May 4 - 10, 2014: Issue 161


Furlough House, Narrabeen – Restful Sea Breezes for Children and Mothers

 Furlough House, Narrabeen, Date of Work: 18/1/1947, Image No.: hood_25843, courtesy State Library of NSW.

The marked difference between the pay of soldiers and being able to afford respite from hard toil for themselves or their families was recognised just prior to the cessation of the hostilities that are called The Great War or World War One. During this conflict an ‘allowance’ given to wives of soldiers was usually spent on parcels sent to the men serving and holidays were considered a luxury. 

Although many of the functions described below are today taken on as responsibility by the wonderful Legacy charitable organisation, which also began during WWI, and today assists in all the needs of service people’s families from education through to recreation, during WWI women mobilised themselves to do all they could to support the war effort. If they weren't a member of a local V.A.D. (Voluntary Aid Detachment), especially during the flu pandemic which affected so much of the world during and straight after this war, they formed groups to attend to other recognised needs.

The beginnings of Furlough House may be attributed to a few kind souls – the wife of NSW Architect Mark Cooper Day, Blanche Evelyn (Nee Montagu) who was appointed to the Public Service in 1894, her husband, who along with Palm Beach developer and partner in Wilshire & Day, Architects, Henry Austin Wilshire designed the premises, the men who donated the land on which to build Furlough House – initially William Brash MacArthur and then Thomas James Peters, and the wife of then Premier of NSW, George Warburton Fuller (Later Sir) - Ada Louisa (nee King).  

Blanche Evelyn Cooper Day seems to be the main impetus, whether under direction from the then state government or due to a rising awareness that it is the families of service people, left alone at home, that tend to suffer. A report in 1917 gives an insight into what women were experiencing at this time and that you can get by on practically nothing for a while but it can wear you out, physically, mentally and spiritually, if this kind of 'economising' must persist for years:


Miss Grace Burrows, who under the auspices of the Girls' Realm Guild, organised the Women's Work in War Time Exhibition, last year, is now doing similar work for – the National Economy Exhibition, which is being run by the Women's Commonwealth Patriotic Association. The exhibition will be held in the Sydney Town Hall the last week in October. It will serve to demonstrate the principles of the recent thrift campaign in a practical way. The promoters hope to show In many and varied ways how economy, both National and personal, can be practised. They will draw attention to the obvious articles to take the place of German manufactures. A principal feature of the exhibition will be the War Savings section, which will be in charge of an interested committee, and will explain the objects of the certificates. A great point will be the infant life-saving department — demonstrations under the supervision of the Department of Public Health. Mrs. Cooper Day will be in charge. One department will demonstrate waste in different commodities, and show the way it can be saved. Still another will show the principles of distributing and sorting garbage, just as is carried out in America. The use of by-products will be demonstrated, and economy in food preparation so as to get the full value will occupy one of the sections, as also will economy in dress. What can be produced in the home rand garden will also be demonstrated. The exhibition is anticipated to be the best of its kind yet held in Sydney, as experts will be at the head of each section. NATIONAL ECONOMY. (1917, August 19). Sunday Times(Sydney, NSW : 1895 - 1930), p. 13. Retrieved from

The benefits of salt air and sea water were well known by this era - people were officially allowed to go 'surf bathing' and ill children and their mothers were being catered for in a variety of homes set up as charitable ventures at Manly, Deewhy and Collaroy, many of these catering to specific diseases then prevalent. Two of the first official records of Furlough House and its overseeing committee being formed:


Two weeks' holiday at the seaside tor soldiers' families-that Is the object of the " A.I.F. Wives' and Children’s Holiday Association, already In vigorous operation. It Is mended, with the help of the generous public of New South Wales, to give as many women and children as possible a complete rest for a fortnight, during the summer. They will be wholly maintained and provided for, the only condition imposed upon them being that they must be the dependents of a member of the A.I.F. The allowance for soldiers families, in most cases, are not large enough to permit a Summer vacation, and the new association is going to see that the women and children do not suffer In this respect It is not n charitable organisation-it Is simply a method by which Now South Wales may show Its gratitude to the men who, by suffering and sacrifice, have placed Australia forever In an honoured race among the young nations of the earth.

The holiday establishment Is to be known as "Furlough House," and It Is already In course of erection. It will be situated on an area of land, already purchased, near the beach at Narrabeen, within a minute's walk of the tram terminus. The buildings now going up are the administrative block, and there will be ranged around It a series of commodious cottages. Each cottage is designed to accommodate four women and twenty children, and, as it Is proposed that each family shall have two weeks' holiday, ft Is expected that at least 80 women and 400 children may each year, in each cottage, have the benefit of the scheme. The establishment will be In the charge of a competent matron and a staff, mostly from the patriotic workers of the V.A.D. The first cottage will be ready for occupation by November 1, and other cottages will be built as soon thereafter-as funds permit. Two members of the association have generously advanced the money-£3500-for the purchase of the land and the erection and equipment of the administrative block and the first cottage.

The association is trusting to the generosity of the people of New South Wales to supply be means for the maintenance of the establishment. The amount required will depend, of course, on the number of persons to be accommodated, but It hopes to have £1000 In hand when "Furlough House" is opened. The more liberal the support the more extensive will be the help given to the dependents of the gallant men who have given, or are offering, their lives for us.

All political, class, and creed distinctions will be absolutely disregarded, and those whose circumstances would appear to entitle them to special consideration will be selected from the applicants. Such being the patriotic work upon which the committee is engaged. It appeals with confidence for the funds necessary to "carry on." Donations should be sent to the president, Mrs. Q. W. Fuller, co. Chief Secretary's Department, Sydney, or to either of the treasurers.

The following have been appointed the first board of management:-President, Mrs. Geo. W. Fuller; vice-presidents, Mrs. Richard Arthur, Mr. E. B. Harkness, and Mr. John Stinson; hon. treasurers, Mr. Wm. B. MacArthur and Mr. W. Q. Layton; trustees, Mr. Thos. Peters and Mr. Win. BT MacArthur; hon. secretary, Mrs. Cooper Day; committee, Mesdames Clubbe, W. E. Cook, W. A. Henderson, Herman, W. B. Mergentheim, Lyster Ormsby, R.M. Sly, Spark, Miss Wearne, Messrs. Hillhouse, Trenchard Smith; hon. architect, Mr. Henry Wilshire.

The articles of the association provide that, when there is no longer any need for "Furlough House," the affairs of the association shall be wound up, and the excess of assets over liabilities presented to some patriotic or charitable Institution to be selected by a general meeting of the members. VACATIONS FOR SOLDIERS' DEPENDENTS. (1918, September 6). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 6. Retrieved from


An Excellent Scheme to Give Rest and Change to Dependents of Our Fighting Men

Furlough for our boys and how to arrange for it has agitated many minds for months past; but how many have ever thought of furlough for our soldiers’ and sailors' wives? The happy idea has been born in the minds of a kindly few, and Furlough House is already a tangible reality.

Six weeks ago an idea was mooted by one of our quiet war workers, who has had the lightening of the burden on the soldiers' relatives much at heart since the first troops left our shores. The object is to give a holiday to the wives or widows and the children of our soldiers and sailors, whose allowances are not sufficient to provide for a rest and change. The project has had a rapid growth. Land has been acquired at Narrabeen, within cooee of the beach, and the first cottage home is wall on its way. It will be officially opened on November 1, so that some tired mothers will have a chance to rest and see their children happy by the sea during some part of the long, hot Summer. Two members of the committee have financed the scheme so far and not one penny has been spent on organization. The Association is optimistically trusting to the generosity of the public to maintain the establishment, and would like to have £1000 in hand by November 1. There will be a matron in charge, and the Manly V.A.D. [Voluntary Aid Detachment] will give their services. The cottage will accommodate four women and twenty children, and it will depend on the giving of the people how many more mothers and children will be able to secure holidays quickly. It certainly should give our brave men more heart when they hear of this kindly, practical method of helping those they love and left behind them. Mrs. George Fuller is president of the movement, and will be glad to hear from those anxious to help. Letters may be addressed c/o the Chief Secretary's Department. Mrs. Cooper Day is the hon. secretary. The movement will be known at the A.I.F. Wives and Children's Holiday Association. FURLOUGH HOUSE FOR SOLDIERS' WIVES. (1918, September 8). Sunday Times (Sydney, NSW : 1895 - 1930), p. 13. Retrieved from


Dear Billjim, — For some time you have been anxious about wife, mother, sister, and children, because, although they don't tell you, they, too, are feeling the strain of the last four years, the strain of making both ends meet on a small allowance {which, of course, provides the parcels you love to open), which will not provide a holiday.


Don't worry any more about wife or children or mother not getting a holiday. Listen to this : A lovely place at Narrabeen a few minutes' walk from the tram stop will be opened this year, where they may take their children for a fortnight holiday, absolutely free of charge. This place is called Furlough House, managed by an association known as the A.I.F. Wives and Children's Holiday Association. The members are anxious to help the .wives and children bear their burden by giving this free opportunity of

a fortnight's holiday at the sea — our rightful heritage... Furlough House itself will not be one big building, but a series of cottages. Each -cottage will easily hold at a time four women and 20 children. A matron will be in charge helped by those glorious V.A.D. girls, I believe the Manly detachment has first innings. The first cottage will open in December. 


How many tired women will enjoy the fortnight's holiday depends on the generous support of the public, to whom the president, Mrs. George Fuller, appeals with confidence for funds to carry on. And I hope that as by degrees our comforts depots cease, those working in them will turn their energies to working for Furlough House, for, of course, all manner of things are required — house linen, furniture, crockery — and Mr. McArthur has kindly consented to store things at 251 Clarence-street. The month the Voluntary Workers' Cafe, Elizabeth -street, gave a day's takings to Furlough House, when the V.A.D. girls did a good business raffling, and selling flowers. Please tell all the boys about Furlough House so as they won't worry any more about the women-' folk and the youngsters at home. — Yours sincerely, JEAN MEWTH. AN OPEN LETTER. (1918, December 6). The Mirror (Sydney, NSW : 1917 - 1919), p. 10. Retrieved from

Try as they might there was a shortage of everything, including labour, and the first guests, scheduled for November 1, were put off until the December of 1918. Furlough House was officially opened in June of 1919 although the flu pandemic which took so many lives here, caused the holiday home to be closed as soon as it was opened. The pandemic gripping Australia after World War One cannot be imagined - borders between states were closed, governments sought to secure medicines from states such as Tasmania, wo were not so badly affected at first, and all hospitals were full. Many of the returning soldiers were held in quarantine, some at Manly, on their return home. In Europe it is estimated the influenza pandemic was responsible for the deaths of 15 million people.

In New South Wales people were told by authorities that they travelled 'at their own risk' on trains and the like - even within suburban areas people had to wear masks when using public trams, trains and buses. It is no wonder that Furlough House was closed as soon as it opened:


The scheme of building at Narrabeen a large establishment, to be known as Furlough House, where the families of soldiers may spend at least a fortnight at the seaside free from all expense and worry, is now reaching the first stage of completion. The first cottages were to be opened in November 1, but the committee could not obtain the labour required and the construction work was delayed It lo now definitely announced, however, that Furlough House  will open Its doors to the first guests at the beginning of the Christmas season.  As other cottages are built, the little community of AIF women and children will be increased. The committee suggests that persons or societies might wish, as a form, of memorial, to furnish a dormitory In Furlough House, to be called after someone lost in the war. Patriotic persons of a generous character can find In Furlough House a means of easily and very directly helping the dependents of the men of the AIF.  The committee wants a piano, any class of sound bedroom and kitchen furniture the means of fitting up a verandah as a kindergarten for the children, and a large supply of deck chairs. Anyone desiring to give such articles should communicate with Mr W B Macarthur, 251 Clarence-street, Sydney. FURLOUGH HOUSE. (1918, December 6). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 6. Retrieved from


The committee has decided to close Furlough House, Narrabeen, until the epidemic has abated, it being considered unwise to incur the risk which would be entailed by bringing soldiers' wives and children from many different centres. The committee greatly regrets the inevitable  disappointment which this necessary stop will cause. FURLOUGH HOUSE CLOSES. (1919, January 31). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 8. Retrieved from

Australian Red Cross Voluntary Aid Detachment members wearing protective face masks, working as flu doctors in Sydney, 1918. AWMP01102.021

Although children and mothers would not be at Furlough House until the last month of Winter in 1919, the official opening took place on Saturday June 21st, 1919:

FURLOUGH HOUSE. Officially Opened by Governor-General 

Narrabeen, Collaroy, and Deewhy turned out yesterday afternoon to give a hearty welcome to the Governor-General and Lady Helen Munro Ferguson, when Sir Roland Munro Ferguson came officially to open Furlough House. Sir George and Lady Fuller (who is president of the A.I.F. Wives' and Children's Holiday Association), and Mrs. Coper Day, hon. secretary, welcomed the Vice-Regal party, while the Boy Scouts and Manly V.A.D.'s formed a guard of honor. 

The Governor-General remarked that it was not his first visit to Furlough House; he had called there unofficially in January, while motoring. "I noticed the comfort, the freedom, the simplicity, and the care exercised; in fact, everything that was required for a glorious picnic. Since then I hear the place was closed on account of the influenza outbreak, but I am not sure that this place is not a much better preventative for 'flu than all the precautions we were called upon to endure."

Opening of Furlough House, Narrabeen, Date of Work: 6/1919, d1_13710, courtesy State Library of NSW.

Gov. General unfurling flag, opening of Furlough House, Narrabeen, d1_13708, courtesy State Library of NSW.

The Governor-General advised the committee to keep the endeavor private and voluntary, remarking that his experience was that as soon as public authorities got a finger in a pie they very soon had the whole of the dish. He believed in the one supplementing the other, and that the best security for success was for private and public enterprise to have their energies directed towards the same object without interfering with each other's energies. Those who had promoted and carried out the idea were doing a public service in a voluntary spirit. He hoped the other States would follow the Mother State's example in doing good to the wives, widows and children of the men who had fought during the war.

Opening of Furlough House - Date: 6/1919 image No.: d13706h, courtesy State Library of NSW.

Lady Fuller, who presented Lady Helen Munro Ferguson with a posy of violets and mignonette, recounted the history of the houses, which were mooted exactly a year ago, and asked for subscriptions for the upkeep. Mr. Brash Macarthur, who with Mr. Thomas Peters has given the land and guaranteed the initial outlay of £3500 free of interest, said that the constitution of Furlough House was as wide as human sympathy could make it. The people who came to stay there were guests. The effort had nothing to do with the military or Repatriation: it was purely a citizens' affair, depending on voluntary subscriptions. He read a subscription list totaling over £100 received on the ground, including £50 from the residents of Collaroy and Narrabeen, £25 from the Manly Croquet Club, and £25 from Mr. Kelso King. Mr. Macarthur invited funds so eloquently that the Governor-General was moved to remark that he was not a bad specimen of a bawbee snatcher as well as a giver. FURLOUGH HOUSE. (1919, June 22). Sunday Times (Sydney, NSW : 1895 - 1930), p. 2. Retrieved from

FURLOUGH HOUSE, NARRABEEN, SYDNEY Opened by the Governor-General last Saturday, as a home for wives, widows and children of men who had fought in the Great War. The buildings are of concrete, and were designed by Architects Wilshire & Day. Advertising. (1919, June 24). Construction and Local Government Journal (Sydney, NSW : 1913 - 1930), p. 8. Retrieved from

Furlough House Re-opened. 

Furlough House re-opened on Wednesday, and a happy crowd of soldiers children are now enjoying the sand and the sea at Narrabeen, while their mothers are having a much appreciated rest. Subscriptions to keep the cottages going and in insure the food supply arestill required. Furlough House Re-opened. (1919, August 10). Sunday Times(Sydney, NSW : 1895 - 1930), p. 18. Retrieved from

Through subsequent years the focus of the A.I.F. Wives and Children's Holiday Association and local residents was raising funds to meet the expenses:

Fairfax Corporation. (1930). Grounds of Furlough House, Narrabeen, New South Wales, 19 September 1930 Retrieved from

Fairfax Corporation. (1930). Young children gathered outside Furlough House in Narrabeen, New South Wales, 19 September 1930 Retrieved from

Need of Extra Funds.

Lady Game was present at the 12th annual meeting of the A.I.F. Wives' and Children's Holiday Association at Furlough House, Narrabeen, yesterday.

Fairfax Corporation. (1930). Young child being given/giving flowers by/to a woman at Furlough House, Narrabeen, New South Wales, 19 September 1930 Retrieved from

In the course of her presidential address, Mrs. H. Gordon Bennett said that admissions to Furlough House during the year totalled 799, comprising 209 women and 590 children. Thus 7937 persons had been cared for since the opening of the home In 1919.

The report of the joint honorary treasurers, Messrs Norman E. Lowe and B. Wilson, stated that for the financial period just ended, the amount received in subscriptions and donations was £1189, which meant that the association opened the year with a deficit of £56. 

"What we now want to see Is the success of the idea of the president, who is trying to get 1000 new members," said Mr. Lowe. "These, by subscribing £1/1/ each, would relieve our needs, and enable us to carry on without further appeals."

Members of the Players' Club subsequently presented "The Education of Harry," Henry Arthur Jones, the cast consisting of Miss Adele Quinn and Messrs. S. B. Irving and Winchester Ford. FURLOUGH HOUSE. (1930, September 18). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 13. Retrieved from

Fairfax Corporation. (1930). Four women standing outside Furlough House, Narrabeen, New South Wales, 19 September 1930 Retrieved from

Furlough House was closed in World War II as a precaution against the threat of a coastal invasion. The activities of the association were moved elsewhere: 

FURLOUGH HOUSE EVACUATED New Property at Orange. Furlough House, the rest home at Narrabeen conducted by the A.I.F. Wives and Children's Holiday Association, has been closed for the duration of the war, and the association's activities will be transferred next week to Orange, where a property has been purchased at a cost of £2,000. There will be accommodation for 30 individuals in the house, which will need little alteration beyond the building of additional bathrooms. The house stands in extensive grounds, which will make it possible to add temporary buildings for further accommodation as the need grows, provided the appeal that is being made by the association to its subscribers and friends for financial assistance is successful.


The first group of women and children to go into the new home has already been chosen. Preference is given to women with young babies, who have just left hospital and are without immediate relatives to look after them, or who may be living in what are regarded as danger areas. Widows with young children are also given preference. They will stay at the home for a month, and should they wish to remain permanently in the country a plan has been devised to make it possible for them to live with private families in the district for the duration of the war under the supervision of the association. FURLOUGH HOUSE EVACUATED. (1942, January 31). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 9. Retrieved from

As with all community funded and based entities, the means of raising funds varies from selling flowers to holding balls - people all over the state pitched in with what they could. During WWII comedian Bob Hope was the 'poster boy' for Furlough House - after the conflict had ceased, a former resident of Tasmania, and alternatively controversial to some and beloved by others, Field Marshal Montgomery was an advocate and supporter:

SYDNEY, Fri — Sir Alfred Davidson of Furlough House, conferred an honorary governorship on Bob Hope at his private suite at the Hotel Australia today. Hope was in the middle of his breakfast when the party arrived and he commented: 'What sort of a breakfast is this? I've only had two meals without the Press since I arrived.' .When he received the scroll, Hope inquired of Sir Alfred: 'Does this mean that I'm a governor?'

Sir Alfred: Yes.

Hope: Does that mean I can get a room there any time?

Sir Alfred: Yes, Bob.. 

Hope: Well I'll have to come back some time. 

Voicing his appreciation of the honour, Hope said that one of the big concerns of boys in the fighting areas was what people were doing back home. He was glad to know that Furlough House was doing such a wonderful job.  Bob Hope A 'Governor'. (1944, August 18). The Daily News(Perth, WA : 1882 - 1950), p. 8 Edition: CITY FINAL. Retrieved from

Honorary life governorship of the AIF Wives and Children's Welfare Association conferred on Bob Hope (Furlough House job) - Date of Work 18/8/1944, Image No: hood_30890, courtesy State Library of NSW.


At the inaugural meeting of the Younger Set of Furlough House Narrabeen a programme for the groups Bob In for Bob Hope appeal was launched. It is hoped to raise a million shillings by this special appeal with which to enlarge both existing Furlough Houses and build another. MILLION SHILLINGS FOR FURLOUGH HOUSE. (1944, August 24). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 6. Retrieved from


Bob Hope's diminutive companion on our cover this week, four year-old Elaine Morris, of Matraville, was remembered by the famous film comedian in a cable to the campaign director of the Furlough House Appeal (Mr. Jack Lester) last week. 

ELAINE is one of six children of Gunner and Mrs. John Morris, of Matraville, N.S.W. She met Bob and was photographed with him during his visit to Sydney when the popular film comedian became interested in and pledged his support for the Furlough House scheme of providing free annual holidays for needy families of Australian servicemen, at Orange and Narrabeen, N.S.W.

Elaine's family is among the 25, 0000 families who have enjoyed holidays at Furlough House, Orange, since 1942. In the cable asking for progress results of the present appeal to raise £150,000 for Furlough House. including a special Bob Hope wing, the star wrote:

Vitally interested in the progress for the icing and entire Furlough House appeal. How is it going. Jack? Give all my Sydney friends my blessing, and ask them to plug it hard for me. It's a great cause. Love to little Elaine Morris.-BOB.

The Furlough House Appeal, which plans to provide extensions and Improvement to the existing holiday homes, as well as establishing a new one, will be officially launched at a public meeting to be called by the Lord Mayor of Sydney (Alderman Bartley) on November 10. Giving her support to the appeal, Miss Marjorie Lawrence stars in a special film, "Voice of a Nation." produced by Mr. Jack Lester, who is also her manager in Australia. Hope supports appeal. (1944, November 11). The Australian Women's Weekly (1933 - 1982), p. 11. Retrieved from

"Monty" Donates £100 to Furlough House SYDNEY, Sunday.  

Field-Marshal Montgomery captured the hearts of Sydney people today. Thousands lined the street from Government House to St Andrew's Cathedral for the morning service where 'Monty" read the first Lesson, and again this afternoon when he drove to Narrabeen.  Many thousands waited at the Spit Junction to get a view of the Viscount but they were disappointed as the car speeded past. On arrival at Furlough House the Field-Marshal passed through two lines of former members of the Ninth Division, who fought  in the Middle East, and also of the Old Contemptibles, of which "Monty is a member.

Laying the foundation stone of the new Furlough House, the Field Marshal said that he would donate £100 towards the project, giving the money to the Australian High Commissioner on his return to London. The Furlough House is being built for recuperative work among the mothers, wives and children of ex- servicemen. Among the gathering at the House were six VC winners and two representatives of posthumous winners.  The Field-Marshal greeted Mr  WM Hughes, who laid the foundation stone of the first Furlough Home.

Referring to the outstanding qualities of the Australian soldiers, the Field-Marshal said the first was, their staunchness, whether in good times or bad. The second was their great hospitality and the third was their versatility and independence. Another thing about the Australian soldier was his intenseness to the job he had undertaken. 

On Saturday the Field-Marshal planted a eucalyptus tree at Victoria Barracks. More than 500 ex-soldiers attended a reception at the Trocadero on Saturday when the Field-Marshal declared that the freedom won by them would not be complete freedom if the world is to be rebuilt. There might be personal sacrifices on the part of each individual and a great deal of hard work if the people of depressed countries are to secure prosperity. 

During this afternoon the Field Marshal laid the foundation stone of the Montgomery amenities pavilion at the War Veterans' Home. 

Although dusk was falling thousands lined the route followed by the Field-Marshal on his return to Government House. Dashing through the police barricades, Mrs Isabel Harkness shook hands with the Field-Marshal she had a letter in her hand which she said was written by the Field-Marshal's mother to her mother. Mrs Harkness said that she was a playmate of the Field-Marshal when he lived in Tasmania.

The Premier (Mr McGirr) yesterday granted the request of the Field Marshal for a holiday for the schoolchildren, but added that it could not be taken at present as the children were busy with examinations it would be added to their next holidays. Field-Marshal Montgomery has expressed the opinion that the children seemed tired. Before he leaves for Brisbane tomorrow, the Field-Marshal will attend a civic reception at the Town Hall and also a State luncheon at Hotel Australia. "Monty" Donates £100 to Furlough House. (1947, July 14). The Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 - 1995), p. 2. Retrieved from


FIELD MARSHAL MONTGOMERY surrounded by admiring  children during a visit to the War Veteran Home, Narrabeen, Sydney, on Sunday.

MR. W. M. HUGHES, M.H.R.. greeting Monty at Furlough House, Narrabeen.

MONTY talking to Ross Soutar, of Ashfield, at the War Veteran Home. Ross' father was killed in Borneo. Pictures: MONTY HAD A BUSY DAY IN SYDNEY. (1947, July 16).Townsville Daily Bulletin (Qld. : 1885 - 1954), p. 3. Retrieved from

Furlough House was all about the children and their mums though - what did they think of their holiday by the seaside? From a Children's Column overseen by 'Aunt Merrythought's' : 

A HOME FROM HOME - Appreciative Tribute to the Comfort of Furlough House
Several of Aunt Merrythought's friends have spent happy days at Furlough House the holiday homo for women and children at Narrabeen, the comforts of which, however, are not nearly so well known by our country folk as they ought to be. In an appreciative letter recently received from a friend in the far south of New South Wales, the writer says:'We had a glorious time at Narrabeen, and came homo wonderfully well after It. The children had n wonderful time in the surf and sand and amongst the shells. Furlough House Is a home away from home. Each family has its own little flat coussiting of a very roomy airy bedroom, bathroom and verandah. The mothers had their meals served in one dining room and the children in another, A splendid idea, don’t you think? It made it a real holiday, not having to attend to the children, at mealtimes and having no cooking to do. The matron and staff were wonderfully kind and absolutely untiring in their efforts to make our holiday perfect in every way. The food was always beautifully cooked and served— plenty of it, and great variety, absolutely free. Our mornings  were spent on the ocean beach and evenings at the lakes, where the children had the greatest time in their lives. After tea (6 p.m.),the children would romp and play on the well-kept lawns for an hour or so, and then to bed: after they were safely tucked in, the mothers could enjoy a quiet game of cards, or read or sew,  in the beautiful hall until 9p.m., when lights went out. The mothers had only to keep the flats, grounds, laundry and outer offices clean and tidy, wash up after each meal , and prepare the vegetables, but as there were eight of us, it was a more trifle, and we knocked a lot of fun out of it. In fact, it helped to keep us in trim. "A HOME FROM HOME". (1930, February 22). The Farmer and Settler (Sydney, NSW : 1906 - 1957), p. 14. Retrieved from

Furlough House is still in existence today, and as per it's original charter, is for service personnel and their families:

Today Furlough House Retirement Village has moved from being short term assistance for wives and families who enjoyed a much needed break away from their immediate worries and concerns – and has now developed into a larger complex of 81 Units in several apartment blocks and cottages in a very pleasant garden setting. The units are for the benefit of retired ex service men and women, and immediate families, who appreciate the benefits of self care, independence and peaceful retirement. The mutual bond of Service life, in all its aspects, is appreciated by residents and strengthens a feeling of community camaraderie.
SEe their website for more details:

 Furlough House, Narrabeen, Date of Work: 18/1/1947, Image No.: hood_25835, courtesy State Library of NSW.


700 Tons Rock Falls at Palm Beach

(See photo, on page 11) Henry A. Wilshire sent us the above striking photograph with the following note : — I am sending you a couple of negatives of photos of a land slip or rock slip on the Palm Beach Road, next to the Barrenjoey Road. The rock in measurement would weigh some 700 tons, and a small one next to it, 300 odd tons. The slide was very smooth, the bed being white pipeclay, and since it has been on the road, it creeped 2 feet. It should form an interesting problem for engineers in Shires as how would be the most economic way of removing same, and the quickest way to get rid of such a lot of stone. It seems to me if the earth were removed from the front of it, the weight ma}' take it farther, where it would eventually go into the waters of Pittwater. However, 10 men are starting to blast it and try and re move it for the property owners who are at present cut off from any road communication. SHIRES. (1918, June 4). Construction and Local Government Journal (Sydney, NSW : 1913 - 1930), p. 6. Retrieved from


The death occurred recently of Mr. Henry Austin Wilshire, a well-known city architect, who, amongst other things, was closely associated with Furlough House, Narrabeen, the well-known seaside holiday resort for the wives and children of soldiers, of which he was honorary architect and adviser. He was one of the pioneers of Palm Beach, and was one of the founders of the Australasian Pioneers' Club.

The deceased was the youngest son of the late James R. Wilshire, M.L.C., Sydney's second Mayor, whose grandfather (James Wilshire) arrived in Sydney in 1792 as Deputy Commissioner-General [sic: he was deputy commissary from about 1808], and married Esther Pitt, a relative of Admiral Lord Nelson.

In the Registrar-General's Department are some quaint references to the grants of land given to James Wilshire, including 570 acres extending from Strathfield to Cook's River, and several acres at Brickfield-hill, Sydney. The deceased leaves a widow and one daughter. MR. HENRY AUSTIN WILSHIRE. (1923, August 23). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 11. Retrieved from

Mr Wilshire and Mr Day were both residing at Neutral Bay during the years of Furlough House's construction and expansion.

NEW HOTEL FOR MANLY. The Water licensing Court sat yesterday to hear an application made by Frances Young for a conditional publican's licence for a hotel fronting the Steyne end the Corso, Manly. There were on the bench Messrs. Smithen, S.M., Wilshire, S.M., Payten, S.M., and Penny, L.M. 

The police objected to the granting of the licence on the ground that there were already sufficient hotels at Manly to satisfy the reasonable requirements of the place. 

The architect for the proposed building Mr. Mark Cooper Day, stated that it would contain 41 rooms, exclusive of bar and cellars. The building would cost between £4000 and £5000; it would be made of brick, and proper accommodation would be constructed. There would be three storeys. 

If the trade demanded an extension of the building there was about 60ft on the Corso available. He thought a house of this description was wanted. A number of witnesses were, examined for and against the application, which was granted. NEW HOTEL FOR MANLY. (1901, April 18). Evening News(Sydney, NSW : 1869 - 1931), p. 6. Retrieved from


On Wednesday evening a meeting in connection with the Institute of Architects of New South Wales was held in the rooms of the institute, 14 O'connell street, there being a large attendance of members and visitors.  Mr J Horbury Hunt (president) occupied the chair.

Apologies for non-attendance were received from the Government Architect (Mr Vernon), Messrs J Barlow, and W W Wardell. The following gentlemen were admitted as members of the institute, each one being welcomed by the president in a short address: -Messrs. Benjamin Backhouse (hon member), Mark Cooper Day (fellow), and Wilfred Sydney Mansfield (associate).  INSTITUTE OF ARCHITECTS. (1890, October 24). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 3. Retrieved from

Furlough House Secretary Farewelled. Mrs. Cooper Day (left), the energetic secretary of Furlough House, to whose efforts much of the success of the holiday house is due, was yesterday afternoon entertained by the president(Lady Fuller) and committee of Furlough House at a charming arranged tea party at the Wentworth Cafe, on the occasion of her departure for America, Lady Fuller, on behalf of the committee, presented Mrs. Cooper Day with a cheque and » lovely basket of carnations expressing her own and that of the committee's appreciation of Mrs.  Cooper Day's work. Among those present were Mrs.Robins. Mrs. Richard Arthur. Mrs. Carr, Miss Kernays, Miss Reid, Mrs. Cook. Mrs. R. M. Sly, Mrs. and Miss Brodziak, Mr. Chris Bennett, Mr. Henry Wilshire., Miss Thomson, Matron Kowles and Mr. John Stinson. Other members of the committee who were unable to be present were Captain and Mrs. Waley. Mr. A.H. Uther, Mr. R. H. Harkness,  Mrs.Bode, Mrs. Herniman, Mrs. Francis, and Mrs. P. F. Nott. MRS. COOPER DAY. Furlough House Secretary Farewelled. (1922, April 28).Evening News (Sydney, NSW : 1869 - 1931), p. 9. Retrieved from

Mr. G. W. Fuller, M. L. A. for Kiama, was married in Sydney on Wednesday to Miss Ada Louisa King, daughter of Mrs. M. King, Woollahra, late of Kiama. Local News. (1892, April 1). The Scrutineer (Moss Vale, NSW : 1892), p. 2. Retrieved from

DEATH OF MRS. COOPER DAY. Mrs. Blanche Evelyn Cooper Day, who was widely known in both Sydney and London, died in Sydney yesterday. She was 80 years of age. Towards the end of the First World War, Mrs Cooper Day conceived the idea, together with the name, of Furlough House. She took the idea to Mr W Brash MacArthur, whose generosity made the first building possible. In 1922 Mrs Cooper Day went to London, where, as official hostess to the Overseas League, she became well known to many Australians and other Dominions people visiting England. Mrs Cooper Day leaves a daughter (Mrs Russell Pope of Oxford)and a son, Mr F H Day, of Sydney.  She was predeceased by another son, Mr Harry C Day. DEATH OF MRS. COOPER DAY. (1948, January 1). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 4. Retrieved from

National Library of Australia has Portraits of Mark Cooper Day, his wife Blanche Evelyn Day, their daughter-in-law Stephanie Marguerite (their daughter was Nellie Ethel Day) and son Harry Cooper Day. Both men were architects, M.C. Day designed part of the King's School at Parramatta, and a bank in Townsville. Blanche E. Day was appointed to the N.S.W. Public Service in 1894. The photographs were taken ca. 1921-1925. married Mark Cooper Day in 1885.

POPE-DAY.-August 20, at St. Peter's Church, Neutral Bay, by Rev. D. Davies, .ALA., Gottfried Busnell, second son of Rev. and Mr. Edwin Pope, Latchingdon Hector, Essex, England, to Nellie Ethel, only daughter of Mark Cooper and Blanche E. Day, Heydon, Neutral Bay. Family Notices. (1913, September 8). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 8. Retrieved from

DAY -May 10 1933 at Sydney Hospital Mark Cooper Day, late of Bond street Sydney, formerly of Croydon, Surrey. Privately cremated. Family Notices. (1933, May 12). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 10. Retrieved from

DAY Blanche Evelyn Cooper-December 31 1947 peacefully at Manly widow of the late Mark Cooper Day and beloved mother of Nellie (Pope) Marguerite (daughter in law) and Frank aged 80 years See Fridays Herald for Funeral Notice. Family Notices. (1948, January 1). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 8. Retrieved from

Mr. W. Brash MacArthur. Mr. W. Brash MacArthur chairman of W Brash MacArthur Ltd., soft goods ware-housemen, died suddenly in Sydney on Sunday night. He was born in Scotland in 1862 and arrived in Australia in 1891. During World War I he served in London with the Australian Red Cross. Later he founded Furlough House at Narrabeen for service-men's wives and children.  Mr. W. Brash MacArthur. (1953, May 20). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p. 8. Retrieved from

Lady Fuller has not been idle, by any means — the wife of a Premier can't be; but she has never been too busy to devote time to public and charitable affairs. One of her favorite activities is the National Women's Association, of which she is president. Especially is she interested in Furlough House, the splendid institution which was founded for the purpose of rendering medical assistance to widows and dependents of members of the A.I.F. who could not afford to pay for expert attention. 

When General Birdwood, who commanded the Australian Forces throughout the Great War, arrived in Sydney, he was confronted with an exceedingly long list of places it was hoped he would visit.] Time and circumstances precluded him going to many, and particularly those situated outside Sydney; but when he heard the aims and objects of Furlough House, the famous Digger Chief said: 'I- must not miss it on any account.' 

When Governor General Lord Novar, accompanied by Lady Novar, inspected the institution, and ever since the home has been open its noble work, has appealed strongly to all and sundry. 

Lady Fuller's great work for this institution is due no doubt in some measure to the fact that during her early days in the country she learnt how difficult it was for certain people to obtain medical attention. Lady Fuller is a Kiama native, and so is Sir, George. They were friends when boy and girl, and there is no happier couple today in New South Wales. Lady Fuller loves country life. She was an accomplished rider and a brilliant athletic girl. Her main hobby since she was a girl on the station is gardening. Her home is at Bowral, where she resides during the Summer months. 

Lady Fuller accompanied Sir. George to the Coronation ceremonies of the present King  and Queen in London, and was presented at Court. It was her second visit, she having been in England when a girl. Last year she again went to England, on on this occasion presented her daughter Gwen. The family returned at the end of 1923, having toured the Continent… 

Their son, George Laurence, who is 22 years old, and was educated at North Shore Grammar School, Cranbrook and Sydney University, stayed in England after Sir George had completed his duties there. 

WIVES OF OUR FAMOUS MEN. (1925, February 1). Sunday Times (Sydney, NSW : 1895 - 1930), p. 3 Section: Social and Magazine Section. Retrieved from

                                                                                                                                 Lady Ada Fuller - picture from above article, 1925

Scenes of Narrabeen, N.S.W. Album - by Sydney & Ashfield : Broadhurst Post Card Publishers, Date of Work ca. 1900-1927, Images No.: a106066h and a106067h, courtesy State Library of nSW.

Furlough House Narrabeen: Restful Sea Breezes for Children and their Mothers - threads collected by A J Guesdon, 2014.