November 21 - 27, 2021: Issue 519


Pittwater Summer Houses: Gunjulla, Avalon Beach-Clareville

Pearling waves that cream milk-white,
Sun-drenched sands and skies of blue
Linger in my memory -
Avalon, my heart's with you!

AVALON. (1935, May 4). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 11. Retrieved from

Local volunteers have been working for months to bring the community Avalon 100 - a celebration of the 100th year of the naming of Avalon as such and the development of Avalon Beach as a community. One of the proposed projects is 'Framing Avalon' which seeks to show you images from Avalon's past located in their present places. Led by Jayne Denshire, this project would include the historic summer home of the Grant family, 'Gunjulla'.

The name 'Avalon' for this area, which had previously been known as 'Clareville', Careel Bay and even 'Burnes' beach, first turns up in Warringah Shire Council records in October 1921 when investor in these lands, Arthur Jabez Small, makes a request to rename what was the 'Clareville' road and 'Arnold's road to 'Avalon Parade'. At the meeting held on October 31st, 1921, council records show: 

Subdivision A The Engineer's report was read and dealt with as follows 1.Chatfield & Brown's letter, submitting plan of subdivision of A.J. Small's land fronting Clareville Road, was read in conjunction with the report. Resolved,: (C's. Hewitt', Quirk) That the Council approve of the request that the name "Avalon Parade'' be given to the roads now known as ''Arnold Road" and "Clareville Road", and that Mr. Small be asked to notify purchasers of lands fronting Clareville Road of the proposed change. Resolved, - (Crs. Parr, Cavill)That the plan  of the subdivision be approved, provided a connecting road' between Central Road and Clareville Road be reserved, as recommended
This had been proceeded by:

July 11th, 1921: That with regard Road to the encroachment of Barrenjoey Road on A.J. Small's land, and the proposed exchange of land for road by Mr. Small, the Engineer interview Mr. Small, and see what arrangements can be made for financing the work, and as to the date of carrying it out.. Central Road Resolved, - (Crs. Quirk & Hitchcock) That the Taylor's Pt. proposal, as reported, for expending  £50 of Taylor's Point Estate money in improving Central Road, and £70 I in ballasting road on Taylor's Point Estate, be approved..
 Clareville 10. Resolved, - That the size of the proposed shed on Clareville wharf be reduced to 14'x10
 Clareville Rd 11. Resolved, - (Crs. Quirk & Hewitt) That the Council agree to accept dedication from Mr. A. J. Small of a new road to connect Clareville Road with Arnold Road, and that £150 of Taylor's Point Estate money be expended on clearing, forming and metalling such new road; the clearing, forming and culverts to be done first, and when completed, a metalled track to be made for the full length, the width of the metal to depend on the amount of money available. 
July 25th, 1921: 10. A. J. Small’s letter of 13/7/21, stating conditions under which he will dedicate land to connect Arnold and Road Clareville Roads, was read in conjunction with the Extension, report, Resolved, - (Crs Hewitt & Quirk) That the Council accept dedication under the conditions imposed, and that the expenditure of the £150 as agreed previously on such road, be proceeded with.

When those put in charge of the Therry estate first placed this on the market in 1871, the lots around Careel Bay were quickly snapped up. Sales were continued in 1880 and 1881. On May 3rd 1880, Richardson and Wrench offered the Therry estate, as they did again the following year:

The whole of the residue of
STOKES POINT, which is now subdivided into VILLA SITES, fronting CAREEL COVE 
adjoining the Township of BRIGHTON, PITTWATER.
RICHARDSON and WRENCH have received instructions to sell by public auction, at the Rooms, Pitt-street, on MONDAY, 16th May, at 11 o'clock, The whole of the unsold lots of 
No. III. Area. 128 ACRES 1 ROOD .14 PERCHES, having frontages to the PACIFIC OCEAN and the MAIN ROAD to BARRENJOEY, on which is the HOMESTEAD and, RESIDENCE now in the occupation of JOHN COLLINS, Esq.. and also the CELEBRATED CAVE.
No. IV. Area, 65 ACRES and 32 PRRCHES, adjoining the above, and which are the WELL-KNOWN SPRINGS.
Nos. 8 to 16 and 10 and 20, surrounding the TOWNSHIP OF BRIGHTON, in areas from 2 ACRES 3 ROODS 35 PERCHES to 9 ACRES 3 ROODS 10 PERCHES, having frontages to the MAIN PITTWATER ROAD and other roads and streets, all 1 chain wide.
Nos. 1A and 2A. Areas. 5 ACRES 3 ROODS 21 PERCHES and 7 ACRES 34 PERCHES respectively, overlooking PITTWATER.
Nos. IV. and V. TWO FINE FARMS, areas 97 ACRES 3 ROODS 17 PERCHES, and 91 ACRES 2 ROODS 9 PERCHES respectively.
Lots 5 to 8 and 5A to 8A. EIGHT CHOICE VILLA SITES in PITTWATER, fronting LONG BEACH ; areas from 4 ACRES 2 ROODS 10 PERCHES to 17 ACRES 27 PERCHES.
Lots 9 and 11. TWO SMALL FARMS in REFUGE BAY; areas. 25 ACRES 1 ROOD 6 PERCHES, and 11 ACRES 1 ROOD 24 PERCHES.
Lots 16 to 21, and 24 and 25. S GRAND BLOCKS of RICH SOIL in CABBAGE-TREE VALE, on BILGOLA BEACH : areas, from 5 ACRES 2 ROODS 36 PERCHES to 21 ACRES 1 ROOD.
The whole of this Magnificent Point will be submitted in lots, as per lithograph, now published, viz..
Section A. 15 VILLA SITES; areas. 3 ROODS 17 PERCHES to 2 ACRES 20 PERCHES.
Section B. 14 VILLA SITES : areas. 1 ACRE 10 PERCHES to 6 ACRES 3 ROODS 32 PERCHES
Section E. 10 VILLA SITES, adjoining the TOWN OF BRIGHTON : areas. 1 ACRE 11 PERCHES to 4 ACRES 1 ROOD 23 PERCHES.
This subdivision is well worthy of attention, as there is no doubt that PITTWATER will become an important and attractive resort for our BUSINESS MEN requiring CHANGE OF AIR, QUIET, and REST from the busy turmoil of the city.
The communication between the city and Pittwater is now more frequent than formerly, besides having the coaches daily from MANLY BEACH, there are now commodious fast steamers plying regularly from the city.
The NORTHERN RAILWAY will pass within 7 miles of CAREEL COVE at Pittwater.

