Category Archives: Schools

A Day Out For The Boys

Large Group
The image below comes courtesy of Allan Kember,a former Berowra resident who met up with a group of friends for a reunion in Berowra recently.
Allan shared a number of 1950’s era Berowra School photos but when it came to this photo little was known about it.A couple of the boys in the photo were identified, however neither the reason for the outing (could they be on a swimming excursion as some boys have a towel around their neck?) the location or the year could be remembered.
If you know more about when, why & where this photo was taken or perhaps the identity of the boys or the adults behind them – Please tell us.
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Who Last Saw Poppy


In this 1891 Government printing Office map of the Village of Berowra the trig station  ‘Poppy’ is clearly noted and visible by the triangular mark just above the village boundary line.

Trig(Trigonometrical) Stations were established on prominent locations where they were very visible. They are part of a network that was vital to accurate land surveying and mapping.

‘Poppy’ was the Berowra Trig and located near the corner of Hillcrest Road and Berowra Waters Road. A farm owned by the Stewart family occupied the surrounding land before the Berowra Public School re located there in the 1950’s.

Berowralivinghistory has been told students can remember the trig, in that corner of the schoolyard and having lessons related to it. There is now a school hall covering the actual site of  trig “Poppy’ and it is recorded as destroyed. It was replaced by Berowra Res which sits atop the water resevoir on Berowra Waters Road.

We have been unsuccessful in obtaining any photos of ‘Poppy’ to date. Maybe older school records will reveal something soon. Can you help? Does your family have a photo that includes ‘Poppy’?


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Mystery Solved October – Mount Colah Grammar School

This building was once part of the Grammar School

This building was once part of the Grammar School

Like today, in years gone by many children in Berowra and the surrounding area left the immediate suburb to attend school. In the mid 20th century, one school available to local families was the Mount Colah Grammar School which was once located near Mount Colah Station. The Grammar School was originally located in Berowra itself, but moved to Mt Colah where it shared the land with St George Church Of England. You can read a little about the Grammar School during it’s Berowra years here.

Beverley Gibbons attended the school at Mount Colah from the age of ten and recalls:

The Mount Colah Grammar School was a Church of England School run by Mr and Mrs Sidwell. Some people called it Sidwell’s School. All of the buildings were made of fibro, including the little Church which we went to every morning. I remember lining up outside the Church for my first funeral.

It wasn’t a big school. The house which is left is where the Sidwell’s lived and also where Mrs Sidwell taught kindergarten. She had a little Pekinese dog which she used to carry around with her – it yapped and yapped, but she loved it. Mr Sidwell taught the older children in another big building which was nearby – it might have had two rooms. He took classes from 3rd or 4th I think, right through to high school (which was three years then).

We had a school uniform and I remember for the girls it was a brown serge tunic with box pleats and a belt. We wore a white shirt underneath and also a green tie. In later years, for Summer, there was a bone frock with green buttons. We wore felt hats in Winter and in Summer we had straw panama hats.

There was quite a lot of land, and it sloped down at the back into the gully. We had a playing field down there, but there were also a lot of caves, which were very deep.

The school ran for at least 20 years I think, and closed down perhaps in the late 1950s or early 1960s. I think it closed when one of the Sidwells died.

Does anybody remember attending this school, or know of local children who attended? Leave us a comment!


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October Mystery Continued

This building was once part of the Grammar School

This building was once part of the Grammar School

Sadly, nobody has yet taken on our October Mystery, and instead of fully solving the matter, we have decided to offer just a teaser in hopes of coaxing some of our readers to share their memories.

Mt Colah Grammar School was once in the area of a charming, if now rather ramshackle house on the Pacific Highway near Mount Colah Station. Presumably the rundown house was used as one of the school buildings. The house, and the land once occupied by the school is now fenced off, and for many living in the area, the unused and seemingly unloved land has been a mystery in and of itself.

This image from Google Maps perhaps hints at the location of other buildings or garden beds - who knows!

This image from Google Maps perhaps hints at the location of other buildings or garden beds – who knows!

Do you have any memories of this home, or any information to share about Mount Colah Grammar School?


Images courtesy of Google Maps.

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October Mystery

photo 1

This week, Berowra Living History is sharing a mystery object of a slightly different kind. The image above shows a school badge which was kindly shared with us by B. Gibbons. The school in question was Mt Colah Grammar School.

Now, to the mystery. Do you know where this school was? Do you remember it? Did you perhaps attend (we are assured by the owner of the item that people from Berowra, Cowan and even Brooklyn attended!)

We’d love to hear your memories!


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September Mystery Solved

Yes, you are correct if you think that our September Mystery Object is a child’s school LUNCH BOX.

In the 1940s Berowra resident Joan Milne was given this little black lunch box when she started kindergarten. As you can see it was well looked after and sturdy enough to still be in good shape today.

It has a little brown leather strap handle and a metal clasp which still functions. Manufactured in wartime the little lunch box is practical, undecorated and made to last.

If you would like to find out more about this lunch box and others visit:

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Living And Learning Together

Berowra Public School Upper Division 1950

Berowra Public School Upper Division 1950

We thank sisters, Pat McCready and Jill Brancourt for sharing this photo from their collection. Young Jill (Ewings) is the eight child from the left in the middle row. The teacher-in-charge standing behind his young scholars is the much admired Mr Leslie Garside.

Two sisters, Betty in the middle row and Joan in the front row are members of the Hamilton family. All seven siblings went to Berowra Public School. This Aboriginal family came down from Groote Eylandt Mission where the parents had been taken when they were children. The family was very highly regarded in the Berowra community.

Currently we are in NAIDOC Week which is celebrated around Australia in early July each year. Interestingly the acronym which stands for National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee has become the name of the week itself rather than just a committee.

Do contact us if you can help us name some of the Upper Division of 1950!


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In Their Own Words – Growing Up In Berowra

The team at Berowra Living History is fortunate to have the opportunity to hear about (and often also read) people’s memories of living, working and growing up in Berowra. Our community, not just those living here now, but those who have moved on to other homes and communities, have wonderful memories which we love to share. The account below comes from Cheryl Jepson, who lived in Berowra in the 1950s and 1960s.

Class 2A, 1964, featuring Janita Hilda, Cheryl Sinclair, Sheryl Starling, Annette Wells, Peter Shackleton. The teacher this year was Miss Tucker

Class 2A, 1964, featuring Janita Hilda, Cheryl Sinclair, Sheryl Starling, Annette Wells, Peter Shackleton. The teacher this year was Miss Tucker

I lived in 10 Rawson Rd, which was a dirt road at that time, with my parents, sister Lynne and baby brother Stewart. Dad built a shack down the end of the road in the bush in the 1950’s. Mum did the washing in the caves where there were beautiful rock pools and waterfalls, all of which emptied into Bakers Pond. At that stage we didn’t have electricity.

My best friend Ann Richards, my sister and I were always playing in the gully all day and would return home filthy, bare-footed and scratched. Wild blackberries were abundant and we certainly helped ourselves to these fruits. There were old trams down the track which we played in – there would have been snakes everywhere. Mum didn’t know where we were half the time.

We were always carving our names in some of the trees. Down the track we found suitcases with clothes and shoes within. I think people used that area for a dumping ground. We of course used the old clothes in our cubby house.

In Rawson Rd there was a very small fibro shack on the right-hand side. (Next to the old chook farm buildings, which later burned down). There were pots of paint within the shack which we used to splash everywhere.

The bamboo grew to gigantic heights and we used these to play in, also in Rawson Rd. We had a great life and memories growing up as children in Berowra in the bush.

In 1961 I was in kindergarten and the teachers name I remember was Miss Smith. The children had to have a sleep after lunch. She used to have a tray of ‘Smiths’ chips to share with the students.

1962 was transition for 1st Class. I remember we had a social and my mother made me an outfit, created from white crepe paper. We were made up to look like cats and danced to the music of the ‘Pink Panther’.

In 1963 my teacher was Miss Douglas and I was 7 years old. (I don’t have a photo of that year). At assembly we had to sing “God Save The Queen”.

We were forced to drink 1/3 pint bottles of milk in glass bottles with the silver tops. The milk was in crates, placed in the assembly area which unfortunately was also in the sun; therefore the milk was hot and I didn’t like to drink it.

The tree behind the school photos was a great climbing tree and all the children used it for that purpose. My sister Lynne and I always walked to school, regardless of the weather. I can’t remember how far but was quite a distance for a youngster.

Class 3B of 1965. The same people are featured

Class 3B of 1965. The same people are featured

Do you have memories you would like to share? We would love to hear from you, and include your recollections and images in our archives and upcoming exhibitions.


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Berowra At War – New Exhibition

Keith Holmes as a school boy. This was the only school photo Keith remembers having taken during the War

Keith Holmes as a school boy. This was the only school photo Keith remembers having taken during the War

This week, with ANZAC Day nearly upon us, I wanted to take the time to make sure our readers had heard about our newest exhibition, Berowra At War. Although Berowra would seem to be far from the dangers of war, hidden away in our rural, bushland surroundings, fear of attack and invasion was very real for residents of Berowra. In our newest exhibition we explore some of the stories of Berowra during wartime, and share some of the recollections of our residents. The exhibition is still under development, so there will be more to come.

I wanted to share with you a taster of the exhibition though:

“We had an air raid shelter just down below the school there. The parents all dug that and we got some heavy rain and it filled up with water so they had to dig another trench right away down the side of the hill to drain the air raid shelter out. We had to practice evacuating the school and down into the trench.” – Keith Holmes

This is just one of the stories which is shared in the exhibition, so head over to The Museum Of Berowra and have a look at Berowra At War!


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A Winner – Hillcrest Poultry Farm

A request by Mr Stewart for carriage of eggs by 'Parcel Post'

A request by Mr Stewart for carriage of eggs by ‘Parcel Post’

An internationally recognised poultry breeder once resided in Berowra, occupying the vast expanse of land where Hillcrest Public School now stands.

Mr James Stewart was a well-known identity in the early days of Berowra due to his pioneering work in the development of poultry farming in this region. Mr. Stewart kept over 1000 laying White Leghorns on his property, known as Hillcrest Poultry Farm. Between the years 1911-12, Mr. Stewart entered an international competition, sending his prized birds to a wintery Vancouver, in Canada. Apparently, the Ozzie birds from Berowra triumphed laying prize-winning eggs in six inches of heavy snow, beating all the local competitors.

As early as 1906, James Stewart’s Hillcrest Poultry Farm was flourishing. No doubt, as ‘Breeders of Pure Bred Heavy Laying Strains’ they provided a sustainable living for the Stewart family as evidenced by the document shown in this blog. In this letter, Mr. Stewart requested the carriage of eggs by ‘Parcel Post’ to a wide distribution area – to all of the States in Australia and New Zealand. But can you imagine sending eggs via post? But in those days, the post office was the hub of any rural town, providing many different services such as the one described here. I wonder if Mr. Stewart managed to persuade the Deputy Postmaster General in Sydney to make Berowra a receiving office? Maybe yes – since the heavy laying hens won an international competition some five years later.

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