Saturday, 31 January 2015

Property Advert of the Week: Leslie Homes Pty Ltd Display Homes (1967)

For our first property advert of the week for 2015, I'll share with you an advertisement promoting some the display homes available from Leslie Homes. They were on display at Villawood, Bass Hill, and Baulkham Hills.

Source: Leslie Homes Pty. Ltd. 1967. "Leslie Homes Pty Ltd (Advertisement)." The Daily Telegraph, April 8: 23.

Monday, 26 January 2015

1972: The Concorde arrives in Sydney

On June 20, 1972, the Concorde made its first visit to Sydney. The Daily Telegraph managed a photo of the plane as it flew 1500 feet above Sydney's CBD by award-winning photographer, Bill McAuley.


Source: Behr, J. 1972. "Concorde Dwarfed by City Towers: Flying Won't Be The Same Again." The Daily Telegraph, June 21: 3. 

On that day, it flew to Canberra then onto Merimbula and 500 miles out to sea before returning to Merimbula and Melbourne. The Sydney-Canberra leg took just 18 minutes.

I also came across a photo of it taking off (I think) at Sydney Airport a few months ago on a Sydney history page on Facebook. People parked their cars on General Holmes Drive to get close to the action, something that would not be allowed today. I was hoping it would still be available online for this entry so people can see it.

Over the next quarter of a century, the Concorde's operated by Air France & British Airways would make occasional visits to Sydney, usually for promotional purposes or as part of world tours.

The last visit by a Concorde to Sydney was in 1999 when Air France did a world tour. Here is a video of a takeoff at Sydney Airport uploaded by Youtube member Todd Chapman. It is believed by plane enthusiasts that this flight was on September 24 1999.


Following a fatal crash of an Air France Concorde plane in Paris in July 2000 led to them being pulled out of service with the last Concorde Service in 2003 between New York and London. 

Monday, 19 January 2015

1990: Grace Bros opens at Hurstville

This week, Myer will close the doors of their store at Westfield Hurstville, ending almost 25 years of service by Myer-Grace Bros to the people of Hurstville and the St George District. Before 1990, St George residents had to travel to either Roselands, Miranda Fair or the city if they wanted to shop at Grace Bros.

In the 1980's Grace Bros were keen to open a store in the St George area. Southside Plaza at Rockdale (redeveloped into Rockdale Plaza) was touted as a possible site with the centre keen to expand.

Meanwhile, David Jones had their eyes on Hurstville with a possible site floated on a new shopping centre on Queens Road near the current site of Hurstville Library. That never eventuated.

Westfield was keen to expand their Hurstville centre which had opened in 1978 with 120 shops anchored by Waltons, Coles & Nock & Kirbys. Under the expansion, the number of retailers would double to about 240, the current number of retailers trading today.

Grace Bros ended up going to Hurstville to join the expanded centre, along with fellow Coles-Myer discount department store - Kmart. The expansion was approved by Hurstville Council in late 1987.

Source: Westfield Group. 1990. "Westfield Shoppingtown Hurstville" (Advertisement). The St George and Sutherland Shire Leader, April 5: 17. 

On April 10, 1990, the store was officially opened to shoppers with hundreds of locals queuing up to snap up a bargain. Grace Bros Ambassador Deborah Hutton was on hand to oversee proceedings. It took one hour for the store to rake $51 000 in sales. Apparently, one shopper reportedly bought a bed within minutes of the store opening.

Source: Anonymous. 1990. "Crowds surge to buy at new GBs." The St George and Sutherland Shire Leader, April 12: 3. 

Growing up in the 1990s, Grace Bros was the department store that I was taken to for shopping. One family custom was to get our school shoes there. I remember that Grace Bros had it all, even though it was nowhere near the size of stores in the city or elsewhere.

But in the past few years, it just had gone downhill. My comments to a recent article in The St George and Sutherland Shire Leader, would sum up where it is now. It did end up being published in the St George print edition of the same paper. I didn't get to see it in print as my local (Sutherland Shire) edition did not publish it.

What does it mean for Hurstville? I'm concerned about its status as a shopping centre. Department Stores may not be the anchor for a shopping centre as they used to be, but they carry  a symbolic meaning in terms of the reputation of the centre itself. Already people have said they will shop elsewhere.

No longer it feels good to shop in Hurstville.

Source: Coles-Myer Corporation. 1990. "Now it feels good to shop in Hurstville (Grace Bros Advertisement)." The Sunday Telegraph, April 8: 12.  

Monday, 12 January 2015

1986: Shark Attack warning in Botany Bay

The St George and Sutherland Shire Leader decided to dedicate a front page during the summer of 1986 to warn people of the dangers of swimming in Botany Bay. As a youngster of the (late) 1980s, I recall those simple signs reminding people of the possible dangers. Rockdale Mayor, Ron Rathbone believed that calm waters, plenty of food (fish) along with the dredging of the bay for the development of Port Botany and Sydney Airport had increased the risk of shark attack.

At the beach, were normally told to swim between the flags. Rockdale Council wanted swimmers swimming in between the nets (netted bathing pools) as a means of keeping people safe in the water.

