My recollections of Clifton Gardens start soon after World War Two ended. My father had survived the war with the famous Sixth division from Sept 1939 through to 1945 campaigns in the Middle East, Greece, Crete and New Guinea. He had now come home to the old terrace house my mother, myself and sister shared with Grandparents and extended family in John Street, Erskineville.
Dad got a job as a beer delivery carter, first by horse and waggon and later by truck at Tooths Brewery Broadway Sydney.
He purchased an old Essex car and started taking us on weekend excursions to Sydney beaches. This great event for my eight year old sister and me aged ten who only knew the then slum streets of Erskineville, Redfern and Newtown.
One day Dad come home from work and told us an army mate had told him that the military establishment at Chowder Bay had vacated some of their buildings and land at a place called Clifton Gardens and that a couple of families had started to use these grounds and huts left behind by the army to camp in. Dad loaded us all into his Essex with an old army tent and some camping gear and away we went over the Harbour Bridge through suburbs we had never seen before, Neutral Bay, Mosman and on to find this place which was somewhere on the way to Taronga Park Zoo.
Arriving at Clifton Gardens
To us kids used to the dingy streets of the inner city, on our arrival at Clifton Gardens it was paradise, we had not ever experienced anything like it. Along with an Aunty Olga and Uncle Paddy we commandeered two huts and our family got to work quickly and over a period of time turned them into our own holiday camps.
The hut my Aunty and Uncle took was tiny, more like a small guard house, just big enough to accommodate a double bed and a small kitchen area.
It was situated at the northern end of the grounds, along side a dry creek, which only flowed when it rained, near the track which led up to the army water transport camp at Chowder Bay. A couple of hundred yards from there, facing the harbour just above the beach, and to the left of the wharf jutting out into the harbour was the small hut we took.
To the left of this wharf across the harbour khaki coloured boats were moored, Dad said they were army patrol boats known as Fairmiles. Our hut was small partitioned into four sections with open sides. Dad put a tarpaulin all around it, he and Mum slept in one section on a bed they made up and my sister and I slept in ex-navy hammocks slung between posts in two other sections. The fourth section served as the kitchen and dining area. Mum cooked on a primus stove. To us small kids there was no other place like it on earth, a beach, sand, water, bush, trees no traffic. My sister and I spent every waking minute, fishing, swimming and exploring the surrounding bushland and rocky headland around to Taylor Bay and to the sandstone fortifications above Chowder Bay, built in the 1840s, that we called the dungeons.
The swimming area was really unique, the wharf I mentioned was on the left side of the bay towards the army water transport base. It was linked by a timber walkway around to a two story structure consisting of an upper deck and a lower deck which was fantastic for jumping or diving off into the shark proof enclosure. The two story deck then went on around joining up with the enormous timber two story dressing sheds which had some residential areas above the changerooms and shower areas. Some of the first of Australia’s immigrants had been given accommodation in these rooms. Two Latvian families, I remember were Tishkin and Bolodis, I think there were about four migrant couples living there also.
Lydia Tishkin was a daughter about my age and Tony Bolodis a daughter, was about the age of my sister. We all become friends and there was quite a gang of kids.
The caretaker family that looked after these buildings and the baths were named McCormick, the parents were Bill and Kewpie, their children were Maureen, the eldest, Patty, Michael, Francis, Dennis and Peter.
The kiosk/shop which had been opened was run by Tom Wedderburn and his wife; they had two sons Brian and Colin.
Other squatter/camper families who come in regular were the O’Brian’s from Marrickville with two sons Bob and John. There were the Kennedy’s from Darlington with five kids, Helen, Bonnie and the others I can’t remember. The Slade family from Glebe with five kids, two called Eddie and Ken. We had a real gang, it was more like a tribe, there were kids ranging from ten down to toddlers.
We were mostly from the poorer areas of Sydney and grew together over the idyllic years spent camping at Clifton Gardens.
In my minds eye I can still see the huge shady coral trees with their thorns that deterred us from climbing them. Sitting in the cool shade under the wharf that led out over the water to the baths and dressing sheds. Playing hide and seek in the maze of the dressing sheds. Swimming and fishing from the beach and wharves.
