February 27 - March 5, 2022: Issue 528


The Two Catherines Café

By Robyn Iredale 


The Two Catherines Café has become a regular part of Scotland Island life. In this article Robyn Iredale, co-ordinator of the Recreation Club, explains how it all began, where the money goes and some changes that are being trialled.

In 2019 SIRA applied for and was awarded a Northern Beaches Council Community and Cultural Grant for the purpose of improving social cohesion. The aim was to ’incorporate older and younger people into the life of the community through a range of activities that will appeal to different age groups.

To this end, the Recreation Club was established in 2019 and table tennis and international folk dancing commenced. The equipment and rent were funded by the grant, which was also used to purchase a second-hand coffee machine and coffee grinder. 

The Two Catherines Café was started in July 2020, and since then has operated on the second and fourth Sunday of each month, COVID permitting. The café commenced with Jasmine Hall as the barista, plus a team of volunteers to organise café supplies, set up and put away the furniture, and to serve.

Soon after, Melinda Ham commenced working with Jasmine and between them they managed the café, putting posters up around the island, doing the inventory and purchasing, organising the bakers, hiring and training the staff and running the café. Melinda and Jasmine were assisted by volunteers, including Cathy Shelley, CB Floyd, Sharon Kinnison and Antonia Swift. Since Jasmine left for Brisbane in July 2021, Melinda has continued to manage the café and CB Floyd has assisted. Maddy Banfield has taken over as chief barista. 

Melinda Ham, Maddy Banfield, Jasmine Hall and Sharon Kinnison 

The cakes and savoury items are all baked by a team of 20 bakers. Some cakes are donated and some bakers receive a percentage of the profits to cover their costs. 

In the meantime, three young islanders were offered a training workshop by a master barista who visited the island. Other young people have been hired to assist with food and coffee sales, as well as setting up and packing down the café. In all, the café has offered employment to approximately 10 young people.  

The café uses Square, an automated inventory and payment system, and the profits are all handed over to the Treasurer of SIRA. The funds raised by the café amounted to $6,000 in the financial year 2020/21.    

Where does the money go?

Funds raised over the 18 months of running the café have all gone into the Recreation Club section of SIRA’s accounts. They have been used to purchase or subsidise:

  • a small electric fridge for the coffee bar;
  • a five-burner gas BBQ for general use;
  • another coffee grinder;
  • two second-hand iPad tablets for handling sales;
  • maintenance of equipment;
  • a $500 donation for music for the Feast for Freedom event in 2021;
  • a $900 donation for the 2021 Christmas carols performance at Catherine Park;
  • $4,000 for a professional playwright to prepare a script for the Two Catherines play (which will be partly recouped through ticket sales). 

The future of the café

The café has grown, and is now a more professionally managed enterprise than when it began. We have new aprons for the staff and a new poster. To provide welcome shade we have new awnings around the verandah of the community hall, thanks to a grant from the NSW Government. We also have another cappuccino machine, donated by Luigi Anselmi, which we shall put into operation as soon as possible. 

A meeting with a number of islanders to gain input into the operation of the café was held recently. One suggestion that came out of this meeting was to reduce the frequency of the café in its current format to once a month. There are several reasons for this: (1) to put more energy into a once-a-month café and to work on offering more events for the community, and (2) to take some pressure off the small volunteer team who manage the café at the moment. 

The Recreation Club has decided to implement this change, starting 27 March. In coming months we’ll work on streamlining the operations and getting more volunteers to help us with specific tasks. So please watch out for opportunities to participate in the café’s operation. 

Café helpers Oscar, Jasmine Hall, Peggy, CB Floyd, Lolly and Maisie 

In the meantime the Recreation Club will offer coffee and a BBQ on the second Sunday of each month, starting 13 March. We are looking for volunteer teams to run a BBQ and assist with the coffee machine. Please let me know if you would like to host a BBQ, using SIRA’s BBQ and the area under the community hall. The possibility exists for people to generate some income for their favourite charity, as well as for the Recreation Club. 

All in all, there will still be a chance for the community to gather on a fortnightly basis. Watch this space and Facebook for more news about the café and the BBQs! 

We are indebted to the many people who have supported the café by baking, volunteering to help in some way and turning up to support us. 

Ferries from Church Point to Tennis Court wharf, where the café is held, run at 9.30, 10.30 and 11.30. Returning at 10.45, 11.45 and 12.45.

Robyn Iredale (rriredale@gmail.com)

Robyn Iredale, founder of the Two Catherines Café 




The 2 Catherines Café, Catherine Park, Scotland Island Named For Two Catherines

The Café is named after:

Catherine Benns (1838-1920) who came to live on Scotland Island in the 1840s. Catherine’s mother, Biddy, was a tribal Aboriginal woman who belonged to the Broken Bay Group. In 1847, Biddy married John Lewis Ferdinand and they had 10 children. Catherine Martha, their fifth child, was born in 1838. Catherine had a daughter, Emily, in 1862, and by 1874 Catherine and Emily were living on Scotland Island where Catherine met and married Joseph Benns, a Belgian master mariner. Catherine became a midwife to many local families and her grandmother’s ‘Queen’ title, as well as her reputed bright, intelligent and dignified nature, earned her the title of ‘The Queen of Scotland Island’. 

Catherine Bouffler (1860-1940), was the mother-in-law of Herbert James Fitzpatrick (1889-1938) who owned land on Scotland Island and other parts of Pittwater. Catherine Bouffler’s daughter, Florence Agnes Bouffler, married Herbert James Fitzpatrick in 1923. Herbert had just bought Scotland Island and he named many features on the island and surrounds. He named Catherine Park after his mother-in-law, Catherine Teresa Bouffler (nee Gattenhof) and Elvina Bay after the woman through whom he met Florence.

Some background information

The Scotland Island Community Hall was opened in 1982, Vivianne's mother, Elvina Holmes (nee Fitzpatrick), attended the opening as a special guest. It was her parents, Herbert and Florence, who once owned the entire island. 

Herbert Fitzpatrick was a builder and developer with land holdings around Church Point, Newport, Scotland Island and Avalon. He was also a keen yachtsman and a foundation member of the Royal Motor Yacht Club and served as Commodore. He instigated a famous race called the Scotland Island Cup and owned a very famous boat called the 'Bona'

A relative has previously sent in some images of some of the yachting trophies held in the family. Florence Fitzpatrick who was one of the first lady members of the club, one of the first lady committee members and actually won some female sailing races such as the 1928 Ladies handicap race on a boat, aptly named ‘Elvina’. 

Herbert and Florence honeymooned on the island and named the parks and tracks after members of the family. Herbert also named Elvina Bay after Florence’s aunt, Katherine Elvina Bouffier, who had been instrumental in them meeting. 

Unfortunately, Herbert fell into bad health and died in 1938 at age 48. After his death, the island was sold and Florence moved from Manly to Lewisham.

The Naming of Scotland Island Parks

Herbert named Elizabeth Park after his mother, Elizabeth Fitzpatrick (nee Finneran) and Florence named Catherine Park after her mother, Catherine Bouffier (nee Gattenhof). Other streets throughout Pittwater are also named for family members.

Catherine Gattenhof was born in 1857 along the Rhine River area in Germany. Her family migrated to Australia in 1855, because there was a lot of unrest in Germany. 

When she was 21, Catherine married another German, Frank Bouffier. The Bouffiers had a similar history to the Gattenhofs in that they also originated from the Rhine River in Nassau and had immigrated in the mid-1850s. Frank’s parents were vignerons and they were pioneers of the Hunter Valley wine industry. Their winery, the Bouffier Brothers Vineyard (Marcobrunner), won a lot of medals and trophies.

Catherine and Frank were very involved in the early NSW wine business and promoted it overseas. They owned a wine shop in Oxford St., Paddington. Catherine was also a wine judge at the Royal Easter Show. When Her husband Frank died, he left the winery and the two shops to Catherine in 1898. It was unusual for a woman to run a business but she kept the wine shop operating for a few years. 

Catherine Bouffier, one of the Catherines after whom this café is named, was a strong German Catholic woman who bore six children between 1881-1890, with two children dying in childhood. She was also involved in charitable work, such as raising money for the Waitara orphanage by organising a Ball at the Sydney Town Hall. Catherine died in 1940 aged 83 and is buried at Randwick cemetery.

This first photo shows Catherine, Frank and three of their children: Katie Elvina (standing), 7 years, known as Elvina; Stephen Vivien (standing), 5 years, known as Vivien, and Hilda Mary (sitting), 3 years old. (Note: Their fourth daughter, Agnes Florence (known as Florence), was born in 1890.)

Catherine and Frank Bouffier, 1887                                                                                                        Catherine Bouffier, wearing a ‘grape motif’ lace, 1897  

(photos supplied by Vivianne Byrnes)

There's more Scotland Island history insights available in:

If you want to head over to Scotland Island and enjoy some food and hear what these descendants talk about, prior to taking a hike to the top of the island or taking a stroll alongside the bays, a great Autumn activity, the best way to get there is to catch a Church Point Ferry. Weekend Timetable is below. You will need to disembark at 'Tennis' wharf. For more information, please visit: churchpointferryservice.com

If you'd like to find out more about Scotland Island the best place to start is the Scotland Island Community website, at: www.scotlandisland.org.au