Echo Point Roseville

2008
CC BY-SA 2.0
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Echo Point Roseville

The traditional owners of the area now known as Echo Point are the Kuring-gai people (also spelt Guringai). Echo Point was part of a 20-acre (eight-hectare) land grant made to Samuel Bate in 1839, although the Bate family had been working this land over the previous decade. During 1831, the Sydney Morning Herald referred to Echo Point as Mr Bate's farm.

In 1862, the farm was sold to Henry Milford, who subsequently sold it to Samuel Bate's brother-in-law, John Baptist, a prominent horticulturalist with premises in Cleveland Street, Sydney. The original grant was resurveyed in 1888 in order to dedicate a 100-foot (30.5-metre) thoroughfare along the shoreline to provide access to the Gordon subdivision. [1]

Rest Haven and Henry Lawson

During 1892, the farm was leased to Courtenay Smith as a home for alcoholics. Known as Rest Haven or the Inebriates' Home, Smith's establishment offered a 'course of treatment' for people in recovery. It is thought that the original Bate farmhouse accommodated the residents.

The home's grounds were described as indicating 'elaborate cultivation, modified by recent neglect', with 100 fruit trees including orange, lemon, mulberry, cherry, fig, peach, apple, quince and guava. The home was expected to become self-sufficient through residents tending fruit trees, cultivating grain and vegetable gardens, and rearing pigs and poultry. [2]

In November 1898, Henry Lawson – Australia's pre-eminent writer of short stories – voluntarily placed himself in Rest Haven. [3] He stayed for a few months. His experience here found literary expression in his short story 'The Boozers' Home'. Written in 1899, the story was not published until 1902 by Methuen in the collection entitled Children of the Bush. George Robertson would not publish the story because it was too revealing of Lawson's personal and domestic shortcomings. It describes the home and its inmates as perceived by a former resident:

He reckoned that those six weeks in the institution were the happiest he'd ever spent in his life, and he wished the time had been longer; he says he'd never met with so much sympathy and genius, and humour and human nature under one roof before. [4]

From park to pleasure ground

Significant beautification works were conducted by relief workers at Echo Point in the 1930s, as in many other locations across the metropolitan area. Sandstone stairs, retaining walls and 'crazy paving' were probably added in about 1932, at the height of the Great Depression, turning a reserve into more of a pleasure ground. Funds were supplied by the state government and administered by local government.

These beautification programs were not simply cosmetic. The simple virtues and earthy life that Vance Palmer juxtaposed with a hollow cosmopolitanism in his popular 1930 novel The Passage were being reflected in parks, gardens and reserves. They were also invoked in the souvenir publications of the ferry companies that conveyed pleasure-seeking tourists and potential residents to the North Shore, and in the advertisements of real estate agents. The Suburban Herald – a weekly newspaper that serviced the northern suburbs – warned its readers in 1927 that without the 'beauties of Nature' and amenities such as planned and beautiful parks and playgrounds,

we would revert to the types of humanity who inhabit the congested slum areas of the great cities of the old world. [5]

With the rise of beach culture and changing attitudes to daytime and mixed-sex swimming, pleasure grounds offered other connections with nature. Saltwater harbourside pools became popular between World Wars I and II. Informal bathing probably commenced at Echo Point around the close of World War I at the site of what later became the Roseville Baths. These baths were 'modernised' in about 1933 and became a source of local pride.

References

Frank Bate, Samuel Bate: Singular Character, Brookdale Press, Sydney, 1987

Frank Clune, Saga of Sydney, Halstead Press, Sydney, 1961

V Kerr, A Local and School History: East Roseville and Castle Cove Public School, Castle Cove P&C Association, Castle Cove NSW, 1992

Henry Lawson, 'The Boozers' Home', in Children of the Bush, Methuen, London, 1902

Mather and Associates Pty Ltd, 'Echo Point Park: Plan of Management', Ku-ring-gai Municipal Council, Gordon NSW, 1996

Moore, Pike, Proudfoot, Tropman and Associates, 'Municipality of Ku-ring-gai Heritage Study', Ku-ring-gai Municipal Council, Gordon NSW, 1987

Colin Roderick, Henry Lawson: A Life, Angus & Robertson, Sydney, 1991

Peter Spearritt, Sydney's Century: A History, University of New South Wales Press, Sydney, 1999

Notes

[1] Mather and Associates Pty Ltd, 'Echo Point Park: Plan of Management', Ku-ring-gai Municipal Council, Gordon NSW, 1996, pp 6–7

[2] Frank Bate, Samuel Bate: Singular Character, Brookdale Press, Sydney, 1987

[3] Colin Roderick, Henry Lawson: A Life, Angus & Robertson, Sydney 1991, p 199

[4] Henry Lawson, 'The Boozers' Home', in Children of the Bush, Methuen, London, 1902

[5] Suburban Herald, 15 April 1927, p 4, col 3

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