Welcome to Lost Manly & the Northern Beaches

Locals only at Dee Why Pool in the early 1900s.

Situated on the east coast of Australia, the Northern Beaches of Sydney is a land-locked peninsula, starting at Manly, and finishing 40 km north along the coast at Palm Beach, at the northerly tip of the Sydney peninsula. It is then separated by Broken Bay from the Central Coast of New South Wales.  The Northern Beaches was once considered the least desirable place to live in Sydney because it was far from the city, cut off by water and the road trip was long and difficult, taking a day or more to reach it by horse and cart and punt.

Now its one of the most desirable and expensive places to live in Sydney, if not, Australia. And that 40km stretch of peninsula is pristine soft golden sandy surfing beaches with depression-era built ocean pools at many of them, a truly east coast uniqueness.

In 1855 the first ferry service from Sydney to Manly began and the the vision of the new ‘BRIGHTON BY THE SEA’ was birthed. A punt at the Spit run by the Ellery clan was also punting road trippers across to the Peninsula as well, until eventual in 1924, a bridge was built, the Spit Bridge. And the rest, as they say, is history. The Northern Beaches is now one of the most desirable places in Sydney to live, with housing prices going through the roof, leaving many of the former locals ‘disposed’ of their homes as they have to move out to more affordable, and less crowded, places to live. So in that sense, that too forms part of the meaning of LOST MANLY, as there is that sense of loss one feels by this. I know I do, and it is my dream, along with many others I’m sure, to one day return to ‘my home’ on the northern beaches, after many years abroad.

Some of the earliest pics posted in Lost Manly were from my own family albums and it was my wish to see others share from their family albums too. I also started searching the internet for Manly history and discovered quite a treasure trove, from libraries, historic newspapers and various other history, though there weren’t too many around in 2013, unlike now.  I imagined a history hub filled with local history from family albums of past and present ‘locals’; like the stuff you don’t find in history books. Along the way discovered the phenomenon of the SYDNEY STREET PHOTOGRAPHER of the 1930s and 40s, and have gathered quite a collection of Manly snaps as the Corso, outside of St Matthews, was a favourite place for them, as was stepping out off the Manly ferry at the Wharf.  Now we have thousands of photos, archived into ‘albums’ and ‘files’ on Facebook and will gradually add them here on the Lost Manly website, as we grow, cos its early days yet.

Here, you can learn all about the history of Manly’s early days, how one Englishman’s vision for an Utopian destination where people could soak in the surrounding natural beauty and health benefits of the fresh sea air of this undeveloped peninsula that was seven miles from Sydney by ferry, and a thousand miles from the cares of the booming, smoggy Industrial Age hub that was Sydney in the 1850s, to become one of, if not, THE most loved and visited holiday destination in Australia, both for Australians and overseas visitors alike.  A song was even written in 1924, ‘MANLY BY THE SEA’, winning a competition hosted by the Manly Daily and this poster was printed by the Manly Daily Printing Press as seen in the poster below. We’re working on bringing this song back to life as we’ve found the sheet music and lyrics and one member even says her great aunt has the old pianola track for it…to celebrate we’ll be printing this poster in the coming months too.

Manly by the sea 1924

Discover the lasting legacy left by the now historic Port Jackson & Manly Steamship Company (PJ&MSSCo), who started the first Manly Ferry Service from Circular Quay to Manly in 1855.

Learn how they coined the phrase, ‘Seven miles from Sydney a Thousand miles from care’ that has been seen by many generations of Manly Ferry punters as you arrive at Manly Wharf. The PJ&MSSCo. held a newspaper competition, in the 1930s to caption a slogan for their ferry campaign and the winner was a local Manly girl who coined the phrase ‘Seven miles from Sydney and a thousand miles from care’. Say Hi to her granddaughter in our facebook group!

The slogan was later added to the classic Fred Elliott painting of the SS Barrenjoey as she glided past the Heads in April 1927 and we’ve embraced that as our image as it captures everything Lost Manly is about.

See our ever-growing collection of what was the 1930s and 1940s phenomenon of Street Photography, capturing 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. I’d like to think we are well on our way to holding the  largest photo collection of street photography taken in Manly in the 30s and 40s, from the private family albums of our facebook members. Pictured here one the first street photography photo posted in Lost Manly, and its my great Uncle LAC Bede Bernard Sutton RAAF, and his fiancé Mary Morgan. As it turned out, this was to be their last goodbye, taken on his 31st birthday on 6 September 1941, the day before embarking for war, from which he never returned. Keep your eyes peeled for the book I’m working on.

Dig up the dirt on the history of the planting of our famous Manly Beach Norfolk Pines back c1885 that are perhaps the most photographed Pine trees in the world. And of course, the Camera Obscura and Gothic Dalley’s Castle complete with Gargoyles, that towered majestically over Manly for almost half a century. How else do you think Gilbert, Tower and Camera Streets got their names?And then there’s the people. We have the greatest collection of candid and personal photographs of generation after generation of local friends and families who made Manly and the Northern Beaches their home; some still resident. So come check us out and why not share your own pics and memories while your here. To experience the essence of Manly is to be seven miles from Sydney a thousand miles from care.

Maiden Voyage to Manly crossing the heads, May 1938.

Right now you can order three posters for $49.95 (while stocks last) and we’ll ship it in a protective postal cylinder with tracking for $20, Australia-wide, and $30 overseas postage).

Single Posters $24.95 Art Deco promotion and travel poster
Australian Maritime Heritage and History of Manly Ferries 1900-1960
SS South Steyne Maiden Voyage to Manly across the heads May 1938

Join our engaging facebook group where it all began: