June 4 - 10  2023: Issue 586


Pittwater's Tropical Fruits: The Estuarine Farmlets At Mona Vale-Newport That Kept Sydney Stocked With Hot Area Fruit In The Middle Of Winter

'At Pittwater' by Charles Kerry, circa 1887-1888. From Tyrell Collection, courtesy Powerhouse Museum - is Rocky Point, Elvina Bay to left, Lovetts' Bay to right and Scotland Island 

From the earliest records of European settlement in Pittwater reports and anecdotes of the great array of fruits once grown here have formed part of what was told. Newport peaches, Church Point grapes, Narrabeen Plums and Warriewood tomatoes have all been produced abundantly and their quality was second to none, winning prizes at the annual Royal Easter Show for some producers and renown for record prices fetched in the case of all those tomatoes that came out of the Warriewood valley.

This persistence of Pittwater as a food bowl continued, even through WWII and into the 1950's and shows the late Autumn tropical fruits such as pawpaw, often one craved by any as it starts to get cold, grew here too as Pittwater headed into Winter.

The State Library of New South Wales, in its ongoing digitisation of materials and making these available, recently added the following photographs of a 'tropical fruit orchard at Pittwater' which, according to the sources, were taken on July 11th, 1938, possibly taken for Woman magazine or Woman: Incorporating the Woman's Budget - a woman's magazine published in Sydney, by Sungravure [Sun newspapers] from 1934 to 1954 with Issues originally cost three pence each.

Among these images of paw paws, bananas, strawberries, pineapples and more appear some 'models' and one of the farmer or caretaker with a tomato vine:

Tropical fruits - Pittwater, 11 July 1938, Items e22939_0001_c to e22939_0022_c, courtesy Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales

Yes; tropical fruits in a tropical fruit orchard, in Pittwater, in Winter!

Since running a small insight a few years ago into Pittwater's Tropical Fruits the wondering over where this farm was and who owned it and who these people are in these mages has persisted. Clearly this was one of the 'suntraps' in the Mona Vale to Newport stretch, and obviously that little haven of coves tucked alongside the Crescent' from Bayview to Mona Vale to Newport naturally sprang to mind - but what was the place, and how did it begin?

The photos above appear in an article from 1936 on a farm called 'Masonville' belonging to a Mr. Frederick Mason - who appears holding the tomatoes above. If noses are anything to go by, the other person featured in these images is a daughter of his. Yes! Real LIVE Mona Vale residents from the 1920's to 1950's and later.

Mr. Mason definitely had acreage on the Pittwater Crescent to Waterview run as he was bringing some of it under the Real Property Act in 1929:

No. 29,914. Frederick Mason, 9 a. 2 r. 10 p., lots 8 and 10, sec. 5, Mona Vale Este., in Waterrview-st. and Crescent-rd. and on Pittwater, Mona Vale NOTICE UNDER REAL PROPERTY ACT. (1929, April 19). Government Gazette of the State of New South Wales (Sydney, NSW : 1901 - 2001), p. 1698. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article223026594

Frederick, a poultry farmer of Narrabeen prior to his purchase, had only bought the land in 1928 - The historical Land Record Viewer provides some insights into his gradual sell-off of his acreage, which took his holding into the mid-1950's:

Louis Heinz Wiechert was also a market gardener, of Mona Vale. He would later split the acreage into further lots (Vol/Fol 5711 168 & 169) which showed the creek that ran through this land - 5711-168. Creeks all over and through Mona Vale, Newport, Bayview and Warriewood were the reason these farms were so successful prior to piped water being made more freely available - although Mona Vale to Newport would not have need as much water as the tomato growers at Warriewood would later require.

It may be hard for younger people to visualise today as so many of these old creeks have been built over or sent into underground pipes across our landscapes - but this area was a place made greener due to being more filled with gurgling streams and chirruping creeks than can be seen today.


Warriewood's Water Worries

MOST of the residents of Warriewood, near Narrabeen, are market gardeners or poultry farmers who de-pend on the sale of their products for a living. Three years ago they went to considerable expense in installing water systems through their proper-ties, only to find that the supply in summer time is hopelessly inadequate. 

The trouble is that these people are served by a pipe line which runs from Pymble through Collaroy and Narrabeen, and the dead end is at Mona Vale. By the time the suburbs en-route have been served there is practically no water for Warriewood. 

The official statement is that until the new line from Ryde to Newport is put through, Warriewood cannot hope for relief. This notwithstanding that residents not only have to pay for what they do use, but have to recoup the shire council if sufficient water is not used to pay the interest on the money expended by the Water Board. MARKET GARDENERS "GO TO MARKET" (1928, October 20). Smith's Weekly (Sydney, NSW : 1919 - 1950), p. 10. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article234383626

That 1936 report on Frederick Mason's remaining holding and what was growing here was repeated in newspapers all over the country - and especially in Queensland dailies:




WHY go to the tropics when you can bring the tropics to you? — that is, in the fruity sense. Mr. F. Mason, of Mona Vale, dreamed of tropical fruit at his back door and he made his dreams come true. Tucked between the hills leading to the waters of the Hawkesbury at Newport is his property, which reproduces strangely a tropical garden of North Queensland. Pawpaw trees are laden with luscious fruit; huge bunches of ripening bananas hang from the dozens of Cavendish trees; young mango trees are growing strongly among rows and rows of strawberry plants, which are flanked on either side by the well-known Queensland tropical Monsterio Delicioso (more familiarly known as the "Fruit of All Nations," because, as a Queenslander will tell you, it tastes like all fruits). The growing of the Cavendish bananas is perhaps the most remarkable feat, because this particular variety seldom grows successfully south of the Tweed River. 

Rich Soil 

In another part of the grounds, which are well sheltered by tall gum trees, and gets plenty of sun, Mr. Mason will direct your attention to pineapples and custard apples. Mr. Mason, who has been a market gardener for the greater part of his life, happened to pick up some Cavendish banana plants near Narrabeen. They had grown well to a certain height, but failed to produce any fruit. He decided to experiment with them on his own property, and success came in a few years. Then he tried other tropical fruit; Queens-landers told him that he would not have any success. He can afford to laugh now. Mr. Mason attributes his success to the sheltered position of his property and the splendid loamy soil, which, he says, is the best he has ever seen. (See Pictures on Back Page.)

One of the pineapples growing at "Masonville." 

TO HOME (1936, September 18). The Sun (Sydney, NSW : 1910 - 1954), p. 13 (COUNTRY EDITION). Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article230018090

Kangaroo And Cat Friendship Tropical Fruits In Sydney Orchard (1936, September 18). The Sun (Sydney, NSW : 1910 - 1954), p. 20 (COUNTRY EDITION). Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article230018207

And again in 1938:

Sydney Grows Its Own Tropical Fruit (1938, July 14). The Sun (Sydney, NSW : 1910 - 1954), p. 13 (LATE FINAL EXTRA). Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article229136630

Another tropicalfruit grower of Pittwater, or the same farm, from the same publishers, appears in their daily newspaper a few months later:

Bananas straight from the palm! Misses Madeline Fester (standing), Joyce Bain (left) and Kathleen Wills sample luscious fruit grown in a Pittwater tropical fruit orchard. No title (1939, February 18). The Sun (Sydney, NSW : 1910 - 1954), p. 3 (LAST RACE). Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article229474524 

It's worth noting that during the 1930's, when so much of Sydney was still going hungry due to the economic depression, the Warriewood to Newport area had over 400 farmlets:

No Stonethrowing There

Warringah Shire is a district of glasshouses. The tomato-growing industry is making rapid strides, and thousands of glasshouses have been built in the Warriewood, Mona Vale, and Newport districts. It is said that there are more than 400 successful farmlets in the shire. 

During the year from 80,000 to 100,000 cases of choice tomatoes are sent to the Sydney and other markets, and it is estimated that producers collect more than £200.000 annually. According to men who have had experience on the land the soil in and around Mona Vale is excellent. Cauliflower growing has been found to be profitable, and in some parts it has been found possible to produce choice tropical fruits. No Stonethrowing There (1937, September 26). The Sun (Sydney, NSW : 1910 - 1954), p. 3. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article229439095

Research provided another possibility of a two-acre farmlet called "The Tropics." :

Qualify Produce At Mona Vale Farmlet

A banana palm, showing the early stage of a banana flower. Each "hand" of a bunch is covered with a petal, which curls up as the fruit develops.

WITHIN a few miles of Sydney, tropical fruits, such as bananas, pineapples, pawpaws, custard apples, mangoes and Avocado pears, are grown commercially, by Miss A. L. Young at "The Tropics," a two-acre property between Mona Vale and Newport.

Miss Young says, tropical fruit requires plenty of moisture. Under normal climatic and rainfall conditions the Mona Vale district has given astounding results, although it is admitted to be situated on the extreme southern limit where these fruits can be grown commercially.

Pawpaws and pineapples up to 41b. in weight have been grown at "The Tropics." 

Ideal Situation

The site of this picturesque tropical garden is a small, secluded valley sheltered from the wind, free from frost and having a clay subsoil with a two-foot overlay of rich soil well furnished with humus.

It is here that Miss Young started, about five years, ago, to emulate Queensland and the North Coast in growing tropical fruit. She has been most successful despite unfavorable seasonal conditions during the past two or three years.

Miss Young's interest in growing tropical fruit was aroused in the first place by her father, the late Mr. Fred Young, a well-known pioneer wheat farmer at Curlewis in the north-west. He was always fond of experimenting in various classes of vegetation.

The late Mr. Young was a Victorian, and at Mooroopna in 1888, he grew the first consignment of apples to be exported from Australia. They were shipped on the s.s. Oceana, in the early days of refrigeration. He was a pioneer of the Goulburn Valley irrigation scheme. He left Victoria for Curlewis in 1898.