Messrs. ELLIS and MAKINSON, Elizabeth-street, are Solicitors of the vendors.  Day of Sale, MONDAY NEXT. Advertising (1881, May 12). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 9. Retrieved from

Pittwater Estate Monday May 16th, 1881 - Richardson and Wrench - Item c050370020, courtesy  State Library of New South Wales.

Decades on, as the tracks to Barrenjoey were still quite rough, these water accessible places such as Clareville and Careel Bay remained attractive for purchasers. The shift from larger acreage to smaller blocks for weekenders and holiday home commenced through the vision of Arthur Jabez Small, who had spent childhood summers at Paradise Beach, Clareville, as well as having had access to this area through his father Jabez William Small, who was elected to Manly Council in February 1882.

In Pittwater Roads II: Where The Streets Have Your Name - Avalon Beach runs an outline of who bought and sold these lands as they became available when the larger land holders passed away and their descendants divested themselves of these farms.

Arthur Jabez Small was the biggest developer with a keen vision for good town planning which included setting aside reserves to ensure the valley retained access to natural bushland for visitors and permanent residents alike, as well as recreational activities.

The research of Geoff Searl OAM, President of the Avalon Beach Historical Society, shows A J Small purchased the farm known as 'Risngholem in 1915 - this 101 acre block had been put on the market in 1912. In July 1921 he purchased the Canty lands, site of the present day Avalon Beach Golf Course and coal speculation 40 years prior top that. Avalon Beach Reserve, the intiital 12 acres beside the beach itself, had been aside as a reserve under the terms of Therry's will:

Warringah Items.
It was unanimously decided to place the seal of the council to a document from the trustees of the late Father Terrey's Estate, dedicating to the council a 20 acre reserve, including the whole of the beach on "Priest's Flat," Barrenjoey Peninsula. This land was left for a reserve some 25 years ago, when the Pittwater Estate was being cut up, but was never dedicated, and the Registrar-General would not recognise it as such. After considerable trouble the dedication was arranged, without expense to the council, and the shire deserves congratulation on the result of their negotiations. Warringah Items. (1912, March 8). The Land (Sydney, NSW : 1911 - 1954), p. 9. Retrieved  from

Descending to the valley, we crossed the farm purchased by Mr. Canty, which is believed to be carboniferous. Some years ago competent judges gave it as their opinion that coal existed there. A bore of four hundred feet, made in the ground many years ago, when an attempt was made to test it, passed through strata that indicated the immediate vicinity of the black diamond. Mr. Coghlan's diamond drill would soon settle the question whether coal could be struck there. Mr. Collins's farm is situated in the valley, being flanked on the east by St. Michael's Cave and the South Head of Broken Bay, and on the West by Mount St. Mary. After doing full justice to Mr. Collins's hospitality, we sallied forth under his guidance to survey that part of the estate in which we were interested. We directed our steps towards Long Beach, nearly opposite Scotland Island,  Pittwater Harbour. CRUIG BARRY.11th May, 1880. A TRIP TO PITTWATER. (1880, May 22). Freeman's Journal(Sydney, NSW : 1850 - 1932), p. 19. Retrieved from

HORNING - Suddenly (23rd instant), at Risingholme, Pittwater, Frederick Arnold, youngest surviving son of the late William Horning, of Sydney, and Mrs. Henry Allan, Kelvin, Ridge street, North Sydney. Family Notices (1912, January 26). The Sydney Morning Herald(NSW : 1842 - 1954), , p. 6. Retrieved from 

By Order of the Trustees in the Deceased Estate of Frederick Arnold Horning on the Property known as Risingholme Clareville via Newport
Motor Launch will leave Newport day of Sale at ...
Of all Stock Plant, and Building Material on the Property Comprising -
Powerful heavy Grey Heavy Draught horse 7 years Tip Dray and Harness Hogskin Saddle and Bridle 2 well bred Jersey Cows in full milk Roan Bull (selected for breeding and soundness) 
Plough Scantier Harness Sundry Farming Implements about 2 tons Lucerne Hay Quantity of
Bran Chaff and Pollard.
Full Set Carpenter's Tools.
Highest Grade Building Material for a 4-roomed cottage (just landed for erection) comprising Galvanised Iron Hardwood  flooring and Weatherboards Fibro Cement Sheets Doors and Window Sashes Bolts, Nails, and Screws 2 G L Tanks 800 and 1000 gallons *
Sundry Household Furniture and Kitchen Utensils Incubator Grindstone Fodder Cases tin lined etc.
DJ MCINTYRE and CO Auctioneers, 20 Castlereagh street, city have been instructed by the
Trustees of the Estate of Frederick Arnold Horning (deceased) to hold an Unreserved Auction
Sale of the whole of the Personal Estate on the Property
The auctioneers can personally vouch for the absolutely genuine character of this Sale the Plant, Holding Materials Tools etc. having only been purchased a month or two and must be cleared off the land
The Property known as "Risingholme " Clareville via Newport comprising 101 acres, the pick of the whole district for soil and beauty- of situation will also be offered by Auction on the Ground prior to Sale of Effects.
See Property Auction Advts.
Practically "The Gem of the Pacific Ocean.
On the Property known as "RISINGHOLME” Clareville, via Newport
SATURDAY 3rd FEBRUARY, at 2.30 sharp. Motor Launch will leave Newport day of Sale at 1.45 pm. ,
101 ACRES THE PICK of the whole district for soil and beauty of situation. An old identity states that nothing in the district can be compared with it for subdivision purposes or as an ideal
DJ M INTYRE and CO Auctioneers ...have been instructed by the Trustees of Frederick Arnold Horning deceased to
hold an Auction Sale on the Ground of the above described Valuable Property.
 Advertising (1912, January 26). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), , p. 11. Retrieved from 

