The Duke Newsletter – October/November 2023


Friends of Freshwater Incorporated

Thursday Nov 2 @ 6:30pm


Freshwater Room – Freshwater Life Saving Club

Freshwater Beach


All memberships become due and we request you renew your membership online here: at $20 per family (changes December 31.) All new members welcomed.

The membership fee will rise to $25 in the new year to cover increases in insurance, registration fees, website fees for our newsletter mail-outs.

At the AGM there will be a call out for new additions to the Friends of Freshwater team.

We encourage anyone interested to be involved in this active community group that meets online & in person monthly – drop us an email at

Margie the Magpie… Custodian of Freshie Community Garden

Magpies are widely considered to be intelligent creatures and one of the few non-mammalian species to be able to recognise themselves in a mirror.  They quickly learn which nearby humans they can trust and they form attachments – even allowing their chicks to play near people. This was the case of a famous magpie named Penguin who made headlines in 2016 after forming an unlikely friendship with the Bloom Family which evolved into a charming cinematic success.

In the decade-long existence of Freshie Community Garden in Crown Reserve, Freshwater, Margie the Maggie has been an ever-present companion to the gardeners. Magpies live until at least 25 years and Maggie is now older than 10.  In her time in the Garden, she has produced three sets of offspring, who, once mature, have then flown off to other areas.

One of the gardeners, Matt, lived in a nearby apartment and Margie befriended him and would often fly onto his veranda and then into an open door.  Matt was careful to have a supply of bugs and worms for her to eat as breads and other processed foods have a negative impact on birds health. Now that he has moved elsewhere, Margie is looking a bit forlorn.

The garden composts and raised plots provide amply feeding opportunities for Margie who is also a regular user of the Garden’s birdbath.

Rival birds such as Noisy Mynas get very discouraged by Margie’s territorial efforts.

Magpie families can grow as large as 10 members and in the Garden, Margie has delivered tribes of 6 at a time.

She has had a great tenure as Custodian of the Community Garden and long may it continue.

Freshwater Beach Masterplan

Freshwater Masterplan Staging


Work has begun to implement the Freshwater Masterplan.  The first part (Stage 1A) includes the viewing platform at the north end of the beach (Ocean View Rd lookout) and the paving of a footpath from Ocean View Rd to  the end of Kooloora Rd (the Freshwater Surf Club) replacing the current dirt verge. This will be a welcome addition for pedestrians who until now have had to dodge cars and while walking through the busy carpark. Large sandstone blocks will replace the wood pole fencing adding to the aesthetic and serve as a retaining wall to the dune bushes. The paving is almost complete and we look forward to net stages.

Final Plan for Construction of Ocean View Rd Lookout

The next section is (labelled 1B) and involves the southern end of the beach.  This stage will include a new set of showers and additional seating.  The current playground will remain where it is but will enjoy an upgrade and continue to be popular with young families.

The other major component of stage 1B is the pathway from the end of Moore Rd north towards the Surf Club.  We have been in conversation with the Council re the  pathways as we believe that there must be a better solution than putting two sets of stairs in the current pathway and cutting an additional pathway through the revegetated part of the park.

Early Construction of new beach walk path

Stage 2  also due to be started this year includes a pathway from Undercliff Rd to the Pilu carpark with multiple sets of stairs.  We feel this path is probably unnecessary.  Another change in path appears to run from the centre of the car park through the grassy area below Pilu Baretto.

We believe the current path fulfils the need.


Freshwater Development Applications

Freshwater Surf Life Saving Club

The DA for the renovation and extension of the Freshwater Surf Club that was advised in our last Newsletter and is now available for comment through the Council submission process at:

Artist Impression – click here for DA details

The closing date for submissions has been extended until October 26 (click on image for direct access to NBC Council DA).

Several of the FoF Committee members attended the information session on Saturday September 30 at the Surf Club with about 20 other local residents.  The plan was explained and a number of rendered views of the proposed structure were shown.  We are seeking a link to share these.

A further information session including Geoff Bonus (the architect) and Michael Bate (CEO Freshwater SLSC) is planned for 10am Saturday October 21 in the Heritage Room at the Surf Club.

The two major concerns from the audience were the café and restaurant positioning, trading hours and capacity of the new restaurant as well as the additional bulkiness of the building. The envelope remains the same, however the additions and renovations are the items of concern.  Several people felt the café would be better positioned where it is today and sought further information on the exact nature of the café.  Was it to be solely a ‘hole in the wall’ like South Steyne or a place with casual beach seating as ‘The Pocket’ is today.   Casual seating, queuing, garbage bins and beach equipment need to be considered as they may cause restrictions to the entry to the Club and the beach.

The current proposed positioning of the restaurant is at the ground level with the gymnasium (for Club members use only) sits above.

Questions around the Al Fresco section outside the restaurant also caused confusion as to whether that was community access or restaurant real estate. The Club will also consider the possibility of putting the restaurant on Level 2.  The Club members have determined that the original Freshwater Room  section will be retained for club members and private events.  The restaurant and café conditions will be set by Council under separate leasing conditions.

The projected numbers for the two venues were also discussed as it appears the seating for 60 and 160 are based on the standard measurement of allowing 1 square meter per person. It is anticipated the reality will be fewer seats, but Community concerns are to be considered further.  These facilities are key income providers for the Surf Club which pays a lease to council and fund-raises for operations/equipment, etc. and are therefore important sources of revenue for the sustainability of the club.

Several comments were raised about the size of the renovation and the bulky nature of the building was also discussed. Although the footprint remains unchanged, and the maximum height is not increased there is significantly more bulk in the design to increase the size of the Museum of Surf, Gym, plus additional training rooms and the restaurant.

Artist impression of the Museum of Surf

The issue of parking continues be of great concern especially those residents residing close to the beach. While this is a Council issue and it was noted that parking is already at saturation on most busy days with no options to accommodate. No one wants to lose our already limited green space to additional parking.

Watch for updates!  Diarise October 21 and ensure your comments on this important local project are submitted by October 26 through the Council website.

Community Offering

Yoga on the beach

Another one of our great community businesses, Qi Health & Yoga, is giving back to our community by offering us an early morning treat on Wednesdays.

“At 6:30 am, we gather at Freshwater beachfront starting with 20-minute movement class lead by Lucy. Stretch, breathe, and awaken your body as you soak in the serene beach ambiance. After the movement session, it’s time to connect with the natural beauty around us with a dip in the ocean. The crystal-clear waters and the gentle waves provide the perfect backdrop for a refreshing and revitalising morning.”

Enquiries 9976 6880


Surfers Walk

Northern Beaches Council have undertaken the ‘trial’ restoration of the Shane Bevan Mosaic. The mosaic looks great with missing pieces replaced, fresh grout and sealing was completed making it look close to new!  FoF are looking to renew all the plaques and are working toward that goal.

Restored ‘Surfers Walk’ Tile – Shane Bevan

With such a high level of detail in the mosaics design it took the artist over 15 hours to complete the restoration of Shane’s plaque. Each plaque is a unique design and reflects the stance and style of the individual surfer honoured.

In another win, FoF have successfully lobbied Council to block the hazardous lower path access to and from the Duke’s Statue. This entry point was a real hazard for pedestrians as there is no verge and a blind curve around the point. Council has put a temporary barrier and signage there as a temporary measure and we will work together to get an attractive permanent closure.

Access is still available from the footpath near the Bus Stop.

If you haven’t visited this site lately, it is a gorgeous bush track walk, offering tranquillity and magical views as you wander through the artworks. We are looking to enhance this area as it is part of the Global Surfers Walks and is a beautiful addition to our headland.


MOUNTIES  Harbord Diggers Eastern Car Park Revegetation

Another important DA we are expecting in the next few months is the Mounties revegetation of the parking space on the headland.

Mounties has consulted with Friends of Freshwater as one of the stakeholders on a preliminary basis and we have plenty of questions that were raised.

When it goes to DA a full community consultation will be done and  be open to input from the stakeholders as well as the community and the opportunity for comments will, as always, be provided.
In the meantime, it would be a great to get input from the community on what they would expect from a return to public space. Any comments on vision and preference should be directed to FoF in the first instance to collate and submit back to Mounties and Council representatives who are currently working on the design.


Many people mistakenly believe that McKillop Park on Freshwater’s northern headland is named after the recently canonised Saint Mary MacKillop. Not so! It has a less prosaic and very local association.

