The Duke Newsletter – April 2024

Calling out for two or three new committee members for Friends of Freshwater!

Friends of Freshwater is a community group run by volunteers for the last 13+ years.  We meet twice a month once in the morning on a Wednesday from 8 to 9am and once in the evening on a Wednesday 7 to 8.30pm.  Our objective is to keep the local community informed of what is happening locally and to work with Council and others to ensure our community retains the village atmosphere.

We publish ‘The Duke’ six times a year and articles are written by committee members with the help of a fabulous editor, Denise Goldstein and publisher Rob Keeping.  Friends of Freshwater have over the years established and maintain the Freshwater Community Garden, The Soldiers Avenue of Honour, the Irene Crump Reserve (formerly Undercliffe Reserve) and many other projects. We are currently working to support a refresh of the Surfer’s Walk of Fame the regeneration of the “Diggers” carpark, providing input and comment on Freshwater Master Plan, the Bicycle Paths, the Surf Club DA and watching for the DA for the southern side of Lawrence St.

It is rewarding to get involved in the community and if you would like to know more or would like to join one of the meetings to better understand the group, please contact

Signal Fire Official Opening

The Signal Fire Art installation at the end of Ramsey McKillop Park is already a feature on our headland but is being officially opened on May 4 and FoFW committee members will attend having being engaged in the process since inception.

Perched on the headland, Signal Fire sends an important message about the history of our nation and honours the world’s oldest living culture. Northern Beaches Council commissioned First Nations art and design studio mili mili to complete the work as part of the Coast Walk Public Art Project. Led by artist and creative director Nicole Monks, mili mili have created a powerful tribute to the enduring tradition and historical significance of signal fires.

“Signal fires have been lit on headlands up and down the east coast by Aboriginal people for tens of thousands of years,” Ms Monks said.

“They are part of a sophisticated system of communication passed down through the generations, serving as a message, serving as a warning, serving as a reminder.”

When Cook sailed the Endeavour up the east coast of Australia in 1770, First Nations people strategically lit signal fires along the headlands, to convey a message and a warning.


ANZAC DAY Remembrance

FoFW Comittee members  and Soldiers Ave of Honour members that we support were in attendance at the Anzac Day service at Harbord Diggers laying floral wreaths in honour of our past fallen.

Anyone in Freshwater sleeping in that ANZAC Day morning at 9:20am would have been awakened by the deafening roar of a low flying RAAF F35 Jet zooming overhead as flypast!


Lest we forget!



Masterplan Progress

Well designed and now built new Freshwater Park Switchback

The FoFW is impressed with the progress after years of discussion and planning for local upgrades that have been sorely needed. We are pleased that we have participated in that process and now that we can see the Council’s modified results are mostly receiving deserved support. At this stage there are just a few more steps and most of the original Freshwater Masterplans will be done.

The exception to date are the awaited completion of the Ocean View Rd Outlook deck, the completion of the new Moore Rd playground, Surf Sheds, potential southern beach end Potable water/showers.
A new playground and new toilet amenties near Kooloora Ave are planned for the final stage 3. The Freshwater Surf Club refurb will be part of this but awaits final DA and approvals to proceed.

Original Sketch Feshwater Masterplan – What is the delay in starting?

We do note with concern that the extended boardwalk from the existing Curl Curl to Diggers section that was planned to proceed to the Ramsey McKillop park headland seems to be completely stalled due to funding and design issues. We believe this is a necessary extension to a local iconic drawcard that fulfils the original concept of having easy access without stairs to the Ramsey Mckillop Park.

Whatever the challenges are, its continued delays are not in the areas best interest nor of the community.


FRESHWATER Uptown Grant Reality

Love this  general logo

What timely concerns are being expressed by Northern Beaches residents re venues wanting to trade in the evening?

Recently, Freshwater and Dee Why received $200,000 each from a grant from the State Government – “The Uptown Grant”.

The Office of the 24-Hour Economy Commissioner, through the Department of Enterprise, Investment and Trade (DEIT), has announced the second round of the Uptown Grant Program with an additional $6 million available to amplify more going-out districts across Greater Sydney”.

The State Government is trying support and encourage “destination” outside of the CBD by investing in brand and marketing to areas that should be encouraged to provide more entertainment, services and venue attendance.

Meanwhile, recently in several locations around the Peninsula, restaurants have tried to extend their hours and have gotten some serious NIMBY push back from locals who oddly enough have chosen to live within proximity to well established venues. In one very high-profile case not even within close proximity but some 600+ metres away.

In these difficult times, shouldn’t we be encouraging local trade during reasonable hours and within reasonable circumstances?

