Seven Miles From Sydney And A Thousand Miles From Care – Manly

Manly 991-36

Looking south at Manly toward Cabbage Tree Bay from main business Street. Norfolk Island Pines

The image above, from circa 1936 and by an unknown photographer, shows a view many Past Present readers may be familiar with – a view at Manly. Summer in Australia brings people out in droves to enjoy the sun and surf and Manly has long been a popular destination for Sydneysiders. The image particularly highlights a feature of Manly which has become almost iconic – the Norfolk Island Pines.

During the late 19th century and into the 20th century Manly was not only one of Australias premier seaside resorts, it was one of the most popular and so it was little wonder that attention quickly turned to beautifying the seaside. According to an article published in The Sydney Morning Herald in 1935 ( the first efforts to beautify Manly with trees began in 1877 when a committee, comprising the then mayor and some of the Aldermen was created specifically to oversee the process. They sought advice from Mr Moore of the Sydney Botanic Gardens and on his recommendation planted Norfolk Island Pines, Moreton Bay Figs and Monteray Pines. These trees were not planted on the foreshore though, but in The Corso area. Two of The Corso trees, two Norfolk Pines did stand on the beach front though and these were the earliest to be plated on the foreshore.

According to the same article, Mr R. M. Pitt and Mr Charles Hayes were mainly responsible for planting the trees along the foreshore, but local legend suggests it was another man, Henry Gilbert Smith who was responsible. Whatever the case, hundreds of the trees flourished in Manly, especially along the foreshore until the 1960s  when nearly half of the trees were damaged or even killed by airborne pollution. New pines were planted along the foreshore to replace the older trees which were lost. More recently, in October 2013 another three trees were lost and replaced. As a sign of the significance of the trees, a crowd gathered to watch the trees being removed. Council workers began to cut the trunks into pieces and gave them to bystanders who received a slice of Manly history!

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