About Us

Welcome to our collection of local and family history for Lost Manly and the Northern Beaches collated from history sites and personal family albums from myself and our facebook group members making it unique in every way.  Lost Manly & the Northern Beaches, began on 16th July 2013, as a place to share my family history research and invite others to share theirs also, to gather local history and precious memories before they are lost.  I’ve always had a passion for history, excelling in History in Year 9, with achieving the highest grades in the entire year, much to my own surprise; an accidental winner you might say.  I’ve just always had a natural curiosity with the way people lived in the past.  I think those seeds were planted in childhood, in mother’s kitchen, watching her recount her childhood with great animation, that started the same year as WW2. It was always the family joke that her birth started the war! Mum’s childhood home, was up the hill from our house, towards Allambie, on the corner of Lyly Road, 1.2km from my childhood home. As a child, mum pointed to the 4 towering oak trees that traced the horizon, seen from our front yard. The other item was her mother’s ‘dripping can’ used to store the used cooking fats, to be reused, time and time again, til they putrified. With that came the stories of mum’s childhood during and after the war, when butter was scarce, and rations allowed them to survive, and spreading dripping, instead of butter, on their bread was common. Mum’s shepherd’s Pie was another, that conjures up many childhood memories, baked in our old post-WW2 avocado, and beige enamel oven.

Mum’s grandparents lived 1.2km in the opposite direction, towards Freshwater Beach.  We walked past their old house in Soldiers Avenue on the way to the beach. I first started researching my family history in the mid 80s. There was no internet back then and all history tracings had to be done at the Archives at the Rocks, using the old microfilm machines, which was fine because I’d learnt how to use them when I worked at the Bank after leaving school.  That too has changed, from the Bank of New South Wales, to Westpac…nothing stays the same, except our history! The journey took me back hundreds of years to England, Ireland, Scotland, Norway, Germany and even New Caledonia, but it wasn’t until living far from home in Norway that I started searching closer to home that brought me back to Manly, and in doing so, found out that four and five generations of my ancestors were either born n bred in Manly or moved there to be closer to family; some even left for work for decades then came back. Talk about history repeating itself. This was the foundation stone of starting Lost Manly and the Northern Beaches, as the name means so much to me in more ways than I can express.Ever wondered where the catchy slogan, “Seven miles from Sydney a Thousand miles from care”, which greeted generations of Manly Ferry passengers as they arrived at Manly Wharf, came from?The Port Jackson & Manly Steamship Company(PJ&MSSCo) who started the first Manly Ferry Service from Circular Quay to Manly Wharf in 1855, held a newspaper competition, in the late 1930s, to promote travel by ferry to Manly, and the winner was a local Manly girl and her granddaughter told us this story in the Lost Manly Facebook group. These are just some of the wonderful local history you’ll hear about as we bring to life our history with personal stories from the memories and family photo albums of our 25,000 members.The slogan was encased around Fred Elliott’s painting of the SS-Barrenjoey, gliding through the Heads in April 1927, and we’ve embraced that as our own, as it captures everything Lost Manly is about. https://www.lostmanly.com.au
Lost Manly Vintage Posters 3 for $49.95
South Steyne Heritage prints
Manly was the vision of an Englishman man, Henry Gilbert Smith, who fell in love with its natural beauty and envisioned an Utopian paradise; a holiday by the sea, an escape from the industrial age life, that Sydney town had embraced with gusto; smoke, noise, and pollution, crime and poverty, he sought escapism on the peninsular paradise.A holiday by the sea, where people can forget all their troubles and cares, and bathe in the natural beauty of its surroundings, though swimming was still fifty years away from legalisation. Smith’s vision was for a new ‘BRIGHTON BY THE SEA’ which he first envisioned, naming it ‘ELLENSVILLE’ after his wife.  He also saw its development potential, and quickly claimed much of the prime estate as his own.

In 1855, Henry Gilbert Smith & Co. started bring passengers by ferry from Circular Quay in the city to Manly; the first ferry calling it Brighton, another…. Soon they formed the Port Jackson & Manly Steam Ship Company (PJ&MSSCo).

As the crowds came, they needed to be fed and bed, so he built Manly’s first hotel. Manly Pier Family Hotel was built opposite the wharf, as a place for daytrippers to refresh themselves, with meals and a bed for the night should they choose to stay a while.  The opening day of the hotel in 1856, saw a huge celebration, Manly’s first, as a full brass band played and patrons at the hotel enjoyed the sights and sounds from above. A newspaper clipping at the time, paints a very colourful occasion, with brass band, and copious crowds making revelry by the sea.