Tropical fruits are also cultivated with success by a few other growers in the Mona Vale district.

Miss A. L. Young with two of the pineapple plants which she cultivates at her small tropical garden at Mona Vale. The pineapple fruit starts growing in the Spring and ripens in the Autumn.

A cluster of paw-paws. Some pawpaws weighing up to 41b. each have been grown al "The Tropics." There is a ready sale for this tree-ripened fruit. Photos: The Land.

At left: The leaf of a tropical fruit plant, "Monstera Deliciosa," growing at "The Tropics," Mona Vale. This plant has the only perforated leaf in the world. TROPICAL FRUIT GROWN NEAR SYDNEY (1943, January 15). The Land (Sydney, NSW : 1911 - 1954), p. 6. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article105682619

Miss Young wasn't the only single woman making a living by farming during this period and during WWII. Miss Alice Blow, who looks very like her, had a goat farm at Mona Vale, photographed in December 1942. The farm was named "Ruria" on "Newport Road" Mona Vale -  as current day Barrenjoey Road was named then.

There was a shortage of milk for some during WWII as so much was directed towards the war effort. Some people took to keeping a few goats to increase their access to supply. We even had two over at The Basin:


Campers at The Basin, Pittwafer, have gone on a goafs' milk diet. Only milk supply at The Basin is that provided by two goats, owned by Mr. B. W. Morgan, ranger. ; Mr. Morgan said yesterday he had bought the goats for his own use, but was  able to supply -campers 'with milk occasionally. 

"The goats are also very useful as automatic lawn-mowers," he said. "The campers are enthusiastic about goats' milk. Many of them had never tried it before. , "It's too rich for me. I have to break it down with water." GOATS PROVIDE MILK FOR HOLIDAY CAMPERS (1944, January 10). The Daily Telegraph (Sydney, NSW : 1931 - 1954), p. 5. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article247754369

Miss Alice Blow's goat farm at Mona Vale23 December 1942  photographed by Alec Iverson. Image No.: c18754_0001_c,  courtesy State Library of NSW

Miss Alice Blow's goat farm at Mona Vale23 December 1942  photographed by Alec Iverson, Image No.: c18754_0005_c,  courtesy State Library of NSW 

This was all happening at a time when these areas were being proclaimed Residential Districts and the operation of some works were being prohibited:


Proposed Abolition of Residential Districts Nos. 6 and 7 and Declaration of New Residential Districts Nos. 6 and 7 Within the Warringah Shire.

IT is hereby notified that Warringah Shire Council has applied to the Governor (a) to abolish Residential Districts Nos. 6 and 7—Warringah Shire, as proclaimed in Government Gazettes No. 187 of 1st November, 1935, and No. 62 of 9th April, 1936, respectively; (b) to declare the lands described as follows to be Residential Districts (Nos. 6 and 7—Warringah Shire) :—

Proposed Residential District No. 6.

Commencing on the southern side of Beaconsfield-street at the north-eastern corner of lot 5, section E, township of Newport, shown on roll plan 599 at the Registrar-General's Office; and bounded thence by the eastern boundary of that lot southerly to a northern foreshore of Pittwater; by that foreshore westerly to the south-western corner of lot 3 of the said section E; by the western boundary of that lot northerly to the aforesaid Beaconsfield-street; and by that street easterly, to the point of commencement,—being the whole of the land comprised in lots 3, 4 and 5 of the said section E, township of Newport, shown on roll plan 599.

Proposed Residential District No, 7.

Commencing at the intersection of the southwestern side of Beaconsfield-street with the southwestern side of Newport-road; and bounded thence by that side of that road south-easterly to the easternmost corner of lot 34, section E, township of Newport, roll plan 599 at the Registrar-General's Office; by the south-western boundary of lots 34 and 33 and the western boundary of the latter lot north-westerly and northerly to the aforesaid Beaconsfield-street; and by that street south-easterly to the point of commencement,—being lots 33 and 34 of the said section E, township of Newport, shown on roll plan 599 

(c) to prohibit in proposed Residential district No. 6 — Warringah Shire (1) the erection of any building for use for the purposes of the following trades, industries, manufactures or shops:—Blood-boiler, blood drier, boneboiler, bone grinder, fat extractor, fat melter, fellmonger, flock maker, glue maker, gut scraper, knacker, manure maker, pig keeper, poultry farmer, rag dealer, rag picker, soup drier, wool Scourer (being the trades, businesses or manufactures declared to be noxious trades within the meaning of the Noxious Trades Act, 1902), and also the following:—Sawmills, steam Iaundries, public stables, private stables housing more than two horses, keeping of ducks, geese, turkeys and fowl for profit, wheelwright, monumental mason, undertaken and embalmer, coach trimmer, oil refineries, plaint, varnish or oil manufactories, leather Works, soap works, candle works and smelting works; (2) the Use of any building for any such purposes; (3) the erection or use of Any building for the purposes of a residential flat building other than a building which conforms to the standard prescribed for Class A as set out in Schedule Seven to the Act; (4) the erection or Use of advertisement hoardings; and (5) the use of any land for the purposes of the following trades, businesses, Evocations or callings:— Brick works, tile works, pipe Works, pottery works, bottle depots and sawmills; (d) to prohibit in proposed Residential District No. 7—Warringah Shire (1) the erection of any building for use for the purposes of the following trades, industries, manufactures or shops:—Blood-boiler, blood drier, bone-boiler, botte grinder, fat extractor, fat melter, fellmonger, flock maker, glue maker, gut scraper, knacker, manure maker, pig keeper, poultry farmer, rag dealer, rag picker, soup drier, Wool scourer (being the trades, businesses or manufactures declared to be noxious trades within the meaning of the Noxious Trades Act 1902), and also the following*.—Sawmills, public stables, private stables housing more than two horses, wheelwright, monumental ma soli, undertaker and embalmer, coach trimmer, oil refineries, paint varnish or oil manufactories, leather works, soap works, candle works and smelting works) (2) the use of any building for any such purposes; (3) the erection or Use bf any building for the purposes of a residential flat building other than a building which conforms to the standard prescribed for Class A as set out in Schedule Seven to the Act; (4) the erection or use of advertisement hoardings; and (5) the use of any land for the purposes of the following trades, businesses, avocations or callings:—Brick works, tile works, pipe works, pottery works, bottle depots and sawmills.

Objection to this proposal may be lodged by any person interested on or before 1st December, 1941. (S. 41-12,095)


Department of Local Government and Housing,

Sydney, 24th October, 1941. LOCAL GOVERNMENT ACT, 1919. (1941, October 24). Government Gazette of the State of New South Wales (Sydney, NSW : 1901 - 2001), p. 3781. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article225483404

The growing of tropical fruits in Pittwater was preceded by a five-acre farm most definitely on 'The Crescent' between Mona Vale and Newport, tucked away on the Pittwater side:

MONA VALE'S WONDER MAN Abundant Tropical Growths

(By "Redgum")

Seven years ago Harry Frederick was foreman engineer in one of the city shops. To-day he is on the land, out Mona Vale way. He is one of Nature's happy optimists, who have faith in themselves, and are not afraid to soil their hands. But unlike many of those who have during the last few years taken to tickling the soil for a living, he cut in on a good partnership in the beginning, and did not trust either to Providence or the promises of man. He knew good land when he saw It. The average man seems not to give any thought to soil values or to the water question. Any old country will do while the fever Is raging. The Frederick patch is one of the best areas of coastal scrub country within the metropolitan area. It is all washed-down alluvial and concentrated leaf mould. I am not concerned with the actual depth of the topsoil. 

The timber standing on the wood lot outside the belt of sweet corn which marks the northern cultivation boundary is evidence enough for me. Ironbark, messmate, turpentine, stringy, white-barked melaluca, and bangalley, with cabbage trees and palms on the fringe of the watercourse, all straight and clean, with plenty of light scrub, where the leeches and mosquitoes fore-gather, and take toll of every intruder, make the soil matter safe. There Is more land within the fences than will ever be worked by one pair of hands.

That is my opinion of Frederick's lot. The owner takes quite a different view. He is of opinion that by Increasing his horse-power and machinery the whole five acres can be got under. Still, time will tell. Quite enough has been done to date to give the owner heart to push along. 


You know the hill on the north side of Brock's? Half-way up the rise a finger-post is marked "The Crescent." One turns in there and pushes over the bit of a climb to the junction of the pretty bush track locally known as Maidenhair-lane. You cannot go astray if you take the narrow way on the right. The craftsman, though within a few hundred yards of a much-travelled highway, is almost right out of the world. Only once In a while does any one visit him. When he becomes better known he may not have so much tome to do his gardening. A long line of clean passion vines stand in the foreground of the picture. Much green fruit is in evidence. In the light, rich country this popular line Is almost disease-proof. There is room for more passion vines on the holding. Behind the vines stand bananas — short, stocky specimens, quite unlike the tall, straggly plantains so well known along the coast line. The broad leaves and stubby stems surprised me. So did the big bunches of fruit. 

I had forgotten that my friend, Professor Tearne, who lives hard by, had told me that this sub-tropical fruit was one of the features of the garden. All I remembered was that some-thing rather out of the common was being done in the village. The bananas' are splendid. In all, there must be quite a hundred clumps. Some are older than others, and are carrying big bunches of nice chubby green fruit. When I was there all the full grown stock had been sold off for the Christmas trade. Still I did taste ono or two ripe fruits that were taken off a bunch which had been reserved for a friend. There was nothing wrong with the flavor of the fruit. 


