Ettalong Beach

This week, with holidays well underway, it seemed the perfect opportunity to share the image above, Ettalong Beach. The image above provides a snapshot on the history of a holiday destination which has long been popular with Australians looking for a little sun. Even in the colder winter weather, many will still head to beach resorts, like Ettalong, these July school holidays.

Ettalong Beach has been known for almost as long as European colonists have been in Australia with Governor Phillip visiting the Central Coast and stopping at Ettalong Beach in 1788 and again in 1789. At the time of this first visit, it was noted that there were a large number of Aboriginal people on the beach and in the surrounding area, but this population was quickly decimated by European diseases, particularly smallpox.

The first European to permanently settle in the area was James Webb, who took up a formal grant of land in 1824, a grant which eventually grew to include most of the Woy Woy area. Other early Europeans in the area were men who collected and burned the huge number of shells to be found in the Ettalong and Woy Woy areas. These burned shells provided the lime necessary to build the colony. Still other settlers were boat builders, who used the Brisbane Water area to build and launch hundreds of boat between 1829 and the decline of the shipbuilding industry in the area in the 1950s.

Then, in the 1880s, the railway was extended to the Central Coast. By 1888 Woy Woy had its own railway station and by the 1890s, the Central Coast was something of a tourist wonderland. Woy Woy and the nearby Ettalong Beach became known for fishing, oysters, boating, picnicking and bathing, and people came from far and wide to enjoy the seaside resorts. Boarding houses, hotels and pubs began to spring up, and even seaside theatres were built at Ettalong, Woy Woy and Avoca. The main attraction though was, of course, the beach itself and Ettalong in particular was known for its beautiful beach.

A Very Different Gosford

This week, The Past Present has decided to turn attention north of Sydney, to this stunning postcard image of Gosford, on the Central Coast of NSW. Gosford has long been a popular destination for day trippers and holiday makers from Sydney, yet as this image shows, Gosford was not always the city it is today.

Although today Gosford is the administrative centre of the Central Coast, with a growing city to match, Gosford was not always the coast side metropolis we see today. European colonisation of the Gosford area did not begin until the mid 1820s, because although the area had been explored within years of the colonists arriving, it was too difficult to access. The soils were rich though, and agriculturalists soon began to move into the area. By 1850 there was a cart track between the Hawkesbury River and Brisbane water and by the end of the 19th century the area was abounding in market gardens and orchards, particularly citrus orchards.

Gosford itself was named in 1839 after the 2nd Earl of Gosford, Archibald Acheson in 1885 Gosford was officially declared a town, with the declaration of a municipality following a year later in 1886. Yet it was not until the rail link was completed between Sydney and the area in 1887 that settlement really began to accelerate. Even by the 1920s, Gosford was still simply a small town, though it had already grown a reputation as a popular tourist resort. When the Pacific Highway was opened in 1930, settlement in the area rapidly expanded, slowly but surely creating the Gosford we know today – a thriving coast side city.


Tourist Towns – Terrigal


On Terrigal Beach Front

With the weather rapidly cooling down, it seemed the perfect time for The Past Present to focus one last time on a beach before Winter hits properly. Many Sydneysiders have spent the recent holidays enjoying the last of the warmer weather with a beachside holiday. Many have headed up the coast to the Central Coast, like the one featured in the image above – Terrigal Beach.

Today, Terrigal looks very different to the Terrigal featured in the image above, with abundant shops, hotels and houses. Yet Terrigal was once a much quieter place, and in fact, until the 1970s, had only one market, one medical practice and a lot of orchards! The first European settler in the area was John Gray who arrived in 1826. He named his property Tarrygal, after an Indigenous word he heard the original inhabitants, the Awabakal Aboriginal people using. Tarrygal was believed to mean place of little birds. In the 1870s a sawmill was opened, with a tramway to run timber to a newly built jetty, where it would be shipped to Sydney. Soon after dairying became an important part of the area.

Tourism though was slower to arrive, not really beginning to impact the area until 1889, when the Sydney to Newcastle Railway was opened. Roads were built, and people did visit the area for the healthy sea air and for leisure. A life saving club was established in 1925 and beach houses were increasingly let to tourists who came to the area for holidays. Yet Terrigal remained a sleepy coastal town, right up until the 1960s and 1970s, when tourism to the area really boomed. In the 1970s the first high rise hotel was built, and the future of Terrigal as a tourist resort was set.