As the city living conditions worsened, people searched for escapism from the harsh realities of every day life in the post Industrial-age young colony, and Manly provided that escape, just seven miles from Sydney (a thousand miles from care). They could take a thirty minute ferry ride to another world,  to soak in the natural beauty and tranquility of the uncrowded peninsula, while cleansing their lungs with the fresh sea air. In fact, this is the reason my great grandparents moved to Manly, on doctor’s orders, due to a lung condition.

The old cargo wharf which was further left of the present day Manly Wharf, was replaced by a passenger wharf and the cargo wharf was turned into an amusement pier, built in 1930, opened in 1931 called The Manly Amusement Fun Pier with the catchy slogan, “Built for fun in 31”.

One of the three posters on sale now highlights the history of the Manly Ferries from 1900-1960 designed and illustrated in 1987 by Michael Muter with history and research contributed by John Darroch. Single poster $24.95

Lost Manly Vintage Posters 3 for $49.95

Posters will be packaged and shipped in a protective postal cylinder with a tracking number to ensure delivery within 5 business days.  All Three Posters for $49.95

It’s hard to believe that the Northern Beaches was once one of the least desirable places in Sydney to live because it was a long and difficult road trip from Sydney, and few travailed. The Northern Beaches is now one of the most desirable places to live in Sydney, reflected in the inflated housing prices, forcing many families to leave, disturbing the sense of “Village” life that Manly was once known for.



Manly is situated on the land of the Gayemagal people, the traditional owners of this land.

  • The Gayemagal lived in the Manly area and thrived due to the abundance of food resources like fish, shellfish and animals. Evidence of these can be found in the middens all over the coastal area.
  • Aboriginal people are part of the oldest surviving continuous culture in the world.
  • Early relations between the first colonists and the Gayemagal people quickly soured.
  • In 1789 a Smallpox epidemic spread through the local Aboriginal population.
  • By the 1830s, only a few Aboriginal people remained in the Manly area.
  • Recorded Aboriginal sites included shelter, midden sites, rock engravings, open midden sites, shelter cave art and open camp sites. From  manlyaustralia.com.au/info/history. For more historical information, please visit www.aboriginalheritage.org.

Many suburbs were named after Aboriginal names:

  • Akuna Bay – ‘place of water’
  • Allambie – ‘to remain a while’
  • Barrenjoey – ‘young kangaroo’
  • Curl Curl – curial curial meaning ‘river of life’
  • Elanora -‘camp by the sea’
  • Narraweena – ‘a quiet place in the hills’ (From northernbeaches.gov.au)

We have built up an extensive Picture collection with hundreds of albums capturing life as it was on the Northern Beaches from 1855 to the present (these albums are currently accessible on the Lost Manly & the Northern Beaches Facebook group and are in the process of transferring them to the website. To experience the essence of Manly is to be seven miles from Sydney a thousand miles from care.

All Three Posters for $49.95


Posters will be packaged and shipped in a protective postal cylinder with a tracking number to ensure delivery within 5 business days.  All Three Posters for $49.95






Smile! You’re on Candid Camera!

We have an extensive collection of STREET PHOTOGRAPHY from the 1930s and 40s, contributed by our Lost Manly members.
Our ever-growing collection captures generations of locals and tourists as they strolled from the ferry wharf to the beach, along The Corso (named after il Corso in Italy), passing St Matthews Church which is a favoured backdrop for many of the street photographs. Other favoured locations for these 1930s and 40s phenomenon was at Manly Wharf, as punters arrived by Ferry and headed towards the Harbour Pool, Promenade, and Pavilion. We have, perhaps, the largest Manly street photography collection around. Pictured here is my great Uncle LAC Bede Bernard Sutton RAAF, and his fiancé Mary Morgan. After researching Bede’s story I was able to pinpoint the date this picture was taken and it proved to be a significant moment captured in time, of their last goodbye, because the day after this picture was taken, he left for war and never came home.

By the 1920s Manly was in full swing and The Corso became a ‘street of dreams’, Manly had its own’s daily newspaper and a competition was run which saw the creation this winning song, ‘MANLY BY THE SEA’, in 1924. A punt at the Spit run by the Ellery clan who lived close by, carried passengers and their horse and carts, then later the rare automobile, across the Middle Harbour, until the Spit Bridge was built in 1924.

COMING SOON to our VINTAGE POSTER collection will be this print from 1924 celebrating the winning song of a competition hosted by the Manly Daily Printing Press for the occasion.

Coming Soon! Manly by the sea 1924 Poster

Join our engaging facebook group where it all began: