Tag Archives: industry

More On The Mysteries



We have had some interesting conversations about this early image of Berowra Waters Ferry!

The partially obscured man is in fact the ferry master, Bill Ewings, father of Pat and Jill who donated the picture.

We thank long time Berowra resident, Peter Huett for the following information. Peter’s family had the contract for running the ferry in the late thirties. The engine seen at the side of the ferry is a Chapman Pup. If the engine ever broke down the ferry master could bring the ferry to the shore manually. On Sundays, Peter, aged as young as 10, had the job of opening the ferry gates.

The car was identified by Peter as perhaps a Rugby or an Essex.

A lot of you would have seen the shadow of the photographer in the foreground in the typical pose for using a camera like a Brownie. Had the photographer been the driver of the car?

We are still hoping to hear more about the elegant lady posing for the photo.


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Horse Power

Bill On Dolly

Bill On Dolly

Today Berowra like most parts of Sydney is buzzing with cars. Our shopping centre and railway car parks are full to capacity a lot of the time.

It is hard to imagine Berowra in the period shown in this picture from the 192Os. The photo is from the collection of the late Bill Foster who is shown as a child on the back of a much loved working horse, “Dolly”. Bill’s parents have taken a moment from the hard work of running their general store near Berowra railway station, to pose for the photo.

By the time Bill was in grades 5 and 6 at the original Berowra Public School, his father would drive the horse and cart up to the school at 3:30pm. Bill would then begin the afternoon grocery run, collect orders for the next day and twice a week take produce, mainly eggs, from the various local poultry farms to the railway station for dispatch to the markets in town. Along his route it was not unusual for young Bill to be offered a cup of milk from people, like the artist, Margaret Preston’s maid, Myra.

At the end of the rounds Bill unhitched the cart and fed “Dolly”. Bill remembered his father always being most concerned about “Dolly” being adequately fed even in difficult times.

Today, 1st August is the official birthday of all thoroughbred horses in the Southern Hemisphere while their cousins in the Northern hemisphere count 1st January as their birthday.

We salute the working horses of Berowra and worldwide.


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In Their Own Words – Dr Rich

Dr Beryl Rich

Dr Beryl Rich

The following account comes from Dr Rich, who was the first doctor (that we know of) to work in Berowra. She worked here from 1951 to 1958.

My name is Beryl Rich and as far as I know, I was the first resident medico in Berowra. This was quite unplanned. I graduated from Sydney University in March, 1944. I worked in hospitals for several years and planned to specialise in Obstetrics. However, I got married and started a family which was the end of my specialist plans.

As older people will recall, housing was very scarce in the post war years and like many young couples, we were forced to live with my parents. This proved to be most unsatisfactory and when my husband heard through a colleague of a partly built house for sale in Berowra, we jumped at the opportunity. I had continued working part time in a hospital but had no clear plans for my future.

We moved to Berowra about September, 1950. It was only a small, rather scattered village at that time. The house we bought was in Alan Rd, but the post office general store, run by Ernie and Joe Foster was on the highway.

Dr Eric Giblin, whom I had known at University, had started a general practice, based in Asquith which extended to Brooklyn on the Hawkesbury. When he found out I was living in Berowra, he suggested I start a practice there and cover from Berowra to Brooklyn, so in 1951 that is what I did. We added a small surgery and waiting room to our little house.

At the beginning of 1953, a fully built house on the highway came on the market and we bought that as the highway appeared to be the centre of activity. The Crossroads had only a small general store and it was not realized then that it would become the busy centre it is to-day. The house was on a double block so there was plenty of room to add a surgery and waiting room.

Thank-you to Susan Lynd for the kind donation of Dr Rich’s memories of Berowra. If you have any stories to share, please leave us a comment or send an email to the team!


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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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An Historic Bridge ‘Link’ Worth Celebrating

Photo courtesy of The Past Present (www.australiaspastpresent.com)

Photo courtesy of The Past Present (www.australiaspastpresent.com)

This weekend events are being held at Brooklyn and Dangar Island to mark the anniversary of the opening of the first Hawkesbury River Bridge 125 years ago on May 1st 1889.

The following extracts are from the souvenir programme The Opening of the Hawkesbury River Bridge 1st May 1889 produced by the NSW Government Printer.

. . . it was announced that the 1st of May 1889 would see the bridge publicly opened for traffic,and continuous railway communications afforded between the 4 principal and progressive cities of the Australian continent . . . and in the words of our writers, the iron way shall ‘bind us closer,bind us ever’.
It was felt that the opening of the bridge surrounded as it was with so much that was noteworthy and important,should not be passed over without a demonstration worthy of the occasion. The government took the matter in hand ,and representative men of all colonies were invited to attend the celebration,which took place on the Hawkesbury on the date already named . . .
The day was one of autumnal splendour . . . the people of the Northern and Southern Districts meeting at the bridge . . .
His exellency the Governor, Lord Carrington,P.C. briefley and impressively ‘declared the bridge open for public traffic’. The National Anthem being played to complete the opening ceremony . . .

Extracts above quoted from a printed account of the Official Opening Day and are courtesy of Library of Victoria


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Pumping Petrol In Berowra


Recently, I was chatting with a friend of mine about the petrol situation in Berowra. As she pointed out to me, four petrol stations could be seen as slightly excessive for a community like ours ‘if it weren’t for the express way – I suppose people come to Berowra on their way north to get petrol’.

The conversation put me in mind of this photo, showing Berowra’s first petrol station, outside Fosters Store on the Old Pacific Highway. There was a certain charm to the little petrol pump – Berowra’s modern petrol stations aren’t quite the same are they!


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Dolls In The Tavern

David Lever 1

If you look closely at David Lever’s painting of what was the old Tavern on the Pacific Highway, Berowra, you may be able to see the reason for our blog title!

While the Tavern of yesteryear was the hub of many activities like dances and school concerts it apparently also attracted attention for another reason.

Long time Berowra resident, Pam Gartung has fond memories of Mollie Dwyer and her great skills at knitting and sewing. Mollie features in the following extract from Worth Reporting on p.38 of The Australian Women’s Weekly of 26th November, 1949. At the time this popular magazine cost sixpence!

Knits Dolls’ Woollies on Hatpins

MOLLIE DWYER, of Berowra, N.S.W. has turned her childhood hobby of dressing dolls into a business. She makes baby clothes and exquisite dolls’ frocks, which are shown in a window of the Berowra Tavern where tourist buses stop each day. Hungry tourists have even been known to miss afternoon tea through spending too long gazing at Miss Dwyer’s handicraft.

Mollie Dwyer believes in making dolls’ clothes that are pretty but which can be taken off and washed by the young owner. One of the most beautiful dolls we saw wore vest, pants, petticoat, dress, shoes and socks and bonnet. For the doll’s one-and-a-half-inch feet, Mollie Dwyer had made quilted satin shoes, inventing the pattern and sewing away until midnight

Dresses are of the finest organdie or marquisette, appliqucd with hand-made medallions or sometimes with lace. Frocks and underclothes unfasten and can he laid out for ironing.

But not all the dolls wear summer dresses. Many are dressed in finely knitted wool. “I do the knitting on hatpins,” said talented Molly Dwyer.

This article is accessible through TROVE.


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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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Steaming Into Berowra’s History

The Age of Steam

This very interesting image of Berowra Station and surrounds was captured during the Age of Steam. It shows a short passenger train which has stopped near the old steps, longer trains stopped further along the station. Note the old glass lamps! The photograph was made available for us to copy by Kath Baigent, a long term Berowra resident who is now living in Queensland.

You can see a very young Kath in her 1929 Berowra Public School photo in an earlier blog. Click here to visit the image and story.

The significance of Berowra Station in the growth of Berowra and areas beyond can be traced by going to our Museum exhibitions: TourismVisiting and The Mother, The Father and The Matriarch clicking into The Father- George Collingridge.

Why not take a leisurely trip to Berowra Station of bygone days by browsing through blogs on such well loved friends as The Squirt! Click here to have a look.

Have you, like Kath, got photos or stories of Berowra Station we could all share?


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History In Colour

Lever railway station

There is scant photographic evidence of the railway station and general store in this early period of Berowra’s history. But we do know that a Mr. Robert Richards was the first proprietor of the general store in Berowra. In a newspaper reference dated December 1903 Mr. Richards store is also listed as a place to vote. By 1909 Mr. Richards proceeded to inquire about the possibility of relocating the post office, then based at the railway station, to his store approximately 100 metres up the road.

Mr. Richards store is now brought to life in David Lever’s latest painting which is included in a current exhibition of his works titled ‘History in Colour’ at Macquarie University Art Gallery. The exhibition opens on Thursday 5 December. Lever’s visual depiction sets the scene – imagine going back in time to walk through the doors of this – by local standards – legendary store. It later became well known and loved as the Foster’s Store. As we can see it’s a charming rustic building and as time went by it became the hub of Berowra. The goods shed illustrated in the middle ground of the painting was once a hive of activity – important to the local industry. It not only received goods from Hornsby but also received produce from Arcadia for transport into the Sydney markets.

Akin to the historian, the artist David Lever utilises methods for tracking down difficult to locate records in splendidly capturing a place and period that opens up the past in a beguiling way – history in action as a living, breathing force. Lever visually recalls how people once lived and went about their daily business in Berowra.  The ubiquitous magpie flies nonchalant above the railway station – synchronised with the narrative of the everyday. The visual rendering of the buildings appears integral within the surrounding natural landscape. The painting has an arresting silence, which encapsulates the viewer.

Rhonda Davis

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