Mr. Frederick tells me the bunches average 14 dozen bananas, for which he receives 7d or so a dozen. There Is never any trouble in marketing the crop. Many of the larger clumps are carrying five and six big stools or stems. Each stem will set and ripen one bunch during the summer season. With four or five bunches a year rather a tidy return Is being taken off that coastal banana patch. Both Cavendish and the short, stubby, sugar banana are being grown. The plants are not more than three yards apart. All the rows are well mulched with cornstalks grown last season. The mulching saves a lot , of moisture. Deep, well-drained land lets a lot of water run away. Mulching and surface stirring help to keep the conditions right. So far there has not been any damage from frost. With the sea so close and a big wind-break on the south and east, troubles will be few and far between. Only those who choose impossible places have their good work undone by the wind. Tomatoes are doing rather well this year. The mid-season lines have done splendidly to date. Light, rich land suits this popular vegetable.


One would expect potatoes to thrive. I saw a line lot of Manhattan, one of the blue sorts dug for sale. Not a pennyworth of manure had been dusted with the drills. Later on, when some of the plant food has gone, Mr. Frederick must use a scattering of bone dust or one of the chemical fertilisers which the exports put together for those who would succeed with kitchen truck. Some of the right kind makes a won-derful difference. I am quite certain that it is penny wise and pound foolish to try and save money on plant foods. One of Chatswood's girl gardeners proved this very conclusively recently. She grew carrots both with and with-out fertilisers. The roots which had no special feeding were runts, while the others were big, plump and brittle. However rich the land, a little of the extra special will add greatly to your gains. Rock and water melons, strawberries, loganberries, lettuce, beets, onions, cabbage, beans and peas are doing, or have done, excellently. Creswells is the best sea-line strawberry. New York cabbage is the quickest worker among the lettuce tried to date. I saw saleable heads that were not more than four weeks old. It will be hard to beat that performance. There was no mulching of manure to be seen, nor did I hear anything about quickening the plant action with nitrate of soda in solution. The Mona Vale worker has no time for coddling any of his plants. They must do well on their own account to be of any service to him. 


Lemons, mandarins and oranges, too, have made a very fine showing. Every leaf Is glossy and very green. Wax scale or whitehouse have no chance. The trees grow fast and are strong enough to throw off any trouble that comes along. Navels and Navelencia are the best oranges for the district. The rich conditions underfoot make their fight easy. What a place this would be for winter sweet peas! Mr. Frederick could do wonders with a batch of early flowers. The land is quite correct, and the northern aspect just the thing. I think he should try his hand with a quarter acre, patch of the best peas, procurable. In the winter season there is always room for big sweet blossoms of this wonderful flower. Good quality peas have a value of their own. The pineapple patch pleased me much. It Is the largest bed I have seen. I might also say that the plants are in better growth than any others which have come under my notice. Altogether there are over 350 plants growing. Most of the fruits are still small, but by the time they are yellow and ready for market the things will be heavy enough to please even a Bris-bane man, who knows the taste and look of a high-quality pine. 


I was delighted with the care and attention which Mr. Frederick Is giving to his pines. He has every row mulched with six or seven inches of rough bush leaves and mould. Tons of refuse must have been drawn in from the scrublands outside the clearing; How-ever, big pines are worth money. A man who has to take his living off the land cannot afford to throw away any chances. ' Other pines will be planted out as soon as space can be found. The line is working fine. Mona Vale scrub country gives the plants room for free action. Japanese plum trees, early apples, figs, peaches, nectarines and apricots fill In a pretty orchard block. All the trees are clean and big. But the fruit crop this year is small. There will . not be any return to boast about. How- | ever, next year the plums should again pay for their keep. There is a lot of young fruit wood in evidence. Bush flowers like boronia, native rose, flannels, waratahs and Christmas bush have not been overlooked. Mr. Frederick has a warm heart for these wildings. Indeed, l am of opinion he should put In a long line of Redbush for sale at Christmas tome. It will pay better than any of the Japanese plums or peaches, and take less watching— except during December, when the flowers are adding to their color, and so many people are searching the country a armful of cheap decoration. 


The waratahs grow like sweet corn. This year stems are already over the five foot mark, and are still making. Dahlias and cosmos are also strong features. I saw quite a crowd of an old scarlet decorative here and there round the house. Unfortunately, there is now no woman's hand to make use of these beauties. The gardener is a lonely workman. His trees and his vegetables and a grandchild or two who visit the ranch with their parents now and again at the week-end are all he has. The war robbed him of a son. 

But I must not forgot the crowning glory of a big concrete water tank and a pumping plant, which Mr. Frederick has completed all off his own bat to make the water supply sure. 

The tank Is 20 foot high, perched on four big ironbark timbers. Only an expert engineer could have set that water-holder in position. He cut away half of two straight trees and set others in place. Block and tackle, with wind-lass arid guy ropes, did the thing well. Then a small dam was built near the creek-side, and an engine-house and pump fixed to do the work of forcing the water uphill Into the big white tank. A cast-off fire engine plant provides the necessary power. Many of us have seen that same old engine snorting and roaring to some purpose at one of the big city fires. Now it is bedded firmly in an iron shanty, and is fed with wood by one who takes just as much care of the brass work and the pressure gauges as if it were still on show in the old place in Bathurst street. Even the whistle still remains. THE AMATEUR GARDENER (1921, December 31). The Sun (Sydney, NSW : 1910 - 1954), p. 7 (FINAL SPORTING). Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article223484830


Residents Insist on Good Roads and Other Improvements — Progress Association formed
Residents of the district extending from Green Hills to Church Point met at the Mona Vale Town Hall last night formed a Progress Association to co-operate with the Warringah Shire Council in getting necessary work done in their picturesque area. There was a splendid roll-up of enthusiasts from all parts of the district. Some came in their motor cars, others walked through the bush for miles, guided by the light of their lanterns. 

They elected their officers, adopted their rules, and outlined their plan of campaign. Mr. H. Lodge was appointed president, Mr. W. W. Hill vice-president, Mr. Muddle secretary, and Mr. Austin, treasurer. The president pointed out that the association would confine its activities to the area extending from Green Hills to Church Point, which had not received the attention at the hands of the council that it deserved. 

REFORM PLAN. Mr. Williams (Bay View) said that the Progress Association would not rest content until: — 
(1) The Warringah Shire Council makes a more equitable expenditure in A riding in proportion to the rates paid by the residents of that area. A riding extends from Narrabeen to Barrenjoey, and to Cowan on the western side.) 
(2) First-class roads are constructed from Manly to Pittwater— the gateway from Sydney to the beautiful Kuringai Chase. 
(3) The approaches to the surfing beaches are improved. 
(4) The wharves and baths at Bay View are made safe. (At present the stringers on the wharves are rusty, and the wire-netting In the baths Is in a most dilapidated condition— sharks ran easily get through the huge holes at high tide.) 
(5) The steps are made safe from the wharves to the boats at Bay View. (At present one has to be a gymnast to be able to Jump from the boats to the first step on the wharf. Four steps are missing, and the rest are rotting.) 
(6) The wharf at Church Point is made safe for the public. (It, like the wharf at Bay View, is rotting away.)
(7) The Black swamp at Mona Vale is drained and utilised either as a public park or a golf course. 

When these reforms are executed the district will be the pride of all Australians, blessed by Nature with scenic beauty beyond compare in the world; with glorious surfing beaches and mile after mile of beautiful bays, set like Jewels in sylvan surroundings, reflecting in their still depths the graceful trees that adorn them — bays for boating, fishing, and swimming, it is little wonder that the Pittwater district, which the newly-formed Progress Association is out to improve, is so popular with tourists. 

The district has commercial possibilities also, in its soil almost anything can be grown. Mr. Fredericks, of Mona Vale, is cultivating successfully pineapples, bananas, mangoes, citrus fruits, and sugar cane. And only 18 miles from Sydney! 

At present the district is renowned as a tourist resort, but with the advent of the Spit Bridge, rendering it, with good roads, easily accessible to the city, it will probably develop into one of the most popular residential areas on the outskirts of Sydney. The Mona Vale Progress Association is determined that this wonderful district shall come into its own. MONA VALE GETS A MOVE ON (1924, July 2). The Labor Daily (Sydney, NSW : 1924 - 1938), p. 5. Retrieved  from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article236544961 

A little further south and around the same time 'Masonville' and 'The Tropics' were flourishing:


One stream of the flood of foreign migrants pouring into Australia consists of Yugoslavs, 642 of whom, according to the latest official report, came into the country during the 12 months to the end of August. Since then, the influx has increased.

An opportunity to study them is provided at Mona Vale, where more than a hundred practically live in glass houses.

Any dwelling in that area gives a wrong impression of its owner's, financial standing. His neighbors estimate his success not by the way he lives, but by the -number of glass houses he owns.

Less than 10 miles from Manly, Pittwater-road comes to a low hill around which it throws an arm, "Warriewood-road. When this by way gets out' of sight of the main thoroughfare it sweeps in a wide curve to Elanora Heights. At this end of Warriewood-road, and in the deep valley that runs across it from Vineyard-street to MacPherson-street, live the men of the glasshouses — Yugoslavs. In the open valley, on the side of the hill, and through the trees in every direction, what appear to be huge patches of snow gleam under the hot rays of the sun which no breeze tempers. But they are white-washed glasshouses which cover early tomatoes. 

Hundreds of Yugoslavs who have seen or heard about the valley are driving picks into the faces of Broken Hill mines or cutting cane under Queensland's tropical sun, so that some day, perhaps in 10 years, they, too will own glasshouses. It is impossible to become even a humble member of the community without an outlay of at least £800. Land costs from £200 an acre, an over-valuation, based on what they have achieved, with their glass houses, say the growers. 

Then it has to be cleared and fenced and water-piping connected. Moreover, it takes from 12 to 18 months to get the first houses going, during which the new arrival sometimes plants in the open. 

The average holding is four acres, but some own as much as 12 acres. Although a glasshouse measures only 100ft. by 15ft., it has to be moved every two or three seasons. 

Timber, glass, and other materials cost £70, and, when finished, with piping along each row, a house represents an outlay of £100. A double house is 100ft. by 30ft., and correspondingly more expensive. 

Early glasshouse tomatoes are marketed from August to November, and those grown outside until the end of December. The glasshouse grower, therefore, has a two months' start on the ordinary producer. Consequently, his tomatoes bring 6d a lb., as compared with 4d or 3d. 

One grower recently obtained the record price of 2s 6d a lb. 

Fine Physique 

Unlike many of the other Southern Europeans, these Yugoslavs are fine physical specimens who have been reared on the land in their own country. Most of them have wives and families, who add their share of manual labor. Three of the wives are Australians. 

Here are some of the leading personalities among them: — Pioneer of the settlement is George Jovanovich, J.P., who married an Australian girl, and started with two glasshouses in 1927. When his holding carried 20 houses he sold out to compatriots, and now lives in retirement in Parramatta-road, Annandale. But his brother, Percy, has his bachelor quarters in the oldest building of the settlement. 

Three Sydney business men started their careers in it when they raised poultry there 40 years ago. 

"When I come here eight years ago I spend all the money I made cutting cane in Queensland," he said. "Then I have eight houses, but I owe £1250. Now I have 13 houses, and I have no debts." 

The opulence of Laurich and Vladimir Milos glistens when the sun shines on their 40 houses. They also have their own car and motor lorry. 

Wives Must Wait 

Mile Chanak now has 30 houses and a lorry. He tolled in the Broken Hill mines and among the tomatoes 12 years before he felt affluent enough to bring out his wife and two children three years ago. A third has since been born. 

Antonio Slavich, with the help of a Serbian wife and three sons, works 20 houses; Kalajizich, Papec, and Antonvich run 24 houses in a sort of partnership; Steve Tasich, there three years, has three houses, a wife, and four children; Chemichierc came from Broken Hill a year ago; the Rdaij brothers are still growing in the open, and so is Sarvo Szentich, who, after two years, is waiting for a good season to send for his wife and family. 

Many of the new arrivals work for Kunich, who employs about 100 fruit-pickers at his cherry orchard at Young. Kunich is said to be the wealthiest Yugoslav in Australia. MEN WHO LIVE IN GLASS HOUSES-- (1938, November 13). The Sun (Sydney, NSW : 1910 - 1954), p. 23 (NEWS SECTION). Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article231136788 

Yugoslavs at Warriewood, 8 March 1941 -  envelope dated 31/3/1941. Assumed by Library volunteer to be Sun; other envelopes in sequence marked "DS". Items e13170_0001_c and e13170_0004_c, courtesy Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales

Yugoslavs' farm at Warriewood, 7 April 1941 / photographed by R. Donaldson, Title and date from original envelope housing negatives or devised by Library volunteers, Items: c19019_0002_c, c19019_0005_c, c19019_0017_c, c19019_0019_c, c19019_0021_c and c19019_0022_c  courtesy Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales and Courtesy ACP Magazines Ltd.

Earlier articles all raved about the tropical fruits on properties on our western shores, so clearly a suntrap sheltered position worked best for these fruits too. The property of Robert Robinson at Towlers' Bay was well-known for this and mentioned a few times:

On the Towler's Bay side there are several residents who pull across the water to the wharf at Church Point and meet the steamer from Sydney or the coach from Manly, as the case may be. The dynamite powder hulk is moored in Towler's Bay, with residences on shore for the officers in charge. 

Mr. Robert Robinson has his residence of Raamah at the same place. Mr. Robinson informs me that he can grow to perfection such tropical fruits as bananas, guavas, ginger, mangoes, pineapples, Brazilian cherries, &c. This fact will demonstrate that there can be little or no frost in this locality. 

Other residents of this side of the bay are Mr. F. Chave, Woodlands, who has a very nice orchard, mostly summer fruit ; Mr. E. C. Johnstone, who has a nice residence and orchard; Mr. A. Steffani is another prominent resident, while the residence of the firm of Flood and Oately occupies a lovely peninsula in the quiet waters of the bay. Mr. Geo. Brown has a residence and an orchard in the neighborhood, and there is also a small church and cemetery at Church Point. Manly to Broken Bay. (1893, November 11). Australian Town and Country Journal (NSW : 1870 - 1907), p. 19. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article71191632

RAAMAH, Pittwater, spl. Winter resort, fish, shoot an oil launch. Ap. John Williams, Bayview.  Advertising. (1904, August 27).The Sydney Morning Herald(NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 14. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article14623625 

'RAAMAH, ' TOWLER BAY, PITTWATER, VIA BAYVIEW.'. It has a message on the front and the address on the undivided back, which is postmarked 21 Feb 1908. Courtesy National Museum of Australia. 

Some New South Wales Grown Mangoes. 

Since the article on mango cultivation appeared in these columns, a great deal of Interest has been awakened in this valuable sub-tropical fruit. The other day Mr. J. S. Edgar brought to this office several very fine mangoes that had been grown in the late Mr. R. Robinson's garden at Pittwater, Broken Bay. The trees, which are now ab out five years' old, were obtained from the Botanic Gardens, Rockhampton, Queensland, and have some excellent crops this year. They are growing in a deep, rich soil, about 50ft above sea level, and are a picture of health.. Notwithstanding the very dry season that has been experienced, the fruit is well developed and of good flavor. The mango trees at Pittwater go to prove that this sub-tropical fruit can be produced in sheltered positions in the neighborhood of Sydney. " Some New South Wales Grown Mangoes. (1899, March 11). Australian Town and Country Journal (Sydney, NSW : 1870 - 1919), p. 17. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article71325097 

Lovett Bay circa 1883-1887, by Charles Kerry & Co. part of the Powerhouse Museum's Tyrrell collection, and section from to show homes/orchards around Towlers' Bay

The sheltered nooks of Towlers' Bay aren't the only place offshore that had an early reputation for having the right soil and the right shelter to grow tropical fruits, this gentleman on Scotland Island for instance during those same mid to late 1930's:


Scotland Island, Pittwater, one of the first places to be explored by Governor Phillip, is now nearly as deserted as it was 150 years ago. Warringah Shire Council has received a complaint about the neglect of the Island. 

"It would not be worth our while spending a lot of money on the island," said the deputy-shire clerk (Mr. W. U. Gors) yesterday. "The population at present numbers four. The place is almost deserted." In pre-depression days land was worth £10-£12 a foot on the island, which was all subdivided for weekend locations. HISTORIC ISLAND DESERTED (1937, May 8). The Daily Telegraph (Sydney, NSW : 1931 - 1954), p. 7. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article247144986 

Contented Crusoe Of Scotland Is.

THE loneliest man near Sydney is Mr. Richard Empey, sole inhabitant of Scotland Island, Pittwater, 20 miles from the city.

He has lived alone as caretaker of an unoccupied house on the island for the last seven and a half years. Two cats, Poodles, black, and Mick, mouse-colored, are his only companions. "It's a treat to meet a human being," said Mr. Empey when visited yester-day. Scotland Island was explored by Governor Phillip, and once, it is said, bush rangers buried stolen gold there. 

Fruits Of Toil 

While on Scotland Island, Mr. Empey has built a beautiful terraced garden. "I grow all tropical fruits here, and get my water from tanks," he said. A motor launch from Church Point calls daily at his small jetty. He said he had had the Daily Telegraph sent to him with his provisions and equipment every day of his exile. 

No Modern "Contraptions" 

"I have no radio, telephone, or any modern contraption, but I like to know how the rest of the world is getting on," he said. Asked if he were happy as a modern Crusoe, he said: "I am perfectly happy here. I do not like the bustle, noise, and rushing of the cities." There is a cloud on Mr. Empey's horizon. The house which he looks after is for sale, and he does not know whether the new owner will want a caretaker. Contented Crusoe Of Scotland Is. (1937, May 10). The Daily Telegraph (Sydney, NSW : 1931 - 1954), p. 7. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article247141838 

Private Undersea Cable For Weekend Home

A PRIVATE submarine cable has been laid from the main-land to Scotland Island, Pittwater, to light a city business-man's weekend cottage.

The cable, which is half a mile in length, was installed by the owner of the cottage, Mr. H. W. Henderson, at his own expense. It is the first of its kind to be laid in Sydney by a resident for his own use. It was made In England by the Liverpool Electric Cable Company, and weighs three tons and a half. It connects with the Warringah Shire's electricity system at Church Point. Carrying 460 volts, the power is sufficient to light a small township, the installation has been inspected by officers of the Warringah Shire Council, Mr. Henderson will hold a private switching-on ceremony at his cottage. Private Undersea Cable For Weekend Home (1937, October 15). The Daily Telegraph (Sydney, NSW : 1931 - 1954), p. 7. Retrieved  from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article247236794 

In 1898 the Wheeler family rent the Morrisons’ cottage ‘Killarney’ at Bay View at one pound per week with seabaths and a good boat included. Mr. J. S. N. Wheeler relates insights on this cottages in his 1940 published The Early Days of Bayview, Newport, Church Point and McCarr’s Creek, Pittwater:

This has brought us to the twelfth mile-post from Manly. Along the road bordered with trees the coach descends to Figtree Flat, also known as Cape’s Flat, and the orchard of W.  J.  R.   Baker, with “Killarney” cottage lying between the two. This flat with its green  sward was a favourite picnic ground. The annual school picnic and distribution of prizes were held there on November 9 each year,  the birthday of the then Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII.).  

