Wednesday, August 29, 2007

I will be away for approximately 7 days.

Email and comments will go unanswered.

Nobody else is dead.


Lunar eclipse full

Beautiful innit?

Had a nasty feeling we weren't going to see it. There was some cloud covering it when it came up. But it rose above it before the eclipse started. Fucking magic sight. I stood there staring at it with my gob open and my beer getting warm. Fucking magic.

This was not taken on my pissy little camera. Mate down on the Northern Beaches took it. He's got a huge zoom. (And if you ask nice he'll let you touch it.)

Video of March 2007 Lunar eclipse & lotsa stills of others
NASA techo stuff for this year's eclipses

The kookaburras are laughing their heads off. This, I've learnt from a kind commenter to whom I cannot find a link, means it's going to rain. Yes, but they laughed yesterday and it never rained! And the sky's as blue as fuck today! Still, they can't be more inaccurate than a meteorologist.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Fait accompli

Pop over to Suzanne's blog and congratulate her on finishing her Catron County Walk.

She's hung in there through thick and thin and offline aggro and finished every paved road in Catron County New Mexico.

Next stop Socorro!

(scroll down for today's Woy Woy photos)

Winter flowers

(Random walkies)

Magnolia soulangeana

When the buds are beginning to open like this you can see why it's called the tulip tree.

It's proper name is Magnolia X soulangeana. Native of Asia. Introduced into Australia around 1800 from what I can gather. Much loved ornamental tree in those parts of Australia muggy enough to grow it. Sydney region, Queensland and so forth.

Magnolia grandiflora, the massive spreading one with yellowy-white leaves, grows in Western Australia. Haven't ever seen another magnolia type there.

Magnolia soulangeana

Almost fully open flower there in the foreground.

(First person to identify that yellow thing wins a warm glow of satisfaction and the admiration of their peers.)

Magnolia soulangeana

Cup-shaped flower. In a couple of days the outer row of petals will drop to the horizontal and the flower will look like a cup and saucer. Which is why it's also called the saucer tree.

Along the railway lines on the way into Sydney there's golden wattle bushes been planted to stabilise the banks and they're starting to flower. They'll make a glorious golden corridor in a few weeks. That alone is worth the price of a ticket.


If I seem massively shat off in the next few weeks it's not you. It's the legal spaghetti I am currently unknotting. My father spent the last few months of his freedom buying gold bricks off blokes down the pub. I am in the process of returning some of those gold bricks.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


The more I learn about Brisbane Water’s ferries the more there is to learn. There’s been dozens of the buggers over the years. The half dozen we’ve got now is nothing compared to what there used to be. I’d draw you a map with all the old ferry runs inked in but it’d just be spaghetti.

Caroline Bay Gosford market day 1924

Thursday was market day in Gosford and they came from all round Brisbane Water. Gives you some idea how much use the ferries got back then.

This is 1924 and a wharf in Caroline Bay/East Gosford. That's Longnose (Point Frederick) lying low in the middle distance with Point Clare (left) and West Gosford behind it.

(With Thursday being pension day, Thursday still is market day for many of the Dear Old Things. Possibly why some of them think it's still 1924.)


Victorious. The largest of Jack Murphy's Brisbane water fleet at 60 feet in length.

She was designed to carry 125 passengers and launched in 1916 from Beattie's Brisbane Water shipyard. She was 13.5 feet in the beam (across), her draught was 4 feet (hull depth) and she was driven by a 3-cylinder 30 horsepower Frisco Standard engine.

300 people attended the launch, including over 100 kids from the orphanage at Kincumber South.

Murphy also owned the 'Waratah' boarding house (long gone) in Brick Wharf Road at Woy Woy and was a land developers' agent.

The Bill and Roy Riley and their brother-in-law Jack Owens were running ferries at the same time. Their fleet consisted of Mavis, Regent Bird and Bellbird. Later Murphy's ferry service joined up with the Rileys' as Amalgamated Ferries and the name of the Victorious was changed to Wagstaff. She did the ferry run on Brisbane Water until around 1966. By 1980 she was part of the Church Point Ferry Service down in Pittwater.

Kin-Gro & Grower

These two boats often get wrongly labelled and I've fallen into the trap myself. I've read conflicting reports on it from local historians and seen Dear Old Things nearly come to blows over it and now I've had email on the subject.

The ferry I showed you yesterday was the Grower not the Kin-Gro. The title of the post was right and the label on the drawing wrong.

Thank yer to Bets of Central Coast Ferries* for the link to all the beautiful photos of the Kin-Gro now Lithgow working on Sydney Harbour. She looks great in her green and white livery.

Bungalow on the market

36 Davis Street Booker Bay

One of my readers fancies a bungalow on the Peninsula.

This one's at 36 Davis Street Booker Bay. Original windows by the look of it, the decorative slats on the front, original chimney. The advert shows a biggish backyard with a garage and says "big rooms, high ceilings, picture rails". The agent is on 4343 1788.

They don't come on market too often so don't hang about, girl.

* Them what runs the Codock II and Saratoga.

Monday, August 20, 2007

The Grower Ferry

Before The Rip Bridge was bunged up in 1974, getting from one side of Brisbane Water to the other involved either rowing yerself across or rattling along for bloody miles in yer horse and cart, up round Gosford and down the other side. Clearly this was a Bad Thing and the obvious solution was ferries.

Kincumber Growers Ferry

This is the old Kin-Gro ferry that used to run on Brisbane Water.

( "Kincumber Growers Ferry" it says across the top and on either side of the doorway: "Empire Bay" and "Davistown".)

In 1921 local farmers decided to get some ferries to get their produce up to the Gosford market and across to the trains. To do this they formed the Kincumber Growers’ Co-operative Company Ltd.

The Kincumber was their first ferry. She was built up at Cockle Creek and launched in 1921. They expanded their fleet over the next few years with the Avoca, the Grower and the Kin-Gro.

They did a run covering Davistown, Empire Bay, Woy Woy, Bensville, Kincumber South and Kincumber Creek. They finished up in 1944 after 23 years of service. Their ferries, especially the Grower and the Kin-Gro are fondly remembered by many Dear Old Things.

Some old ferry stops of Brisbane Water

The pink dots are the some old ferry stops. I was going to put numbers on them instead but I forgot. I named them on the annotated version.

There's a good half dozen more old stops. Which'll be added when I've identified the bastards.

As yet unidentified stops:

Pine Tree

(I know where Pine Avenue is, but not Pine Tree.)

If you know where these stops were, let me know in the comments below.

In the past the ferries have carried gossip, dead bodies to Gosford for burying, newspapers, the post (mail), people off to the trains and the Thursday market at Gosford, the stuff they were going to buy there and them coming back again with the stuff they bought.

Gossip and people are still carried, commuter services in the mornings and afternoons hook locals up to the Sydney trains at Woy Woy, lunchers are carried to the Davo and back, tourists ferried around to ooh and ahh at the beauty that is Brisbane Water.

We already looked at raising of the wreck of the Lady Kendall at Koolewong in May. She was a ketch built in Tassie (Tasmania) in 1903. She worked there carrying logs to Hobart then as a fishing boat in Bass Strait. She won in her class in the Hobart Regatta in the 1940s and '50s then went to Melbourne in 1966 to work as a ferry then came to Brisbane Water in 1985 to work for Starship Cruises at Gosford. (More)

Old ferryman's house & old ferry at Woy Woy Bay

The house is reputed to be that of the former Phegans Bay ferryman and the upturned hull in front of the house that of the old Phegans Bay ferry.

We glanced at the old Phegans Bay run and will come back to that some time.

Ferry routes of Brisbane Water

Dotted lines are current ferry routes.

Blue line - Palm Beach Ferry (Palm Beach Ferries, Sydney)
Pink line - Codock II AKA Cockatoo Ferry (Central Coast Ferries, Empire Bay)
Red line - Saratoga Ferry (Central Coast Ferries)
Brown line - Lady Kendall II (Starship Cruises, Gosford)

Saratoga, Codock II & Crystal Spirit

The short orange line in the lower part of the map is The Rip Bridge. Before the bridge was bunged up in 1974, by boat was the only short way across Brisbane Water.

The cross is St Joseph's at Kincumber South. The Pioneer Ferry Service started from there in 1905, run by the penguins, taking visitors and patrons to the orphanage there. Those ferries included the San Jose (pronounced locally as San Joase), Southern Cross and the Stella Maris.

Brisbane Water's buzzed with ferries over the last 180-odd years and is still buzzing with them. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Row row row your post

Before the ferries carried the post, it was carried by a bloke in a rowboat. For 26 years William Settree, known as Scotchie, met the Woy Woy mail train and rowed the post back to Davistown. He died in 1916 and his sons kept up the run until the ferries took it over in 1921. How's that for service?

Friday, August 17, 2007

Ain't what she used to be

Old paddock Railway Street Woy Woy
Annotated version & large version (not annotated).

Aerial photo taken in the 1960s or 70s of the Woy Woy South/Correa Bay area of the Peninsula. Look at how much empty land is still there. Mostly gobbled up now by houses.

The area marked in green was once a paddock with a scout hall on it. Now it's a Home for the Terminally Bewildered. The scout hall however, is marked on my street directory as still in existence, at the Shoalhaven Drive end of this area.