This park was named in memory of former Warringah Shire President Cr Ramsay Robert McKillop, a resident of Wilson Street, Harbord. The park was originally reserved ‘for public recreation and other public purposes’ on 3 April 1886 but was unnamed.

Ramsay McKillop was born in India 24.8.1857 to Scottish parents. His father was in the British Army and had been posted to India. Ramsay married Mary Ann Larsen in August 1908. Following a career as a prominent NSW public servant occupying many roles, including, inspector in the Harbour Trust, Public Works Department and many roles in the trade union movement including as President of the Wharf Labourer’s Union, he joined with his son, George, in the real estate business in 1922. This same year he was elected to Warringah Shire Council and was elected Shire President from December 1925 to March 1926, but sadly died in office. Shortly after, the Shire Council resolved to name the northern Headland of Freshwater in his honour.

To this day he is the only Warringah Shire President or Mayor to die in office.

During his time as Shire President, Ramsay McKillop was most noted for his role in supporting the tramway link from Manly to Freshwater Beach and was President of the Harbord Tramway League and Progress Association. This link diverted from the main Pittwater Road Line to Narrabeen and went up Oliver Street via a cutting and thence down Lawrence Street to a turnaround at the Beach. It effectively ceased operation in 1939 due to the onset of WW2 but formally in 1952.

McKillop attended the opening ceremony of the link on 19 December 1925 as part of the official party. He is also noted for his close role in changing the name of Freshwater to Harbord to differentiate its growing residential setting from its previous holiday image. The name Harbord, after a British aristocrat, was officially declared on 1 September 1923, although it was changed back again to Freshwater on 12 January 2008.

Ramsay McKillop made a significant contribution to Freshwater’s rich cultural heritage and is survived by his descendants who live in the area. He deserves to be remembered.

Harbord Beach Trams

Nestled within Freshwater, the old Harbord Tram Line stands as a fascinating relic of the past.

Tram terminates next to Freshwater Surf Life Saving Club

The Manly tramway began operations in 1903, with a steam powered tram running between Manly and Curl Curl. It was moved to electric in 1911 and over decades expanded south to the Spit Bridge and north to Narrabeen. The tramway significantly contributed to transportation, tourism, and community growth in the Northern Beaches, connecting coastal communities.

In 1926, a single track branch was opened from Many to Harbord (now Freshwater). The tracks rose up from Pittwater Road, along Oliver Street, turning left into Cavil Street, right onto Lawrence Street and finally right into Moore road, terminating in a two track dead-end, in what is now known as the Freshwater Beach Car Park adjacent to Pilu and Pilu Baretto.



The Northern Beaches trams faced challenges and patronage declined in the 1920s and 1930s, with the rise of private automobiles and buses. And in 1939, the trams made their final run, marking the end of an era.


While the trams are gone, their legacy lives on in Freshwater. At the time of construction, two deep cuts were made into the Queenscliff hill to allow the tram to connect between Pittwater road and Moore street, with a reasonable gradient. This is now known as Oliver street, but at the time it was a dedicated tram track. Remnants of these cuts are still visible on Oliver Street and Dalley Street.


Tram tracks on Oliver St near Cavill St

Tram Cutting looking North on Dalley St


The next time you travel down Oliver Street, take a moment to imagine what it looked like in 1926 with the Harbord Tram Line winding its way down to the Manly ferry.


Images courtesy of Northern Beaches Council Library Local Studies and the State Transit Authority of NSW.

EV Charging Sites

Update on the Intellihub Electric Vehicle Street-side Charging Project.

In 2022, the Northern Beaches Council proposed the Intellihub Electric Vehicle (EV) Street-side Charging Project to address the lack of EV charging locations across the Northern Beaches. The project aimed to install on-street charging stations, making EV charging more accessible for residents and visitors.

Community engagement was a central aspect of the project. In August 2022 residents were encouraged to share their thoughts on potential charging station locations.

However, the latest information reveals that no EV charging sites are planned to be built in Freshwater. 12 sites have been earmarked for development, but only 7 are currently funded.

We have in the past noted that the parking area behind ‘Vintage Cellars’ off Lawrence and Oliver Sts and next to the Ausgrid substation  appears to be a a good spot for a fast charging EV site, but this has not yet been added to the list as funded.