Baker’s orchard has long since disappeared. It comprised six acres of peaches, nectarines and other summer fruits, and two acres of  oranges. The orangery was situated high up at the apex of the orchard. A row of quince and peach trees flanked the fence next to  "Killarney." As Baker also kept poultry, it will be seen that Bayview was once a thriving poultry-farming and fruit-growing district.  


Before describing this district in detail, it is fitting that I should mention the furnished cottages, a feature of early tourist days, and  tending to make the place known.  

In 1898 we rented “Killarney” cottage at £1 per week, sea baths and a good boat included. My first evening at this spot includes a  boyish reminiscence of a walk after tea to Bayview Post Office store for provisions, and a glimpse of the red beacon of Barrenjoey  Lighthouse. “Killarney” had a lawn, summer-house, and a white fence—a spot where cool nor’-easters blew the tang of salt sea across  the bay. I remember that a big, green-painted lugger, the Thomas and Martha, owned by Thomas Oliver, used to anchor off this spot.  She carried firewood for sale in Sydney. Next door lived a fisherman, Tom Wilson, in a squat cabin-type of cottage half hidden by  bracken and bush shrubs. From him we used to buy a dozen large black bream and black fish for a shilling for breakfast. Cases were  packed with fish—the night’s harvest—and sent up to Manly on the roof of the coach in the morning.  

At Mrs Chave’s orchard, a quarter of a mile away, a bucket would be filled with grapes for a shilling. The grape vines grew in a dingle  half way between the house and the road. Mrs Chave, an old lady aged ninety-three years, passed away in 1934.  

Just above “Killarney” was another furnished cottage, “Drumtochtee,” in which some of the Oliver family once lived. S. Morrison,  schoolmaster, owned both these cottages. Later “Drumtochtee'’ was bought and renovated by Rainaud and named “La Corniche.”  Luncheons were provided there for visitors.  Another furnished bungalow, “Rosstrevor,’’ prettily situated with a beach in front, in a  combe on McCarr’s Creek, belonged to J. Ireland, a confectioner of Leichhardt. It was named after his house in that suburb. It was  cosily furnished, and had the usual appurtenances of a boat and baths.  


CHURCH   POINT   IN   1904.  

Mr. Wheeler's full anecdote has been digitised by the National Library of Australia is now now available to view online - details below.

Over at Newport and down to Mona Vale, Summer fruits were available to those alighting from steamers for a days vacation:

Sydney Items by "Observer."

On Saturday last a large number of excursionists availed themselves of the holiday to visit Newport, which is situated at the head of Pittwater, about three hours steam from Sydney; and as there has been for some time continual allusions to the attractions in and around its locality, I took a ticket at a cost of 5s. for the trip, and must say the amount was well spent, the excursion turning out pleasant beyond all expectations. 

On landing at Newport, with an appetite sharpened by the steady steam trip of fifteen miles to Barranjoey, against a light north-easterly breeze, and being composed by the smooth run of four miles up the Pittwater inlet, the sight of a good supply of peaches with the bloom on them, pears, apples, and passion fruit, etc., beneath a tent erected by some enterprising local farmer, was a welcome surprise, and it is needless to say the fruit suffered severely. 

After this the Newport Hotel was visited, and, as dinner was ready, this had to be attended to at the moderate cost of 1s. 6d. ; but, the time being limited, the roving portion of the excursion began, and I soon found beautifully-shaded glens, with picnic parties sitting upon beds of light green moss, beneath broad-topped trees. There were ferns of many kinds to gather; the native cabbage-tree, rock lilies, and staghorns, could be seen growing to perfection; and then the climbing-plants attached from the bottom to the top of the high gum trees, and drooping, in naturally-formed festoons, from the ends of each bough to the ground, and, passing on to other trees, formed a picture not soon forgotten. 

Afterwards the sea beach was reached in about three quarters of a mile from Newport, and we learned of numerous caves to visit, but they were left for a more convenient time, and the fear of being too late for our steamer soon brought us to Newport beach, where oysters are numerous; and there must be good fishing ground near, as some fair samples were hauled ashore by those people who came pre-pared with lines and other articles.

It is lucky the caves and other things we heard of did not tempt us, for it was not long after reaching the wharf that the Illawarra's whistle gave its last shriek, and we were just arranging how to while away the time on the homeward trip, it never being considered pleasant to go back the way you come. 

On turning the first point after leaving the Newport wharf, a beautiful scene of hill and dale on both sides of the noble expanse of the broad lake-like Pittwater, with bold grotesque shaped sandstone headland projecting at numerous parts on both sides, and neat white sandy beaches nestled at the ends of irregularly formed bays, stretching 4 miles to Barrenjoey on the west side, and to the Hawkesbury Head on the east, with an island in view between these points, of couchant lion shape, as if guarding the entrance of the angry sea when setting from east to west, and on turning Barranjoey Head for home to observe the crested waves dashing against the rocky projections causing white fairy like foam for a moment, and at times when dashed high enough, the prismatic colors of the particles of sea water were so brilliant that one might be excused for wishing they would not fade so soon. 

At this stage of the trip, however, the pleasures ended for me, as the steady rolling waves caused curious feelings, culminating in irregular movements over the side of the steamer, and making me wish myself safely moored in Sydney, as was the case at 7.20 p.m.


It is said that the railway from Gerogery to Albury is not likely to be opened until the end of this month or beginning of February, as it seems there is a lot of finishing-up work to be done before, the officials will pass the line ; and besides this the station accommodation at Albury is not in a very forward1 state. When this section of railway of eighteen miles is opened, passengers leaving Sydney-say on Monday, 7.30 p.m., will be landed in Melbourne on Tuesday, 10.45 p.m., or in 27 hours 15 minutes. From Melbourne it is likely the passenger train will leave at five a.m., and through passengers will reach Sydney at fifty minutes past six next morning, or in 25 hour's 50 minutes, which will be a very great improvement on the present time of 38 hours 15 minutes. Sydney Items by "Observer." (1881, January 6). The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser (NSW : 1843 - 1893), p. 6. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article814463 

Later, at Palm Beach, two gentlemen, one associated with the subdivision of Palm Beach itself, both had tropical gardens:

(By Redgum) 

Nine out of every ten men who take to week-ending by the seaside are quite content to leave all the garden worries behind them. They have quite enough lawn-mowing, path-raking hedge-cutting, rose-pruning and land digging to do on the ordinary home lot, to keep them in good trim the whole year through, without the extra bit of hard work which would have to be done to keep the buffalo grass, the geranium, the plumbago and the hydrangeas alive within sound of the sea.

But there are more men who have made their home within easy reach of the breakers or the calmer waters of a lake or bay, who have taken to gardening because of the pleasure they get out of the- game, and also because of the good fruit and food that can be grown so easily within the home gates. Why grow fuchsias at Palm Beach, when there are so many other tropical and sub-tropical items that, with little trouble, can be made do wonderfully well. Any man or woman can handle hydrangeas or Star of Bethlehem, or salvia; but not one man out of 100 has any idea of how to go about planting mangoes, paw paws, sugar-cane, bananas, custard apples, Avacado peers, taro, Honolulu passions, fruit salad plant, or any of the rarer things which make the work of the amateur happier and easier as well,' Only in favorable places can these things be grown to perfection. The average over-exposed seaside situation Is the last place in the world to do any tree-growing or good gardening. But all seaside homesites are not alike. On some lots Moreton Bay figs, coprosma, Norfolk Island pines, Monterey pines, coral, and the Port Jackson fig are the best subjects for filling in the landscape; tropical lines like paw paws and custard apples should have some protection from strong sea winds and also from the west. ' 

Any location where the plants can see all they want of the north, and feel all they warmth of the suns’ heat, will do nicely. We are a long way south of the tropics, even at Broken Bay and Barrenjoey. That is the reason why we place all the hotspot plant items against a' north wall, or in a position where the whole of the day's sunlight can play on their stems and foliage. Plant hibiscus or bougainvlllea in a semi-shady place, and the growth and flowering never will be satisfactory replace a young paw paw plant where it will shiver from April to October, and It will never be worth your watching. Good gardening means good placing. Haphazard work rarely gets one anywhere. Not half so much disappointment would be experienced if a little more thought was given to the selection of the tree and plant goods that are selected to do the Important work of brightening up the home landscape. Not everybody who goes to Pitt-water or Palm Beach makes a success of his or her gardening.


Many of the homemakers have chosen situations that are quite unsuited for anything but stone-quarrying or for viewing the beautiful landscapes and seascapes. But here and there an expert worker has found a snug corner where the big gales do not tear holes in -the scrub or blow down the trees. Where those men have worked wisely they have done wonderfully well. Wits and ways count for something, even in gardening. 

Mr. R. T. McKay, whose home lot stands on the south-east corner of the beach, is one of the men who has worked wonders on his three-acre hillside allotment. He was quick to see that Palm Beach was a place where something quite unusual could be done; and, having hit on the right idea, was not slow In planning his garden on lines which fitted in with his thinking. It was to see the paw-paws that I went to Palm Beach. Bananas, custard apples, and monstera (known as the fruit-salad plant) are common enough along the coastline. But paw-paws and Avacado pears, two of the world's finest fruits, are not seen every day so far south as Sydney. Both are great strangers. There is a big pear-tree In the Botanic Gardens which carries the name so well known on the Californian coast; but that tree, big and all that It Is, does not carry any fruit. Sydney Is just a little too far south to give the tree the conditions It requires. 

Mr. McKay's Avacoda pear-trees, being so beautifully placed, might behave quite differently. Time only will tell. Someone along our coastline should try hard to make a success of this pear-shaped Item, which can either be eaten with salt or with sugar. We have been too slow in getting In touch with the alligator or Avacado pear. In America it is one of the choicest things put upon the home tables. Things are quite different with the paw-paws, of which Mr. McKay has several well-grown trees that only recently were carrying full heads of green and golden fruit. The paw- paws I saw hanging under the umbrella of green leaves with which this tropical' fruit tree crowns its head, were good enough for any home table. I heard that the flavor of the fruit ripened naturally is splendid. There will be quite a dozen trees of one age and another on that hillside at Palm Beach. Many small things which are still in their infancy are not yet counted as trees. Their good time is coming. Paw-paws will one day be as conspicuous as bananas round Pittwater, where there are thousands of locations which would suit the fruit trees down to the ground. It Is only a matter of procuring a few seeds from someone in Brisbane. The young plants grow and thrive like weeds if the situation is to their liking.


Lines like sugarcane and sugar bananas, though not common, can now and again be seen along the coastline. These flourish at Palm Beach, and in many other corners around Pittwater. Sugarcane is the most decorative of all the giant grasses for a hot spot along the coastline. Any of the purply-blue strains are more than decorative. Once planted, the cane will hang on for years. Custard apples and monstera, the first a full-sized tree and the latter a sort of a shrubby climbing plant, grow enormously, and fruit freely. The former is now in full flower, although the fruits are only just over; and the latter is holding a batch of sizy, green fruits that will be ready for the salad bowl before the autumn. This monstera holds several flavors in its six-sided sections. It is good and safe to take in small quantities, but must not be eaten too freely. Custard apples are full of food values, and should be freely grown anywhere there is a chance of holding a tree together. 

The mango, also, is one of Mr. McKay's interesting trees. Already he has several specimens in fruit. Later on he hopes to have more trees on his holding. Mangoes are not quick growers. They take years to mature. But once a tree has age and size to its credit, there Is little or no trouble ahead of the owner. Good named varieties should be brought from Brisbane, as chance seedlings are never too sure. Then there Is one big plant of a new passionfruit from Honolulu, known to and sold by the traders as Honolulu Marvel. That passionfruit Is to have a big place on the Australian coastline. It Is an Immense grower, a heavy cropper, and has more skin color than anything else In the fruit world. The fruit portion Is not quite as tasty as Is that of the old purple sort, but It is quite good enough to make a splendid addition to any fruit bowl. Mr. McKay's vine has given him great pleasure, and has provided numbers of ripe fruits for distribution to friends along the coastline. I was only prepared,' to see something with about the same habit of growth as an ordinary purple passion fruit, and was surprised when the vine to which I was taken had run over three spans of trellis about 10 feet long by 10 feet high, and was carrying big fleshy leaves with wiry stems thicker than heaviest Angers.

"Every ripe passionfruit has been saved and sent off to friends who have a chance of growing the vine successfully. On the first try-out, the fruit seems likely to make a good hit. The color of the outer skin Is a rich cadmium yellow, with a touch of sage green here and there by way of contrast. In flavor, this novelty Is only a little less acceptable than the old sort. If the habit of growth of the plant at Palm Beach can be taken as an evidence of its true work, then Honolulu Marvel will not be a stranger for long on the warm coastline of Australia. 

A new type of peach.

AMATEUR GARDENER (1929, January 5). The Sun (Sydney, NSW : 1910 - 1954), p. 7 (LAST RACE RESULTS). Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article230377677 

Palm Beach Pioneer

JACK RALSTON and his bride Nora McAuliffe, after the wedding will go to Honolulu, and doubtless Jack will revel in the long, rolling breakers there. When Jack was only a lad he used to be often seen speeding over the breakers on his surfboard at Palm Beach. The late Mr. J. T. Ralston, his father, was one of the pioneers of Palm Beach, and in the garden around the shack he planted every sort of tropical fruit. He called the place by the longest of Kipling's words, Warragaborrogarooma.

When holidays came, young Jack Ralston travelled to Palm Beach by road and river, and then walked over the hill from Pittwater to the Bay, as that was the only way to go then. The present owner of the garden which Jack's father planted is very proud of the large custard apples that grow so well in that sheltered corner of Palm Beach. Intimate Jottings (1934, August 25). The Australian Women's Weekly (1933 - 1982), p. 22. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article47495610 

These small insights, and this great digitisation program being pursued by the State Library of New South Wales, are a great reminder that this place was once a food bowl, or should that be 'fruit bowl' for the rest of Sydney and for places far from here:

Mr. Isaac Larkin the owner of probably one of the best-paying orchards for its size in the State, started with practically no capital. On what was fifteen or sixteen years ago a swampy plateau about four miles from the coast at Narrabeen, is now an orchard that demonstrates the profitableness of a small holding cultivated on proper lines, and, incidentally, what can be obtained by perseverance and hard work. When the land was taken up it was to all appearances a useless piece of wilderness, densely covered with marshy undergrowth, and huge box trees, all of which, however, succumbed sooner or later to the hard work and perseverance of one man. Before much could be grown on this soil it was necessary that it should be drained. This work was undertaken from the very commencement in such a systematic manner that after fifteen years it has not been necessary to alter the original plan of drainage at all, although on this ten acres there is no less than five and a quarter miles of underground drains, all 5 feet deep, and all converging to one outlet.
The result is that it is probably the most scientifically and best drained orchard in the State. It means that, although it is naturally swampy land, it can be worked at any time of the year, and almost immediately after heavy rains, notwithstanding that the soil is in most places from five to ten feet In depth. The early struggles of the owner might easily act as an inspiration to others beginning as orchardists or farmers with a limited capital. 
With practically no money at his command at all, the orchardist knew that it was necessary to plant some crop that would bring in an almost immediate return, so he turned his attention to strawberries. On this virgin soil, which many experienced men told him would not grow anything, the strawberry plants thrived, and bore phenomenal crops, from which to-day the owner would have quickly made a fortune at present prices. As it was, he had to be content with 6d and 7d a quart for fruit of a quality which now realises up to 2s 6d a quart. The Sydney markets at that time were not very easily available, and the crop was disposed of by the owner himself to householders and visitors to the seaside village. After a time the fruit trees began to give some return, and the quality of the fruit was so good that shippers began to seek it for export. 

After a few years Mr. Larkin decided to export the bulk of his fruit to New Zealand himself, and has continued to do so up to the present time with the best results. So intense is the cultivation that practically three crops are being taken from the orchard at the present time. Besides ground crops of all sorts, such as beans, peas, tomatoes, etc., passion fruit are grown extensively between the peach trees, while through the whole of the holding of young citrus trees have been planted, which are now coming Into bearing, and promise to do remarkably well. Right through the property underground wells have been sunk, which are always full of water in the driest season.
A movable windmill is utilised for irrigation purposes, being set over the wells in any part of the orchard which it is desired to irrigate. Many of the peaches in the orchard this season return £3 per tree. These are the Edward VII. variety, which along with the Elbertas, are shipped to New Zealand. The average annual returns of the orchard are about £700, in spite of the fact that the bulk of the fruit has to be carted nearly 10 miles before being placed on the steamer for the Sydney market. Many of the oldest trees are still bearing heavy crops of fruit, with every likelihood of continuing to do so for many years. ON THE LAND. (1914, March 17). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 6. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article15493043 

EB Studios (Sydney, N.S.W.). (1917). Panorama of an orchard, New South Wales Retrieved  from http://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-162525576 - and sections from to show detail

So if you have a suntrap in your garden, west facing, sheltered from harsh cold Winter winds, then now may be a good time to thumb your nose at rising food prices and plant out some shrubs, vines and trees that will allow you to harvest the best in tropical fruits, seasonal vegetables and avocadoes for years to come.

Our own avocado tree is producing fruit now, and will over the whole of Winter - only in Pittwater!

'Orange Orchard' by Charles Kerry, circa 1884 -1888. From Tyrell Collection, courtesy Powerhouse Museum - Rocky Point, Pittwater

References And Extras

  1. TROVE - National Library of Australia
  2. State Library of NSW
  3. Pittwater's Tropical Fruits: From The Middle Of Winter
  4. Pittwater Roads II: Where The Streets Have Your Name - Mona Vale, Bongin Bongin, Turimetta and Rock Lily
  5. Pittwater Summer Houses: Rocky Point And Elvina Bay Peninsula -  A Place Of  Holiday Songs and Operas In Ventnor, Fairhaven, Trincomalee and Maritana
  6. The Early Days of Bayview, Newport, Church Point and McCarr’s Creek, Pittwater By J. S. N. WHEELER. Journal and proceedings / Royal Australian Historical Society, Vol. 26 Part. 4 (1940) Pages 88, 7905 wordsCall Number N 994.006 ROY Created/ Published Sydney : The Society, 1918-1964. Appears In Journal and proceedings, v.26, p.318 (ISSN: 1325-9261) Published 1940-08-01. Available Online: HERE
  7. Roads In Pittwater: The Bay View Road
  8. Katherine Mary Roche - Pittwater Matriarchs series 1
  9. Waratah Farm: Ingleside - The Narrabeen Plum

From the State Library of NSW website:

The State Library’s unrivalled collections comprise over 6.3 million items including photographs, paintings, drawings, printed and talking books, architectural plans, maps, newspapers, microfilm and microfiche, oral histories, films and videos, computer software and other objects. The collection is large, diverse, and highly valued and used by many, including students, academics, researchers and the creative industries.

Under the Digital Excellence Program, the NSW Government has contributed significant funds to help fast track the Library’s digitisation program and to upgrade its digital infrastructure. Since 2012, the Library has embarked on a 10-year digitisation strategy that will help cement the Library's status as a world-leading library and centre for digital excellence. The Library is digitising our iconic, at risk, and highly valued collections to make them accessible online. Digital material is being created and preserved on a scale never before seen in Australia.

