Narrabeen Ice Skating Rink and The Flying Dutchman - Lost Manly Shop

Narrabeen Ice Skating Rink and The Flying Dutchman

Most locals would fondly remember skating with friends, at Narrabeen Ice Skating Rink, on weekends and in school holidays, and watching in awe as professional figure skaters, both young and old, trained alongside. There was a kiosk onsite serving awesome hot chips and lollies, and everyone would of course wake up with super sore leg muscles and maybe a few blisters the following day.

Since its closure in the late 1990’s the former (Warringah Ice Skating Centre as it was called in the mid-1980s) site has evolved into a large apartment and commercial complex, but once upon a time the highly popular Narrabeen Ice Rink sat on the corner of Lagoon and Wellington Streets, next to Narrabeen Woolworths where it served as a local icon for over 35 years.

The rink was constructed in the 1970’s by Dutch native Dick Groentemann, who also built Ice rinks in Newcastle and Blacktown. The arch-trussed building was also home to the Warringah Bombers Ice Hockey team, at times attracting crowds of over one thousand spectators.

 The old rink was purpose built from iron and never made ice effectively. Dick bought it and also failed to make ice properly until he met another Northern Beaches family the Pitstocks. Warren Pitstock was an engineering genius and fixed it. The larger rink was then built as a joint venture between the two families, once Father Sobb allowed them to remove the abandoned Nunnery behind the old rink. It was a handshake agreement that died with father Sobb, but that’s another story.

Dick Mann owned and operated many businesses on the Northern Beaches over many decades. The ice rinks and ski slopes are a couple. Yes Narrabeen and Warringah Mall ski slope. Some might remember him or his children from Narrabeen Ice skating rink, Elliott, Ronnie and David.

David 'Dickie' Groenteman is one of Australia's oldest living survivors of Auschwitz. He was captured as part of the resistance. Passing illegal papers to help people escape. Born in 1923 in Amsterdam, this is the first time Dickie has shared every intimate, unfathomable and inspiring chapter of his life story. It's the tale of a boy from Holland who survived death row and the death camps to become a hockey legend. On the ice Dickie was known as 'The Flying Dutchman' and this is his story told. To see the key characters of this story and learn more about Dickie, follow @storiestoldau on Instagram or Facebook. Hosted on Acast. See for more information.

 When David Groenteman arrived in Australia and moved to Sydney, one of his first ports of call was the local ice rink. Ice hockey was his passion but in a country with Australia’s climate, building a legacy around the sport was always going to be a challenge but Dickie doesn’t mind a challenge and he quickly established a team of talented European immigrants. They called themselves ‘The Bombers’ - a homage to the military planes that came to their rescue during World War II.  After a resounding win in their first match against the state’s best players to earn a spot in the top NSW League, ‘The Bombers’ would go on to win a string of championships and cups.  But Dickie wasn’t content with personal glory on the ice.  He wanted to transform the sport nationwide. So, he went and built rinks with his bare hands and the help of family and friends across the country. 

This included Narrabeen which became home to ‘The Bombers’ (workplace health and safety was a little different in those days).  Three generations of Groentemans (Manns) have since pulled on the ‘The Bombers’ jersey and the club is still winning trophies to this day.

Do you Remember the artificial ski slope behind the Mall? the surface was made of spiky, nylon bristles and when you fell you got a cross between a gravel rash & a bad carpet burn. It was opened in 1967. 

Newspaper ad from May 1968


On Friday nights, the group go to the Cortina artificial ski slopes at Warringah Mall for ski training.

One of them, George Spartalis, said the training helped to keep them fit all the year round, and the artificial ski slope enabled them to keep their form in the summer.

"Last year when the snow came late we had no opportunity to practise on the snow before the racing started, but because of the artificial slope we were in pretty good shape.'

The Cortina slope, opened last year, is 200ft long and 40ft wide. The slope is made of nylon brush supported on scaffolding about 50ft high, The proprietors guarantee to teach stem turns, the intermediate stage of ski-ing, in three one-hour lessons.

From the Facebook group album “The flying Dutchman”




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