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Short histories of people and locations from the history of the Sutherland Shire.
Published on: Tuesday, 14 July 2020
Despite the fine houses, tranquil location and breathtaking views, today’s residents of Illawong Peninsula are unlikely to describe themselves as living in a ‘medieval fairyland’. Yet the site along Fowlers Road which overlooks the Georges River towards Oatley was once home to the Sutherland Shire’s very own castle. In 1942, John Mystery - musician, performer and one of Australia’s best loved writers of children’s stories - purchased the 5-acre lot. Over the next decade he built on the existing stone cottage, transforming it into Adventure Castle, complete with turrets and flagstone paths. It was an extraordinary thing to do, but then John Mystery was indeed a most extraordinary man.
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Published on: Wednesday, 24 June 2020
Sutherland Shire residents are blessed with having some of Sydney’s most spectacular natural areas and outdoor spaces right on their doorstep: sandy beaches; rugged bushland; a dramatic coastline; lively parks and gardens; vast waterways, and much more. But while we all love being close to nature, not many of us would opt to forgo the comforts and conveniences of modern life and actually go and live in it. But for much of the 20th Century, that’s exactly what the cliff-dwellers of Tabbigai did.
Published on: Tuesday, 15 October 2019
Scattered around the Sutherland Shire, like lost pieces from a giant game of chess, are four old sandstone markers. Each is about 90cm in height, engraved with an inscription, and well over a century old. They are the Shire’s historic milestones; relics of a time before Google Maps and GPS technology. But just why are they here, and how did they come to be at their current locations?
Published on: Wednesday, 26 June 2019
What do Sydney’s second airport, innovative artist George Gittoes, a diet of grass and bird bones, and a well-known Australian jewellery company have in common?
Published on: Monday, 25 February 2019
What do: a) entertainer Mickey Rooney; b) an example of early 20th century crowdfunding; and c) plans for Australia’s first venture into space have in common?
Published on: Thursday, 20 December 2018
‘A limestone cave within 20 miles of Sydney. It seems unbelievable, and yet it is true,’ reported the Sydney Morning Herald in 1933, ‘for in the National Park, not a mile from Lady Carrington Drive, nestles this geological freak.’ Now known as the Palona Cave, this ‘Jenolan in miniature’ is a remarkable natural time-capsule which has surprised and intrigued visitors who, over time, have continued to discover – and rediscover – this ancient and vital edifice.
Published on: Monday, 12 November 2018
‘Previous wars have been a limited business; they were the affair of men,’ recorded the Australian Red Cross Society in the wake of the armistice that ended four years of fighting on 11 November 1918. ‘But in this war, woman was asked to throw herself into the national struggle, and she responded with an enthusiasm and a downright efficiency which surprised most of the other sex, and perhaps, many of her own.’ Amongst those who so readily volunteered for Home Front duties during WW1 were dedicated women from the Sutherland Shire.
Published on: Monday, 10 September 2018
On 26 August 1768, Lieutenant (later Captain) James Cook left England aboard the HMB Endeavour on his ‘first voyage of discovery.’ Twenty months later the ship sailed into Botany Bay and on 29 April 1770 Cook and his crew rowed ashore and first encountered the local inhabitants, the Gweagal people. As the 250th anniversary of this meeting approaches it is worth reflecting on how previous generations have chosen to observe this historic occasion in the Sutherland Shire.
As host LGA during the Captain Cook Bicentenary Celebrations, 1970 was a very busy year in the Sutherland Shire. In all, around 200 activities, displays and projects were staged locally to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Endeavour’s arrival. The centrepiece of the yearlong festivities was a colourful re-enactment of Cook’s landing at Kurnell on 29 April. It was a lavish depiction witnessed by millions, including royalty. But it was also an event beset with planning and logistical challenges, political squabbles, and more than a few last minute surprises.
Published on: Friday, 15 June 2018
There is always something fascinating about a shipwreck. The very word summons endless images of desperate characters, groaning vessels and nature’s fury; dramatic scenes of tragedy, daring, chaos, and farce; fateful turns of mischance and fortune; and thrilling tales of life and death. But one need not look to distant reefs and isles to uncover accounts of maritime disaster and providence, as many extraordinary stories can be found along the coastline and waterways which define the Sutherland Shire. At Cronulla – not too far from the Post Office – there are 8 plaques in the pavement, each about a different 19th Century ship that was wrecked nearby.
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