Geoff provides:

This holding had been brought under the Real Property Act by a Margaret Allan prior to her selling it in 1912 to George Crowley

No. 13,259. County of Cumberland, parish of Narrabeen, 101 acres 1 rood 381 perches, situated on Clareville Wharf Road, Clareville,—is Block No. 3, South Subdivision, Pittwater Estate, and is part of 1,200 acres (portion No. 20 of parish) granted to John Joseph Therry; adjoining the properties of F. Burne, J. Robertson, S. Smith, and G. A. Smith, Trustees of Mrs. Evans, or J. G. Cousins, G. Holland, The London Bank of Australia, and J. H. Parry. – Applicant: Margaret Allan, MosmanDay until which Caveats may be lodged: 17th February, 1905. NOTICE UNDER REAL PROPERTY ACT. (1904, December 30). Government Gazette of the State of New South Wales (Sydney, NSW : 1901 - 2001), p. 9437. Retrieved from 

From HRLV:

George Crowley put some of this land up for sale in September 1912 (Block III, Portion 20) and then onsold what was left to Arthur Jabez Small in 1915 - the State Library of NSW Avalon subdivisions folder and the HRLV provides

Avalon subdivision plans, September 16, 1912. Image No.: c027560011h, courtesy State Library of New South Wales

Arthur Jabez Small began selling blocks of land in 1915, with the first one sold on October 15, 1915 to Frederick William Tyrer - HRLV provides those who these blocks sold to between 1915 and 1920, showing that some people came back and bought more blocks - many of these were acreage size:

One of the earlier land sales advertised by Arthur Jabez Small of the land acquired precedes the name of 'Avalon' itself. 

Avalon Subdivisions - Clareville Estate Pittwater - Arnold Road, Central Road, Item No.:  c027560007h, courtesy State Library of N.S.W. - Arnold Road was possibly named for the owner Frederick ARNOLD Horning.

Pittwater Clareville Ocean Beach Estate - Central Rd, Seaview Avenue, Clareville Road, Bellevue Avenue, Barrenjoey road - A J Small. Item No.: c027560009 [Avalon subdivision plans] - courtesy State Library of New South Wales. And sections from to show residences and name for Avalon Beach.

The above is interesting as it shows what we now call 'Avalon Parade' was originally called 'Clareville Road'  - as in the road to Clareville and that the name 'Seaview' has been changed too and was changed to 'Elouera', an aboriginal word meaning 'a pleasant place' in 1939. The name swap from 'Seaview' to something more in keeping with the original custodians wasn't the only Seaview to go in 1939 - Elimatta is an Aboriginal word meaning 'my home'.

This is also worth noting:

Mr.  Arthur J. Small, of Royston Park, Asquith, takes exception to the statement last week that Palm Beach Estate, Barrenjoey where land brought £4 per foot, ls Inaccessible to the public, and practically can only be reached as a residential area by persons owning their own car. He draws attention to the fact that there is an hourly service of motor cars from the present tram terminus at Narrabeen to Newport, and a regular ferry service thence to Clareville and Palm Beach of two trips each way daily. This service was Inaugurated by the Palm Beach Co. when they first opened up the estate some five or six years ago. REAL ESTATE. NOTES OF THE WEEK. (1917, March 31). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 11. Retrieved from

The Canty lands - courtesy of the NSW Historical Land Records Viewer (HRLV):

In December 1921 the first subdivisions of land at 'Avalon Beach' were offered for sale. These were presented as a 'weekend spot' rather than to be a suburban choice initially. 

Geoff Searl OAM again provides:

Messrs. H. W. Horning and Co. will have a decidedly good thing to offer, buyers of week-end and holiday sites' on Boxing Day, when the Avalon Beach Estate, north of Newport, will be' opened up. The land is right at the beach, providing all the attractions of the surf, and there is a regular motor service to the estate. HAPPENINGS OF IMPORTANCE IN REAL ESTATE WORLD. H (1921, November 27). Sunday Times (Sydney, NSW : 1895 - 1930), p. 10. Retrieved from

Cronulla was, Palm Beach is, and Avalon Beach will be. This is the catch slogan which has been adopted by the vendor of the Palmgrove Estate at Avalon, which is to be sold by Messrs. H. W. Horning and Co., on Boxing Day. Judging by the beautiful panoramic views which appear in an attractive booklet, and which also occupy a conspicuous position in Messrs. Horning and Co.'s windows, Martin-place, the scenery surrounding the estate must be exceptionally beautiful. Avalon is the new seaside resort between Newport and Palm Beach. The Palmgrove Estate is on the main Barrenjoey-road, and is right at the beach. 

The owner has evidently had the public good in mind, as the estate has been well planted with Ornamental shade trees, while a section of it known as the Palm Grove, has been presented as a park. This is a remarkable beauty spot, with a wealth of graceful palms, maidenhair, burrawang, and other ferns. The estate is in every respect a most attractive proposition to those looking for week-end and holiday sites. REAL ESTATE NEWS (1921, December 11). Sunday Times (Sydney, NSW : 1895 - 1930), p. 10. Retrieved from

Last week we published a photograph of the remarkable .bit of scenery on the Palmgrpve estate' at Avalon Beach, suggesting more a scene on one of the South Sea Islands than part of one of Sydney's outer suburbs. This particular section of the Palmgrove estate has been ' donated by the vendors as a public park, and will be a particular attraction to that locality. To-morrow the estate is to be offered for public auction, and a most interesting sale is expected. Those who know Avalon Beach will agree- that it is a particularly charming seaside resort. Special arrangements have been made for the convenience of the many who are expected to attend the sale tomorrow, and to thus combine business with pleasure. Cars and motor buses will meet trams at the Narrabeen tram terminus, while a limited . number of passengers will be taken from Manly, returning to Narrabeen after, the sale. Messrs. H. W. Horning and Co., have prepared this subdivision in a manner, which does credit to their high reputation in this direction.

On New Year's Day Messrs. H. W. Horning and Co., Ltd., have two more attractive watering places to offer. One of these . is the Sunrip estate, consisting of 25 allotments at Woy Woy. .The land is close to the .Rip, and may be reached either by the regular line of motors or the ferry service. On the: same day this firm will offer the Great Mackerel Beach estate at Pittwater. This subdivision includes a bungalow residence standing in a large area of ground, and also some attractive lots .facing: Ross Smith-parade right at the wharf, and also fronting Diggers-crescent and Monash-avenue. For boating, swimming and fishing, this is one of the mostifavored resorts around Sydney. CLOSING SALES OF THE YEAR IN REAL ESTATE (1921, December 25). Sunday Times (Sydney, NSW : 1895 - 1930), p. 10. Retrieved from

That booklet - and enlarged sections from to show the details - also includes why 'Avalon' became the name, for sales purposes and because Mr. Small was obviously finding this place as such:

1921 Brochure - Palmgrove Estate, Avalon Beach, new seaside resort between Newport & Palm Beach Newport Beach, Palm BeachImage No.: c027560016 and Avalon Beach first subdivision. Image No.: c027560017 and Palmgrove Estate, Avalon BeachNo boundaries shown. Image No.: c027560018 - from Avalon Subdivision Maps, courtesy State Library of NSW

The palm grove ... Avalon Beacphoto by Rex Hazlewood, Image Courtesy The Mitchell Library, State Library of NSW, No.:c046220008h

The Palm Grove, Avalon Beach - ON 165/924  Item No.: c07771_0001_c photo by Rex Hazlewood, Image Courtesy The Mitchell Library, State Library of NSW, Sign reads; 'This Palmgrove Also 10 other Reserves, Are Included to be DEDICATED by the Vendors of the Avalon Beach Estates as Parks for Public Recreation.' -This is A J Small's work, he was the first President of the Parks and Playgrounds Movement, formed after this Subdivision:

Aims of Movement. 

"That every child shall have a chance to play and every citizen the opportunity for recreation" was adopted as a chief aim in the constitution of the New South Wales Parks and Playgrounds Movement, which held its first annual meeting at the New South Wales Cricket Association's Chambers on Wednesday. "The normal expansion of Sydneys playing fields should be, at a minimum, from 100to 120 acres of level land every year," says the report of the movement. A report on the whole matter by the Surveyor-General, who was being assisted by a committee of the movement, was expected shortly. "In the meantime, the executive of the movement has taken up (as an Immediate measure) the question of pressing for 'Five More Moore Parks."

The meeting, which was a full one, delegates from 30 bodies being present, was concerned largely with the elimination by the Legislative Council of the parks clauses of the Greater Sydney Bill. 'This meant', said Dr. C. E. W. Bean, honorary secretary of the movement, 'that, although the Greater Sydney authority, if established, could plan parks and playgrounds, It would not be able to acquire them, or even to accept them if given to it-powers which were possessed by greater-city authorities all over the world. '

On the motion of the chairman, Mr. A. J.Small, seconded by Mr. D. G. Stead, the meeting expressed its unanimous disapproval of the elimination of these powers from the bill. The liability of all State school playgrounds to taxation while many private school grounds were exempt was also strongly criticised in the report, a case being cited in which public land lying Idle was heavily rated as soon as it was permitted to be used as a play-ground for State schoolchildren. On the motion of the chairman, seconded by Mr. R.A. Bennett, it was resolved to urge that, in the bill projected by the Government, exemption should be extended to all school play-grounds. A committee was appointed "to co-operate with the city authorities in their task of re-organising the playground system of Sydney," And It was also resolved, on the motion of Mr. Burrows and Mrs. Wyatt, to urge the preservation by some means of the Pymble State forest. Mr. A. J. Small (president of the Town Planning Association) was elected as first president of the Parks and Playgrounds Movement. PARKS AND PLAYGROUNDS. (1931, September 25). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 10. Retrieved from

Report on the Palmgrove sales:

Messrs. H. W. Horning and Co. who made a special feature of the Palmgrove Estate, Avalon Beach, realised £3280 on the ground. HOLIDAY SUBDIVISIONS (1921, December 31). The Daily Telegraph (Sydney, NSW : 1883 - 1930), p. 15. Retrieved from

A few months later:


Since the sale of Avalon Beach Estate at Christmas additions and improvements have been effected on the estate. 

The rock pool baths at the southern end of the beach have been extended 18ft., and are now 57ft. long, with a smooth bottom. Ladies' dressing sheds have been erected immediately at the rear, on a spot once occupied by a jumble of rocks, and a general store and refreshment room of original design has been built close to the beach. 

General Store, Avalon Beach - ON 165/925 Item c07771_0002_c photo by Rex Hazlewood, Image Courtesy The Mitchell Library, State Library of NSW, circa January - February 1922

Several landowners are already building homes on their lots. A new, wide road has been constructed, giving the land direct access to the beach, and at the side of all the roads, trees, of eight different varieties, chosen as specially suitable for the land and atmosphere, have been planted. One of these is the Illawarra Flame Tree, which carries blooms of fire color. IMPROVING AVALON (1922, March 22). The Sun (Sydney, NSW : 1910 - 1954), p. 10 (FINAL RACING). Retrieved from

However, the Pittwater Roads II: Where The Streets Have Your Name - Avalon Beach history page, as well as those 1915 land sales, shows what was occurring prior to this first 'Avalon Beach' land sale. The land for 'Gunjulla' was purchased in 1919 with family anecdotes recording Albert Henry Grace and Catherine Grace were clearing the land and building their own home away from home in 1919. The home is still intact and gave its name to 'Gunjulla Place' off Avalon Parade towards the Clareville end. 

From that subdivision commencing to be sold in 1915 (above), HRLV provides that Arthur Jabez Small sold Lot 70 and part of lot 69 on July 30th, 1919 to Albert Henry Grant - this was just over 11 acres in total:

Helen Grant, great granddaughter of Albert Henry Grace has kindly provided information and family photos on Gunjulla.

My Great Grandparents home. They built it. Albert Henry Grace and Catherine Grace. The house still stands at the end of Gunjulla Road Pittwater - photos and information courtesy Helen Grant

My great grandparents clearing the land at Gunjulla Pittwater. Now called Gunjulla Road. 1919 Their grandson Geoffrey aged 4 is keen to lend a hand. - photo and information courtesy Helen Grant

Below - view towards Gunjulla 1919/1920:

Gunjulla view, circa 1919, Catherine at left of photo

'Clareville Road', Pittwater between 1922/1925 and 1930'. My great grandfather's photo Albert Henry Grace. Image courtesy Helen Grant. 

Albert Henry Grace at Gunjulla in 1920

Pittwater Online News recently spoke to Helen Grant, whose mum Deborah, was the youngest child of Henry Albert and Deborah Grace.

''From what I know, my grandparents purchase of the land of Gunjulla occurred in or around 1919 – they were clearing the block in 1919. The family were well off and had land in Wollongong and Willoughby (as well as at Surry Hills). 

Albert Henry Grace and his wife Catherine cleared the land. His son, Henry Albert Grace and his young family loved going there; Millicent, Gwendolyn, Geoffrey, Myra, and Deborah (my mother). 

Mum, Deborah, was the last kid to be born in 1926 to Henry Albert Grace and Deborah Watling Grace. The other children were much old or in their teens. My mum's memory of the place is very good, however, the time spent there was just following the older sibling around or keeping away from their antics.

Your first question was how much land was attached to the property. Mum can’t tell you that as she never knew.  The primary use of the property was a place to get away from the city and be with their grandparents. 

Deborah Grace Snr. and Catherine Grace 1940

Gunjulla: Deborah Grace Jnr. by The Tree 1940

Gunjulla: Albert Grace with Gwendolyn and Millicent, 1940

Gunjulla: Joyce and Millicent Grace by The Tree, 1940

Gunjulla: Geoffrey Grace by The Tree, 1940

Albert Henry Grace and his wife Catherine Ruth Grace were well off. Catherine was originally from Moree and Albert worked as a solicitor there. He moved his family to Wollongong, then to Willoughby, 9 Chiltern Road Willoughby. I have photos of the house there. They owned a Dort car. Quite an expensive car which was imported from America. This is the car in the photos. 

At Gunjulla: Henry and Catherine Grace with young Geoffrey Grace in the Dort - 1922

At Gunjulla: Deborah Grace with the Dort

Albert and Catherine purchased the land and called it Gunjulla, which is Aboriginal for a “peaceful place”. 

My great grandparents drove from Willoughby to Pittwater. There was only one road into the property called 'Clareville Road'. I think it has been changed now. My grandparents and their children lived at South Hurstville. They used public transport to get to Pittwater. They caught the train to Wynyard then a bus to the “corner store”. Mum says there was only one corner store and from there they walked to the property.

The house had 2 bedrooms a kitchen and a large dining area. There was no bathroom, however, there were washing facilities under the house and an outhouse “dunny”. The older people had the bedrooms while everyone else slept on the large veranda on old army beds. The house had no electricity. Kerosene lamps were used. 

Gunjulla - 1920

Gunjulla - 1920

Gunjulla - 1920

Gunjulla - 1920

Gunjulla driveway

Gunjulla driveway

Upon arrival, Great grandfather would light the cast iron stove and it would stay lit until the last day. Mum said that as soon as the smoke came out of the chimney, the birds would come. Great grandfather Albert had a meat chopping board nailed to the veranda post. He would feed the kookaburras and butcherbirds. There was a large basin in the kitchen and mum was bathed in it as a baby. 

Gunjulla: kookaburra on the verandah

At Gunjulla: Geoffrey feeding the kookaburra 1940

Grandfather Henry would light a “billy” fire outside. Mum said her father had a passion for the smoke that burning gum leaves made. Each tree had its own fragrance.  A cup of tea made on a smoking fire outside tasted better than one made inside. I can vouch for this as the utensils my grandfather made came to our house in Caringbah and my mother encouraged us to do the same.  All these were hand-made by Henry from old kerosene and cam tins.

Gunjulla: Henry making smoke 

Gunjulla: Henry making smoke by the tree

Gunjulla: making smoke by the tree

Mum said the property had koalas. She didn’t elaborate on it, she just said there was plenty of them.  

My great-grandmother Catherine was a golf enthusiast. The “green” was basic, but all managed to have a go. It is unknown how many holes the green had or if it was taken seriously.

At Gunjulla: the Palms and creek and golf grounds

Bushwalking was the favourite pastime for everyone. Yes, they went to the beach, but mum seldom went swimming.  Her father, Henry had a boat and he would take mum out to look at the rocks. She said she never saw any neighbours, it was all bush. 

Her fondest memories of the place were of the family being together. Everyone loved the outdoors and a chance to escape their busy lives. This passion for the outdoor was enjoyed by all the families right up till their deaths.

On their walk to the property they all collected mushrooms. Catherine Grace fried them in butter for breakfast. There were mushrooms on the property and they ate them every morning. They bought meats and vegetables from the corner store at Avalon or they brought favourite foods with them. they had no fridge. Every night they ate well and mum remembered the stews were delicious.  

After dinner they played parlour style games such was cards or Chinese checkers. Catherine was in charge of card games and Albert was keen on Chinese checkers and draughts. Albert always won. Half way through the game Albert took his teeth and secretly put them in his pocket. 

During the day Catherine would instruct everyone in craft. It was during the war and Catherine got her grandchildren to knit socks for soldiers.  Catherine would collect clay from the creek and make sculptures. We still have a sculpture she made. She was also keen on embroidery. My mum said she could look at clothing and make it without a pattern. She could see how things work. Millicent Grace inherited this skill.

During the day they would walk to the beach. No houses were there and flannel flowers grew everywhere. Mum remembered Ruskin Rowes’ house being " Cabbage Tree....something?" because of the property being covered in cabbage trees. He was a successful business man. This is all she knew. 

On November 26th, 1926 Albert Henry Grace sold some of his land to Harry Ruskin Rowe - HRLV provides:

With World War Two erupting, and much of the Barrenjoey end of Pittwater cut off by tank traps at the Mona Vale-Bungan hilltop, Helen's Great Grandfather sold the rest of his land in 1941 to Lillie Marion Searle of Waverton, on October 9th, 1941 who sold the 3 acres to Harry Ruskin Rowe on December 19th, 1941, later that year and who allowed training camps to be held there during this conflict.

Above: Avalon, NSW. c. 1940. Huts surround the parade ground of the Sun Down RAAF Camp where the Women's Air Training Corps (WATC) undertook some of their training, including the first aid hut on the right. Note the flag pole on the right is flying the RAAF flag. The NSW WATC was formed in January 1940. The women were trained in a variety of skills including aircraft engine maintenance, ambulance first aid, signalling, and driving cars and trucks. Many members of the WATC later joined the Women's Auxiliary Australian Air Force WAAAF. The camp soon became a place to train men. Police Boy Club members who came to patrol Avalon Beach during the war years have related watching them troop down to the beach to learn to swim or do practice exercises. Visit Pittwater Aviatrixes On The Eve Of The RAAF's 100th: A NSW Women's Week - Women Of Aviation Week Celebration 

HRLV provides:

The home, Gunjulla, also featured in an advertisement for coffee in 1996. 

Re: coffee commercial in 1996. I was there with our neighbours, Sally and Ross Wishart, who owned Gunjulla at the time. Nestle were filming. The photo shown is almost certainly an older photo as the eastern side of the wrap around verandah is not enclosed for the main bed and bath and also the neighbours house is not visible next door. My guess is the photo would be prior to the mid 70s. - Carina Meurer

Grace family photo:

Gunjulla, 1968

Henry Albert Grace is famous for being ‘’The Bird Man’’. Henry was an electrician and bird enthusiast. He was born on June 28th 1885 at Moree, New South Wales, eldest of five children of Albert Henry Grace, solicitor, and his wife Catherine Ruth, née Muirson. 

1890s -  Henry Albert Grace as a boy reciting poetry in Stuart Park Wollongong

Henry worked as an electrician on shift work for the New South Wales Government Railways and Tramways for forty-five years. 

In 1910 he was in England, as on August 2nd of that year in the parish church at Erdington, Warwickshire, he married Deborah Watling Carter, from Norfolk. Next year he worked as an electrical switchboard attendant at Wolverhampton. 

Back in Sydney the family lived at Willoughby; after World War II they moved to Jannali.

Henry had first taken up his hobby of bird watching in 1917, although clearly he had a passion for birds prior to then. Taking an old police bicycle given to him by his father in 1896, he would take the steam train south from Sydney to the Royal National Park, where he was an honorary ranger for twenty-seven years. 

Henry with his bike

Henry with his bike

During his working life he maintained a love for the bush and nature. After retiring, he devoted himself to bird watching or more precisely bird listening, for which purpose he designed his own whistles so that he might 'talk with the birds'.

From his backyard workshop, Grace painstakingly constructed a series of extraordinary instruments, fashioned from old brass tubing, wire and rubber bands. In the National Park he would test the whistles in the wild, using his own birdcall notation (said to be a cross between Morse code and shorthand) to record the songs he heard in reply. He could imitate some sixty native species with his whistles, often with such perfection that he would fool the birds themselves—they would imitate each other. 

At times he ranged further afield, catching the train to Otford or Thirroul loaded with bicycle, whistles, firewood and supplies and then riding into the bushland, often camping out overnight. His favourite sound was the dawn chorus: 

'First the yellow robin, then the coachwhip, the currawongs, and the kookaburras. Finally the wonga-wonga and bronze-wing pigeons and orioles would join in . . . The chorus only lasts about 20 minutes, but it was worth camping out all night to hear', he said.

When his hearing became impaired, Henry built himself metal ear trumpets, which enabled him to hear the sounds he had cherished throughout his lifetime. As he aged and his memory became rusty, he would increasingly refer to his exercise books full of birdcall notations, to remind himself of the calls.

Henry Albert Grace with his hand made ear trumpets

Henry visited the Minimurra falls regularly until his eightieth year, travelling by train to Wollongong then pushing his bike thirty miles (48 km) to the reserve. 

1937 The Grace family on Christmas vacation Stuart Park Wollongong

He passed away on July  4th 1966 in hospital at Caringbah and was cremated with Anglican rites. His wife, four daughters and son survived him and went on to have children of their own. 

In 1999 Grace's whistles, notebooks, bicycle and a 16-mm film of him in the Royal National Park featured in an exhibition at the State Library of New South Wales, 'Sydney Eccentrics: A Celebration of Individuals in Society'.

At Gunjulla front gate: Joyce, Deborah, Gwendolyn and Henry with his bike

Henry with his bird whistles

Some extra Grace - Grant family photos - the community ios fortunate that Albert Henry Grace was a photographer and fortunate again in Helen and her mum Deborah have shared these images:

Avalon Beach 1920

Avalon Beach circa 1920

Avalon Beach circa 1930-35

Newport Beach circa 1930-35

Gunjulla: The Grace family's The Tree, 1930-50

Gunjulla driveway 1930-40

Avalon Beach - view down Avalon Parade, 1958

Ruskin Rowe - 1958-1960

Ruskin Rowe - 1958-1960

Ruskin Rowe - 1958-1960

Ruskin Rowe - 1958-1960

The Spit, 1960

Our HUGE thanks to Helen Grant and her mum Deborah for sharing these insights and family photos.

Gunjulla: view from the veranda, 1920

References + Extras

  1. Jennifer O'Callaghan, 'Grace, Henry Albert (1885–1966)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,
  2. Pittwater Roads II: Where The Streets Have Your Name - Avalon Beach
  3. Pittwater Roads II: Where the Streets Have Your name - Clareville 
  4. Avalon Beach Surf Life Saving Club   -  The First Clubhouse
  5. Avalon's Village Green: Avalon Park Becomes Dunbar Park - Some History + Toongari Reserve and Catalpa Reserve
  6. The Clareville/Long Beach Reserve: some History - where name for Arnold Road came from
  7. Avalon Beach Golf Links: Pittwater Fields of Dreams II
  8. Avalon Beach Public School: Some History For A 70th Birthday
  9. Pittwater Aviatrixes On The Eve Of The RAAF's 100th: A NSW Women's Week - Women Of Aviation Week Celebration 
Whatley Watson, Ltd., will hold the first seaside subdivision sale of the season on Monday at Avalon Beach, when they will submit about 60 allotments of the Park Estate.
All these allotments are handy to the surf, and command magnificent views of the new golf links and ocean. Judging by the demand for lithographs a large attendance is anticipated. REAL ESTATE. (1924, October 4). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 20. Retrieved from

AVALON BEACH. Whatley Watson, Ltd., will sell by public auction on the grounds, Park Estate, Avalon Beach tomorrow. Avalon Beach is 14 miles north of Manly, between Newport and Palm Beach. It is reached by tram from Manly to Narrabeen, thence by motor bus, which runs to a regular timetable to Palm Beach. It can easily be reached by car from Sydney in about an hour and a quarter, and in much less time from the Northern Suburbs, and now the Roseville and Spit bridges are almost completed the journey will soon be considerably shortened. There is also a steamer service from Clareville wharf (handy to the estate)to the Hawkesbury Riverrailway station, which is a very pleasant journey, passing en route through glorious scenery all the time, tennis courts are now available, and excellent golf links are nearly completed. These links have been laid out by one of Sydney's leading professionals, and comprise golfing country equal to, if not better than, any links in the metropolitan area. A club house is shortly to be erected. It is expected that these links will form an immense boon and attraction to golfers, owing to the badly congested state of all seaside links at the present time. FINANCE-COMMENCE-REAL ESTATE. (1924, October 5).Sunday Times (Sydney, NSW : 1895 - 1930), p. 2. Retrieved from

Park Estate, Avalon Beach 1924 - front page and back pages 1924 Items No.: c027560033h and c027560034h, Subdivision Plans courtesy State Library of NSW - and sections from to show details

Albert Henry Grace Notes

Albert Henry Grace was born in 1861 in Sydney to Henry and Eliza Grace. His father was a builder. 

Parents marriage:


Children of the union:


His father passed away when he was still very young:

GRACE.— June 29, at his residence, 54, Botany-street, Surry Hills, Mr. Henry Grace, aged 48 years. Family Notices (1879, June 30). Evening News (Sydney, NSW : 1869 - 1931), p. 2. Retrieved from 

GRACE.—June 29, at his residence, 54, Botany-street, Surry Hills, Mr. Henry Grace, builder, aged 48 years, native of Hampshire, England. Family Notices (1879, June 30). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 1. Retrieved from 

THE FRIENDS of the late Mr. HENRY GRACE, Builder, are respectfully invited to attend his Funeral ; to move from his late residence, 54, Botany-street, Surry Hills, THIS (Monday) AFTERNOON, at 2 o'clock, and proceed to the Mortuary, per train to the Necropolis. C. KINSELA and SONS, 118, Oxford-street; and George-street.

LOYAL ROSE OF AUSTRALIA LODGE, No. 4024, I. O. O. F., M. U.-The Officers and Brothers of the above Lodge, together with the Officers and Brothers of the various Lodges, are requested to attend the Funeral of our late Brother, HENRY GRACE ; to move from No. 54, Botany-street, Surry Hills. Family Notices (1879, June 30). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 8. Retrieved from 

In the Supreme Court of New South Wales.


In the will of Henry Grace, late of 54, Botany-street, Surry Hills, in the city of Sydney, in the Colony of New South Wales, builder, deceased.

NOTICE is hereby given, that after the expiration of fourteen days from the publication hereof, application will be made to this Honorable Court, in its Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction, that probate of the last will and testament of the abovenamed Henry Grace, deceased, may be granted to Eliza Grace, Gilbert Hair, and Hugh McMaster, the executrix and executors therein mentioned.—Dated this 7th day of July, a.d. 1879.

