A Short History of Berowra Waters

The History of Berowra Waters and Berowra Creek is fascinating. Established by people of strength, humour, and vision, surrounded by pristine national parks estuaries, walking trails, private beaches and only an hour from the city of Sydney. This makes Berowra Creek a truly unique place.

Prior to European settlement, the local Dhurag and Guringai people lived in harmony with the river, evidenced by a rich collection of rock carvings and cave paintings.

Berowra Waters is also the home of  Australia’s First Boat Hire Fleet.


In the beginning, as stated above local tribes included the Dhurag and Guringai people. One of the last indigenous Australians, of local origin to live on Berowra Creek, was ‘Granny Lewis’ at Marra Marra Creek.

1789 Captain Hunter surveyed and charted Berowra Creek and in 1895 timber-getting was one of the main commercial activities on the Hawkesbury. Sailing boats ventured right up to Crosslands.

1829 The Government Assistant Surveyor, Govett, traced Berowra Creek to its source.

1833 the first land grant on Berowra Creek was given to George Murphy for 50 acres. Land at Marra Marra was granted to John Grace, at Peats Bight (now a wonderful restaurant) 50 acres was granted to George Peat and 30 acres was granted to George Sullivan.

George Collingbridge, poet, artist, wood engraver and founder of the Royal Art Society of NSW, took up a grant of 88 acres on Berowra Creek in 1886. Now known as Collingbridge Point; he built a stone cottage Cape di Monte, which still stands today. He lived there from 1883 to 1887.

1898 Jack Smith built a boat shed (now the most historic building in the vicinity), held fishing competitions and ran a small hand operated punt for pedestrians and horse drawn vehicles. As the punt grew popular, the roadwork to the creek began in earnest.

1890’s Edward Windybank converted the paddle steamer “General Gordan” into two house boats. During the same time, the Fretus Family, well known hoteliers, purchased 40 acres and a reserved road to the point over looking Calabash Bay. When the license was removed from a hotel they owned in Sans Souci, John Fretus decided to build a hotel/guest house at Calabash Point. This decision was based on the understanding that a partly surveyed road would be completed from Berowra Station to Cunio Point (opposite Calabash also known as Todd’s Point) and would link it to Calabash Bay by ferry and onto Berrilee via the reserved road. The Department of Works and Main Roads decided it was less expensive to wind the road down directly to the creek and the ferry commenced running across to Dusthole Bay and onto Berrilee via Bay Road. This left the Fretus Hotel without road access and it became a private home, eventually falling to ruin to vandals and bushfires.

1920’s Rex Jones, a young local man, had returned from the war, began hiring out row boats and development took off! Boat hire at Berowra Waters continues today at Berowra Waters Marina – home of the first hire boat fleet in Australia!

1926 The Berowra Creek kiosk was built (later known as The Teahouse), Jack Smith’s Boatshed added a small shop, the Silverwater Estate was auctioned and motor boat hiring began.

1936 Rex Jones was tragically drowned and a memorial in honour of this man stands near the community hall. This is a tribute to one of the many wonderful people who shaped the development of Berowra Waters as it is now known.

1930’s Arthur Lubeck conveyed tourists in his beautiful boat Enterprise to the houses that now fronted the creek; Koala Flats is still here today, The Pacific later to become Berowra Waters Inn, The RiverviewNorwick and Wymalla Flats.

The Creek was thriving!

ref: Mick Joffe – Yarns and Photo – Beautiful Old Berowra, Hornsby to the Hawkesbury

West Marina

East Marina Track

BW InnPostcardBerowra Creek

One thought on “History

  1. I remember visiting my Great Aunt Jean and Great Uncle Alf at their home — Koala Flats. My mother and father had their honeymoon there however after one night dad was recalled to the Navy. Mum talked about how everyone along the river were out on their balconies cheering the newly weds and then the next day were out again cheering dad back to war. We would visit and usually stayed in the flat on the right hand side of the home. I think that the last time I stayed there I would have been 9 or 10. I shall never forget the sound of Uncle Alf’s wooden launch coming to pick us up from the bottom of the big hill where we would leave the car on the left hand side of the road. Then off down the river. What lovely explorations of the hillsides, the sandstone rocks and overhangs and the waters edge. Today is mum and dads wedding anniversary so it is 75 years to the day that they honeymooned at koala Flats with Dads aunt and uncle.

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