About Us

We have one of the best collections of local and family history for Manly and the Northern Beaches, collated from history sites and personal family albums of our members making it unique in every way.  Lost Manly and the Northern Beaches, began in July 2013, as a place to share my family history research and invite others to share theirs also, to gather local history and precious memories before they are lost.  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 grandparents also lived close by and we walked past their old house in Soldiers Avenue Harbord on the way to Freshwater beach.

I began 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, which was fine because I'd learnt how to use them when I worked at the Bank after leaving school.  That too has changed, from the Bank of New South Wales, to Westpac...nothing stays the same, except our history! The journey took me back hundreds of years to England, Ireland, Scotland, Norway, Germany and even New Caledonia, 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 were either born n bred in Manly or moved there to be closer to family; some even left for work for decades then came back. Talk about history repeating itself. This was the foundation stone of starting Lost Manly and the Northern Beaches, as the name means so much to me in more ways than I can express.

It's hard to believe that the Northern Beaches was once one of the least desirable places in Sydney to live because it was a long and difficult road trip from Sydney, and few travailed. The Northern Beaches is now one of the most desirable places to live in Sydney, reflected in the inflated housing prices, forcing many families to leave, causing a sense of 'dispossession' or loss, which I hope Lost Manly community can help to ease.  This too forms part of the LOST MANLY ethos.

A punt at the Spit run by the Ellery clan who lived close by, was punting passengers and horse and cart, then the automobile, across Middle Harbour, until the Spit Bridge was built in 1924.

Learn about Manly's humble beginnings, the vision of one man, Henry Gilbert Smith, from the 'mother land' of England, who fell in love with the natural beauty of Manly and envisioned an Utopian paradise; a holiday by the sea, an escape from the industrial age life, that Sydney town had embraced with gusto; smoke, smoke, noise, and pollution, crime and poverty, he sought escapism on the peninsular paradise.

A holiday by the sea, where people can forget all their troubles and cares, and bathe in the natural beauty of its surroundings, though swimming was still fifty years away from legalisation. Smith's vision was for a new 'BRIGHTON BY THE SEA' which he first envisioned, naming it 'ELLENSVILLE' after his wife.  He also saw its development potential, and quickly claimed much of the surrounding land.  Though the land was not uninhabited.

  • Manly is situated on the land of the Gayemagal people, the traditional owners of this land.
  • The Gayemagal lived in the Manly area and thrived due to the abundance of food resources like fish, shellfish and animals. Evidence of these can be found in the middens all over the coastal area.
  • Aboriginal people are part of the oldest surviving continuous culture in the world.
  • Early relations between the first colonists and the Gayemagal people quickly soured.
  • In 1789 a Smallpox epidemic spread through the local Aboriginal population.
  • By the 1830s, only a few Aboriginal people remained in the Manly area.
  • Recorded Aboriginal sites included shelter, midden sites, rock engravings, open midden sites, shelter cave art and open camp sites. From  manlyaustralia.com.au/info/history. For more historical information, please visit www.aboriginalheritage.org.

Many suburbs were named after Aboriginal names:

  • Akuna Bay – 'place of water'
  • Allambie - 'to remain a while'
  • Barrenjoey – 'young kangaroo'
  • Curl Curl - curial curial meaning 'river of life'
  • Elanora -'camp by the sea'
  • Narraweena - 'a quiet place in the hills' (From northernbeaches.gov.au)

By 1855 his vision of "BRIGHTON BY THE SEA", "ELLENSVILLE", was in full steam ahead, and the first ferry service began, a cargo wharf was built, and the people came. The cargo wharf was soon turned into a passenger wharf and daily ferry were in full swing.

Lost Manly Vintage Ferry Poster SALE 3 for $20 

The people needed to be fed, so Manly Pier Family Hotel was built (opposite the wharf) where ferry punters could eat and sleep and be refreshed on their sojourn from the city. The opening day of the hotel saw a huge celebration, Manly's first, as a full brass band played and patrons at the hotel enjoyed the sights and sounds from above. One of the three posters on sale now highlights the history of the Manly Ferries from 1900-1960 designed and illustrated in 1987 by Michael Muter with history and research contributed by John Darroch.

The numbers of ferry passengers grew in search of a day of escapism from the harsh realities of every day life in the city; to soak up the surrounding natural beauty and the health benefits of the fresh sea air. That is how my great grandparents first came to Manly, under doctor's orders for a lung condition.

By the 1920s Manly was in full swing and The Corso became a 'street of dreams', Manly had its own's daily newspaper and a competition was run which saw the creation this winning song, 'MANLY BY THE SEA', in 1924. We're currently working on bringing this song back to life as one of our members' great aunts has an old pianola with this song. We've also got one of our admin, Martin, a retired opera singer, working on an ensemble using the sheet music, so it should be a lot of fun.  Martin's been holding 'covid concerts' from his balcony in Munich Germany, while they've been in lockdown in 2020, which have been very popular amongst the neighbours, so we're looking forward to seeing what he produces for us.  We'll also print some posters from 1924 (pictured below) to celebrate the occasion.

Manly by the sea 1924 Poster $19.95

Discover the lasting legacy left by the now historic Port Jackson & Manly Steamship Company (PJ&MSSCo), who started the first Manly Ferry Service from Circular Quay to Manly in 1855. Learn how they coined the phrase, 'Seven miles from Sydney a Thousand miles from care' that has been seen by many generations of Manly Ferry punters as you arrive at Manly Wharf. The PJ&MSSCo. held a newspaper competition, in the 1930s to caption a slogan for their ferry campaign and the winner was a local Manly girl from Manly. Say Hi to her granddaughter in our facebook group!

The slogan was later added to the classic Fred Elliott painting of the SS-Barrenjoey, as she glided past the Heads in April 1927 and we’ve embraced that as our image as it captures everything Lost Manly is about. https://www.lostmanly.com.au

Lost Manly Vintage FERRY Posters 3 for $20
South Steyne Heritage prints

 We've captured the phenomenon of the SYDNEY STREET PHOTOGRAPHER of the 1930s and 40s, and gathered quite a collection from Lost Manly members. We might even print a few street photography prints as posters on demand. Contact us to request a print!

Our ever-growing collection captures generations of locals and tourists as they strolled from the ferry wharf to the beach, along The Corso (named after il Corso in Italy), passing St Matthews Church which is a favoured backdrop for many of the street photographs. Other favoured locations for these 1930s and 40s phenomenon was at Manly Wharf, as punters arrived by Ferry and headed towards the Harbour Pool, Promenade, and Pavilion. We have, perhaps, the largest Manly street photography collection around. Pictured here is my great Uncle LAC Bede Bernard Sutton RAAF, and his fiancé Mary Morgan. After researching Bede's story I was able to pinpoint the date this picture was taken and it proved to be a significant moment captured in time, of their last goodbye, because the day after this picture was taken, he left for war and never came home.

We have built up an extensive Picture collection with hundreds of albums capturing life as it was on the Northern Beaches from 1855 to the present (these albums are currently accessible on the Lost Manly & the Northern Beaches Facebook group and are in the process of transferring them to the website. To experience the essence of Manly is to be seven miles from Sydney a thousand miles from care.

All Three Posters for $20


Posters will be packaged and shipped in a protective postal cylinder with a tracking number to ensure delivery within 5 business days.  All Three Posters for $20

Join our engaging facebook group where it all began: