Tag Archives: history

Thank-You Gordon


The image above was taken by professional photographer, Effie Alexakis at Berowra Living History’s first exhibition in 2007 in the Berowra District Hall formerly the first purpose built school in Berowra, the original Berowra Public School.

As with all our exhibitions to follow in 2009, 2012 and 2015 and various other presentations in our local primary schools, to Probus and Cafe Church to name a few, we have always worked as a team with significant contributions, often in the form of story-telling, from our area’s lifetime or long term residents.

In our 2007 image Gordon Limburg is shown looking at botanical specimens with Carol Nolder. Gordon had set up and manned a table display mainly related to our local vegetation. Over the years he contributed much to a number of local community groups and among other things was respected for his expert knowledge of trees and plants. It is fitting that with his passing, his Memorial Service is held at the Ku-ring-gai Wildflower Garden.


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An Observatory For Berowra


Extract from the Sydney Morning Herald, April 20, 1907.

This week, with the equinox just gone by, it seemed the perfect time to turn attention towards the sky, and particularly the night sky.

Berowra, being away from the city, is a beautiful place to view the nighttime sky, and at one stage, was even considered as the site of an observatory! In 1907, as the excerpt from the Sydney Morning Herald above explains, there were plans afoot to move Sydney Observatory to ‘a more favourable site’. The site suggested, by no lesser person than the Secretary of the British Astronomical Association, Mr Allan Cobham, was Berowra.

Clearly, this plan never came to fruition, but why not? Does anybody know? Imagine how different Berowra could have been if the observatory had been built!

If you would like to see the full article, click here.

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Peace At Last


This beautiful photograph above comes from the Davis family collection. It shows long term Berowra resident, Neil Davis, aged fourteen who was taken into the city by his older sister, Elaine.

Neil and Elaine are wearing French tricolour ribbons as a mark of their patriotic support and happiness on this day of the Japanese surrender, 15th August, 1945. In 1922 a bronze palm leaf with a tricolour sash had been presented on behalf of the then French president to the Australian Prime Minister, Billy Hughes to honour those Australians who gave their lives in the First World War.

The young brother and sister who like so many knew the pain of the loss, or life changing injury, of close friends or family members, are standing with the excited crowds in Martin Place, Sydney. Elaine’s husband, Bill Foster was still serving with the navy in the Pacific at the time.

News of the Japanese surrender had spread around the world, finally the war in Asia and the Pacific was over, the horrific Second World War was over. Neil recalls that, in those days, it was exceptional to take a trip to the city from Berowra. This day everything was extraordinary, the spontaneous celebration, the relief, the euphoria, the war on Australia’s door step was over, the lucky ones were coming home, people danced in the streets, victory and peace at last.


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Lady Volunteer Fire Spotters Today



This photo was taken by Ron Boyce at 18.25 on Wednesday 4.12.2002 as a bush fire spread across from Canoelands to Berowra. Stephanie deLeon is shown on duty in the Berowra Fire Tower monitoring the approaching fire.

There are about 8 women in the 30 member Berowra Tower Group which is part of the Hornsby-Ku-ring-gai Support Brigade of the NSW Rural Fire Service. Currently, the other women in this group with Stephanie are Sacha, Suzanne, Anne, Mary-Ann, Janice and Joy.

Duty is all year round and call ups can occur if there is a fire incident. In peak season everyone is on call. Most of the year the week day crew are on duty Tuesday and Wednesday and the week end crew on Saturday and Sunday.

Training is held throughout the year as ongoing competencies are essential.

Information generously provided by Stephanie de Leon

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Berowra Charm

The Fossil Poem copy

From The Sydney Morning Herald, June 29, 1946. To view the original, visit Trove.

Berowra is a place of beauty and splendour, which has long been popular with not just residents lucky enough to live here, but visitors who have flocked to the area to enjoy the splendours of our natural world. Today, many of these visitors post a photo online, or simply take home memories, but in days gone by, visitors sometimes shared their experiences with various publications, like newspapers. The poem above, which was written about a piece of petrified wood found in Berowra, is a charming glimpse into the way in which many visitors once kept memories of their visits alive. To view the original, visit Trove.

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Remember When

Neil_ Merle Olympics 2000

In this pause between the closure of the Summer Olympics and the opening of the Summer Paralympics in Rio, we remember when Sydney hosted the 27th Summer Olympics and the 11th Summer Paralympics sixteen years ago.

Long term Berowra residents, Merle and Neil Davis, above, show their enthusiasm on the day they attended athletic competitions at the Sydney Olympics, September, 2000. The Olympic flame is seen burning brightly!

Jim Hatfield volunteer 2000

Jim Hatfield, another long term resident of Berowra, is seen above in his uniform as an Olympics and Paralympics Volunteer in the Sydney 2000 Games. Jim recalls that his duty was to work in security, under the authority of the police, checking spectators’ bags at entry points to the venues.

Perhaps you also participated in the energy and excitement of the 2000 Games. Tell us your story. Thanks to the Davis and Hatfield families for the use of their photos.


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The Flowers That Bloom

Flowers copy

Excerpt from ‘Where To Spend The Weekend: Berowra Park’, The Sunday Sun, Nov 27, 1910

Berowra has long been known for it’s beauty as a holiday spot and for it’s natural tranquility. There is one other aspect of our beautiful area which has quite a claim to fame though – the spectacular floral displays put on by the bush as Spring arrives. Today, people travel to our area to view the amazing wild flowers which thrive in our bushland surrounds, but this is certainly no new phenomenon. As the article above, from The Sunday Sun in 1910 shows, even a century ago, our floral displays were quite the attraction!

To view the entire article, visit Trove

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George Thompson Turns 90

George 19yrs 01.jpg

The first person we interviewed for Berowra Living History was long time Berowra resident, George Thompson. He has recently celebrated his 90th birthday. George was born on 28th July, 1926. He came to Berowra with his family as a 6-year-old during the depression.

We would like to share with you just two aspects of George’s rich life. In August, 1944 he enlisted, he was just 18. This image of George in uniform was taken by a professional photographer in Sydney. George was 19 at the time and he gave this fine memento to his mother for her birthday.

During his war service years young George did very necessary electrical work on Catalina aircraft in Australia. He was discharged in March, 1946. George is currently the Patron of the Berowra RSL Sub-Branch.


Berowra football team, 1947.jpeg

Our second image is of the Berowra Football Team of 1947. It shows a laughing George in the front row on the far left. George has always been a keen and talented sportsman and has contributed much as a participant and a coach in many different sports including: swimming, football, lawn bowls, tennis and  table tennis. He very successfully coached his daughter’s netball team and the Berowra Women’s Lawn Bowls team. As a youngster he enjoyed horse riding and had fun playing cricket with the local boys and girls where they used pick handles as bats!

Thea & George.jpg

George and his wife, Thea have been much loved contributors to the Berowra community over many decades.



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Monthly Mystery – Do You Remember Pearl’s Dummy Sucking Fish?


This week, Berowra Living History is turning attention to a memory from a time gone by – this time my own and my parents memories. When I was a little girl, the then well known local personality, Pearl, was associated with the RSL Restaurant. Perhaps she ran it? Pearl also owned a fish which was a resident of the RSL and quite famous in an of itself. The fish was even something of a tourist attraction – it could suck a dummy.

My question to all Berowra locals, past and present . . . do you remember Pearl and her fish, or perhaps have a photo you could share?


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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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