On hot summer evenings all the families would be sitting outside eating the evening meal while we played our many games. From first light to dark I would be in the water and had become a very adept underwater swimmer. As more Greek, Italian and Maltese migrants started to come to Clifton Gardens on the weekends, I found myself a small income by diving from the various wharves to the bottom of the pylons where often octopus could be seen. I would grab them around the head, then with their tentacles wrapped around an arm would swim to the surface and sell them for a couple of shillings. By reaching into an aperture at the back of their head you could turn them inside out and kill them immediately.
The ferry service had reopened soon after the war ended and used to run regularly on the weekends from Circular Quay to the main ferry wharf, on the right hand side of the bay, across from the bathing sheds.
Once we had our permanent camps set up, the whole family including grandparents, aunties, uncles and cousins would pile into the number 300 double decker bus at Erskineville for the trip to Circular Quay; cross the road, then onto the Sydney ferry for the leisurely trip across the Harbour; the ferry stopping at Neilsen Park to offload passengers at that popular park and swimming area on its way.
As Clifton Gardens become more popular, the weekend visitors grew in numbers and we made many more friends, some who would camp on occasions, but we considered Clifton Gardens ours, we were almost like permanent residents and would often patrol the area picking up bottles and rubbish left behind by the careless.
After the first year or more the McCormick family offered us a huge storage room in the dressing shed area behind their living quarters as a permanent lock up camp. It was a much better arrangement close to showers and toilets and we were all extremely happy with our new quarters, especially my sister and me.
Right outside our door was the swimming area. The dressing sheds and the storage room was built out over the water on a heavy timber wharf – just three or four leaps from our doorway to the edge of the wharf and we could dive straight into the clear water, even at low tide. The room being so big, enabled Dad to partition it off into sections using hessian curtains. We now had a bigger kitchen, dining area and separate sleeping quarters. My sister had an ex- army steel bunk, Mum and Dad had a double bed and I stuck to my navy hammock which I loved sleeping in, it was slung between two huge square roof support timbers. The biggest bonus to me was that my sleeping section had a trapdoor lid set into the timber floor below my hammock and when the bream were feeding at night, particularly in May and June, I could sit snug and warm on my hammock and fish down between the piers in water from 3 to 5 feet deep – during our time there I caught some excellent black bream.
Clifton Gardens Hotel
A short walk up the road, which came down from the streets above, would bring you to the Clifton Gardens Hotel an old federation style pub which was destroyed by fire in later years.
There were places where you could still see remnants of the old tramway that used to run from the ferry wharf to the pub when ferries used to bring people over for dances and parties.
The Clifton Gardens Hotel was popular with all the adults who would wander up there in the afternoons for some rather happy party times.
An event which comes to my mind that happened at the pub was when a couple of blokes in army balaclavas carrying a Thomson sub-machine gun burst in at closing time and held up the staff who were counting the days takings. They got away but not too far, based on descriptions the police conducted a raid on the nearby army water transport base and found the culprits asleep in their bunks with the money and the gun under one of them.
When the pub burnt down it was a heartbreaking thing to all the campers and sadly missed, but it was rumoured that the gentry who lived in the fine mansions above were happy to see it go.
My Uncle Paddy and Aunty Olga who had the small hut at the northern end of Clifton Gardens owned a motor launch with an inboard putt putt motor. They rented a flat overlooking Elizabeth Bay and could see down to where their boat was moored in the bay. They would load their boat with provisions and then motor across the harbour to Clifton Gardens where they would beach and anchor their boat close by their hut.
They were very keen on going outside Sydney Heads to go fishing and made frequent trips out to sea taking my Dad and sometimes me. If the catch was big, my sister and I had the job of cleaning the surplus fish which was distributed amongst friends and if there was any left over we had the job of wandering around other campers selling the fish. In those days I think the fishing was much better than it is today, we seemed to always be able to catch a feed.
When the tailor and mackerel were running it could get exciting hauling your fish in and getting a fresh baited line out for the next one. Often my sister, myself and other kids would sit for hours on the wharf steps, earning some pocket money, catching dozens of small yellowtail to be used for live bait fishing. We had the use of a small wooden two person dinghy and, unknown to our parents, would often row out into Sydney Harbour to fish almost as far out as the Manly Ferry lanes and Sow and Pigs reef.
Once with a heavy line outside fishing line, a wire trace and a live bait, we hooked a shark which towed us madly around the harbour almost pulling the dinghy under until I cut the line.
Another time we rowed all the way across to Neilsen Park and got a bit of scare, when the wind and waves rose on the long row back, dodging the ferries and other boats criss- crossing the harbour.
My growing years from ten years old in 1946 to my early manhood about 1958 were spent in this way, living and visiting between our home in Erskineville and our “squatters’ camp” at Clifton Gardens until I eventually joined the Merchant Navy.
At the age of fifteen I had started work at Cockatoo Island Dockyard to become a Shipwright learning the trade for the next six years.
The harbour ferry only run from Taronga Park Zoo wharf on week days, so if we were staying at Clifton Gardens it would see me rising at early dawn and jogging the 4 kms around Taylor Bay, Ashton Park, and onto Taronga Park Zoo wharf to catch the first ferry, offloading at Circular Quay and onto the first workers ferry about 7.30am headed for Cockatoo Island further up the Harbour near the entrance of the Parramatta River. In the afternoon I would do the same thing in reverse. In those days I was as fit as an Olympian athlete.
There are many more memories I have of that wonderful period, including my first real romance and many humourous happenings. It was some years later when my life had moved on I heard rather sadly that the old dressing sheds and part of the bathing enclosure wharf had burnt down. On a visit there a couple of years ago, to my adult eye it all seemed a little smaller, a lot more crowded, manicured, and expensive car parking. It is still a lovely place but no where near as nice as my memories of an unspoiled child’s paradise.
What I would like to mention now is a couple of remarkable coincidences that occurred in my life in later years which lead back to Mosman and my writing this Mosman Memories story. The coincidences came when I decided to turn a hobby involving horses into a business. This meant that I had to leave the Hawkesbury River, where I was living, north of Sydney and buy a 1656 acre piece of mountain country in the New England ranges known as Bullock Mountain, 15 kms northwest of Glen Innes. There I started a horse trekking and holiday farm business.
This chunk of land was wedged between two portions of country which are of historical significance to the development of Mosman in the early 1800s.
Slightly north west again of Bullock Mountain is Rangers Valley, the then huge holding of one of the first white selectors to come into the region named Oswald Bloxsome. Bloxsome took up a holding of 70,000 acres between Tenterfield and Glen Innes in the Deepwater region and later purchased one of the early tracts of land in Mosman. On that land he built a mansion and called it Rangers.
To this day I am friends with a great, great, great grandson Craig Bloxsome who lives on a Deer farming property which was part of the original Bloxsome selection at the edge of Rangers Valley.
The second coincidence is the land to the south east of me is the land that was purchased by Archibald Mosman whom Mosman Municipality is named after.
This land Mosman purchased in the late 1840s was named Furracabad, an aboriginal name for the creek that flowed through his holding, and is now the land that the town of Glen Innes sits on. Glen Innes was named by Archibald Mosman to honour Major Clune Innes a landholder of Port Macquarie fame and the previous owner of Furracabad.
The Furracabad Creek forms one boundary of my land which operates as Three Waters High Country Holidays. The Three Waters being the Furracabad and Reddestone Ceeks and the Beardy Waters River which all flow on and through Rangers Valley, Bloxsome’s original large holding where it becomes the Severn River. This was named by Bloxsome after a river in his homeland. The original 70,000 acres of Rangers Valley is now reduced to 10,000 acres and is one of the largest cattle feed lots in the country, it has a herd of black Angus cattle in excess of 25,000 being processed regularly for the Japanese market and is owned by a Japanese syndicate. The majority of landholders on the fertile growing land around there are under contract to grow corn to supply the feedlot.
