Tag Archives: environment

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!


Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Margaret Preston Comes To Berowra

Cover of Rickards brochure advertising Berowra

In 1932, William and Margaret Preston, both in their fifties, purchased their first property, which happened to be a 10-acre allotment in Berowra. Margaret Preston was leaving the artistic milieu she had become so involved in since her return from Europe in 1925. So, why such a radical change in environment? We believe, through oral account sources, the artist was recovering from breast cancer surgery she endured in 1929. And throughout this period, Berowra was being promoted as the ideal place to stay for respite and healing, due to its high altitude. With its quiet bushland surroundings, natural rock pools, vistas over the sunset and high mountain air, Berowra would certainly provide the Prestons with a much needed period of solace. As researchers, we have often pondered the question of how did the Prestons come to know and purchase the property in Berowra.

The realtor Arthur Rickard had been promoting the health benefits of Berowra during the previous decade in the Sydney Morning Herald. Perhaps, the advertisement was convincing enough to allow the Prestons to envisage a bush retreat as beneficial. For Margaret Preston the possibilities may have been just what she needed during this difficult period in her life, as it would mean a time for quiet and contemplative recovery, whilst also allowing her an intense period to study native plants in their natural environment. We now know, this period had a profound effect on Margaret Preston’s practice as an artist in producing some of her finest work, largely due to her encounters with Berowra.

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Then And Now – Aboriginal Carvings

Photo by Keith Holmes

Throughout Berowra’s history, people have gravitated to the area for its abundance of beautiful flora and fauna, and for the spectacular ‘river’, Berowra Creek. European settlers were, of course, not the first, and there is plenty of evidence of Aboriginal occupation around the Berowra area in the form of carvings and shell middens.

The photo above was taken by Keith Holmes many years ago and shows the Aboriginal engravings at the end of Alston Drive. These are just some of the Aboriginal engravings you can see in Berowra, but as you can see from the modern photograph below, with more people living in and visiting the Berowra area, combined with natural weathering, the engravings are slowly fading. Luckily, we are able to document them for future generations, even if the originals do fade from view.

A photo taken in August of 2012

If you have old photographs of some of Berowra’s Aboriginal engravings, or would just like to tell us where to find another example we might not have heard about, please leave us a comment!


Tagged , , , , , , ,

A Welcome Visitor

Have you seen one of these beautiful creatures?

We are not posting a Mystery Object for July but I am taking the opportunity to ask you if you have been visited by one of these beautiful butterflies.

In 2008 during a high wind this butterfly took refuge amongst the leaf litter near our wheelie bins. My reward for putting out the garbage was an encounter with this welcome visitor. We had not seen one quite so beautiful in our area before nor have we seen one since. Perhaps in earlier days when there were abundant wildflowers in our valleys there were more butterflies and bees in our vicinity.

Can you name this kind of butterfly? Have you seen one recently? What varieties visit your area? Do leave a comment.


Tagged ,

Preston’s Banksia

A local banksia

Artists often require complex and rarefied ‘zones’ or spaces to enact the creative process. At Berowra during the 1930s Margaret Preston, surrounded by a spectacular bushland setting on the Preston’s 11 acre property, found those spaces. By all accounts Margaret would visit, often spending hours at the site of a very old Banksia tree. Here Margaret found the ‘space’ in the presence of this majestic Banksia which lived in a remote part of the Preston’s property, spending hours in quiet contemplation. In fact, in some of Margaret’s most influential woodblock prints of this period, the Banksia tree is depicted as a spiritual presence, lifting and branching upwards against the darkness of a twilight sky. The print titled ‘Banksia Tree’ in relief, produced in 1939, the last year of her stay in Berowra, still remains an awe-inspiring work.


Detail of a banksia tree – an original that once grew
on Prestons property

Tagged , , , ,

Berowra – Then And Now

Changes to our suburb are clearly shown in the following extracts from the memoirs of Keith Holmes

The following is an  image of  the well known Holmes Dairy Farm (“Merriwonga”) of Turner Rd (circa 1953) which was at one time the  milk supplier to over 300 customers in Berowra, Mt Kuring-gai and Cowan.

Merriwonga, circa 1953

This farmland is today taken over by urban housing


Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Preston’s Garden

Pines similar to those which lined the entrance to the Preston driveway

As the autumn season comes to an end, thinking about the possibilities of the winter garden can be exhilarating. When the famous Australian artist Margaret Preston resided at Berowra in the 1930s she had created one of the most spectacular prize-winning gardens in this area. It is often true that a garden reflects the personality of the maker. Preston, for sure, was gifted with the proverbial green thumb.

In dreamlike and fleeting moments, I have contemplated the idea of recreating my own version of a Preston garden – brilliant, shimmering and vibrant – quickly the idea dissipates, the work being insurmountable.

During their time in Berowra, Bill and Margaret Preston loved to host weekend parties graced with the presence of the Sydney literati. Their guests would make the long trek from the city to the far-off rural village of Berowra.  The turfed driveway flanked by the verdant growth of the native cypress tree made an impressive entrance before reaching the Californian bungalow style home – modern living had reached Berowra.  The wide borders on either side of the driveway contained an array of native bushes ranging from the Australian torch plant, native plum, and the pink and red variety of bottlebrush to the more architectural form of the blue eucalyptus.

The Preston’s often worked side by side in the creation of a unique and vibrant display combining natives with a cottage style garden which flourished by their nurturing devotion.

The photograph shows the two remaining cypress trees standing tall which once formed the entrance of the Preston’s driveway. The trees have now become the living presence reminders of what was the showpiece home and garden in Berowra.

Rhonda Davis

Tagged , , , , ,

Tourism . . . As It Was

In it’s heyday, Berowra’s thriving tourist industry sparked publications like C J Turners ‘Information For Tourists’. Below, the front and back ‘covers’ of this publication are featured.


Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Berowra Veterans

A burned out stump gives an orchid a place to live

In our Berowra area we have wonderful gum trees which have endured the scars of bushfires but have tenaciously lived on, regenerated and flourished.

A stump bursts into life after fire

They have continued to serve their plant, insect, bird, animal and human community for many years.

A stump flourishes after fire

These powerful witnesses stand in the Berowra Valley Regional Park today.

Our Berowra Living History interviewees include a number of valiant local women, men and families who bear the scars of war.  They teach us the significance of strong lives of service in times of conflict and of peace.

Bill Foster, in uniform, 1942
Photo courtesy of Bill Foster

 One of our most senior Second World War veterans, Bill Foster OA is pictured above in 1942


(Images courtesy of Ann Lomas unless stated otherwise)

Tagged , , , , , ,

Blue Pool, Berowra and Margaret Preston

The drive from Berowra to the northern beaches on a hot summer’s day, parched by the heat sitting in traffic congestion, is not my idea of fun. But, did you know Berowra once had its own swimming pools frequented by the locals.

In 2004, I came across an entry about a woodblock print created by Margaret Preston called “Blue Pool, Berowra”, 1933. This work has always intrigued me and in many ways remains a mystery, as the original print has never been sighted.  Berowra once had many wells, massive waterfalls and natural rock pools situated at the nearby creeks. Remnants can still be found today, as you encounter along Warrina Street – Devlins Creek.

Devlins Creek

Bill Foster’s memory of 1930s Berowra tells this story which also provides some likely clues to the location of Preston’s “Blue Pool” in the following recollection:

“The Warrina St Oval was once a natural spring, which contained a big well. It was known as Devlins Creek. Huge rock clearances nestled the rock pools to give a lovely swimmer. There was always water running through with an entrance bridge, you could cross that creek on the bush track that leads further down the valley.”

I wonder if that’s the bridge we know the Preston’s built on their property nearby.

Myra Payne, Mrs Preston’s maid once stated that the Blue Pool had been filled in with sand! Is this the area that now forms Warrina Oval? Does anyone know of a Blue Pool in the Berowra region?

Is This Margaret Prestons 'Blue Pool'

Have you ever seen this painting/sketch that once hung on the walls of Margaret Preston’s Berowra home in the 1930s. We are very keen to hear from you and any clues you may have to offer us in finding out more about the Blue Pool, Berowra.


Tagged , , , , , , , , ,