I think it started in muma's kitchen... - Lost Manly Shop

I think it started in muma's kitchen...

It's hard to believe that the Northern Beaches was once the least desirable place to live in Sydney because it was a long and difficult trip by unpaved roads and ferry punt on horse and cart, from Sydney town, and few travailed. The punt at the Spit was run by the Ellery clan, who lived close by, and operated the punt from the early 1800s until 1924, when the Spit Bridge was opened.

Fast forward a century or more and the Northern Beaches, is perhaps, the most desirable place to live in Sydney, reflected in the souring housing prices and dense overdevelopment, causing many families to leave for more affordable, and less populated places, resulting in a sense of loss for simpler times, and for some, a sense of feeling dispossessed.  

Lost Manly and the Northern Beaches Facebook Group was conceived in July 2013, as a place to share local and family history, that had been gathered over the years, with nowhere to put it. 

I think my love of history first began in my childhood,hearing my mother share memories of her childhood, growing up in North Manly during the war. Mum's parents and grandparents lived close by, and we walked past my great grandparents house in Soldiers Avenue Harbord on the way to Freshwater beach. Old man Claus, a Norwegian sailor from Bergen, built the original wooden house with his own two hands in the early 1900s and they lived their the mid 1960s when they both passed away, six months apart. Now that's true love.  

Whether my interest in my own family history was inspired by my history lessons at school, or my history lessons at school were inspired by my family history at home, is a great unknown, but my natural passion for it showed up early when I scored the highest grades in Year 9 final exams, which were a complete shock to me as I wasn't even in the running.  Thinking about it, now, I think it started in muma's kitchen.

Mum was born in Narrabeen in March 1939, as the world was facing the second world war.  With that came stories of mum's childhood during and after the war, when butter was scarce, and rations allowed them to survive, and spreading dripping, instead of butter, on their bread was common. Mum's cooking was basic, as she worked full time as a Legal Secretary so by the time she got home, she usually made just meat and three veg and saved the fancy cooking for the weekends, which I loved, helping her and bonding over food. Mum´s Shepherd pie conjures up vivid childhood memories, baked in our old post-WW2 avocado, and beige enamel gas oven with the old pilot light that was lit with a match and was scary smelling the gas seep out before the flame caught it in a little explosion of fire.  

Mum's childhood home was 1.2 km westward from our house, up the hill just off Allambie Road. We could see the tops of the four Oak trees in their backyard, from our front yard. Mum´s grandparents lived 1.2km eastward, towards Freshwater Beach.  We walked past their old house in Soldiers Avenue on the way to the beach. I first started researching my family history in the mid 80s. There was no internet back then and all history tracings had to be done at the Archives at the Rocks, using the old microfilm machines, a skill I'd picked up working my first job in the Bank of New South Wales, now Westpac.

My family history research journey has taken me back hundreds, even thousands, of years to England, Ireland, Scotland, Norway, Germany Poland. But it wasn't until living far from home in Norway that I started searching closer to home that brought me back to Manly, and in doing so, found out that four and five generations of my ancestors lived around Manly and the southern suburbs of the Northern Beaches. It was then I started the Facebook group Lost Manly and the Northern Beaches, as a place to share my findings, and encourage other locals to do the same, to create an online portal to gather and share the local and family history of the Northern Beaches, as told through the eyes of the locals.



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