known names but have excelled in their fields - Lorraine Dickson, for instance, became not only a Registered Nurse but went on to gain a Doctorate of Nursing and worked at Mona Vale Hospital for years. 

Lorraine and Felicity at the 2023 Pittwtare High School reunion - they have known each other since  kindergarten  

But of course, the Pittwater of the 1960's was an open, freedom loving place with the first cohort and subsequent first decade of students having grown up together and moved from Mona Vale Public school or Newport Public school to Pittwater. Many attending this year's PHS Reunion had known each other since they were in preschool together and aged 5, which means they have been great mates, even though the alumni is spread across the country and even the world, for around six decades.

A few more of memories:

Colleen Hannon: ‘’We may not have all been wealthy $ but we had the privilege to grow up in a unique environment.’’ - 

Chris Lees: ‘’I do remember being eaten by ferocious little midges or something out the back of the playing grounds in summer’’

Rod Crundwell: ‘’Somewhere beneath the school is a school shoe of mine which I lost when I ventured into the swamp sometime in 1960. My Mum was very cross.’’

Chris Lees: ‘’And it took a lot to make your mum cross!’’

Janis Swanson: ‘’I can remember in about 3rd year I sat on a bull joe nest over near the demountables. Very painful.’’

Gelena Travica: ‘’I lived at Basset street and watched how the school was built.’’

Rod Crundwell: ''I remember the bands that played at PHS socials. I remember Mecca, Heart and Soul, Sherbet and Hush. Not to mention a band of which I was a member.. Huffer (yeah I know, it was 1970 OK?). Dave Whiteman did Velvet Image play at any?

Ken Ray: ‘’I can recall at the final day of school, in 1970, Taman Shud played live - on the grassy area between B Block and the bog.’’

Judy Burgmann: ‘’I remember Sherbet asking us all to go out and buy their first record’’

Shane Trengove: ‘’ Nearly all of the land our school was built on was filled wetlands (swamp back then) which would now not happen due to their importance as fish nursery areas. Three of my indelible memories relating to this 'reclaimed' land were : 1. Muck-up day 1970 (I think) standing in the Quadrangle watching the outgoing Form 6 Review and listening to the Queen's farewell message to her subjects in the school ".... on the banks of the bog" - so Pythonesque and very funny. 2. Playing sport on any of the fields was like playing on either concrete or in a sand trap, and 3. doing school sailing and carrying the boats to the canal at the fence and if you were lucky the tide was in and you could paddle down to the bay and sail on without too much effort. If the tide was out you had a lot dragging and carrying to do in slippery mud. Great memories for me.’’

Roberta Brooks: ‘’My memories of Pittwater high are good. I certainly was not focused on academia rather It was social experience for me. I remember the canteen in particular chocolate paddle pops. I remember PE in the barn. I remember walking to school along Darley street smoking as many ghastly cigarettes as I could. I remember Mrs Fields stabbing people in the back with biros. 

I remember the science labs and getting the cane often by the science master. Home economics classes I was a rebel of sorts. I did have fun there and it resulted in myself being a Mona Vale beach girl. The fun with boys such as Billy Hodge, Karl Wlodarzyck. I remember dancing the Zorba de Greek at the annual barn dances. And yes the cream buns were so good. I left school early as I became a hairdresser at Avalon then left Sydney. I now live at Federal NSW and work at Mullumbimby Neighbourhood Centre. ’’

Ken Ray: ‘’I remember some of the great teachers I was fortunate to have there - Dennis King (my 5th and 6th form Maths teacher, who first introduced me to computers), Christine Charge (science teacher, 1st to 4th form), Gordon Vick (5th and 6th form physics), Ian Brewster (5th and 6th form Industrial Arts), and several more.’’

Toot Melville: ‘’Does any one remember getting egged and tomatoed by the Narrabeen high school guy's on assembly.’’

Malcolm Lambe: ‘’My brother did this with Paul Gale and some others from Narrabeen in '66 I think. Mrs Curtis got the plates. My Mother's car. Stag rang her - she was the Sec. of the P & C. Said he wouldn't press charges if my brother apologised to the school at Assembly. Which he did. I felt so sorry for him. Peter Higgins laughed at him so after Assembly I ran up and punched him in the head. I was far from a knuckler. Don't know who was more surprised - he or I.’’

Toot Melville: ‘’Would have been 66 as I was 1st year. I remember it well - what a great gig, imagine it now.’’

Malcolm Lambe: ‘’They had flour as well. My brother took the car home and cleaned it up. But after Stag rang, my Mum did an inspection and there was flour still all over the back seat and carpets of their 1963 EJ Holden. ’’

Julie Downes: ‘’I remember it very well in 1966 my first year as well. Julie Homer was my name.’’

On one last 'history' note, and about the 1966 'flouring' by Narrabeen boys - Narrabeen Girls High, which opened in 1954, and Narrabeen Boys High, which opened in 1959, became a co-ed and Narrabeen High School in 1976:

Sydney, 2nd March, 1976.


PURSUANT to section 34 of the Public Instruction Act of 1880, it is notified for general information that approval has been granted for the establishment of a High School at Pittwater Road, Narrabeen, to be known as Narrabeen High School.

NEIL PICKARD, Minister for Education. ESTABLISHMENT OF HIGH SCHOOL (1976, April 2). Government Gazette of the State of New South Wales (Sydney, NSW : 1901 - 2001), p. 1487. Retrieved from

All agreed the 2023 reunion was a great catch-up.

Some Pictures From The 2023 Reunion

Pittwater High School 1963 to 1973 Alumni Reunion 2023 Album available at: