Tag Archives: houses

Now And Then – No 39 Berowra Waters Road


Photo of Paul Jones Real Estate  November 2013

Photo of Paul Jones Real Estate
November 2013

The above address belongs to the very familiar Paul Jones Real Estate, a business which has been part of Berowra since Paul established it in 1956 using the existing building.

It has had several owners since then, including Don Smith who built the current house which operated with a front business office.

Since 2005 Jason and Alison Gower have owned and grown the business such that most space now is taken by staff and modern office needs.

Jason considered retaining the business name a priority and locally there is the expression ‘the Paul Jones roundabout’.


The image below is of the Grammar School which stood at No 39 in about the 1940’s. It was run for a time by Mr & Mrs Baily-Sidwell teaching paying pupils.

We have been informed it served as the headquarters during the mock wartime disaster-emergency practice sessions.

Do you have more information about this building and school to share with us please?

The Grammar School

The Grammar School

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Bush Fire Season

Fire threat at Melvy's Wharf 1994

Fire threat at Melvy’s Wharf 1994

October and the beginning of the Bush Fire Season alerts us to our    readiness or otherwise to face the challenges that come with living on the edge of the bush.

We are taken back to the dangers and the brave and generous responses to the fires of 2002, 1994 and earlier.

These two vivid images from Jim Hatfield’s collection show Melvy’s Wharf on the Hawkesbury River in January, 1994. The first image shows the home under threat while the second image, below, shows the damage done.

Fire damage at Melvy's Wharf 1994

Fire damage at Melvy’s Wharf 1994

Our Berowra Rural Fire Service celebrates its 70th Anniversary this year!


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Berowra Salvation Army Hall

The Salvation Army Hall circa 1995

The Salvation Army Hall circa 1995

Berowra has many historic buildings, often overlooked by the community. Many are now private homes, and their history is all but forgotten. This week, I want to take a look at one of these buildings.

The building in the picture below is now a private residence, but in its heyday, it was a hive of activity.  In 1929 the land was donated by Doug Chappell of the local Tannery for use as a Presbyterian Church. After 1978, when the Methodists and Presbyterians amalgamated to become the Uniting Church, it was sold to the Salvation Army Church, one of the many religious communities which were active in the Berowra community. The Salvation Army Church in Berowra was established by Ted and Audrey Melville, as otherwise the nearest Salvation Army Citadel was in Hornsby. Many struggling Berowra families have fond memories of the “Op Shop” which they ran from the Church. While some of these religious groups are still going strong in Berowra, the Salvation Army Church was closed and the building  sold many years ago.

This week, Roy was going through the fridge and discovered a couple of scrappy bits of blue cheese lurking in an out of the way corner. He didn’t want to throw these bits of cheese away, but they were a bit old to just eat as is. He thought it would be the perfect time to try out an old fashioned Potted Cheese recipe. Potted Cheese is a traditional English recipe, and a great way of using up leftover cheese. Traditionally there is some sort of alcohol included in the recipe to help preserve the cheese, but you can leave it out if you prefer, or if you don’t want to keep the cheese for long. So this week, Roy Creates Potted Blue Cheese.  You Will Need: •Scraps of blue cheese •About half that quantity of butter, softened •	A teaspoon of Dijon mustard •	3 teaspoons of port •	Salt and pepper to taste. Method: •	Cut any ‘suspicious’ pieces off the cheese, including the rind or paper around the outside. •	Roughly chop the cheese and put into a food processor •	Add the butter, Dijon mustard, port, salt and pepper and process until you have a smooth paste •	Transfer the cheese mixture to a pot or bowl, cover and store in the fridge for at least 12 hours to mature.  •	Enjoy with bread or crackers

The Salvation Army Hall today

Melville Close, off Yallambee Road Road, Berowra commemorates these much loved local identities.

Melville Close today

Melville Close today

If you have information or images you can share, please let us know!


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Mystery Solved – November

This week, we had a correct guesser! Congratulations to Janelle Marr who correctly guessed that this house stands opposite the tennis courts/netball courts, just up from the Old School Hall on Berowra Waters Road.

The house is actually number 24 Berowra Waters Road and features in the first of our Self Guided Tour Brochures, The Berowra Waters Road Heritage Drive. Click on the image above for a look at and to print the tour brochure!

This, and more brochures will be available in the coming ‘Museum Of Berowra’, the virtual museum. Check back next Friday to learn more.


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Monthly Mystery – November

Have you seen this house?

This months mystery object is a little different. The object is not the photo – it’s the house it shows!

The photo above shows just one of Berowra’s beautiful heritage houses. It was taken in about 1938 and was donated to us by Eileen Prosser. She was originally a Ferguson and it was her family who built this house, then known as Yuruga.

The house still stands on Berowra Waters Road. Can you pick it out?


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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.

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Travelling To Where? Shirley Collins Interview

Today, people travelling to Berowra are secure in the knowledge that it is a flourishing community with a well known railway station. Indeed, as many trains begin their journey or terminate in Berowra, it is quite an important railway station. Ask for a train ticket to Berowra and you can guarantee that the computerised system will know where you’re talking about, and the staff probably will too.  In the past though, this was not the case. There was no computerised ticketing system and Berowra was a small community in ‘the country’, a location which many people had never heard of, including railway staff.

Traveling to Berowra first for fishing trips and later as her parent’s built the family home, Shirley Collins remembers a very different experience to today.



Photo courtesy of Shirley Collins

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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

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Mystery Solved – March

Do you know what it is?

When I was a kid there was a well-worn track down to Baker’s Pool. Running off from there was a side trail which led directly down to Bob Murray’s Cave. To enter the cave you had to step up onto a threshold of stone over a small watercourse. On that stone was the word WELCOME carved.

This diagram shows what the original slab looked like, and where the piece shown above fits

This diagram shows what the original slab looked like, and where the piece shown above fits

I believe the section of spiral to be one of the flourishes at either end of the capital ‘W’, as shown in the diagram above.

Mark Davis

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One Of Jim’s Childhood Homes

Home of Jim Hatfield, near todays Clinton Close

This image, circa 1938-39, comes from the collection of a long time Berowra resident, Jim Hatfield. It shows Jim as a young boy, second from the right with some members of his family and a friend, on the far right. While the young woman and the girls and boys line up at the back of their house, the pet dog claims a spot in front of its kennel.

The house which was rented from a Mr Warne, was located near present day Clinton Close. Two chimneys are shown, the one at the rear of the house was for the kitchen, the other was in a more central position on the side of the house and provided warmth for the main body of the building. Internal walls were made of corn sacks white washed with lime. You will be able to make out a couple of other houses in the vicinity. Such a different scene today!

Self- sufficiency and improvisation were very important in those challenging times.  The whole family, like most in Berowra, had plenty to do.  The house was set in at least five acres of land. In the centre of this land was a gully which carried water after rain. Jim remembers an orchard of mainly stone fruit trees with a couple of citrus trees. Vegetables were grown and poultry were cared for, plus a few pigs, cows and calves to supply for the needs of the family. Meat was first eaten fresh and the remainder corned. It was stored along with dairy foods in a cool area under a water tank.

Imagine growing up in Berowra in the thirties and forties. Imagine the hard work and the carefree adventures of the five and their dog shown in this fine picture. We will have further stories to share. Maybe you have some of your own!


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