That is all for now
Should any readers be interested I would gladly give more of my memories of magic Clifton Gardens seen through childhood and early teen eyes.
Hi Steve. Thanks for your story. We’ve added a few historic photos of Clifton Gardens – the pleasure grounds, swimming pool and the Clifton Gardens hotel. Larger versions of these images can be seen on our Flickr page.
There are also lots of photos of the Water Transport Group at Clifton Gardens on Picture Australia.
What a great article. Very enjoyable. Just out of interest my Great Great Grandfather owned this hotel around the turn of the century when it was the ‘Adams Clifton Gardens Hotel’ and I still have some of the cutlery and crystal glassware used in the dining room as well as some orginal postcards held at the Hotel. Anthony Adams
Great article,so many meories…. I used to fish down at that area with Ronny Antcliffe(dec) and once or twice maybe with Ronny Arigho. It was a magnificent area and Clifton Gardens was a sort of Brigadoon, an area of mystery and great beauty, different people from “Mosman” I think and only occasionally permeated. I loved Mosman but it’s changed…on the other hand Clifton garden still holds that quiet Majesty unraped by the vile Hancock era architecture and home unit mania which ruined Mosman, Cremorne and Neutral Bay….of course more residents meant incremental salary increases for the Town Clerk and a prominent real estate agent as the cancer set in.That awful architeture has now been supplanted in some areas by the sort of faux federation/part American west facades. I just wonder about architects and their competence in creating beauty since the 1960’s when I first was working as an apprentice on these units…lovely homes destroyed for uglimess. The Y shaped ones around Rose Bay at least made some sense. Sorry, I pine for those days of granduer and beauty…as you have reminded me -of with your photos.
I hope Clifton Gardens can stay largely as it was. I visited and photographed a lovely if not magnificent Burley Griffin home there…and many homes around as an assignment which has become an unpubished history of real estate in Australia.
Mum’s father (Major general Sir Geo. Wootteen) by the way commanded the 6th for a while. It went to Crete and met wholsale slaughter from paratroopers whilst the 9th went to NG. His troops took Milne Bay..what a breed of Australians they were!...cheers Tony Clancy
Hello Steve, my father used to take us brothers down to the pub in the early sixties, we were 5 or 6. I recall there was a bloke who lived in a car opposite the pub and he couldn’t talk properly. Us kids used to torment the poor fellow. Occasionally my father would bring us a Coke and a bag of Smiths Chicken Crisps, a real treat in those days. I was indeed saddened when the building disappeared.
Does anybody remember the Mosman Daily front-page story about the sirens of Clifton Gardens? A couple of girls on a jetty who posed topless for a passing cruise ferry that carried American servicemen on leave from the Vietnam war. Would have been about 1968.
And Tony, you can still find the people who destroyed all those grand old homes - they're currently working their way through Gordon and Killara.
I’ve just read your memories of a wonderful childhood at Clifton Gardens. Despite living in Oz for 26 years and 3 of those in Mosman Bay (1988-1990), I went to Clifton Gardens and Chowder Bay for the first time yesterday! Absolutely charming and I can picture it all. Thank you!
The pub wasn’t closed down because of a fire. It closed some time in 1967, and was empty for some time. It might have burned down, but I believe that it was simply demolished. The bathing pavilion did burn down, some time in the 50s.
I came across your information by accident..I received a old pack of playing cards from my Grandmother, which are from the Clifton Gardens Hotel…still in its box..I was curious in knowing if this Hotel still existed.
Your story was lovely and I would love to go there..maybe my Nan visited some time ago… Sadly she passed away last month..God Bless her she was 92. I hope you are doing well.
The picture of the Hotel & Gardens on the cards look beautiful.
Thank you for the information.
In reply to Steve Birdsall, I had that front page of the Mosman Daily for many years, because I was on it. My friends and I were on the pier larking about and bombing each other when the Daily’s photographer took the pictures of the “sirens” (whom we assumed were prostitutes from the Cross) and the Vietnam War soldiers. I was the snowy-haired 11-year-old hiding behind a towel.
I might be able to find it if you are still interested.
Just read your fabulous story. I would love to know some history around the officers barracks. My grandfather was a chef who ran the Johnny Walker Tavern. He later cooked for the officers and lived on the grounds with my grandmother, mother and aunt. I have heard many stories about the wharf. I wonder if my family worked at the hotel??? Anyway if anyone has any information I would love to hear from you. I have never been to Clifton gardens I must go there at some point
Dorothy May Hemingway lived in large house at 18 Morella Road, Clifton Gardens. She was involved in theatre, latterly children’s theatre, during the years of the Depression and World War II and in the following decade. She was born in New Zealand in 1907 and died in Sydney in 1955.
The first public record of her involvement in public performance was on 3 March 1930 when a Miss Dorothy Hemingway contributed to a musical production arranged by Mrs W H Hemingway at Beaumont House for the Sydney Grammar School Women’s Association (SMH 4 March 1930). She was also mentioned a number of times in the social pages of the Sydney Morning Herald, attending pre-wedding parties in Mosman (SMH 9 January 1935) and when she was anticipating hosting a party on 20 November 1939 (SMH 26 October 1939).
The first public record of Dorothy’s role as a theatrical producer was in the World War II years, when she produced two plays at Bryant’s Playhouse (so named after its founder, Betty Annear Bryant, a well-known Sydney and Melbourne theatre actress) which theatre was located near Circular Quay in Phillip Street, Sydney. These plays were, “Arms and the Man” staged on 5 September 1942 and “The Millionairess” staged to “mixed reviews” on 17 February 1943.
Dorothy’s name was mentioned in two entries in the Sydney Morning Herald in 28 November 1946 and again in 15 October 1949, as being the producer of plays staged by the Mosman Theatre Guild, which appears to have been an amateur theatrical group, but it was not reported what these productions were or where they were staged. She had apparently ceased producing for the Guild by 1951 and judging by the poor reviews received of their productions in that year (see SMH 12 November 1951) it would not surprise to learn that the Guild ceased to exist not long afterwards. Papers of the Guild between 1930 and 1949 are listed as held in the Mitchel Library in Sydney.
Dorothy also gave elocution lessons in her home at 18 Morella Road, Clifton Gardens. I was a pupil of hers in the early 1950s. The memory of those lessons still sticks with me 65 years later. I will forever be able to recite the incantation “Har nar brarn car?” to remove my Aussie twang when I asked “How now brown cow?” Dorothy produced small plays for her pupils. I recall performing as Smee in a production of Peter Pan in the hall of the (then) Congregational Church at the corner of Belmont and Cowles Roads, probably in the early 1950s.
The last record I have been able to find of Dorothy as producer of a children’s theatre was as the producer of “Pirates in the Barn” at the Independent Theatre, North Sydney, staged on 20 December 1958. For reasons to be mentioned later, this record is perhaps suspect.
Dorothy May Hemingway was the daughter of Wilfred Hubert and Elizabeth Hemingway. There is a reference to a solicitor, W H Hemingway (1879-1943) and his wife Elizabeth, who lived in Clifton Gardens in Sydney after migrating from New Zealand in 1920 in a note written by Diane Hodge on 13 June 2012 on the Mosman Memories website under the title of “Military Road”. Ms Hodge referred to Elizabeth as her father’s much loved aunt, and that she and W H Hemingway divorced some years after migrating to Australia.
Wilfred Hubert Hemingway was both a qualified solicitor and an accountant in New Zealand. He was a co-founder with Charles Victor Robertson (1882-1951) of the accounting practice, publishing house and a leading provider of correspondence tuition in accountancy and business named after the founders, Hemingway and Robertson and which later was known as Hemingway Robertson Pty Ltd and Hemingway Robertson Ltd as well as the Hemingway Robertson Institute. In these various guises the business began in Auckland and operated throughout New Zealand (see, for example the report in the Otago Daily Times of 5 March 1918, page 6).
However, it appears that Hemingway and Robertson had begun to look for wider horizons across the Tasman quite early on. The partners investigated setting up in Australia as early as 1911, arriving in Sydney from Auckland on 26 December 1911 aboard the R M S Mooltan (SMH 28 December 1911).
