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

2 thoughts on “History

  1. Love these old images especially as I live down at Berowra Waters and run Berowra Waters Holidays so people can come and experience our little slice of heaven so close to Sydney. Thanks for documenting and sharing these.

  2. Hi, very interesting history. we live at 20 Silverwater estate for the past 20 years, love the area, and our neighbors are lorraine Crumpton & the late Keith Crumpton.
    Keith said our original house was built by Jack, probably Jack Smith, ? who you mention. . Some 15 years ago we were able to demolish the small old house and rebuild.
    Some friends of ours built their home about the same time at Collindridge point. Im told that there used to be a guest house on that spot, called “WeeMarla ” and entertainers like
    Wally Meldrum, visited frequently. I have not been able to find a photograph of that guest house anywhere, ? do you know of the place. It was quite large, and 4 homes are now
    on that location, it also had a swim pool in front. could you help with a photo and some history. ? you mention some guest houses, eg. Wymalla flats,, are we talking about the
    same place. . There must have been hundreds of photos taken, it was famous in its day,
    thank you for insight,
    Kind Regards,
    Kevin & Chris Collins ph 02 94562587.

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