RICHARD DRIVER, Proctor for the Executrix and Executors, 176, Pitt-street, Sydney. ECCLESIASTICAL JURISDICTION. (1879, July 8). New South Wales Government Gazette (Sydney, NSW : 1832 - 1900), p. 2995. Retrieved from 

Worth noting 'Goods sworn as under £1200.00’, although Albert Henry would later sell lands at Surry Hills, in 1910 and 1922. He also held land at St Leonards.

Mother’s death: GRACE ELIZA 12655/1920  parents: (WRIGHT) 87 YRS RANDWICK RANDWICK

GRACE.— August 24th, 1920, at her late residence, "Glanton," Dutruc Street, Randwick, Eliza Grace, widow of the late Henry Grace, Builder, aged 87 years. Family Notices (1920, August 25). The Daily Telegraph (Sydney, NSW : 1883 - 1930), p. 8. Retrieved from 


1910 - some of these he was acting in his capacity as a solicitor



Marriage of Albert and Catherine: 5105/1884  GRACE ALBERT H MUIRSEN CATHERINE R MOREE

GRACE-MUIRSON.-September 16th, at the residence of the bride's parents, Moree, by the Rev. T. M. Davies, Albert Henry Grace, of Moree, solicitor, eldest son of the late Henry Grace, of Sydney, to Catherine Ruth, youngest daughter of Kenneth Muirson, of Moree. Family Notices (1884, September 20). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 1. Retrieved from 

Children of the union:


Catherine Ruth Grace passed away in 1949. Albert Henry Grace passed away in 1955.

This is their daughter 'Ada' being referred to as Mrs. Keyworth, married in 1915 to Frank Keyworth:


The many friends of Mrs. F. L. Keyworth will regret to hear that her mother Mrs. Catherine Ruth Grace, died on Saturday aged 93 years. Mrs. Grace leaves a husband who is in his 96th year, two sons and three daughters, together with several grandchildren and great grand-children.

The remains were cremated at the Northern Suburbs Crematorium. Mrs. Keyworth, who has been with her parents for several weeks, is expected home shortly. OBITUARY (1949, August 23). The Dubbo Liberal and Macquarie Advocate (NSW : 1894 - 1954), p. 3. Retrieved from

Deborah Sarah Grace married David Forrest Grant in 1952, the marriage was registered at Sutherland.

GRANT-GRACE. - The Engagement is announced of Deborah, youngest daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Grace, of Jannali, to David, only son of Mrs. Barbara Grant and the late Mr. Adam Grant, of Bellevue Hill. Family Notices (1952, January 5). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 34. Retrieved from

Harry Ruskin Rowe: Purchase Of Grace Holdings

Harry Ruskin Rowe - lands at Avalon Beach, which he commenced selling off in March 1950. Visit, VP Day 2019: Anthony Thomas Ruskin Rowe, Spitfire Pilot (1919 To 1943) - Who Defended Darwin And His Mate: An Avalon Beach And Pittwater Hero

From HRLV:

Lillie Marion Searle (1883 - 1979) - residue of holding and Gunjulla home and tenants Laurence Minot Quillan and Margaret Louise Smith:

In 1962 the estate changed hands again, Laurence Minot Quillan becoming owner:

Mr Quillan was involved in the construction and running of Avalon Picture Theatre:

 (3) Mr. Arnold Gladstone Spry, 184 Wyndora-avenue, Harbord, in respect of a proposed picture theatre to be situated in Old Barrenjoey road, Avalon Beach. Proposed seating accommodation, 750. THEATRES AND PUBLIC HALLS ACT, 1908-1946. (1953, May 1). Government Gazette of the State of New South Wales (Sydney, NSW : 1901 - 2001), p. 1436. Retrieved from 

Name and Address of Applicant.

(1) Mr. Arnold Gladstone Spry, 184 Wyndora Avenue, Harbord. - Proposed picture theatre, Old Barrenjoey road, Avalon Beach. Granted. THEATRES AND PUBLIC HALLS ACT, 1908-1946. (1953, August 14). Government Gazette of the State of New South Wales (Sydney, NSW : 1901 - 2001), p. 2601. Retrieved from  

(2) Application under paragraph (c) for the approval of alterations designed to provide additional seating accommodation made by Mr. Arnold Gladstone Spry, 184 Wyndora-avenue,Harbord, in respect of a proposed picture theatre to be situated in Old Barrenjoey road, Avalon Beach. Approved seating accommodation, 740. Additional seating applied for, 84. THEATRES AND PUBLIC HALLS ACT, 1908-1946. (1954, January 29). Government Gazette of the State of New South Wales (Sydney, NSW : 1901 - 2001), p. 287. Retrieved from 

2) Mr. Arnold Gladstone Spry, 184 Wyndora avenue, Harbord. Proposed picture theatre, Old Barrenjoey-road, Avalon Beach. The approval of alterations designed to provide additional seating accommodation. Granted. THEATRES AND PUBLIC HALLS ACT, 1908-1946. (1954, March 26). Government Gazette of the State of New South Wales (Sydney, NSW : 1901 - 2001), p. 975. Retrieved from 

Avalon Beach Cinema; Opening of Avalon Cinema Theatre – Adele Spry's father Arnold Spry built this with partner Larry Quillen. Photos courtesy Geoff Searl, Avalon Beach Historical Society.

Avalon Cinema Theatre - soon after opening night. courtesy Geoff Searl, Avalon Beach Historical Society.

The crowd buying tickets on the opening night - 28th of July 1955! Courtesy Geoff Searl, Avalon Beach Historical Society.

The brand spanking new box office. Courtesy Geoff Searl, Avalon Beach Historical Society.

Gunjulla Place, 2021

A J Guesdon photos

Pittwater Summer Houses: Gunjulla, Avalon Beach-Clareville by Helen and Deborah Grant, supporting research by A J Guesdon, 2021