It seems that Charles Robertson migrated to Australia and settled in Melbourne shortly thereafter. He was in Melbourne in 1913 and it was not long before he became quite a prominent figure in that city. He was a president (indeed the last president) of the Melbourne Stock Exchange and the first chairman of the Melbourne branch of the Liberal Party of Australia. An interesting sidenote is that Keith Yorston (later Sir Keith) worked for Hemingway and Robertson in Melbourne until 1927, when he moved to Sydney to work for the college, and resigned in 1932. Edward Fortescue (of Yorston and Fortescue fame) ran the Brisbane branch of the business for a time.
Meanwhile Wilfred operated the Hemingway and Robertson business in Sydney, at 16 Barrack Street, Sydney. When they migrated to Australia, Hemingway and Roberston split the business. Robertson operated the Hemingway and Robertson business in Collins Street Melbourne while Hemingway ran the Sydney branch. However, it appears that the split was amicable. For example, Robertson sponsored Hemingway’s lecture tour around Australia in 1933. The report of two of his lectures, in Sydney and Brisbane, which appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald of 18 October 1933 included photographs of packed houses attending these lectures.
Wilfred Hubert Hemingway died in Auckland in 1943 aged 63. He had returned to Auckland from Sydney aboard the Monterrey on 4 April 1936 when he was aged 56.
Presumably, Wilfred and Elizabeth Hemingway were divorced some time prior to this date. Indeed, it may even have been prior to 1931. It was recorded that Mrs W H Hemingway (her first name is not recorded) attended a Sydney Grammar School dance in 1931 and, although members of the Sydney Grammar School Womens’ Association attended with their husbands, Mrs W H Hemingway was one member recorded as having attended alone (SMH 6 July 1931).
Elizabeth Hemingway’s association with Sydney Grammar School appears to have probably arisen because her son attended the school. William (Bill) Hubert Hemingway was Dorothy’s younger brother. He was born in Auckland on 22 September 1908. After the family migrated to Australia, Bill attended Sydney Grammar School. He was 17 years old when he ran second in the open 100 yards sprint in the Sydney Grammar School’s athletics carnival on 19 September 1925 (SMH 21 September 1925), presumably this being his last year of high school.
After attending Sydney Grammar School he read Law at Sydney University and played rugby on the wing for the Sydney University Football Club and later for the Northern Suburbs Rugby Club (the archives refer to him as an “ex-Kiwi”). He also played rugby for the NSW Waratahs (Waratah number 103) and for Australia. His debut test for the Wallabies was on 8 September 1928 against New Zealand and his last test was on 23 July 1932. He was Australia’s 254th Wallaby.
Bill Hemingway was admitted as a solicitor in 1933 and practised law in Dubbo, New South Wales, where he died aged 72 on 12 April 1981.
There are some minor discrepancies about the people in the Hemingway family.
The first concerns the first name of the mother of Dorothy May Hemingway. New Zealand Ancestry records disclose that a Dorothy May Hemingway was born to Wilfred Hubert Hemingway and Elsie Bonar Calder in New Zealand in 1907. The her note in the “Mosman Memories” entry referred to above, Diane Hodge remembered her father’s aunt’s name as Elizabeth. This is possibly explained by the fact that Elsie is a known variant of Elizabeth, and it may be that she simply used a less formal variant of her name early in life and reverted to the more formal Elizabeth later in her life.
The second discrepancy is that Ancestry records state that Dorothy May Hemingway died in Sydney on 13 September 1955. If this is correct, the report of her having produced “Pirates in the Barn” at the Independent Theatre in 1958 could not be correct.
Dorothy May Hemingway married Robin Henry Jansen, a musician, in 1941 and had two children (whose names are not mentioned in Ancestry records). Robin Henry Jansen’s name appears in the records of the Northern Suburbs Crematorium to have died on 20 August 2002 aged 85. This would suggest that he was born in 1917, which would make him 10 years younger than Dorothy May Hemingway, not an impossible age difference but if it is correct it would signify that he outlived her by 47 years!
