Tag Archives: oral history

In Their Own Words – Off For A Dip

Image courtesy of N. Davis

Image courtesy of N. Davis

Our family photo above shows the tidal baths and people enjoying the water at Berowra Creek now Berowra Waters. In the foreground is our son, Mark aged three making the year of the photo, 1958.

My wife, Merle and I remember the day being very hot, so off we went for a dip!

The tide looks about half, with a few rocks showing. If you look very closely, you will see in the background, the Rex Jones Commemorative Monument. In the flagstone apron sloping down towards the water, there were two small garden plots probably about 18 inches (or 45.75cm) square on either side. If I remember correctly rosemary bushes were planted in these plots.

When we were young teenagers this was a popular spot to sun bake.

Neil Davis

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In Their Own Words – The Box Brownie

Neil Davis with his Brownie Box Camera from the fifties      Photo: Merle Davis

Neil Davis with his Brownie Box Camera from the fifties Photo: Merle Davis

Long term Berowra resident, Neil Davis has some first-hand experience to add to our two most recent blogs:

In the photo showing an early Berowra Waters Ferry, operated by Hornsby Council and driven by local man Mr. Bill Ewings I noticed that our attention is drawn to the shadow of the photographer on the shoreline, which is showing a typical stance used when photographing with a Brownie Box Camera. I happen to have one of these in my possession. It is equipped with a flash light, which can be easily attached when needed. I suppose, rather than describing the workings of this camera, it would be easier for one to look up . . . The Brownie Camera @ 100: A Celebration. This is a very informative site. But I must say that these old cameras . . . apart from being almost indestructible, were very easy to use, and being cheap, were very popular.

Neil Davis with his Brownie Box Camera and Flash     Photo: Merle Davis

Neil Davis with his Brownie Box Camera and Flash Photo: Merle Davis

These quaint old “Punts” as we called the Ferries then, did a sterling job over the years while only travelling at a slow, steady pace. I recall, about 1948, not long after the war, a few of us young blokes swam across the creek from the Rex Jones boatshed to the western side punt ramp. We would then wait for the punt to start back across the river, dive into the water and grab the rear loading ramp of the punt to get a tow back to the eastern side. When Bill Ewings found us clinging on, he quite rightly gave us a severe dressing down about the dangers we had ignored. Probably, this would shock some people today but these sorts of things were part of growing up in Berowra and The Waters. Just like Peter Huett, working on the punt gates, when he was only 10 years old.

Neil Davis

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In Their Own Words: House Building At 21 Berowra Waters Road

Shirleys House

Every concrete block in the garage (finished 1946) and in the house (finished 1948) was made by my parents Bert & Thelma Hobday.

Cement was scarce (the war had just finished). So hence the slow build.

The blocks were made with sand, cement and ashes. The latter were got by the trailer-load from the ‘San’ hospital – the residue in their coke or coal fired (?) burners (for the heating of water for the laundry etc). Dad shovelled in the ingredients while Mum turned the concrete mixer by hand. When mixed, the ingredients were pressed into greased moulds for ‘curing’.

Photo (circa 1954) and words courtesy of Shirley Collins (nee Hobday)

The flowering Double Ornamental Peach tree in the foreground is a reminder that Spring 2014 cannot be too far away. Many blossoms & buds are already appearing in gardens around our local area of Berowra.



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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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Growing Up In Berowra In The ‘Seventies and ‘Eighties

Andrew and Brett with their catch!

Andrew and Brett with their catch!

Brett Schumacker and myself with a catch of yabbies caught with homemade spears. The yabbies were then boiled in a big pot ready to be eaten.

Growing up in Berowra meant regular trips to the end of my street (Woodcourt Road) and down to the creek there which flowed into Berowra Waters. Brett & I were introduced at an early age to going down & catching yabbies & eels & lizards by Brett’s older brother Scott & his mates. The Schumackers lived right on the bush at the end of the street.

Growing up in Berowra fostered an active lifestyle involving playing outdoor sport & riding around on BMX bikes. It was a great way to grow up.

Going into the bush, I think, gets into your blood because I still like to get out in the bush today for mountain biking and bushwalking as well as doing other activities like spearfishing, surfing and snowboarding. Whether this would have happened if I had grown up in the city, I’m not sure.

By Andrew Fetz who now lives on the NSW South Coast

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The Biter Bit

Ever since I can remember, there have been rumours of sharks in Berowra Creek. Many scoff at such suggestions, but throughout the European history of Berowra, there have been several ‘eye-witness reports’ of shark sightings.

The following exciting account of a shark sighting was reported in The Register (Adelaide) on the 20th of June, 1922, just over 91 years ago today!

As I sat in the Giant’s Castle contemplating the beautiful water of Berowra Creek, just above Collingridge Point, I heard a stampede and scramble over the rocks and through the bush, and a large wallaby jumped into the creek with a splash that frightened the bream, and sent the wavelets splashing against my little boat, half drawn up on the sandy beach that fronts the cave. I had no time to reflect as to the happenings that caused a wallaby to take to the water, but soon realized the situation. He was followed by a fierce dingo, that was going to beat him in the swim for life, when, all of a sudden, the dingo disappeared beneath the water. By that time I was in my boat, and as I passed over the spot where the dingo had met with his master, streams of blood, mingling with the blue wavelets, came up from the deep. The wallaby was saved by the shark and soon reached the shore again. – Aloren, in The World News.

To view the original article, visit Trove.


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A Ghostly Tale

This week, with Halloween just around the corner, it seemed the perfect time to share a ghostly tale recounted to us by Alan Cunningham. As part of our research, we are collecting stories of strange events, and this is just one of the amazing tales we have been told. More will be featured in the coming Virtual Museum.

This particular tale was told to us by the owner of Berowra’s old Ampol Service Station which once stood in Turner Road (to see a Then and Now post about the service station, click here). The encounter in his story took place in the 1940s in Old Mans Valley, Hornsby.

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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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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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Wartime Welding

During the war, men and women were eager to join up and serve their country. Whether they served overseas, or worked in the land army in Australia or even took on work in a protected industry, everybody did their part.

However, some were not happy playing what they felt was a backseat role. One such man, Peter Huett had no intention of allowing his employment in a protected industry to prevent him taking on a more active role in the Armed Services.

Photo courtesy of the Huett Family Collection

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