“The Duke” December 2020

The “Duke” December 2020 Edition

Community News

Volume 25, 2020 Update from The Friends of Freshwater Inc.



We have 600 Freshwater residents that have been or have become members of the Friends.  150 have done so in the last month for which we are very appreciative as this strengthens our voice in those forums where it is needed.

If you value the fact that a not-for profit, apolitical organisation in this community will campaign for good urban planning and against over-development then it is time to renew or join with us.

Likewise, if you value the fact that there is an organisation that will campaign for better public amenities, our heritage, urban sustainability, public transport and pedestrian safety, then please join with us.

At our recent AGM the members elected a new experienced Executive committee for 2021.  Biographical details of those elected are now on our website.



It is with a sense of sadness and loss, that we note the passing of John Thorpe AM. He succumbed to a long illness on 3 December 2020.  John had an extensive involvement, of more than 40 years, with the Harbord and Freshwater community as the joint publican of the heritage-listed Harbord Beach Hotel. He sold the Hotel this year having worked and lived there since 1978

In that time, he was noted for his long term sponsorship of Freshwater Surf Club, football teams such as the Valley and the Wolves, and events such as Surf Carnivals and the Symphony on the Sand. He was the only Patron of the Friends of Freshwater Inc in its now decade long existence and his patronage was noteworthy for both its generosity and constant support.

Each year, we held our Annual General meetings at the Hotel and John would always act as our Returning Officer and provide refreshments for attendees.  He first came to our attention in 2011, when he participated in a 1000 strong rally which we led, protesting against a large scale development in Freshwater Village on the northern side of Lawrence Street. Typically, he came armed with numerous placards with witty messages and handed these out to participants.  This development was eventually overturned due to the sheer weight of this protest.  From that time forward, he became closely interested in Freshwater community activities and was a strong voice seeking improvements in the Village and the coastal reserves.

He was also a generous benefactor of small things. If the Freshwater Community Garden needed a new lawnmower, he provided it. If a local historical book needed to be published, he provided assistance, and of course if one of his clientele needed assistance he would also be there. He was a classic, hands-on publican, with a warm and convivial character. He valued his staff and they him, many of whom worked for him for long periods.

Our thoughts are with his extended family at this time.

John Thorpe’s private funeral was held on 10 December in Manly, followed by a wake, with raising a glass to his life at a local hostelry. In attendance were a who’s who of family, locals, politicians and publicans. His spread of friendship was wide. No doubt, many a story will be told of his activities during his 80 years with us. These will no doubt include his days as a student at Riverview College, his long-standing leadership role as the President of the Australian Hotels Association at both a State and Federal level, and, in that role, his successful lobbying of governments and politicians. . He will be greatly missed.


Harbord Beach Hotel Restoration

The first phase of the restoration of the heritage-listed Harbord Beach Hotel is nearing completion.  The venue is scheduled to open next week with 2 bars, a restaurant and a gaming room completed. Although this timeline might need to be adjusted due to Covid disruptions. Currently 50 new Hotel staff are undertaking a 4-day training course in a room at the nearby Freshwater SLSC.  A further two stages of this ambitious restoration are planned for next year and beyond.

The newly rebranded Harbord  Hotel will also trade as the Freshie Beach House and its restaurant has been named BALSA, to reflect the surfboard ridden by the Duke in 1915.  When all stages of the restoration are complete, the Hotel will be a significant employer in the community and will provide much need short term accommodation for visitors.


Long Live “the Freshwater” Class Ferry Fleet

The Government’s decision to phase out the ocean-going, double-ended Freshwater Class Ferries is extremely disappointing and one that we feel is wrong. It is meeting fierce opposition from the northern beaches community. These large ferries function at their best with peak hour, events and week end demands where large scale movement of passengers is required.  The rigorous demands of a crossing across Sydney Heads require a robust sea going vessel and there is great doubt that their proposed replacements will be able to cope.

Previous double ended ferries such as the South Steyne and North Head plied the Manly route for decades.  The North Head did so for sixty years whereas the Freshwater Ferries are only in their 3rd decade of service.

All were built in Newcastle by local, experienced shipwrights and welders at Dockyards in the early 1980’s and are named after beaches in our local community.  They are built to last.  Can this be said of their Chinese and Indonesian-manufactured replacements which had to arrive from overseas on the foredeck of a freighter, and have yet to be tested?

Councillor Candy Bingham has mounted an E-petition to NSW Parliament which, if successful, will trigger a Parliamentary Debate on the government decision to scrap these ferries.

We urge you to consider signing the E-petition on the NSW Parliament’s Website.  Google “NSW Parliament” and scan E-Petitions for “Save our Manly Ferries”

Currently 4,000 have signed the petition but it will need 20,000 signatures by February to succeed.

The text of the petition is attached below and link to the petition


“Save The Manly Ferries

To the Speaker and Members of the Legislative Assembly, the citizens of the Northern Beaches and visitors to Manly from all across New South Wales draw to your attention the proposal by the NSW Government to phase out in early 2021, our world-famous double-ended 1100 passenger Freshwater-class Manly Ferries. The proposal is to replace them with 400 passenger commuter-style Emerald class ferries. Large double-ended ferries have served Manly since 1850 and are a major Sydney tourist attraction. The fleet must be kept in service. We respectfully petition the Assembly to: 1. Cancel the decision to replace the heritage-style Freshwater Manly Ferries 2. Proceed with the scheduled maintenance program for these ferries 3. Develop a Fleet Replacement Plan which includes double-ended 1000+ passenger ferries on the F1 Manly route”


Recharging stations for Electric Vehicles in Freshwater

(maybe the future)

With news that the major vehicle manufacturers such as BMW,Tesla, Toyota, Volvo, Mercedes Hyundai and Subaru will be selling all Electric vehicles with Solid State batteries from 2021, the pressure is now on to generate readily available Recharging Stations for these vehicles. Already in Freshwater individual houses have installed Tesla recharging equipment and there are recharging bays at the Harbord Diggers and nearby shopping centres.

The NRMA is also seeking to develop recharging arrangements across the State.

There is now a great opportunity to capitalise on the Ausgrid/Jolt initiative and utilise the dozen electrical supply kiosks that are located around our neighbourhood.  These would give a free 15-minute charge and more with costs applying.  One could also foresee parking bays being provided in the Oliver Street Car Park adjacent to the Ausgrid 14 KV Electricity Sub Station.  Perfect synchronicity of purpose.


The Humble Christmas Tree takes a Buffeting.


Our annual ritual of purchasing a radiata pine Christmas Tree has become fraught this year.  Rampant bush fires across Australia and particularly the eastern seaboard has led to a paucity of stocks. Our usual charity group suppliers such as Harbord Scouts and the Far West Scheme, as well as the Captain’s Shop have been anxiously awaiting deliveries.  In some instances, the usual sources of radiata pine have been ruled out due to fire.  The sale of Christmas trees, at this time, is an important fund raiser for these charitable groups.


Developments in Freshwater Village

Other than the announcement of a new Supermarket for Freshwater Village, much is happening in the property market.

  • The DA for 50 Lawrence Street has run into heavy weather from Council assessors and has been withdrawn. Friends of Freshwater and 40 other objectors raised their concerns about both its bulk, overshadowing and lack of sensitivity to heritage sites immediately adjacent.
  • The DA for 1 Undercliff Street has also been withdrawn following negative assessment from Council Officers. Friends of Freshwater and five other objectors raised concerns. Fortuitously, this had led to the retention of two mature Melaleuca street trees that were threatened by the development proposal.
  • Harrington Property Group recently reduced its property portfolio in Freshwater Village Plaza with the sale of the title of the tenancy held currently by Mrs Jones, the Artisan Baker. This was sold to Mr. Chris Zakos for the bullish price of $3m. Harrington Property Group also sold two other titles in the building including the former IGA site (now trading as SKYWOOD), and the site next to the Chicken Shop.
  • The extensive Zakos Holdings on the southern side of Lawrence Street have been sold to Mr. Robert Burger, an eastern suburbs developer, with the expectation that they will be demolished in the next two years and a new development constructed. We are optimistic that this will lead to a good outcome for the Village. We await the DA and will give it our usual scrutiny.
  • Flight Centre has vacated Freshwater Village, likely never to return. Its site is to be leased.
  • Freshwater Community Bank, in the New Year will be moving to new premises which it has purchased in the Oceans Development. It has also purchased office space on the second floor of the Freshwater Village Plaza.
  • Our only medical practice, Freshwater Family Medical Practice, which has been operating for 30 years on the first floor of 23 Lawrence St. has purchased the space beside the Bank in the Oceans Development. It is also likely to move there in the new year. Its upper storey space, long held by the Wong See family, will likely be leased.
  • The former Community Bank Branch (which was previously occupied by a Westpac Branch until it abruptly left Freshwater in 2000 (never to return), will be leased out.
  • Three business women have taken out tenancies in the Village with the opening of Posse, Wanderlust and a beautician in the Village Plaza. We wish them success.



The current” Avalon Cluster” of Covid cases has thrown a curved ball to the Northern Beaches Council’s Beach Safety Working Group. Currently all Beaches are closed until 23 December or further notice. The Friends of Freshwater has membership of this Group that has been working on a range of initiatives to cope with an impending, average, summer peak beach attendance of 4,000 at Freshwater Beach. These would include increased swimming flag areas, the presence of trained Covid Safety ambassadors on the beach, additional “portaloo” public toilet capacity and a maximum of 1,000 seated in the Freshwater Reserve behind the beach.


Grants to Progress Soldiers Avenue of Honour Refurbishment Project

The refurbishment of the WW1 section of the Soldiers Avenue of Honour continues with the Friends of Freshwater gaining two further grants from government programs for. This funding for 2021 comprising $10k from the Commonwealth “Saluting their Service” program, and $63k from the State Government’s Community Building Partnership Program will be spent on further Footpath Memorial Plaques, Mural art, tree planting+ guards and historical interpretation. We are indebted to both our Parliamentary Members, Zali Steggall and James Griffin, for their support of this project and to their Electoral Officers, Adele Heasman (State) and Wendy Camelotti (Federal) for their valued assistance with the grant processes.



Council has received State Government funding to construct a shared pedestrian/cycle pathway that will complete a pathway linking Manly town centre to Freshwater Village. The route was initially intended to proceed from Somerville Bridge in Queenscliff via the shared footpath along Queenscliff, Darling, Cavil and Crown Rds., and then down Dowling St. to Freshwater Village.

This Plan generated considerable pushback from residents along those Streets and Council is now proposing to take the Pathway up an existing pathway alongside Freshie Community Garden in Crown Reserve.  This pathway has long been used as an alternative route for those with prams, cycles, or simply pedestrian access.  Council is proposing to make some modifications to the pathway to improve its safety. Members of the Community Garden have met with Council on two occasions to voice their concerns and will comment further when a design plan becomes available.




Council delivery dates for the Master Plan implementation in the area around Moore Road, Moore Street carpark and behind the Surf Club have been pushed back one year due to Council financial constraints.

In the New Year, Council will prepare the design, with a view to start a 7-month construction on stage 1 (the area around Pilu, Moore Street Carpark and behind the surf club) in April 2022, The next stage the will follow in 2023.

Friends of Freshwater first became involved in this Project in 2017.



Friends of Freshwater has been campaigning, for a long time, for the removal of camphor laurels in Soldiers Avenue, as they are regarded as rogue trees and noxious weeds and unlike other trees in the Avenue are not heritage-listed. Their root structure disrupts community utilities and undermines house foundations and their dense canopy is all enveloping. We have already convinced Council to remove one and replace it with a new Queensland Brush Box.  This tree and its memorial was unveiled by the Governor of NSW, at the Centenary of the Avenue in November 2O19

A recently lodged DA for a residential development at 12-14 Soldiers Avenue, to which we are not opposed, gave us the opportunity to raise with Council the negative features of their presence.  At the juncture of Soldiers Avenue with Marmora and Eric Streets, there is major infrastructure intersecting including sewerage lines, Freshwater Creek, and a Sydney Water storage tank. The significant growth of these camphor laurels, is in part due to their proximity to underground nutrients. The community would like them removed with the added safety bonus of improved traffic sight lines.

The Soldiers Avenue Stakeholders Group of which FOF is a member, is refurbishing the Avenue of Honour to bring it back to its WW1 grandeur and we have a way to go.  The Memorial outside this development is for Joseph (“Iodine Joe”) Saunders who was killed in the latter stages of the war in 1918.   It is our intention to upgrade his memorial, after the construction has been completed. This will include the placement of a bronze plaque inserted into the footpath in accordance with council requirements.

Interestingly, the Developer has offered to assist with the removal of the camphor laurels, plant their Queensland Brush Box replacements and assist with the restoration of the Memorial.


FOF INC  Objectives for 2021


Please see our list of objectives for 2021 at this link.