Despite this massive effort, the sheer size of the collection means a large portion of this extensive material may never be digitised. In order to respond to the increasing requests for more of the collection to be made available online, the Library has established the Open Digitisation Partnership Program.

The Open Digitisation Partnership Program will assist the State Library to digitise collection items that may otherwise remained undigitised. The Program enables the Library to enter into agreements with external partners who wish to propose and digitise parts of the State Library collection. The partnership arrangement will in turn allow the Library’s partners to generate a return on their digitisation investment.

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EB Studios (Sydney, N.S.W.). (1917). Panorama of an orchard, New South Wales Retrieved  from http://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-162525576 - and sections from to show detail

Hi Pittwater Online News,
My colleague Jim Hutchison and I were looking through the EB studio photos and we are about 99% sure this is the old Waratah Farm Orchard adjacent to the now Bahai Temple (Bungan headland and second version of La Corniche in the background – so after 1913).
which would go with your article here :
Hope this helps! We will contact the National Library and let them know to update the description.
Paul McGrath
Curtin Architects Pty Ltd
Atchison Street
October 3rd, 2019


ROBINSON. — The Funeral of the late Mr. ROBERT ROBINSON, of Church Point, Pittwater, will take place THIS (Tuesday) AFTERNOON, at 3, at Independent Cemetery, Rookwood. Friends will kindly take funeral train leaving Mortuary station at 2.20 p.m. WOOD and COMPANY, Undertakers. Telephone, 726. Family Notices (1896, December 1). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 8. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article14077784

NSW BDMs: ROBINSON ROBERT 14152/1896 Parents: BENJAMIN ANN registered at MANLY

Manly to Broken Bay.

Sydney and neighborhood abound in lovely scenery, a harmonious blending of land and water, embellished by art, a mingling of many colors and tints that is always pleasing to the eye and charming to. the senses. So numerous indeed are the beauty spots of the metropolitan districts, and so various in their scenic beauty, that one is sometimes at a loss from, which to choose as the most agreeable to spend a holiday. To the lovers of nature, and to those who love to gaze on everchanging scenes, perhaps Manly, and the road along the beach past the Narrabeen Lakes and on to Newport, Bay View, and Broken Bay affords as agreeable and instructive, an outing as any. At all events the route has the charm of comparative newness, because for some unexplained reason it has only been of recent years that the magnificent harbors of Pittwater and Broken Bay, with their lovely scenery and fertile lands have received even pass-ing attention from the great body of tourists, holiday-makers, and settlers, who are ever on the outlook for something new. The district may be easily reached by land via Manly, or by water via Broken Bay. From Manly two lines of coaches are in active running, and make several trips per day to suit the running of the Manly ferry boats and the Post Office schedule time. The distance from Manly to Bay View Post Office is only about 11 miles, and to Newport Post Office the distance is not much longer. The road is a most picturesque one throughout.

One of our illustrations shows a last glimpse of a corner of Manly Beach seen as the town is left behind on the road to Narrabeen. The road then runs through a bit of primeval bush, with its varied colors of Australian evergreens and flowering plants, and then past a settler's cottage with its modest clearing and gay colors of exotic fruit and flower blossoms. Now past the Deewhy Inlet and headland, and Long Reef jutting out into the ocean, then through the village of Narrabeen, where there is ample hotel accommodation, and which has now become a very favorite pleasure resort for Sydney people. The drive is now across the substantial bridge which spans extensive Lake Narrabeen, which abounds in fish and wild fowl (see illustration), and onward in graceful curves around breezy Bulgoa Head open to the surging waters of the vast Pacific Ocean.

For a great part of the distance the road follows the beach, and although at present the whole face of the country is mostly in a state of nature, yet it is easy to see how vastly it could be improved by planting rows of Norfolk Island pines (Araucaria excelsa) and sand-binding grasses as at Manly. Occasionally a lot of green pasture land is passed, and one of the sights of the road is the Salvation Army Home, as it stands on a bold, rocky hill, commanding a fine view of the cultivation patches and a wealth of gay colors. 

At length the Rock Lily Hotel is reached, and here is refreshment for man and beast. A few yards be-yond here the road branches, one to the town of Newport and Barrenjoey Lighthouse, and the other to Bay View Post Office arid Telephone Office and Church Point. 

At Bay View the expansive waters of Pittwater and Broken Bay in all their glory lie disclosed to view. Our illustration gives a very good idea of the scene. In the foreground is Bay View House, vine-yard, orchard, Post and Telegraph Office, the property of Mr. J. J. Roche. In the near view is Pittwater, extending its broad and deep arms to the right and to the left, and in the distance is Broken Bay, with Lion Island barring the passage way, so named because of its resemblance to a lion couchant. Only half the scene described is represented in the picture, but the varied panorama of headland jutting out beyond headland, with the intervening bays and arms as they sweep inward between the wooded head-lands, gives a good idea of what the other side is like. Broken Bay is, as is well known, one of the most magnificent harbors in Australia, with plenty of deep water and ample scope for the largest ships that sail the ocean. Its vicinity to Port Jackson has, up to the present, destroyed its chances of becoming a commercial centre, but no one can doubt that the day will come when it will be the seat bf a prosperous population with cities and towns within its borders, and railroads and ships bringing goods to its marts. At present it is merely used as a haven of shelter by storm-tossed ships, yachting parties, and an occasional excursion steamer from Sydney. At present its population is mostly com-posed of private gentlemen, who have residences among its beauty spots, the summer residences of business men from the metropolis, a few professional fruitgrowers, with a scattering of business men and fishermen.

Bay View, Pittwater-An Arm of Broken Bay.

From Bayview the road, a very good one, winds around the beach, disclosing as every vantage point is gained new beauties of land and water. Around here are some very good orchards, with trees laden with fruit, and the homesteads peeping out from masses of evergreen foliage, with an extensive vista of land and water. In a charming spot on a sloping hillside, with such a fore-ground and a craggy background Professor Ander-son Stuart has a summer residence and orchard. Mr. W. G. Geddis has a neat residence on a pleasant point. Mr. W. Baker has an orchard with some magnificent trees, while on a commanding bluff is Mr. John Poster's residence and orchard. Mr. A. McIntosh's residence is also hard by A Corner of Manly Beach.

This road ends at Church Point, a lovely spot commanding a view of Pittwater; the town and hotel of Newport at the head of Navigation, Broken Bay, and Barrenjoey directly in front ; Scotland Island and Towler's Bay right across the water, with the long and deep arm known as McGarr's Creek on the left. 

On the Towler's Bay side there are several residents who pull across the water to the wharf at Church Point and meet the steamer from Sydney or the coach from Manly, as the case may be. The dynamite powder hulk is moored in Towler's Bay, with residences on shore for the officers in charge. Mr. Robert Robinson has his residence of Raamah at the same place. Mr. Robinson informs me that he can grow to perfection such tropical fruits as bananas, guavas, ginger, mangoes, pineapples, Brazilian cherries, &c. This fact will demonstrate that there can be little or no frost in this locality. 

Other residents of this side of the bay are Mr. F. Chave, Wood-lands, who has a very nice orchard, mostly summer fruit ; Mr. E. C. Johnstone, who has a nice residence and orchard; Mr. A. Steffani is another prominent resident, while the residence of the firm of Flood and Oately occupies a lovely peninsula in the quiet waters of the bay. Mr. Geo. Brown has a residence and an orchard in the neighborhood, and there is also a small church and cemetery at Church Point. Careel Bay and Valley (see illustration) is situated to the left of the entrance to Broken Bay, and is considered one of the most beautiful of the many points of interest on the whole water system of Broken Bay. The bay is spacious and deep, and the valley, which comprises an area of about 1000 acres, is shut in by a bold and rugged mountain chain. The valley is the homestead of the late Mr. John Collins, and most of the land still belongs to the Collins family. New Brighton is situated here, a favorite resort for excursionists by steamer from Sydney. Large ocean steamers can run right up to the wharf at Newport, and there is ample water for even larger vessels. From the Basin, Broken Bay, the distance to Peat's Ferry is about four miles, and there are long and deep inlets which penetrate the land for a great distance on either hand. On the right from Broken Bay extends Brisbane Water up to Gosford. The above is but a glance at some of the more salient features of this extensive inland water system, with its deep and broad bays and inlet beyond inlet, lying within the many folds of the bold projecting headlands and wooded hills; in fact the whole is a perfect maze of waterways, head-lands, bays, and islands, which must be seen to be properly appreciated, and the water abounds in fish of various descriptions.

The land, as seen in its bold outlines from a distance gives one an idea of sterile beauty, but on closer approach and investigation it will be found that, while there are many rocky ridges and promontories, there are also deep alluvial valleys, composed of very good soil for fruit-growing and even dairying purposes. Most of the land is a light sandy loam, but there are spots of excellent soil. Stretching back from the bay there is Mr. J. J. Roche's orchard, composed of very good soil. Beyond for several miles the soil is generally good, and at Mr. Austin's Cabbage Tree Valley Orchard the soil is of an excellent quality.

Turimetta township is situated about 1½ mile from Bay View, on the road to Manly, and fronting the ocean beach. It cannot boast of many inhabitants as yet, but Mr. E. Doublet, of Sydney, has a promising young orchard in the vicinity. The Rock Lily Hotel is also here, Mr. Leon Houreux proprietor, and to which there is attached a neat flower garden and orchard. 

Mr. Henry Ball, Rosebank, and Mr. J. Shaw, are both fruitgrowers of this neighborhood. At Newport, a township which boasts a good hotel, Post and Telegraph Office, Town Hall, boarding-house, and several private residences, there are several small orchards. But neither in orcharding, dairy farming, or fishing has the resources of land and water been as yet developed to their fullest extent; in fact, in these great industries a commencement is just about being made, which in time will no doubt develop into remunerative and extensive industries. In the hands of Mr. Roche and a few others, fruit-growing and poultry farming is a paying industry and will be sure to extend. 

Our illustration, " A Cluster of Lemons," grown by Mr. Roche, on his Bay View Orchard, will com-pare favorably with any fruit of the kind grown in this country or any other. The lemons, which are of the Lisbon variety, and are very juicy, are simply superb, and grow close to the salt water in the greatest profusion ; and oranges, which are of the Siletta variety, are among the sweetest and best ever grown.

On Mr. Roche's property are several small caves, interesting as the unmistakable residence of generations of blackfellows, and the shells and debris collected show ages of habitation, and what is now used as manure.

The flora of the district is varied, as may be supposed from the climate and soil. Grey gum, spotted gum, ironbark, blood wood, and turpen-tines, and others of the eucalypti develop into lofty trees, which cover the whole face of the country and give it a densely wooded appearance. In the olden days large quantities of excellent timber was shipped from the district, and there is still large quanti-ties obtainable, although not so handy as desirable. A dense undergrowth occurs in suitable situations, prominent among which are the numerous palms common to the coast. The baroneas, flannel flowers, waratahs, fuchsias, &c, all grow in the most bewildering confusion ; rock lilies, stag-horns, and other epiphytal plants cover the rocks and trees, while a perfect maze of ferns cover the sward wherever they can find root for themselves, from the tender maidenhair to the more lofty fern tree. Ever-flowing streams of water pour down from the mountain sides, in some instances forming cascades of considerable volume, which still further enhance the beauty of the scene.

In short this favored region has every resource calculated to render it a fit habitation for man ; a salubrious climate, fertile soil, plenty of wood and water, and within easy distance from market. Its fisheries alone, if energetically prosecuted ought to return a revenue sufficient to support a large population, while its close proximity to the metropolis and many beauties ought to attract a constant stream of tourists. The reason the district is so backward in respect of permanent settlement is no doubt because there are so many other localities where the land is more easily cleared and the soil of a better quality. One drawback has been that much of the best of the land has been locked up from settlement by large landholders. Tourists and summer visitors are now beginning to pour into the district. Many Sydney business men are buy-ing properties and building cottages thereon for summer residences. The district has has rapid and efficient and cheap, communication with Manly by coach, but what is required to bring it within easy reach of the metropolis is a tramway or light line of railway. Under existing circumstances one can leave Church Point at 6.15 a.m., and reach Circular Quay by the Manly boat at 9 a.m., but a railway to North Sydney would do the journey much quicker and with more com-fort. As a place of resort for holiday-makers Pittwater and Broken Bay has many, attractions and as a place of residence for those who like marine views it stands unsurpassed.

Cluster of Lemons-Grown by Mr. Roche, Bay View. (For letterpress see article " Manly to Broken Bay," on page 19.)

THE NARRABEEN LAKES-A PICTURESQUE HEALTH RESORT NEAR MANLY. (See letterpress on page 19.) Manly to Broken Bay. (1893, November 11). Australian Town and Country Journal (Sydney, NSW : 1870 - 1919), p. 19. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article71191632

Glasshouse Tomatoes – Development of Important Industry in Coastal Strip by H. A. McCallum
THE major industry to-day on that scenic and fertile coastal strip lying north of Manly in N.S.W., and embracing chiefly the fast-developing, hail-free, frost-free districts of Warriewood and Mona Vale, is glass-house tomato culture.

A little more than 20 years ago, there was not one glass-house in the whole of that area. To-day, there are upwards of 2,500, providing a lucrative outlet for a band of energetic and efficient producers.
The romance. of the rise and astonishing development of this industry is one of the most fascinating in the agronomic history of the County of Cumberland. And it all had its genesis in the mind and brain of an extremely capable and far-seeing field officer of the N.S.W. Department of Agriculture, now living retired on the heights of Collaroy plateau, overlooking the scene of his early labors.

A view of tomato glasshouses In a sheltered spot near Mona Vale just north of Sydney. Tomatoes can be grown here in unheated glasshouses during the winter.

Not often is it given to a worker in a field of primary production to see his project take shape, develop and ultimately become an unqualified success. But that is exactly what has happened in the case of Mr. A. J. Pinn, whose name will always be held in grateful memory by those of the early glass-house pioneers who survive.

BACK in the thirties, Mr Pinn was casually informed by an acquaintance that tomatoes were being grown successfully in low unheated glass-houses just outside Adelaide. Mr. Pinn made inquiries from Mr. D. Kelly, at that time an executive officer of the South Australian organisation equivalent to the N.S.W. Agricultural Bureau. As a result of information obtained, Mr. Pinn visited Adelaide and gathered at first hand all the available data. 

Mr, Pinn then prepared plans and specifications for suitable glass-houses, wrote a treatise on the technique of glass-house production, addressed the annual conference of the N.S.W. Agricultural Bureau at Hawkesbury Agricultural College on the subject, and published all the information at his disposal for the benefit of those anxious to start in the then new industry.
The first glass-house of the type recommended by Mr. Pinn was erected at Warriewood, which soon became the centre of the young and thriving industry. It became apparent, however, that some form of heating would give greater security to growers on the higher land, further back from the coast. To test the matter for himself, Mr. Pinn built a small glass-house alongside his residence at Gordon, and there tested out his theories.

It was not long before he discovered that the small unheated glass-house required a variety of tomato which would set fruit under cooler conditions than was necessary for the more widely-known and better-shaped varieties.

It was ultimately found that South Australian Dwarf Red measured up to this requirement, but that for high quality fruit: larger houses and heating were necessary in many cases. It was not long before a number of growers concentrated on these. Today, Vetamojd and Potentate are among the most popular varieties, but Red Cloud, Grosse Lisse. and other new varieties are expected to come into their own.

AFTER Mr. Pinn had been transferred to other Departmental duties, Mr. John Douglas, now director of rural broadcasts for the A.B.C., who had been his assistant in the vegetable section of the Department, took up the oversight of glass-house production. He was responsible for the development of the larger type heated houses to be seen to-day.

Ever since, Mr. Douglas has maintained his interest in glass-house tomato culture, and today his heated houses at Harbord are among the best in the State, and his crops amongst the finest. In his 120 feet by 24 feet glass-houses, more than 1,000 plants in each are now covered in fruit, the lower hands having had their fruit set by the use of a hormone spray.

From the time the fruit sets until it is ready for harvest, there is one long round of preventive measures to beat off mildew, grey mould, blight, wilts and other diseases to which the glass-house tomato is prone.
Before planting, soil is sterilised, the equivalent of tear gas being jetted four to six inches deep, to ward off any possible disease. Sprays are kept in constant use to combat mites and thrips. Irrigation is applied as required, and blood and bone and sulphate of ammonia worked into the soil that has been enriched with well-rotted animal or poultry manure.
All this is typical of the methods used in the heated houses from planting time to harvest.

But to-day, emphasis round Warriewood and Mona Vale is on cold houses, for the simple reason that they arc cheaper to construct, the overhead is not so great, and the absence of frosts lessens the risk of crop losses. The standard cold glass-house is usually about 96 feet by 14 feet, but there are quite a few of the newer types with varying sizes up to 112 feet by 14 feet.

The disease and insect pest problems are. much the same with these as with the hot houses. The number of cold glass-houses on the farmlets varies according to the labor available or likely to be available. They range in number from half a dozen up to more than 20.

Usually the houses are kept in the one position for anything from five to eight years, then moved to new sites, while the old ones are sown to a rotation of crops to restore soil fertility. In some cases where soil sterilisation and annual incorporation of animal manure are regularly and skilfully carried out, the one site has done duty for anything up to 20 years.

In all glass-houses, hot or cold, the vines (single stemmed, no branches being permitted) are trained up to the roof about nine to ten feet on strands of rope unwound from stout hawsers discarded by shipping firms.

The cost to-day of a properly equipped hot house measuring, say, 100 feet by 30, would easily exceed £1,000, whereas a standard cold house, 96 feet by 14 feet, could be built for approximately £200, and even for less, if the grower were content to do the job himself. A Yugoslav recently erected one on his property in the record time of four days, and at a cost well under 50 per cent, below a contractor's quote.
Fortunately for the industry round Warriewood and Mona Vale, hail is not a problem, otherwise there would never have been any glass-house industry there; but twice in the last few years gales have wrecked a number of these structures. Some 200 or more were severely damaged during a recent heavy blow.

Harvesting of the tomatoes starts about mid August with the earliest crops, and continues without a break till the end of the year, or even a little later in some instances. After this the inrush of the cultural field crops makes further harvesting of the glass-house products uneconomic.

Returns naturally vary from glass-house to glass-house, according, as a general rule, to the efficiency of the grower and the care bestowed on his plants. The gross yield would average approximately 100 cases from the 600 trees in the standard house, and price realisations are round 30/- to 35/- a case for early good quality tomatoes.

There have been instances of 200 cases and more being taken from one house, and up to £2 a case paid for the early consignments. Glass-House Tomatoes (1951, October 10). The Land (Sydney, NSW : 1911 - 1954), p. 41. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article112493040 

'Scotland Island, Newport, Pittwater, N.S.W.', Henry King, Sydney, Australia, c. 1880-1900, courtesy Tyrell Collection, Powerhouse Museum
Pittwater's Tropical Fruits: The Estuarine Farmlets At Mona Vale-Newport That Kept Sydney Stocked With Hot Area Fruit In The Middle Of Winter - threads collected and collated by A J Guesdon, 2023