On a sixties town planning map, the marked area is down as "R 66258 FOR FUTURE PUBLIC REQUIREMENTS". Public requirements certainly fits with a HftTB.

Blogged the HftTB in February. Michael lent his long-time local knowledge and told us that area was once a horse paddock with a "crumbling scout hall" in it and his mate lived behind it. Can you spot your mate's house, Michael?

That curved road going right across the photo is 2 roads and the railway.

On the left edge of the photo, the railway goes under the hill, alongside Mullet Creek, past Wondabyne & Brooklyn, over the Hawkesbury River and down into Sydney past the Ku-ring-gai National Park.

Also on the left edge, Woy Woy Road loops and wiggles up to the F3 to Newcastle and the Old Pacific Highway. Just out of the frame on the right it peters out.

Cross the level crossing just before it does and Railway Street, the 2nd road there, takes you all the way into Bustling Downtown Woy Woy. Which is all of five blocks from the outskirts. It ain't a big town.

Hammond Group Railway Street Woy Woy

The Home for the Terminally Bewildered on the old paddock. Locals will see it as they come through the underpass onto Railway Street.

Anonymous gave us some detail on the HftTB, telling us the place consists of "6 "cottages" each with about 14 residents. Nice big rooms, cosy fireplace in winter, kitchen and laundry, and gardens to walk in..." Sounds a pleasant place in which to spent one's declining years.

He or she also tells us "each cottage is named after a local shipwreck!" Check out the shipwrecks here.

73 Blackwall Road Woy Woy 197173 Blackwall Road Woy Woy 2006

73 Blackwall Road Woy Woy in 1971 (left) and in 2006 (right). Part of Bustling Downtown Woy Woy. Locals, it's opposite Woolies.

You can see the balcony on the top right part of the 1971 building. And again on the 2006 building, bricked over in white. Now look at the pillars supporting the windows on both versions. Same. It's surprising how little some buildings change innit?

In 1971 it was Arthur Young's Studio and Photo Store. Now the upstairs flat looks like it's used for storage.

Railway Street Woy Woy

This is the hardest house to photograph in Woy Woy. It's a lovely old cottage near Rawson Road and in all seasons but winter it's hidden behind a row of flourishing trees.

It's hard to see its foundations and so on but the roofline, the width of the windows and the general style suggest circa 1900, which is the Federation period.

Okay, peeps, that's it for today. I'm all blogged out and not sure I'm making much sense anyways.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Six-furlong track

(Davistown walkies #8)

Race Meeting Davistown

"Race Meeting "Davistown
View of betting ring & saddling paddock taken from grandstand"

"Horse races were held on a six furlong track built by Bill and George Davis and the straight of the track is still marked today by Davis Ave."
(From Illoura Res. sign, full text below)

The grandstand is long gone and I didn't spot any of those houses still in existence but the red-roofed house below is of a similar period to the race track.

Illoura Reserve Walk sign, full text:

"Illoura Reserve Walk
Restella Guest House

Davistown had its beginnings as a shipbuilding town, but by the 1920's it had become a popular tourist resort.

Davistown had much to offer, with regular ferry transport to Woy Woy railway,
well appointed boarding houses, furnished cottages, boating, fishing and bathing facilities.

Horse races were held on a six furlong track built by Bill and George Davis and the straight of the track is still marked today by Davis Ave.

Restella Guest House stood in this area, run by local identity Mrs Sarah Ellen Jenkins.
Restella was noted for its hospitality with a 1928 tourist guide saying:
"There is every provision for all holiday makers' needs; no one need make burden of their vacation by
dragging up boxes and hampers of provender. Prices locally are very reasonable."

Many pretty weekender properties were also built in this area.
Made of fibro and timber, many of these buildings were sold as inexpensive kits from local sawmills or larger suppliers such as George Hudson.

You can still be transported back to the glory days of Davistown every time you see a Putt-putt boat take to the water!
Beautifully maintained these small wooden vintage boats can often be seen chugguing along Cockle Channel.

Bill and George Davis held very popular horse races
on a six-furlong track in today's Davis Avenue.
(Dundon Collection, Gosford City Library)

[Gosford City Council logo]
Central Coast"

Saratoga Davistown map with Davis Ave marked

Saratoga/Davistown peninsula. (Readable size)

The bright green line is Davis Avenue, the straight of the old Davistown six-furlong race track.

Across bottom, left to right:
Pelican Island off Woy Woy, Rileys Island & Empire Bay.

Top left corner: Kincumber South.

The pencil lines are the path of the Saratoga ferry.

Davis Avenue Davistown

This lovely old place has a decent chunk of land around it. Hope it stays that way. (Front view)

It's not on my hist list but is a well-maintained or restored example of Victorian Georgian (circa 1840-c.1890) or a very plain Federation Queen Anne (circa 1890 - circa 1915). Probably late Victorian. A lot of the houses along the Davistown foreshore would've been similar.

Back to race track photo

Davis Avenue Davistown

I suspect this place is not half as old as it appears but is in fact a small 1940s house with extensions here and there and with that nice wooden valance on the veranda lending a pleasant suggestion of Queen Anne (circa 1890 - c. 1915).

I like it.

Monday, August 13, 2007


(Davistown walkies #7)

Illoura Reserve Davistown

$1.1 million fine for midnight murders of mangroves.

"[Gosford City Council logo]

Significant tree vandalism has occurred on this site.
Gosford City Council will not tolerate tree vandalism
in any of its public reserves and rehabilitiation works
will be undertaken here. Council acknowledges that
these works may inconvenience the majority in order
to penalise a selfish minority. Any persons found guilty
of these acts will be liable for prosecution under the
Environmental Planning and assessment Acts and Council's
Tree Preservation Order.

Penalties up to $1.1 million"

Mangrove stump Alkoomie Close Davistown

If this tree was murdered it was murder in vain. The stump is shaded by another lovely big mangrove.

Kincumber Broadwater

Kincumber Broadwater is between between Kincumber and the Saratoga/Davistown peninsula. It's another offshoot of Brisbane Water.

Kincumber Broadwater from Illoura Reserve Davistown

And it's calm and quiet and much of its shore is bush or grassed reserve.

Empire Bay from Davistown

Looking across Cockle Channel to Sorrento Road or Shelly Beach Road Empire Bay.

As Illoura Reserve gets up towards the Kincumber Crescent end, the mangroves close in and give the place a dreamy feel. The ducks quack quietly to themselves and settle down for a nap in the shade and the sound of boats is distant and low.

Illoura Reserve Davistown

In the background you can see houses, little cottages and big flash places, along Davis Avenue and Paringa Avenue. Behind them is the hill of Mount Pleasant over at Saratoga on the other head of the Saratoga/Davistown peninsula.

Locals use the Reserve to walk themselves and their dogs and have their lunch and gaze across the water. Davistown wouldn't be Davistown without it.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Illoura Reserve

Got off my arse this morning and went walkies. The sun was on the warm side but the breeze was fresh out on the water and there is no better way to see Brisbane Water than from the ferry.

Wandered along the other half of the Illoura Reserve and very nice it was too. (Map)

Mary-Lou & Four Winds off Illoura Reserve Davistown

Mary-Lou and Four Winds moored off Illoura Reserve. That's Mary-Lou on the left in the blue & white.

Hardys may be the boatiest bay in Brisbane Water but have a gander at the background in this photo. You can't hardly see the houses for boats.

Davistown (foreground) and Empire Bay (background).

Mary-Lou & Four Winds off Illoura Reserve Davistown

Mary-Lou's and Four Winds's backsides. Just looking at wooden boats gives a person a restful feeling.

In the background is Sorrento Road Empire Bay.

Milly moored off Illoura Reserve Davistown

Can't afford a whole wooden boat? Want something with wood but with grunt? Here's yer solution.

Her name's Milly. I like her double wooden doors down into the cabin. Very gambling saloon.

MV Rustbucket Eulalia Wharf Davistown

MV Rustbucket moored off Amy Street. Clearly she's had a hard life and it's not over yet. She's for sale.

Eulalia Wharf Amy Street Davistown

Quiet spot for a bit of fishing and dreaming.

That's the old orphanage across the water there. St Joseph's and the Holy Cross Church.

Saratoga, Davistown & Yattalunga map

All these photos were taken from Illoura Reserve. That green line on the map is it. Goes from Restella Avenue, just down from Central Wharf, to round past the Davo.

The Davo is the Davistown RSL and is a popular daytrip if you want a decent feed and a gargle sandwiched between to rides on the water.

That cross on the right edge is Holy Cross and St Joseph's.

Back to the top

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Back on track

Thank you everyone for your sympathies. They are much appreciated.

Feeling a bit bewildered, as you might expect in the circumstances, but also rather relieved. Once someone's gone they're feeling no more pain and that applies to my Nana as well as my mother in different ways.

I've had some work to bury myself in this last couple of days and I'm looking forward to throwing off that stupid fucking lethargy and getting my walkies back on track.


I'm in the ferry newsletter and there's some stuff in there as well about how the ferries came off in the big storms.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007


We buried my mother in the same grave as her mother.

The funeral was bloody awful. Not least because we had to sit on my father's head until the ambulance came and took him to the psych ward.

It was a great relief, quite frankly, though I'm very glad my mother didn't see it. The funeral was a catalyst of course but it would've happened sooner or later anyways.

I'm very much looking forward to the calming affects of walkies on Friday.