Saturday, July 17, 2021





Collaroy is a suburb in northern Sydney located 22 kilometres north-east of the Sydney central business district, in the local government area of Northern Beaches Council.

Name origin:
This area was originally part of Narrabeen but was renamed after the SS Collaroy ran aground on the beach in 1881 at what was then called 'Jenkin's Cove' (see below), named after early settler James Jenkins. The ship was refloated and later wrecked on the Californian coast in 1889.

SS Collaroy was an iron paddle steamer which often travelled between Newcastle and Sydney. The ship was named after a sheep station near Cassilis in the Hunter Valley, Australia after having been launched in 1853 in Birkenhead, England.

Four months after extensive repairs, the ship became beached close to Pittwater Road at Collaroy on 20 January 1881. A navigational error was given as a cause, when the ship attempted to avoid Long Reef near Sydney in heavy fog, without the captain's order. A report in the Sydney Evening News suggests the Collaroy was in an unofficial race with another coastal steamer, the Morpeth and that a further westerly course would assist in reaching port in a faster time.

The stranded ship became a tourist attraction. The master Captain Martin Thompson and mate Mr Richard Drew had their licenses suspended for three months.

The beached SS Collaroy, 1881


Most of Collaroy’s development has occurred since the mid twentieth century.

During the Second World War ‘Brown-out’ regulations were put in place, including masking street lights and car lights. Black out curtains were required, it being considered the beachside suburb faced the possibility of invasion. So successful were local efforts to conceal lighting it was responsible for the running aground of the New Zealand vessel Altair. It came ashore near the Long Reef Golf Club.

The Altair aground on the rock platform at Long Reef.
It’s not known how long the Altair remained on the rock platform on the northern side of Long Reef – although it was at least a year – and its ultimate fate is also unknown

The military feared an invasion during WW2 and the beaches, including the Collaroy rock pool, were covered with barbed wire and anti tank traps. The holes where the barbed wire was set to metal stakes are still visible. The concrete steps from the sea wall to the sand were blown up. Around Collaroy barbed wire barricades were prepared to block streets and to deny the Japanese access to the strategically significant plateau.  A local Volunteer Defence Corps was formed. On Long Reef headland all the trees below Pittwater Road were cut down to give clear line of fire on invading Japanese.

Barbed wire on Collaroy Beach

Tank traps, Northern Beaches (This one is at Bayview)
The Northern beaches was identified as a region particularly susceptible to land invasion from the Japanese. So 300 of these tank traps were strategically placed along the shoreline

Triangular anti-tank traps placed along the beach at Collaroy in 1946 to prevent washaways of gardens and homes on the waterfront. During heavy storms in 1945 homes were severely damaged in this area.

The sand dunes to the south of the Collaroy Golf Course were leveled and the sand was trucked into Sydney city to fill sandbags for protection of buildings from bombing.

On 31 May, 1942 it appeared the Japanese would land. The raid by Japanese midget submarines on Sydney Harbour that evening had many locals believing an invasion was imminent. Allied naval vessels in the Harbour played their part and the sound of shells and machine gun fire could be heard by local residents. Black out conditions were strictly observed as locals had reported a positive identification of the Japanese float plane which flew reconnaissance missions over Sydney. At the heart of the raid shell bursts were reported to the north of Long Reef but, the expected invasion did not materialise. In the ensuing days a Japanese landing raft was found one morning on a local beach.

A Japanese midget submarine escaped Sydney Harbour that night and, crippled, it only made it just north past Long Reef before sinking. It still lies on the bottom today where it was found in November 2006. It has been declared a War Memorial as it contained remains of the two Japanese crew.

The submerged midget submarine at Long Reef


The suburb of Collaroy, and also Collaroy Beach, viewed from Collaroy Plateau.

Women in bathing suits on Collaroy Beach (1908)

Collaroy Heights Estate, 1922, subdivision plan

The writing on the photograph says “Collaroy's Up to Date Estate Agency”, date unknown. 
The writing on such old time photographs is often a little shaky, explained by the photographs having been taken using glass plates and the writing having been later added on the back as mirror written format.

Another example of the mirror writing identification, a holiday at Collaroy Beach, date unknown.

1945 storm damage at Collaroy

Damaged foreshore homes in Sydney's Collaroy Beach, victims of intense storms that hit eastern Australia over the weekend of 4-5 June 2016. See also photographs below.

More of the 2016 storm damage at Collaroy.

1912 poster for residential subdivision and sales

Women on Collaroy Beach, 1908

c1900-1920's Wilson's Shop, 1095 Pittwater Rd, Collaroy.

The Wilson Family at Collaroy Beach. 1930. Great hats.

Pittwater Rd, Collaroy, Arlington Amusement Hall on right, 1936

Competition ready for the start of the International Board Race at Collaroy Beach, 1956. Note the sizes and shapes of the surfboards.

Bus, Collaroy, date unknown

Salvation Army Youth/Young Adult Camp 1947 Collaroy.
Not a tambourine in sight.



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