Friday, March 22, 2024



Continuing an alphabetical look at Sydney’s suburbs . . .

Dee Why


Dee Why is a coastal suburb of northern Sydney, New South Wales, 18 kilometres north-east of the Sydney central business district. It is the administrative centre of the local government area of Northern Beaches Council and, along with Brookvale, is considered to be the main centre of the Northern Beaches region.

Name origin:

There is no definitive answer on the origin of the Dee Why name.

Some theories:

- ‘'DY' represents the shape of the lagoon;

- ‘deewae’ is the sound made by a small water bird living in the wetlands

Surveyor James Meehan recorded the first written reference to the name Dee Why in his field book in September 1815, when he noted his location as 'Dy Beach'. Dy, as noted by Meehan, may possibly have come from the Aboriginal name for the area. In fact he was standing at Freshwater Beach at the time he jotted 'Dy' in his field book, not at present-day Dee Why Beach.

The DY reference was later expanded to become Deewhy and eventually became the separate words Dee Why as it is today.


The first land in the area to be listed by the New South Wales government Gazette was 700 acres (280 ha) granted to William Cossar in the early 19th century, James Wheeler purchased 90 acres in 1842, but by the mid-19th century most of the land in what is now Dee Why had been acquired by James Jenkins and other members of the Jenkins family.

Elizabeth Jenkins, eldest daughter of James, gave all her land to the Salvation Army upon her death in 1900, in recognition of their support in her old age. The Salvation Army received in total 1,740 acres (700 ha) of land, 200 acres (81 ha) of which were in Dee Why. An industrial farm, as well as hostels for boys, girls and women were established on this land. Access to the beach was limited by the Salvation Army's land, with a wire netting barrier running along its length.


Pittwater Road, Dee Why, 1910

Dee Wy Beach and Lagoon, 1915

Dee Why Beach, 1918

Dee Why Beach, 1918

Dee Why, 1960’s

Dee Why Beach, 1960’s

Dee Why Surf Lifesaving Club, Dee Wy Beach

Dee Why, c 1923

The Dee Why Beach War memorial was unveiled in 1917. It was erected by the Dee Why SLSC and recorded all members who served in World War I, not just those who died. It can also be seen in the above photograph and still exists today.

Guy and Bailey’s store was established pre 1920 by James and Mary Bailey who were later joined by their daughter and son-in-law, Tom and Gladys Guy. Dee Why was a developing holiday destination so the store catered for both residents and holiday makers. They delivered groceries, had swimming costumes for hire and sold afternoon teas and hot water. In 1925, the store increased to include holiday flats, a restaurant and milk bar. For some time, their store was the only place in Dee Why where a meal could be obtained.  The family owned the store well into the 1950s.

In 1946, the Dee Why SLSC purchased land in The Strand opposite their existing Surf Club, at a cost of 1,270 pounds. They allowed caravans to park on it which helped the SLSC pay off the loan for the purchase of the land. The site was very popular, with caravans arriving from all over Australia. Originally this land was to be for a new clubhouse however it was considered too far from the beach and was eventually sold.

Bee Why Beach and Lagoon

Meriton Retail Precinct, Dee Why

Dee Why Lagoon Wildlife Refuge
The high conservation value of the lagoon and its surrounding area was recognised in 1973 when it was proclaimed a wildlife refuge. It is an extremely significant area for local and migratory birds, and is listed on migratory bird agreements with Japan and China. The Dee Why Lagoon Wildlife Refuge covers an area of 77 hectares, of which the lagoon takes up 30 hectares. The rest of the reserve is primarily swamp-based bushland, as well as the coastal dune ecosystem between the lagoon and the sea.

Looking South to Dee Why Beach

Tank traps dating from World War II in Dee Why Lagoo

St Kevin's Catholic Church, with its distinctive tent-like architecture

Dee Why Beach

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