Tag Archives: environment

The Biter Bit

Ever since I can remember, there have been rumours of sharks in Berowra Creek. Many scoff at such suggestions, but throughout the European history of Berowra, there have been several ‘eye-witness reports’ of shark sightings.

The following exciting account of a shark sighting was reported in The Register (Adelaide) on the 20th of June, 1922, just over 91 years ago today!

As I sat in the Giant’s Castle contemplating the beautiful water of Berowra Creek, just above Collingridge Point, I heard a stampede and scramble over the rocks and through the bush, and a large wallaby jumped into the creek with a splash that frightened the bream, and sent the wavelets splashing against my little boat, half drawn up on the sandy beach that fronts the cave. I had no time to reflect as to the happenings that caused a wallaby to take to the water, but soon realized the situation. He was followed by a fierce dingo, that was going to beat him in the swim for life, when, all of a sudden, the dingo disappeared beneath the water. By that time I was in my boat, and as I passed over the spot where the dingo had met with his master, streams of blood, mingling with the blue wavelets, came up from the deep. The wallaby was saved by the shark and soon reached the shore again. – Aloren, in The World News.

To view the original article, visit Trove.


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Memories Of Horseplay In Berowra

This weeks Mystery Solved has been held over until next week, in order that we can bring our followers this wonderful Guest Post by Kylie Snell (nee Ellem). Check back next week to find out what the significance of the whistle might be.



My memories of having a horse in Berowra are beautiful ones. I spent so much time in the paddock and riding the beautiful trails of Berowra. Some things that come to mind are in these photos but there are so many more.

I had a border collie called Bonnie and she could often be seen following along behind Nugget through the streets. When she got tired, I would ride Nugget up to a wall or a rock and let her jump up onto the saddle in front of me.



I remember pulling up to the take away shop with friends. We would tie the horses up out the front, buy some hot chips and a drink and then hop back on and eat/drink as we rode.

Nugget got out of his paddock a couple of times but I remember one when he decided to head down Berowra Waters Gorge. I was terrified that he would be hit by a car but he came to his senses and turned around.

I remember getting off the school bus at the paddock, grabbing a lead rope out of the shed and jumping on bareback in my Asquith high school dress and riding home to my house in Nalya Rd to get him saddled up.

Before I got my licence, I would lug buckets from my house to the paddocks every afternoon to feed Nugget. I would like to apologise to all of those people whose front yards I churned up as I galloped past. People must have been so angry with us!!!!

As it was

As it was

My fondest memory was my last trail ride in Berowra before I leased Nugget out to someone in Mt Colah. It was early morning and I was riding on the trail from Joalah Cr to Berkeley Cl. It was really misty and I could see the dew glistening off the spiders webs. It was so quiet and I felt like I was the only person on earth.

Unfortunately, I don’t have Nugget anymore and I don’t even know if he is still alive. When I moved up to the Central Coast and was pregnant with my now 13 year old daughter, I leased him out to a lady who lives up here. She ended up disappearing with him and I haven’t seen him in about 10 years. He would be 30 now which is pretty old for a horse but I still hope that one day I will find out where he is.

Kylie Snell (nee Ellem)
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Happy 60th Anniversary Berowra Garden Club

Happy Anniversary!

Happy Anniversary!

On Saturday, 4th May, The Berowra Garden Club celebrated their 60th Anniversary, at the Old School Hall, with over 50 members, past and present, attending. All had a wonderful afternoon. Among those present, was our local State Liberal MP Matt Kean. Cecelia Waite created a beautiful large display of colourful flowers on the stage.

The beautiful flower display

The beautiful flower display

The table settings looked great, with white covers and a pretty little floral design on each one.

The guest speaker was Judy Horton from Yates Seeds who gave a most informative talk about our Gardening History, and telling the Yates Family story – from their beginning in 1887 up until last year- that being their 125th Anniversary. Judy captivated her audience with a very interesting and at times humorous talk.

Cutting the cake

Cutting the cake

One of the club`s inaugural members, Mrs. Pamela Gartung, then cut the lovely birthday cake, with the help of the Club`s President, Mr. Les Brown.

A sumptuous high tea followed, and included tasty sandwiches, vol-au-vents, mini quiches, scones with jam & cream, white chocolate mud cupcakes, rocky road, tea and coffee.

Just part of the sumptuous afternoon tea!

Just part of the sumptuous afternoon tea!

Memorabilia on display included old minutes and attendance books, photos and members cards.

Door prize tickets were given out, and some lucky members won a gift of a small potted plant, or a special Yates Commemorative Decorated Seed Tin, which contained 12 pkts of vintage seeds, and a small booklet, with photos, telling the Yates family story, which is well worth knowing.

I was one of those lucky ones!

Merle Davis

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The World Might Not Be Your Oyster But Berowra Is

Image circa 1920-1930

Image circa 1920-1930

Today, many people know the Brooklyn area, and the Hawkesbury River as oyster farming areas and most realise that there is a long history behind the oyster leases, though today this history is under threat due to disease. Oysters remain a popular seafood though, and the oysters grown in the Hawkesbury area have long been known for their quality and flavour.

Most do not realise however that once, Berowra was also known for its oysters. People came from far and wide to collect the oysters growing wild in and around Berowra Creek and, of course, it was not long before people started to grow them commercially. There were several oyster leases being tended at Berowra Creek from the late 19th century well into the 20th century. The image above, of a Hawkesbury River oyster farmer and his oysters, gives an idea of the way oysters used to be farmed in the Hawkesbury/Berowra area.


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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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Berowra Rocks!

A glimpse of what lies beneath

Recently, Berowra’s ‘horse paddock’ has been undergoing massive changes in preparation for a new development. Although many have mourned the loss of the horse paddock, the giant hole in the ground which the development work has left behind offers a rare opportunity for Berowra residents to glimpse ‘what lies beneath’.

When Assistant Surveyor William Romaine Govett visited the area in 1829, he was not impressed by what he saw. He described the area as “the whole way covered with an intolerable scrub and . . . bedded with the common sand and ironstones”.  This giant hole in the ground gives us the opportunity to see that, not only was he right about being bedded with sand and ironstones, but also to glimpse why what he saw might have been described as ‘intolerable scrub’.

There is really not a lot of soil sitting above the uplifted layers of clay, ironstone and sandstone.  Native vegetation, including those of a shrubby appearance, would have once abounded here. Perhaps if Govett had visited in the flowering season he might have appreciated the beauty of these shrubs, many of which are included in Berowra’s spectacular floral displays!  As for those wishing to plant a European style garden or crop, there was once fierce competition at the Garden Club for a very desirable bag of cow manure!


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Then And Now – The ‘Horse Paddock’

Recently, there has been quite a change going on in Berowra. The field in front of the local IGA shopping centre is no more. Instead there is a substantial hole in the ground!

The 'Horse Paddock' today

The ‘Horse Paddock’ today

In discussion of this exciting and slightly controversial change, the field in question has often been referred to as the ‘horse paddock’, which has been puzzling for many of Berowra’s newer residents. There has not been a horse residing in this paddock for many years.

Th 'Horse Paddocl' . . . complete with horse!Photo taken by S. Collins

Th ‘Horse Paddock’ . . . complete with horse!
Photo taken by S. Collins

Once however, not all that long ago, there was indeed a horse in residence, as the slide above shows. It was taken during the construction of the ‘IGA Shopping Centre’. Certainly, I remember this horse being a great attraction when I was taken shopping as a little girl, and probably a great bribe for my long suffering mother too!

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Berowra Waters Road – Recreation and Repair

Berowra Waters RoadImage courtesy of Shirley Collins

Berowra Waters Road
Image courtesy of Shirley Collins

Berowra Waters Road, a narrow road which twists and turns as it proceeds down the hill, leads to the idyllic Berowra Waters, which has been a popular destination for tourists for many years. A newspaper report from the Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate (Sept 9, 1914) shows that in the month of August alone, the ferry carried “122 foot passengers, four cyclists, 117 two wheeled vehicles, eight four wheeled vehicles, and seven motor-cars”.

Meeting tourists and weekend visitors on Berowra Waters Road, many of whom are easily identified by their slow and cautious descent to the waters, is a common occurrence for Berowra residents. This is just one of the constants associated with the popular road though. Another is roadwork. Berowra Waters Road has a history of subsidence, rock falls and rutted, holey road surfaces beginning in the early 1900s, only a short time after the road was first constructed. In fact, in 1912 a visitor to the area by the name of John Dickson was so concerned by the state of the road that he wrote to the Cumberland Argus and Fruit Growers Advocate, saying “Is it too much to ask for two strong men to fix up the road down by the Berowra Creek? Fancy women carrying infants, and the road in such a state! The loose stones should be broken; and it is no use filling up with muck” (Jan 6, 1912)


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On Cowan Creek

Postcard Berowra Cowan

This postcard is by Charles Kerry, who was photographing at Cowan in the 1890s. The postcard itself is circa 1905

The following article appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald on Tuesday 14 August 1894. The journalist using the pen name of “The Spectre”, accompanied by a photographer − we assume is Charles Kerry as indicated on the postcard − travelled by train to Berowra Station to then make the arduous journey down to Waratah Bay. The following extract sourced from the original article provides a unique insight into the beginnings of tourism in this area made possible by the construction of the train line between Sydney and the Hawkesbury region. Berowra Station opened in 1887. The article also refers to Indigenous occupation of the Cowan Creek area evidenced by the various rock engravings and burial sites described within the piece.

Slumberland boat Cowan Creek

This image, showing a houseboat at Cowan Creek, is by William Henry Broadhurst

On Cowan Creek

By The Spectre

The low scrub and the Australian heath are all around us, and as the train stops it seems as if we had halted in the wilderness. There is not a sign of habitation, only the little shed which serves as an apology for a railway station, and far below us we can catch a glimpse of blue water, a boat here and there glancing over its surface. This is where the dozen or so passengers who have just gotten out of the train are bound, for there is nothing to tempt anyone to stay on the platform. Berowra, at present is little more than a name, the nearest stopping place on the railway line from which one can reach Cowan Creek. There are no settlers here about; in fact, there is little to induce any one to settle, for the country, ever since we left the fertile patch around Hornsby, has been of the same arid character. The Hawksbury sandstone is remarkable for it’s fertility, and here one has it at it’s best, or rather worst, for the soil is only good enough to grow bottle brushes and epacris, and cultivation is out of the question. The passengers are merely passers through, fisherman bound for the creek, and as a highly- coloured and slightly imaginative signboard informs us, we can obtain boats below.

But the signboard does not tell us one thing, the nature of the path, which has to be faced before the creek can be reached. It is almost a precipitous descent, winding down the mountain side and exploring the recesses of a gully, which under its natural conditions must have been pretty well inaccessible. A friend of mine, after his first visit, assured me that it was much easier to ascend than descend the path. The next time I met him he was toiling upwards, laden with a heavy portmanteau and a miscellaneous assortment of fishing gear. As well as his scanty supply of breath would allow him, he frankly admitted that he had quite changed his views on the subject, and would, after his present experience, make half a dozen descents than one ascent!

The fact remains that the path is a terrible to all but the stoutest climbers. It is the one great drawback of this route, which is much the speediest way of reaching the best fishing grounds of the creek. Hence there is little or no luggage to be seen; the fishing enthusiasts have only there bags. The boatshed at the bottom (Windybanks) is a curious and picturesque jumble, looks as if it had been made out of odds and ends of timber, roughly put together, on the hillside, amid a profusion of flowers and ferns. The ducks and geese, fat with the fish from the creek, which they will persist in eating despite all orders to the contrary, ramble at will about the place; and a big beagle hound, when he is not away in the bush hunting wallabies, receives you with the gentle courteous hospitality peculiar to his breed. The bees on their laden way back to the gin case, which serves as a delusive and constantly robbed home, flit in swarms across he path. They are so energetic in their actions, and honey-yielding plants are so plentiful in the bush, that they actually succeed in filling their case with honey.

The passion fruit vine clambers at will all over the sheds, and the abutilon, which blossoms down here all year round hangs it’s bell like flowers in tempting proximity to your hand. But the fishermen notice none of these things. They are, poor fellows, possessed of the fishing fever, which, when once it enters into a man, drives out all sense of the picturesque, and blunts, or entirely destroys, the sensitive side of his nature. Your amateur, when he is badly attacked, thinks more of black bream than of bush beauties: Schnapper, in his opinion, is vastly more important than scenery, and he rushes to the boats like one distraught. In an incredibly short space of time every craft belonging to the place is filled, and the parties are soon scattered about the branching creek, which has inlets enough to bide all the boats in Sydney harbour.

Turn which way you chose in Cowan and the outlook is always superb. Certainly there is room for the charge of sameness so generally brought against Australian scenery; but then the sameness is majestic, and one would hardly wish to vary it. Once past the heads, leaving the oddly named Jerusalem Bay on the right, the inclining shores shut out all view of the open waters beyond. For the rest of the time one is landlocked in a lake of the brightest blue, hemmed in by huge masses of precipitous rock, clothed with the dull dark green of the eucalypts.

It is no new discovery this Cowan Creek, though many people, on hearing that the Government  had very wisely made a second national park of the surrounding district, imagined that an entirely unknown country was to be opened up. For years past the creek has been a favourite resort for yachtsmen, but until the northern line was taken through to the Hawkesbury, it was difficult to reach the place in any less expensive way. Even then, though the creek was brought within little more than an hour’s journey from Sydney, it was not so easy to get about it, since no boats could be obtained. Two or three years ago, however, an enterprising boat builder (Edward Windybank) noticed the deficiency, and the result is that any part of the creek can now be visited at a minimum of expense, and with less difficulty than is involved in getting from one suburb of Sydney to another. Dark openings on the hillside indicate at every turn the presence of caves, and in these weather worn hollows one will almost invariably find traces of the modern camper, the inevitable jam tin and beer bottle, or it may be the ashes of a recent fire. Naturally the picnicking Harry, like his prototype in the old country, leaves his name behind, as if it were a matter of interest for anyone that he had slept and shivered there for a night or two. The only value attached to these inscriptions are the dates, showing that over thirty years before people had the determination to find their way into this region, which must have been almost inaccessible. All this however, is a matter of to-day, since 30 years counts but as a moment in the real history of the place. The very name which Mr. Copeland has given it is indicative of its previous occupancy, though for how many centuries the Ku-ring-gai tribe lived and fought and fished and lived out their lives among these cave-pierced hills no one can tell. On every hillside, beneath every hollow in the rock, one sees growths of the long, rank grass which flourishes on kitchen middens of the Aboriginal [people]. One can see clearly, as a section is made through the stuff, the places where the aboriginal fires were lit, perhaps centuries ago; then another layer of ashes, which must have been years in accumulating; then again more ashes and so on.

The whole version of the article can be accessed at:


David Lever and Rhonda Davis

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Scenic Berowra Waters

Rob's BW pict 006

This C1940’s photograph of Berowra Waters shows the very tranquil scene of yesteryear.

Rob's BW pict 007

By comparison this 2013 photograph of Berowra Waters indicates the popularity of this area today.

How many changes can you see between the 2 photographs?

Do you have any stories about good times at Berowra Waters to share with us?


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