Pittwater History & Heritage

Exhibitions Projects & Festivals

The Guringai people had lived in Pittwater for thousands of years when Europeans arrived in 1788 and soon displaced them. From 1810 Aboriginal lands were given to pardoned convicts and free settlers. Some land was cleared for cultivation and to provide timber for building and fuel. Later in the century Pittwater became a farming district, grazing sheep, cattle, horses and pigs and producing butter, milk, vegetables, fruit and wheat.

Pittwater was isolated and reached mainly by ship to Barrenjoey and after 1880 to Newport.

The earliest land explorations followed Aboriginal tracks. Over the years a rough bush road was established from Manly, along the coast to Narrabeen. By the early 1880s a bridge spanned the ford at Narrabeen. Travellers by coach paused at the Rock Lily Hotel in Mona Vale (which opened in 1886), and then continued northwest to Bayview and Church Point, or northeast for Newport and Barrenjoey. By 1913 trams replaced coaches to Narrabeen. From there passengers could take a bus north. After The Spit (1925), Roseville (1925) and Sydney Harbour (1932) Bridges were opened, the Pittwater peninsula was more easily reached. Cars opened up travel. People built holiday shacks, often only occupied for a few weeks a year.

However since the 1950s, Pittwater has become predominantly residential in character and is a suburban region of Sydney.

Aboriginal Support Group – Manly Warringah Pittwater

The Guringai Festival is an annual celebration of indigenous culture and heritage, starting in May with National Sorry Day and running until the end of NAIDOC Week in July. The festival raises awareness of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in this region of northern Sydney, once inhabited by the Guringai tribe, and the need to close the gap in health and wellbeing between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians. Events include workshops, art exhibitions and children’s performances, with a focus on reconciliation.

For more information visit the Guringai Festival website.

For more information on the history of Pittwater from an aboriginal perspective or on the annual Guringai Festival, visit http://asgmwp.net/

The Guringai Festival Committee for 2017 has decided to run a cover competition for Primary Schools. Keep your eye out for this competition by checking the Guringai Festival Website. Students could see their Art work featured as the cover and poster for the Guringai Festival 2017! Winning work and other chosen material will also be exhibited during the Guringai Festival.

The Manly Warringah & Pittwater Historical Society

The Manly Warringah & Pittwater Historical Society was established in 1924, and is one of the oldest suburban historical societies in Australia, with a continuous record of achievement and research. For more information, visit their website http://www.mwphs.com/

Avalon Beach Historical Society

Maintains a pictorial, oral & literary collection of local history of the Avalon Beach area. Meetings 3 monthly (approx).

Phone: 02 9918 2803;0439 292 566

Location: 15 Bowling Green Lane, Avalon Beach NSW 2107

Mail: PO Box 1, Avalon Beach NSW 2107


Web: avalonbeachhistory.com.au

Pittwater Online News

has a fascinating regular weekly history column on Pittwater worth subscribing to.


Pittwater Pathways

Or for a YouTube look at Pittwater’s history visit https://www.youtube.com/user/pittwaterpathways

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