What a great story and comments from others.
My family grew up in Mosman around 1956 and I attended Middle Harbour Public School and Mosman High till 1963.
I recall wonderfull days with my brother and our mates exploring the grounds of Clifton Gardens and particularly the creek that ran from Brierley St to Reid Park.
Great memories and thanks Steve Langley.
BTW…is the post from Ron Wylie (8 Nov 2008) the same Ron Wylie the son of the Baptist Minister who lived in Ourimbah Rd Mosman and also attended Mosman High School? If so he’s a classmate from 59-63.
Hi Steve just read your story on Clifton Gardens brings back great memories of my childhood living in the baths. I also remember when the queen came out in '54 all getting on my dads boat and following the gothic down the harbour. I was 9 year old I can remember coming home from school and mum would say Michael go and catch some leather jackets for dinner and I would they were plentiful in those days. I also went to mosman school we Left Clifton Gardens in the late fifties. In 1963 I had another life changing experience finding two bodies whilst looking for golf balls at Chatswood golf course. They were a nurse and a scientist their names were bogle and chandler and still today it’s an unsolved mystery. But I will always cherish my memories of you and your family the Wedderburns. Slades and O'briens who all stayed with us in the baths.
Was just wondering if anyone knows the history behind 5 Morella Rd, Clifton Gardens?
It lies dormant and falling down currently.
G’day again, to Mosman Memories, and further to my story Squatter Camps on Clifton Gardens. To Michael McCormick, who recently wrote on 10th September, 2015, I certainly do remember you as a junior member of our little band of larrikins, who camped frequently at Clifton Gardens. I can recall being envious that you and your sisters Maureen, Patti and two whose names I cannot recall, and along with your parents Bill and Kewpie were permanent residents there as caretakers in the huge bathing change room sheds residence. By the time you had grown into your teens and were the one with a mate who discovered the bodies of Bogle and Chandler at Lane Cove National Park, I was in the Merchant Navy at that time working on a ship the TSMV Wanganella doing the the trans Tasman run to New Zealand. Michael, I certainly can remember what seemed like forty adults and kids packed onto your Dad’s fishing boat, to motor out into the Harbour to watch Queen Elizabeth’s royal yacht the Britannia come through the Sydney Heads. How time has flown from those heady days of our childhood. I am now a few months off eighty years of age and two weeks ago I had the opportunity to rediscover Clifton Gardens and Chowder Bay. It was a memory lane journey to Sydney for me, with my partner Kerry, and we were taken across Sydney Harbour in a boat owned by my son Glenn. He told us he had discovered a wonderful restaurant named “Ripples” at Chowder Bay and as Kerry and I were celebrating an anniversary he felt it would be an opportune time to visit the place which had given me so many wonderful memories in those post-war years of 1946 to 1957.
It was wonderful to sit in a building that was once filled with the military personnel of the Chowder Bay Army Water Transport Base, and look over the now bare but beautiful Clifton Gardens. It was made more wonderful by the excellent ambiance, the views and the meal and service we enjoyed at this place of fine cuisine. It brought back a flood of heady memories of those childhood and early teen days. I could still see in my minds eye the now gone ferry wharf, and the two story dressing sheds and timber double decked swimming enclosure. Michael, I have just completed my autobiography called “Erskineville to the Bush” which is currently with a publisher. I have written a comprehensive chapter in it about Clifton Gardens and our “squatter camps there”, If you read this, and you are interested, send me your address and and I will forward details to you, and I would be interested to know the whereabouts of all the families you mentioned. I believe my now home town of Glen Innes is now a “sister city” to Mosman. Steve Langley
Hi Steve Langley. Thoroughley enjoyed your story Clifton Gardens, my time 20’s early 30’s and tie up Glen Innes. Give us “Mosmanians” more.
Alice in Wonderland. The Red Queen’s advice to the King.
I shall never ever ever forget, said the King,
You will though said the Queen, unless you make a memo.
Keep writing. It is Paradise. Regards Ron.
— Ron Wylie · 8 November 2008, 04:41 · #