Source: Poulus, J. 1986. "Swimmers risk death: Mayors' warning on shark attack threat." The St George and Sutherland Shire Leader, January 16: 1. 

Even in the 1970s, the council was concerned. It even produced signage to alert swimmers in four languages (English, Italian, German and Macedonian). The calmer waters have always been popular with those from immigrant backgrounds, even to this day. In 1986, Rockdale Council believed that 80 % of swimmers at Lady Robinsons Beach were of immigrant background. 

Source: Anonymous. 1972. "Shark Warning In Four Languages." The St George and Sutherland Shire Leader, September 20:11.

For the record, the last fatal shark attack in the Georges River/Botany Bay catchment was in 1946 at Oatley Bay in Oatley when Valma Tegel (14) died after having her left leg ripped off by a shark in water's just one metre deep. The last shark attack in the bay itself was in February 1940 when John William Eke sustained injuries to his arms at North Brighton (Kyeemagh). There have been no fatal deaths from a shark attack in the bay itself.

The risk of shark attack is still there but doesn't seem to be as of much concern as now. These days you are more likely to drown in Botany Bay due to the structure of the beach itself. A five-year boy drowned at Dolls Point in late 2013. The water depth increased sharply not too far offshore and people may not be able to see it. Currents in the bay have also played their part as well.

Updated November 2018 - Clearer image added.

Monday, 5 January 2015

1965: The Manly... Sydney's first Hydrofoil

Source: Anon. 1965. "A Newcomer and a Veteran." The Sydney Morning Herald, January 8:1.

This Wednesday, it will be fifty years since the start of a public transport revolution in Sydney and bought the Manly Peninsula closer than ever to Sydney.

On January 7 1965, the first hydrofoil went into service on Sydney Harbour between Manly and Circular Quay. It was known as the "Manly", named after the suburb the hydrofoil was to serve.

Why a hydrofoil service? In the 1960s, the Manly-Circular Quay ferry service was privately run by the Manly & Port Jackson Steamship Company. Its fleet of ferries was ageing and at the same time, it needed to increase patronage on the route.

It came up with the idea of offering a premium high-speed service and a hydrofoil would be its answer.

For 128 000 pounds, they acquired the "Manly". It had seating for 72 people. This was only half the capacity of the five hydrofoils that would join in the following years, and less than a third of the capacity of it's 1980's namesake and the "Sydney", which joined the fleet at that time.

It was built in Japan by Hitachi and arrived in Sydney on December 31, 1964.

Source: Anonymous. 1965. "Introducing... The Manly Flyer." The Daily Telegraph, January  1:3. 

Source: Anonymous. 1965. "Hydrofoil High-Jinks: Exciting New Vessel Skims Over Harbor." The Daily Telegraph, January 2: 3. 

When it began service, commuters found that the trip took only 15 minutes, compared to 30-35 minutes for the regular ferries. As it was the only hydrofoil, it only operated at peak times.

Curious Sydneysiders queued up to experience it for themselves on the first day of operation on January 7, 1965. Special harbour excursions were organised to allow the public to experience the new ferry before commencing the first commuter services that evening.

Source: Anonymous. 1965. "1000 Take trips in Hydrofoil." The Daily Telegraph, January 8: 3. 

When the Fairlight arrived the following year, the Manly spent the first three months of 1967 doing cruises around Port Phillip Bay in Melbourne. That failed, and she returned to Sydney, rejoining the fleet.

It operated until  1979 when it was sold. It ended up operating on the Great Barrier Reef and today is believed to be a cafe on the shores of the Murray River minus its foils.

An interesting fact was that the hydrofoil itself was allowed to operate as far south as Jervis Bay and as far north as Port Stephens.

The hydrofoils would be a presence on Sydney Harbour for a quarter of a century until 1991 when they were retired from service following the introduction of their successors - The Jetcat's. However, the Jetcat's did not survive as long. They were removed from service on New Year's Eve, 2008 and Sydney Ferries (who took control of the Manly services in 1974) did not replace them.

Instead, the State Government decided to allow private operators to operate the high-speed service. This returned the route to what it was back in 1965, privately operated. Manly Fast Ferries (operated by Bass & Flinders Cruises) commenced their service in 2010, followed by Sydney Fast Ferries the following year. However, Sydney Fast Ferries is the official operator (since 2011) and has access to the public ferry berths at Circular Quay and Manly. Manly Fast Ferries did have space in 2010-11 before having to hand over space to Sydney Fast Ferries. The downside to this is that the operators are allowed to set their own fares and don't accept Opal Cards.

Even with the turbulence that the Manly Ferries have had over the decades, those living on the northern beaches are very dependent on their ferries, not to mention loyal. For some, paying that little extra to get to and from work each day makes a big difference in their day, whether it may mean getting to work on time, or home to spend time with the kids at the end of the day.

And there is a choice as well. Some are happy with the regular service and for many a chance to see and enjoy their harbour.

Finally, here is a newsreel feature from 1965 on the hydrofoil.