Category Archives: Jim Hatfield

Bush Fire Season

Fire threat at Melvy's Wharf 1994

Fire threat at Melvy’s Wharf 1994

October and the beginning of the Bush Fire Season alerts us to our    readiness or otherwise to face the challenges that come with living on the edge of the bush.

We are taken back to the dangers and the brave and generous responses to the fires of 2002, 1994 and earlier.

These two vivid images from Jim Hatfield’s collection show Melvy’s Wharf on the Hawkesbury River in January, 1994. The first image shows the home under threat while the second image, below, shows the damage done.

Fire damage at Melvy's Wharf 1994

Fire damage at Melvy’s Wharf 1994

Our Berowra Rural Fire Service celebrates its 70th Anniversary this year!


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A Golf Course For Berowra

The first golf course location mentioned to  berowralivinghistory was in the vicinity of Nalya Road. Longtime Berowra resident Peter Huett recalls working on the proposed 9 hole golf course. World War II bought the project to an abrupt halt.
View From The Golf CourseImage courtesy of NSW State Library

View From The Golf Course
Image courtesy of NSW State Library

 Time passed and then the following appeared in the Berowra District News July 1972 (published by the Berowra Progress Association)
Golf Course Proposed
A further public meeting to pursue the Berowra Golf Course proposal will be held 1st August at 7.30pm following the interim committee inspecting and making preliminary enquiries on the status of the project. In 1968 the department of Lands gave Hornsby Shire Council firm indication of making available a large parcel of land at the end of Turner Road “which would be suitable for a golf course”
Discussion at the meeting was to include debate on a Public Golf Course of 18 holes, & an associated licenced Golf Club.
Meetings continued but the newspapers reveal little progress. In 1973 a public notice advised a Foundation Membership of $5.00!

What happened?  Can you tell us?


Still Standing

Remains of the church chimney on Bar Island.  Photo courtesy of Jim Hatfield

Remains of the church chimney on Bar Island. Photo courtesy of Jim Hatfield

Bar Island is located where Berowra Creek joins the Hawkesbury River. It is counted as a very historically significant site. Evidence of Aboriginal occupation can still be seen in a large shell midden at the northern most point of the island. Its somewhat central position amongst the islands in the Hawkesbury made Bar Island a choice spot for the early river settlers and traders, to build a church.

This was an Anglican Church known as St John’s and the first service was held there in 1876. Where once Easter was celebrated all that remains is the crumbling fireplace shown above. St John’s was to be a church and a school. The church was reported to be beautifully located and to attract not only nearby worshippers but sometimes visitors from Sydney.

A cemetery was established on Bar Island and it would appear that as many as sixty burials were conducted there including those of tiny infants and Sarah Ferdinand, a pioneer of  Marramarra aged 98.

The church land has now been handed back to Hornsby Council in exchange for other land. The council has restored headstones in the cemetery and reconstructed the jetty at Bar Island.

More detailed information about Bar Island can be found in Tom Richmond’s :  Bar Island and Lower Hawkesbury River Settlements.


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Protecting Our Community

Ex-Army Ambulance, the Brigade's first vehicle seen on the Pacific Highway, Berowra.

Ex-Army Ambulance, the Brigade’s first vehicle seen on the Pacific Highway, Berowra.

Summer in Berowra can bring family gatherings for celebrations and for responding to bushfires!

Back in 1940 a request was made for a fire hydrant, reel and hose with a view to forming a Berowra volunteer Fire Brigade. 1943 saw the first officers elected and the birth of our Bush Fire Brigade.

During the war years petrol was rationed and the volunteers used their own vehicles.

In September,’46 the equipment list included:

8 Shovels, 15 Rakes, 6 Knapsacks, 8 Axes, 2 Canvas waterbags, 6 Hurricane lights (kerosene), 8 Brush hooks & 2 Garden hoses.

Hatfield boys with Betsy an ex-Military Fire Tanker used from 1949-1972.Top speed down hill about 40mph.

Hatfield boys with Betsy an ex-Military Fire Tanker used from 1949-1972.
Top speed down hill about 40mph.

Over the years equipment has certainly improved and increased!

We want to say thank to the men and women of what is now the Berowra Rural Fire Service and the Berowra Waters Rural Fire Service for their commitment to our community and beyond.

Thank you for 70 years of service!


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Mystery Object – February

Any ideas on what this mystery object might be?

The Mystery Object this month appears in the very front of this appealing circa 1928 photograph from the collection of Jim Hatfield,  longtime resident of Berowra.

Featured prominently is Ambrose Hatfield (father of Jim & his 6 siblings) kneeling with 3 dogs. On the ground, in front of Ambrose, there is some sort of mysterious item – do you know what it is?

The rented Hatfield family home at the time is behind the group & it was here that Jim was born in 1928.

This Berowra property became a caravan park in approximately the 1950’s and had the name Mirabooka. Later it became La Mancha and has now been developed as a full residential site called “Eloura”

Could the Mystery object be animal or mineral or maybe something quite unexpected ?!


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One Of Jim’s Childhood Homes

Home of Jim Hatfield, near todays Clinton Close

This image, circa 1938-39, comes from the collection of a long time Berowra resident, Jim Hatfield. It shows Jim as a young boy, second from the right with some members of his family and a friend, on the far right. While the young woman and the girls and boys line up at the back of their house, the pet dog claims a spot in front of its kennel.

The house which was rented from a Mr Warne, was located near present day Clinton Close. Two chimneys are shown, the one at the rear of the house was for the kitchen, the other was in a more central position on the side of the house and provided warmth for the main body of the building. Internal walls were made of corn sacks white washed with lime. You will be able to make out a couple of other houses in the vicinity. Such a different scene today!

Self- sufficiency and improvisation were very important in those challenging times.  The whole family, like most in Berowra, had plenty to do.  The house was set in at least five acres of land. In the centre of this land was a gully which carried water after rain. Jim remembers an orchard of mainly stone fruit trees with a couple of citrus trees. Vegetables were grown and poultry were cared for, plus a few pigs, cows and calves to supply for the needs of the family. Meat was first eaten fresh and the remainder corned. It was stored along with dairy foods in a cool area under a water tank.

Imagine growing up in Berowra in the thirties and forties. Imagine the hard work and the carefree adventures of the five and their dog shown in this fine picture. We will have further stories to share. Maybe you have some of your own!


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