Tag Archives: farming

Berowra Enterprise And Determination

The Hornsby & District Advocate Thursday April 3,1952 (on microfilm Hornsby Shire Library-Local Studies)

The Hornsby & District Advocate Thursday April 3, 1952
(on microfilm Hornsby Shire Library-Local Studies)

The attached newspaper  story resulted in the stall being located on the unused footpath backing onto Railway land in High Street Hornsby. Dad (Bob Withers) & I operated it on Fridays and I operated the stall on Saturday, with product we grew at Berowra or obtained from other growers. We started the stall, because the three green grocers formed a cartel to offer us low prices for our products, when there was a sudden glut, the shops could not lower their prices until they sold their current stock, whereas we bought from growers and sold at low prices very quickly. We had a three ton truck and loaded it with 3 tons of beans and sold them 3 pounds for two shillings, whilst the shops still had them at four shillings for one pound, so they all sold in about 4 days, on another occasion we had 3 tons of Cauliflowers and pulled the same trick. In those days people pickled & preserved vegetables. I made my first money growing half an acre of Carnations & half an acre of lettuce at Woodcourt Road, and would sell them on the roadside on Sundays near the cross roads.

J. Withers

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Anembo Research Farm

Article from 'The Farmer And Settler', August 27, 1942

Article from ‘The Farmer And Settler’
August 27, 1942.
Article retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article117181759

Today, Berowra is full of businesses and homes, but once it the area was home to a farming community, raising a variety of crops and animals from poultry to flowers. One particular farm had a particularly important role in the farming community, not just of Berowra, but of the wider Australian community. Anembo Research Farm, which operated in the early 1940s was run by Mr James and not only did he focus his research on ‘drug plants’ but also on poultry and eggs.

If you have further information on Anembo Research Farm or on other businesses which once operated in Berowra, please contact us!


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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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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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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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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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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


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Grocery Shopping – With A Difference

Today, when we need groceries, we simply hop in the car and head to the closest supermarket. Food is easily available, and we can get it any time we wish. In the past though, this was not the case. Food was often delivered, or purchased in bulk, so that multiple trips to the shops could be avoided.

Isobel Harrison and her brother Ken Turnidge recall what ‘shopping’ used to be like:


Photo courtesy of Hornsby Shire Historical Society

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Mystery NOT Solved

Well, we really have a mystery object for February!

Our Mystery Object

I can’t make up my mind whether it is animal or vegetable… Is it part of the intestines of an animal that Ambrose Hatfield has slaughtered to feed his family? Perhaps it is a haggis – some part of an animal stuffed with mince meat, bread and so on by this resourceful father or his wife! Several people I’ve spoken to are of the same opinion as me on that one! They claim to have even seen the tie off at the end, as in a sausage, that keeps the filling in.

A close up - do you know what it is?

On the other hand I have agreed with conversations that are more in favour of a large watermelon or prize gourd on display for the camera… I’m undecided.


We’d love for you to take a look at the blown up images, and please leave us a comment to let us know what you think!

What could it be?

Ann Lomas

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