Thursday, 31 May 2012

Henrietta Bush and The Ocean Beach Hotel

Henrietta Lewis married Captain Edward Puttman while they both worked in the Fiji Islands. Sadly Edward died of a heart attack when their daughter Alice was just three weeks old and Henrietta returned to Australia to her continue nursing career.

In Australia Henrietta married Walter Bush, a shopkeeper in Sydney and they had a son, Harry. Walter and Henrietta owned hotels in Sydney, Inverell, and Kiama. When Walter died, Henrietta decided to build a hotel in Shellharbour.

The new ‘Ocean Beach’ Hotel was built by Lewis and Tyler for Mrs. Henrietta Bush in 1929, and advertised as a new Tourist Hotel, ‘an ornament to Shellharbour and South Coast. Facing the driftway with one of the oldest titles in respect of a grant stands the beautiful new building that will certainly place Shellharbour on the map in a tourist sense and gain for it appreciation of one of the prettiest spots on the coast’. (Kiama Independent 4 October 1930).

The new hotel could accommodate 60 guests and was built to cater to the tourist trade. The rooms were described as both artistic and modern while the tiled and marble bathrooms had hot and cold reticulated water with the latest in showers and fittings. The stained glass windows of the dining room opened to a tiled verandah complete with afternoon tea tables decorated in gold and black.

The Ocean Beach still stands today, providing patrons with beautiful views over the little harbour at the Village. It has served the Shellharbour Village community for over 80 years.

Tongarra Museum has many objects in the collection relating to Henrietta Bush. Her portrait is used as a logo for the museum in recognition of her work as a nurse, the establishment of the Ocean Beach Hotel and her pioneering of the tourist trade in the area.

Henrietta Lewis (Bush) c.1890.
Shellharbour Images Shellharbour City Libraries.

The Ocean Beach Hotel Shellharbour c1929.
Shellharbour Images Shellharbour City Libraries.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Lake Illawarra

The sale of the Peterborough Estate on the eastern side of Lake Illawarra in 1921 encouraged subdivisions and new towns began to emerge.

The holiday season in 1927 saw over 2000 holiday makers camped on the shores at Lake South. At night, crowds would gather with flare lamps and lanterns to go in search of delicious lake prawns that were found in enormous quantities. One only had to put a bucket into the water and scoop them out.

In those days, the sand hills at the lake were up to 70 feet high some days, depending on the winds. Locals and tourists would spend hours skiing down the sand hills on cardboard or Masonite off cuts. In later years some of the sand was used as infill during the building of the steelworks.
To cash in on the bumper tourist trade, Mr Harradine built a boarding house in Reddall Parade in 1929. Harradine's Clermont Guesthouse included 40 rooms and a dance floor. Many socials were held at Clermont which became the cultural centre of the town.

Mr Albert Orange also built a guesthouse Illawarra House and a jetty on the lake shore at Oak Flats. Albert's tourist launch Lady Albion was registered by the Illawarra Ferry Company and could take up to 70 passengers across the lake at a time. Holiday makers who arrived by steam train at Albion Park Rail could hop aboard the Lady Albion at the Windang Street jetty before being taken for a tour of the lake; stopping off at Gooseberry Island before making their way to the guesthouse.

With the onset of the Great Depression in the 1930s Mr Orange was forced to sell his famous guesthouse. The house was purchased by the Chambers family, who dismantled it and transported it piece by piece to Reddall Parade, Lake South, where it was rebuilt as The California.

Before Windang Bridge was built travellers could only get across the lake entrance at low tide. The first Windang Bridge was constructed in 1938 as a result of these emerging lake towns which today are centres of great importance in the city.

Sailing boat on Lake Illawarra c.1920.
Shellharbour Images Shellharbour City Libraries.

Reddall Parade, Lake South c.1920.
Shellharbour Images Shellharbour City Libraries.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Ben Turner and Clover Hill

Tongarra Museum's 2012 exhibition is Not All Beer and Skittles; The Life and Times of Benjamin Horace Turner. Ben Turner was an intriguing Shellharbour resident who built his English Manor House around a large rock on land he purchased in 1950, at ‘Clover Hill’, Macquarie Pass.

Ben was a parachute stunt jumper in England in the 1930's before he was sent out to Australia to make parachutes during World War II. Ben's company Turner Parachutes was the sole supplier of parachutes for the Australian government and manufactured an estimated 80,000 during the war years.

After the war with no use for parachutes anymore, Ben decided to make swimsuits. The girls at his factory were put to work sewing the 'Scamp' swimsuits, which were to become and Australian icon and were reputedly made from the silk destined for his parachutes.

In 1949 due to ill health Ben sold his share in the company and he and his wife Jean and their English Sheep Dog Roger, relocated to Clover Hill.

Bens gained his pilot’s licence and started an airline in the 1970s, Southern Cross Airways. He ran regular air services throughout New South Wales before retiring from aviation life and settling down again at Clover Hill. The 1970s were not good years for Ben. His restored home at Macquarie Pass was lost to fire, the National Parks and Wildlife Service resumed his farm and home for the National Park, and he separated from his wife of 30 years, Jean.

Ben was allowed to stay at his Clover Hill farm for the remainder of his life through permission from the NPWS. During this time, he began building his Tudor style manor house, affectionately known to the locals as ‘Ben’s Folley’. He built his home around huge rock formations on the property, so that the rocks literally became walls within the rooms of his house.

In May 2001, Ben Turner passed away at his Clover Hill home at the age of 91 years.

Tongarra Museum recently acquired a painting by local artist Kerry Suttenberg. Ms Suttenberg had fond memories of walking in Macquarie Pass and stopping at the ruins of Ben's house for a cup of tea. The painting depicts different aspects of his life; his house, parachutes and swimwear models are all featured.

Our exhibition was on display 6 May 2012 at 'Wings Over Illawarra', Illawarra Regional Airport where hundreds of people read Ben's story.

Tamara and Dot and the exhibition
at Wings Over Illawarra May 6 2012

Benjamin H Turner beside his Karmann Ghia at Clover Hill c.1950s.
Shellharbour Images Shellharbour City Libraries.

Jean Turner with her dog Roger and cat Shaster at Clover Hill c.1950s.
Shellharbour ImagesShellharbour City Libraries.

Ben's tudor style house locally known as Ben's Folly, Clover Hill c1950s.
Shellharbour Images Shellharbour City Libraries.

Kerry Suttenberg's painting of Ben Turner and Clover Hill.
Tongarra Museum collection.