The “Duke” July/August Edition

A Legend in his Own Lifetime, 104 years old Wal Edwards OAM dies.

Wal Edwards packed a lot of life into his 104 years. He had been at various times a grocer, wine salesman, soldier (for four years in WW2), dairy farmer, real estate/ business agent/auctioneer for 30 years. In addition, he had a small building company, owned three motels, two restaurants and was on the board of the Real Estate Institute of N.S.W, He was President of its North Shore Branch at the same time as joining the Rotary Club of St. Ives for which he became an active member for 55 years.

James Griffin Talks to Wal Edward.

For all his vast community involvement, he was honoured to be awarded an Order of Australia in 2015 at the age of 99 and (as he argued) because he was not thought to make 100, but he survived with gusto until his recent death.

Arguably his greatest contribution to our Northern Beaches community was his 28 years of volunteer work as the Harbord Diggers RSL Sub Branch Welfare Officer. Each day, for all of that time, he would visit or phone the elderly and veterans at their homes or in aged care. His motto was a simple but powerful one, “how can I help someone today”.

​He was fortunate in that he had an unrestricted drivers licence, which at the time of his passing did not expire until 2023. He had held a licence continuously since 1936 and, in doing his rounds by car, was generous to a fault, never visiting someone without giving them something even if it was as simple as a Mars Bar.

Wal Edwards used his longevity and lucidity of thought to great effect. In 2018, aged 101, he was a keynote speaker at the Centenary of the founding of the Harbord Literary Institute. It was very fitting, a Centenarian speaking at a Centenary function. He later, aged 103, appeared in a 25-minute YouTube in August 2020 with James Griffin, MP as part of the “Salute Their Service” Series. In this he spoke of his wartime experiences including the profound impact on him of the Japanese submarine attack on Sydney Harbour.

He was farewelled, as much as one can do in a pandemic lockdown, at a funeral at his beloved St. Mathews Church in Manly, where he had been a pastoral partner for decades. The occasion was streamed to a virtual audience with only his immediate family in attendance.

He will be greatly missed.


As a community, we are indeed fortunate to have a high quality community kindergarten of moderate cost, located at the Harbord Literary Institute. When it began in 1959, it operated in the main hall of the Institute and would use the then outside tennis court as an exercise area for the children. At weekends and after hours it would revert to community use, as would the tennis court. At the end of each teaching day, its well-qualified Directors and teachers would store all the equipment so that other groups could use the facility. This discipline still occurs at the end each school day.

Irene Crump School Photo

For the first two decades of its operation, the Director was the legendary Irene Crump, and the pre-school became colloquially known to all as “Crump’s Academy”. Local resident, Jeannette Ward, was both on the kindergarten committee and its President for one year, when her boys were there. She recalls that in the late sixties, Irene would take the kids for a walk to the end of Undercliff Road to look at the Beach. “There was a very large coral tree there and a developer wanted to build a series of apartments with its foundations actually on the Beach”.

The Developer had purchased the large stone mansion at the top of Queenscliff Steps and with it, the terraced land below down to the water’s edge. The intention in the DA lodged with Warringah Council, was for a series of apartment blocks to be built on each stone terrace. This was quite controversial and, at the time, was part of a medium density building frenzy that caused uproar in the Harbord community.

While Council was assessing this DA, the developer took the opportunity to try and clear the land including a very large Coral Tree. Mrs Crump heard about this and immediately went down and stood in front of the tree defying the bulldozer. The driver yelled out “you’ll be killed!” To which Irene responded (remember this was during the period of the Vietnam War) “there are more ways to die for your country than going to war”.  Jeanette Ward takes up the story; “As 9am approached and we mothers needed her at the Kindergarten, we formed a rostered group to barricade the tree area, in turns, throughout the day and the next, until the Developer gave up and removed the bulldozer.

These events reached the Sydney print media and Irene Crump was headlined in an article as “Harbord’s Horatio”, for her exploits.

Council did not approve the DA in full, but an amended DA was approved to demolish the sandstone mansion and construct a three storey apartment block at the highest point of the site with commanding ocean views. This building is still there. The remainder of the land parcel below passed into the care and control of Warringah Council.

Later, a group of ex-Kindergarten mothers sought to have the land that Irene had saved, named “Irene Crump Reserve” but Council demurred, with the reason that it did not name Reserves and places after people who were alive at the time.

The land was named Undercliffe Reserve. Council did agree, however, to the installation of a plaque to record the contribution of Irene Trump, it read:


Irene Crump died on 11 March 2012, aged 91. She is survived by her children, Jannice, Christine, Stephen and Bronwyn.

The Harbord Community Kindergarten under its current Director, Kristin Merrington and well qualified teachers, continues to thrive and build upon the earlier work of Irene Crump.

Click to view


Recently the Undercliff Reserve sign was, in an act of apparent vandalism, uprooted and dumped at the bottom of a cliff. Mrs Crump’s plaque had been removed.

The Friends of Freshwater has recently found the sign and relocated it in a prominent spot in the Reserve. The Plaque will be replaced.

We are also approaching Council to finally have the Reserve renamed Irene Crump Reserve.

Regeneration of Undercliffe Reserve reveals hidden sandstone carving by “the Phantom Carver”.

In the 1970’s a series of carvings started to appear on sandstone outcrops along the headlands from Manly to Palm Beach. This was the work of a person known only as “The Phantom Carver”. It was revealed that this person was a stonemason who did this in his spare time. His real name is Mick Leslie and he lives now at Collaroy Plateau and is in his 90’s.

In Freshwater, he carved 7 images including animal carvings along the northern pathway to Freshwater Pool and a number of carvings on the stairs leading up from Curl Curl Parade to Corella Street.
His most revealing carving is of an aboriginal male on the escarpment of Undercliff Reserve. It had been hidden under native plantings and weeds for decades and was covered in grit and grime. Local resident and bush regeneration volunteer, Denver Beven, cleared the vegetation and other members of the Friends of Freshwater, Felix and Anna Carlyle cleared off the detritus to reveal the true carving.

Friends of Freshwater volunteers are now clearing the area around it in order to make the Reserve a native vegetation showpiece.

Another Example of Developer Opportunism!

On the corner of Undercliff Road and Dowling Street, a developer is seeking to replace an old timber house with two substantial 4 bedroom townhouses. This is the second attempt, after a previous one was refused by Council with significant local opposition. (See more)

The DA seeks to replace a single dwelling on the 568.4sqm block with two substantial family homes on the basis of dubious activation of an historic subdivision of the block. We are not aware of the circumstances of the subdivision but believe it would have been approved at a time when that part of Freshwater contained mainly timber fishing huts and weekenders which tended to be small dwellings appropriate for smaller sized blocks. It is of note that similar subdivisions exist in the immediate area but the blocks are larger than the subject property and the dwellings smaller than the ones proposed in DA2021/0504.

The application is, in our view, an overdevelopment of the site given the combined land size is only 118.4sqm larger than the minimum 450sqm required for a building block in Freshwater. As a result, the useful, landscaped, open space proposed for each dwelling is minimal and their non-compliance with front and rear setbacks is substantial. Separation between the two buildings will be a mere 4.41m which seems problematic in regard to privacy, noise and shadowing implications.
Should the application gain approval it will create a dangerous and unwanted precedent for the suburb. We consider that amalgamation of the two lots will provide the opportunity for a substantial single dwelling to be built fronting Undercliff Road with garaging at the rear in Hill St. Such a development would be in keeping with the modern dwellings so sought after in Freshwater and would be supported.

For the reasons detailed above, the Friends of Freshwater objects to the application in its current form.


A developer has re-submitted another DA for the site at 50 Lawrence St, the former Robinson Building.

50 Lawrence St is an important site in Freshwater Village. Bounded by three streets and atop the slope down into the retail precinct, it has a commanding presence and is a “Landmark Site”. As such, it demands good architectural form, otherwise it could dominate the surrounding area and not necessarily in a good way. Whatever is built on this site, will be with the Freshwater community for many decades, as the current structure has been. It needs to meet not only the specific needs of the applicant but the Freshwater community generally. It also needs to interface with the heritage of the Street.

Hence the intense concern expressed by more than 50 submissions from the community to this current DA.

It should also attempt to be carbon neutral in its energy use, given that there will be an ever increasing demand on buildings of this nature.

We are also of the view that this DA should be exemplary in its adherence to the Planning Controls of the Warringah LEP and the Warringah DCP as they apply to Freshwater Village.

Specifically, we raise the following objections:

  • The proposed part 4 storeys and 12m height exceed the LEP limits of 3 storeys and 11m.
  • The DA is non-compliant with the DCP landscaped area requirement – 25% of the site required. The new application offers only a minor concession to this requirement.
  • The residential component of the proposal dominates the site. This is inconsistent with the land use B2 zoning which requires the provision of a range of retail, business, entertainment and community uses that serve the needs of people who live in, work in and visit the local area. A development disproportionately comprising an inadequate meterage allocated to commercial use and a predominant M2 allocated to residential use cannot achieve the intended outcomes of the B2 zoning.
  • The sheer bulk of the building continues to overshadow the neighbouring property to the south.
  • The proposed development continues to be totally out of character with the heritage buildings to its north and the Freshwater Village in general.
  • The proposed on-site parking allocation is short of the DCP parking requirement of 21. In a tightly packed Freshwater Village there is no leeway with this requirement.
  • The addition of an extra access driveway in Dowling Street contravenes the intent of the Freshwater DCP to improve pedestrian safety in the Village.
  • The proposal requires the removal/relocation of the accessible 167 bus stop in Dowling Street, adversely impacting public transport access for able bodied and disabled public transport commuters to the commercial centre of Freshwater. There ought to be space available for a bus shelter and seating.
  • The build cost for 13 units, suggests a construction cost per unit which is exceedingly low and implies a frugal approach to construction.
  • There is no mention of the linkage between the building and the public verge around it. Other buildings in Freshwater have willingly supplied public amenities such as public seating, bicycle racks, public art, and garden plots and public toilets.
  • The two ground floor commercial sites have a lowered roof line in a cynical attempt to accommodate four floors of apartments. These are also unacceptably small in their dimensions.
  • Three storey maximum/Building height breach/Clause 4.6

G5 Freshwater Village DCP

The Freshwater Village DCP specifically places a limit for a maximum of 3 storeys. Shop-top developments in Freshwater have typically been designed with two storeys, with a generously setback third storey which is generally not discernible from the street. The proposal is clearly non-compliant, appearing as 4 storeys from all public frontages: Oliver Street, Dowling Street, and Lawrence Street. It is clear that the developer’s planning consultants has relied on Google Streetview, if they were to actually read the case of Project Venture Developments v Pittwater Council (2005) NSWLEC 191, they would know that Senior Commissioner Roseth developed a viewpoint that focuses primarily on the compatibility of a proposed building and its surroundings. Clearly, a proposed four-storey development is not compatible next to a 1-2 storey dwelling house.

Around the block, there is another shop-top development that is similarly on a corner and adjoining dwelling houses known as “The Caville” at 6-8 Lawrence Street that is clearly more consistent with the DCP.


Currently Freshwater has a shortage of affordable, short term accommodation. People who provided paid services to our community often travel from a distance. These include teachers, nurses, aged care staff, baristas and wait staff. With sky high rents and elevated real estate prices, the lack of rental accommodation will continue.

A DA2021/0960 has been submitted to Council for the construction of a boarding house at 27 Oliver Street, Freshwater.The proposal involves the construction of: –
A new 2-storey boarding house comprising:

  •  a manager’s suite
  • 11×2 person rooms
  • a communal room
  • basement parking for 7 cars (including an accessible space)
  • space for 3 motorcycles, 3 bicycles and storage
  • landscaping to include a communal open space

The building is of contemporary design but domestic in scale providing a transition in form from the 3 storey flats to the south and east and the 1-2 storey lower density development to the north and west.

Council Development Assessment Officers have held pre-DA discussions with the applicant and the current plans reflect the applicant’s response to detailed comments from Council.

The documentation is available on the Council Website. Scroll down to Planning and Development and then type in the DA number as above. Look in Documents to find full details of the Application. If you wish to make a submission, on line then click on submission.

Submissions close on 28 July 2021

The Friends of Freshwater will NOT be lodging a submission on this occasion. We have closely scrutinised the application and it is our opinion that the DA is largely compliant.

We are also anticipating Affordable Housing DA’s for both the LANDCOM site at the former Queenscliff Health Centre and for the Queenscliff Road building that previously housed Splat Café at ground level.

Council Proposes Shared Pedestrian/Cycle Footpath to link Freshwater Village with North Curl Curl.

Following the successful completion of a shared pathway from Somerville Bridge, Queenscliff, to Freshwater Village, Council has now gained State Government funding to extend this combined footpath along the western side of Oliver Street car park. This pathway will pass both St. John the Baptist Catholic School and Harbord Public School as well as a pre-school. It will enable the safe progress of children to these schools as well as bike riders. It will also give safe access to Sporting fields at Weldon Oval and John Fisher Park.

This proposal, once fully formulated, will be put out for public comment.

Waves Survey Completed

Our Facebook Survey has now been completed and indicated firm community support for a return to an active Youth Centre. Of course whether the Mounties Group will agree to allow the building to be used for this purpose is another question. Other options raised by the community included a Technology Hub.

IGA Supermarket

The Sounds of Silence still prevail in respect of a supermarket opening. Some entity is burning dollars as we speak.

The Mosman Daily Arrives in Freshwater

Suddenly a glossy News Limited production of the Mosman Daily is arriving in Freshwater Post Boxes. The once weekly Manly Daily lost the bulk of its real estate advertising when it prematurely went behind a pay wall, off-loaded its well know photographers and put all of its popular journalists on a part time/stringer basis. In its stead, emerged the weekly glossy Northern Beaches Review which appears to have captured a lot of the trade and real estate advertising which was a mainstay for the Daily. Imagine the surprise, when the Mosman Daily suddenly made an appearance in Freshwater. In past years the only Mosman entities that have been interested in Freshwater have been developers. This is a fairly naked attempt to recover the real estate “rivers of gold”.


A number of Freshwater people have discovered that Bakers Delight bakes an outstanding version of Portuguese tarts. This is not a generally popular line for the franchises, but Kevin the Baker has been quietly baking batches for a selective clientele.