Locally, we have several long-established businesses who are spending time, money and resources to defend their reasonable desire to trade. In these cases, there is very little change to trading, no real impact on the surrounds and care being taken to ensure that neighbours are respected and concerns heard.

What possible benefit is achieved in simply taking a negative approach to established venues who give back to the community at every opportunity and who even the Government sees as a valuable asset to want to support?

Friend of Freshwater welcome your views.

• Diana Ryall

Potable water and Shower Amenity for Freshwater Beach Southern end

“On a hot summer’s day at Freshwater Beach, there can be a vast crowd in excess of 5,000 soaking up the sun’s rays, the majority of whom will use the free amenities provided including showers, toilets and potable water. These amenities are currently heavily over-used, overcrowded and often unclean.

Friends of Freshwater’s Bruce Probert doing bush regeneration among the thirsty native plants in the nearby Reserve

With the implementation of Council’s Freshwater Reserve Master Plan, the next phase involves new enlarged toilet facilities that cater for all beachgoers, no matter from which direction they enter the beach precincts. These toilets will be the only ones between Queenscliff and Freshwater Surf Clubs and will get heavy usage. 

The Friends of Freshwater has noticed that the southern end of the beach has none of the amenities provided at the northern and surf club areas (case in point, this Anzac Day several people were observed relieving themselves in the nearby bushes).

After we approached Council about this deficiency, it has started to investigate bringing a water supply across to the area on the south side. According to Council’s Barbara Stack, these amenities are likely to be installed close to a newly proposed shelter not directly beside the path due to run off and gradients. 

New Potable Water source and Showers envisaged for Southern end of Freshwater Beach

FOF would like to see a Shower, water for thirsty dogs and a tap for washing sandy feet that could also provide water for the native plants growing in hot summer months in the nearby Irene Crump Reserve.

We have received an update from Barbara Stack of NBC concerning our request for a water and shower amenity at the Southern End adjacent to Irene Crump Reserve and she goes on to say:

“… In terms of providing a new shower adjacent to this area of dune planting, further consideration needs to be given to the required drainage and the volume of water it could generate in this location. I will come back to our progress.”

  • Peter Harley

Pavements around Freshwater

View Undercliffe Rd – beach end – a well trod path but no pavement paths

The policy of the Northern Beaches Council is that every street should have a pavement on one side of the road.  The priority is then given to streets that have high traffic and especially those with many children.  Several members have contacted Friends of Freshwater and/or Council to ask about pavements on particular streets and are disappointed to find their street is not considered a priority.

One such street is Undercliff Road from Charles St to the end of the road (Irene Crump Reserve).  This is high traffic in summer as residents walk to and from the beach.  We would love to hear from you about streets you believe should be high on a priority list as neither side of the street has a paved walking path.

Please send your comments to

E-Bikes, Freedom, Respect and Safety

What does freedom taste of?

E-bike Beach Culture

If you ask teenagers around the beaches of Manly, Freshwater and Curl Curl you are likely to find that having a fat-tyre E-bike is pretty high on the list. There has been a literal explosion of these bikes around the beaches in the last 18 months. They promise easy mobility, great stability, effortless hill climbs and the ability to take a friend or two along with you. What’s not to like when you are a teen forming new friendship groups and seeking the means to move around your local area quickly and easily? Anecdotally we hear that many teens are working hard to save the money so that they can buy their own E-Bikes, which is admirable and well worth encouraging.

E-bikes also provide a fabulous solution for many young families. The ability to attach child-seats and the power to carry a modest amount of gear for the beach or the park make E-bikes ideal transportation for families with small children. They may also help families avoid the need for a second car, helping to relieve congestion on our roads and in our beach car parks.

Indeed, the benefits extend to all age-groups, including Seniors. The power and carrying capacity of an E-Bike make it a fabulous solution for local transportation and light grocery shopping for those transitioning to retirement living. While not for everybody, the combination of E-bikes for local mobility, public transport for longer trips and the occasional Uber means many Seniors, particularly singles, may consider an E-Bike instead of the expense of a car.

Rapid adoption has also seen the cost of E-Bikes plummet. A year or two ago you would probably have been looking at around $3,000 for a good E-Bike. Fast forward to today and a serviceable and well credentialled E-Bike is currently being offered on-line by one of the major grocery chains for around $1000! So like it or not, E-Bikes are here to stay.

Yet, as with many new technologies, there is a growing public backlash to the rapid roll-out of E-bikes. Some public concern is justified as the community seeks to balance the increased freedom they provide for some with occasional irresponsible behaviours, inconvenience and new, dangerous situations for others.

Regulation is one answer. It is fair to say that regulation has moved slowly in this area. While petrol-driven bicycles are treated differently, E-bikes are generally governed by the same regulations as normal bicycles. This is despite the fact that the power of some E-bikes makes them more akin to a small motorcycle, scooter or Vespa of years gone by.

Bicycles should generally only be ridden on the road or on bike paths, not on footpaths. Yet if you are under 16 years of age you are able to ride a bicycle (and by extension an E-Bike) on the footpath in NSW. This regulation was no doubt concerned about youngsters riding on busy roads, contemplating that a youth riding on a relatively light bike on the footpath was less dangerous. Yet the tables are turned when you consider a fat-tyre E-bike weighing around 30 kilograms doing up to 25km per hour on the footpath with 2 teenagers on the back. There is no doubt this is potentially dangerous to all concerned: the rider(s), pedestrians and cars emerging from driveways.

Excessive speed of E-bikes on bicycle paths and shared pathways is another area of concern. This can be particularly dangerous where the shared path has cross traffic and is located adjacent to parked car, such as along the foreshore from Queenscliff to Manly.

It is also clear that many younger riders are wearing a minimum amount of gear as they get around on their bikes. Teenagers riding E-Bikes in boardshorts or bikinis is a regular sight in the Northern Beaches, often without helmets and a minimum of footwear. Few people would consider riding a motorbike in thongs and no helmet, yet this is essentially what is happening. Students riding to school without a helmet is another familiar sight, seemingly far more common on E-Bikes than normal bikes.  The consequence of accidents at high speed without appropriate safety gear is gruesome to contemplate.


So what is the answer?


While tightening existing regulations may be helpful at the margins, over-zealous regulation will restrict the benefits available to the community as a whole.

As usual it comes down to a matter of education and common sense in the respectful and safe use of E-Bikes. They are a fantastic and affordable transport option for many residents across all ages and all walks of life. Equally we must recognise that the size and speed of E-Bikes can make them a new and unfamiliar hazard to some in the community. Emphasising caution, respect and intelligence in their use will go a long way to reducing the likelihood of public nuisance, catastrophic accidents, or over-regulation.

So get on your safe riding-gear, show respect to other users of roadways, cycle paths and shared access paths, and let’s all enjoy the wonderful benefits that this new technology can bring.

 • Angus Guthrie

Devolver Reusables

Devolver is a solution developed to help YOU reduce your single use plastic waste and contribute to a more circular and sustainable society. Food containers are the worst things about takeaway. Used for just a few minutes and then thrown away adding to waste in our community.

So Devolver will lend you one the next time you order takeaway from a partner outlet.

It’s a small but vital step towards eliminating single use waste and giving back to our planet.

Participating Freshwater Cafes are:
The Pocket
Pilu Baretto
Cruise Espresso
Hopefully some more will come on board once they see some traction!

The Freshwater Devolver pilot started on Friday April 12. We were excited to hear about this project and hope our community will come together to support this initiative.


Takeaway shouldn’t come with a side of landfill! Save waste and resources – borrow reusable containers using our app which you can download at






Preserving Memories: The History of the Freshwater Boardriders Club Shelter

Famous FBI Logo

In the heart of Freshwater, nestled amidst the salty air and sound of crashing waves, stands a modest yet cherished structure – the Freshwater Boardriders Club shelter. This unassuming hut holds within its walls a rich tapestry of history, community, and love—a testament to the enduring spirit of friendship and remembrance.

Existing Shelter – soon to be replaced by 2 new Shelters

The origins of the shelter trace back to a poignant moment in 1998 when tragedy struck the community. Jonathon Melhuish, affectionately known as Johnny, was diagnosed with cancer, sending shockwaves through the tight-knit enclave of Freshwater. Despite the valiant efforts of friends and family, Johnny tragically passed away in February of 1999. However, his memory would live on in a profound way, thanks to the compassion and determination of those who held him dear.

FBI surfers as it was before the Shelter hut

In the wake of Johnny’s passing, his friends, fellow board riders, and members of the Freshwater Boardriders Club rallied together in a remarkable display of solidarity. Recognizsing the financial strain placed on Johnny’s family due to his medical expenses, they organised a large fundraiser, pooling their resources to support their friend in need. This event not only showcased the strength of community bonds but also laid the groundwork for a lasting tribute to Johnny’s memory.

With the funds raised, the community faced a pivotal decision: how best to honor Johnny’s legacy. After covering the medical expenses, a surplus remained, prompting a discussion about the most meaningful way to allocate the remaining funds. It was during this conversation that a heartfelt idea emerged—to erect a shelter in Johnny’s honor, a place where his spirit could find solace and provide shade for generations to come.

Thus in 1999, with approval from local council, construction began on what would become known as Johnny’s Hut. Led by Shane Riddle, a local builder and one of Johnny’s closest friends, and with contributions from various members of the community, including Graham Bohm who handled the roofing, the shelter began to take shape. As the structure rose, so too did the sense of unity and purpose among those involved—a tangible symbol of love and remembrance.

As time passed, the shelter became adorned with plaques bearing the names of locals, surfers and non-surfers alike, who had passed on. Their spirits forever intertwined with the essence of the hut. What began as a tribute to Johnny’s memory grew into a collective memorial, honouring the lives and legacies of individuals who had touched the local community.

With construction of the Freshwater Master Plan well underway, there are plans to move and rebuild the shelter. The Northern Beaches Council is very aware of the significance of the current shelter, and will incorporate the existing shelter plaques into their plans, ensuring that it remains a focal point for surfers and locals alike.

Today, the Freshwater Boardriders Club shelter stands as a testament to the power of friendship, resilience, and remembrance. And it will do so into the future.

In action with contests almost every weekend

Special thanks to Glen Myers and Glen Kelly for sharing their memories of Johnny for this story.

You can find out more about the Freshwater Boardriders Inc

and the Freshwater Longboard Club (, who both use Johnny’s hut for their competitions.

• Kieren Dight

Garden update April 2024

Freshwater Community Garden

We have had a busy summer keeping on top of the lawn mowing and edging but it’s not all been hard work. We have been enjoying a bumper crop of green beans, garlic, tomatoes and passion fruit to name a few lately from the garden and we are now turning to autumn planting and clearing out the vacant plots. Our citrus trees look as if they will produce lots of lemons, oranges and limes for autumn. One of the gardeners counted up all the produce she has harvested over the last 12 months and it came to 41 different fruits/vegetables and herbs –  truly amazing!

We have had a few new people join lately and we still have a few spare plots for any aspiring gardeners. We meet every 2nd Sunday for a couple of hours to tend to the garden as a whole and we are looking for enthusiastic people who have the time to help our community as well as grow their own produce in their plot.

To apply for a garden plot, please send an email to

Our amazing composting system is up for an overhaul as the old ones were built from recycled timber and have been so well used they are now falling apart. The new bins have been prepared by the Forest Community Men’s Shed (, using cedar wood and much sturdier materials. There will be four new wooden compartments in total and they will be assembled on site soon. The nine smaller individual composting bins will still be used in the meantime and the wider community make great use of this composting vegetable and fruit scraps. There are yellow signs to help everyone understand what can be placed in each bin.

Peter Harley has visited the Mens Shed to get an eyeball on progress.  And mentioned above they have cut all the cypress timber to specifications and visited the Garden last Saturday, It was an inauspicious and miserable day with wind and hail.  We prepared the site for further installation yesterday and, in contrast,  it was a sunny and very pleasant day.   The extra funding from the Grant of Today will go towards the materials and fixing for the four lids. which have to be relatively light weight, reasonably weather proof and vermin proof. The four Bin system will be a very solid structure unlike its predecessor which gave us 5 years but was falling apart.  When we dismantled the previous bins we found a cat sleeping snugly in the warmth of the compost environment.  No surprise that we didn’t find any field mice as the cat would have taken care of that.

The Mens Shed will complete the remaining work and  with us will assemble the bins on site at the Garden.  They are intending to transport the timber through the top entrance on a day when we are scheduled to have a working bee.  The Shed members are in their seventies and will need assistance from us to lift the timber of their ute and place it in position.
All the best to everyone for your ongoing assistance with this project.
– Mon Nicholls

Surfers Walk Restorations and Hawiian Airlines Duke celebration

Thanks to a magnificent display of Surfing prowess by Duke Kahanamoku at Freshwater Beach on December 24, 1914, Northern Beaches surfing communities have grown to become what they are today. Freshwater has embraced Surfing Culture, soaking up all the benefits a coastal lifestyle brings and celebrating many of our surfing greats along with the Duke in the Surfers Walk. Our gratitude to The Duke has never wavered, fostering a strong connection to Hawaii and Hawaiians over the years.

On May 17, 2004 Hawaiian Airlines touched down at Sydney Airport for the very first time and, as part of their 20th Anniversary Celebrations this year, employees from the Hawaiian Airlines Team Kokua Giving Program will visit Freshwater on the 23rd May at 9:00am. The morning will begin by paying tribute to both the area and to honour The Duke with an Indigenous welcome, a lei draping on the Duke Kahanamoku statue followed by a special Hawaiian Blessing and Oli (chant) ceremony. If you’re in the area call in and say Aloha!

Northern Beaches Council have applied for grant funding to repair many of the surfer’s mosaic plaques, in anticipation of the grant Team Kokua will join Friends of Freshwater on a working bee throughout the Surfers Walk and Duke Kahanamoku Statue area.

• Sharyne Mullens