A few people have pointed
out that it's not easy to find articles in back issues
of the PON. All PONs are available from the PON archive
, but I realise that
the archive is not easily searchable.
Until I find a better
solution, I propose including in each 1 January
edition an index for the previous year's main items.
That way at least you only have to look at the first
edition of each year to find an article. Unfortunately
I forgot to include this index in the last edition,
but I offer it now for 2022.
- 1 January 2022: A Brief History of Scotland
Island Fire Brigade: Part IV
- 21 January 2022: The Bathing Shed: an instance
of early offshore volunteerism
- 1 February 2022: A Brief History of the Scotland
Island Fire Brigade: Part V
- 20 February 2022: A Brief History of the
Scotland Island Fire Brigade: Part VI
- 1 March 2022: Was there ever a tennis court at
- 17 March 2022: The tennis court case goes to
- 1 April 2022: The Electrification of Offshore
- 15 April 2022: Farewell to a Postie: Brian
- 1 May 2022: Heartbreak Hill... and how we almost
had two more like it
- 1 June 2022: A Lost Home: the true story of Cove
- 1 July 2022: Water consumption on Scotland
- 1 August 2022: Island Road Erosion: how you can
- 1 September 2022: Reflections from Findhorn
- 1 October 2022: Thompson's Brothers: an essay on
- 1 December 2022: SIRA AGM report
On another point of
housekeeping, I am aware that some email clients,
including Microsoft Outlook, mess up my careful
formatting, making the PON less easy to read. If you
are having that problem, I encourage you to always
read the PON at the archive referred to above: click here
(You will always find that link at the very top of
each PON.) That way you will see them in their full
Are we sure we need it?
community vehicle, alongside island
residents Tom and Madge Gibbs
There are more than 60
vehicles on Scotland Island, and I suspect we’ve hated
all of them at one time or another. They contribute to
global warming, ruin our roads, endanger our children
and congest the island with their parking. I’m pretty
certain none of us enjoy having any of these vehicles
here. Except for the one we own, of course.
And there’s the rub. The island is too small to
accommodate many vehicles, yet just large and hilly
enough to pose real difficulties for some households.
How do you get home in the rain with screaming kids
and bags of shopping? I recently became a community
vehicle driver, and yes, dear passenger, I’ve seen the
despair in your eyes. Talk about the tired, the poor,
the huddled masses yearning to get home. Keep, Church
Point, your storied pomp! Send me the wretched refuse
of your teeming shores, for I, the community vehicle
driver, will escort them to their doors.
probably don't give the vehicle much thought, but its
statistics are truly staggering. In the last ten years
it has provided islanders with access to their homes
on more than 20,000 occasions. In doing so it has
driven a distance equivalent to almost twice the
circumference of Earth. That’s like driving from here
to Cambodia each year.
But what’s really interesting is who uses the vehicle.
The answer is that most of us will find it comes in
handy, sooner or later. An analysis of the vehicle’s
logbook suggests that over one third of islanders
benefit from it in any given year.
Bear in mind that around
half of our residents live on the waterfront and have
a private jetty, so probably have little use for the
vehicle. That leaves about 170 non-waterfront
households. The number of homes using the vehicle in
2022 exceeded 130, suggesting that at least
three-quarters of non-waterfronters will fall back on
the vehicle at some stage.
Going by the second half of 2022, the mean average
usage per island household is around five trips per
year. If we deduct the households who never (or hardly
ever) use the vehicle, and consider only those who
used it at least once in 2022, that mean average usage
goes up to slightly more than one trip per month.
But mean averages are often misleading. What about
medians? These give us a better idea of whether usage
is evenly spread across the island or is concentrated
to just a few households. It’s likely that around half
of island households never use the vehicle. But if we
consider only those that used it at least once in
2022, median usage stands at four trips per year.
We have, then, a situation in which lots of households
use the vehicle, but many of them don’t use it
particularly often. Part of the purpose of this
article is to imagine the island without community
transport. Would we be inundated by lots more
Patterson, one of the vehicle's regular
drivers over the years
I suspect that if a household is only using the
community vehicle two or three times a year then it
would be unlikely to go out and buy a buggy or car if
community transport were withdrawn. Probably they
would find alternatives: borrow a neighbour’s vehicle,
use a contractor or, God forbid, carry their shopping
home on foot.
But what about regular users of the vehicle?
Thirty-eight households (over 10% of the island) use
the vehicle more than once a month. Nineteen use it at
least once a fortnight, while eight use it more than
once a week.
We can’t assume that everyone who uses the vehicle
regularly would rush out and buy private transport if
the vehicle were withdrawn. But let’s imagine that
half of them did. That would increase the number of
vehicles on the island by a third. Twenty more cars
and buggies. Could the island handle them?
And the human cost of withdrawing the vehicle? A
number of residents are too ill, frail or elderly to
operate a car or buggy of their own. These people are
charged a special concessionary rate by the drivers.
Unsurprisingly, concession-holders tend to use
community transport most.
Out of the eleven households who use the island
vehicle most regularly, seven (around two thirds)
contain someone entitled to do so on a concessionary
basis. That’s seven of our friends and neighbours who
would be forced (or at least strongly motivated) to
leave the island if community transport were
Twenty more cars or buggies on the island. And half a
dozen out of our community lost. Perhaps consider
those numbers next time you see the community vehicle,
that white knight of island roads, fulfilling its
errands of mercy. One day you might need it too.
Thanks to Cass Gye, John Morgan and Emma Lazarus
for their help in
writing this article.
Crayford and Cass Gye with the vehicle's
current iteration, a Mitsubishi Triton
has it that island community transport was instigated
by former resident Chris Cromwell after seeing Jenny
Cullen struggle home with young children and heavy
shopping. But another part of the story is that a
group of residents, led by Jim Hinckley, a police
officer living on the island at the time, became
concerned about the number of unregistered vehicles.
To encourage registration, SIRA arranged for the fire
shed to become an authorised inspection station, so
that vehicles no longer had to be taken off the island
for registration. Island inspections commenced in 1996
and at the same time a number of old vehicles were
removed from the island at council’s expense.
Parallel to this SIRA, acting under the guidance of
Chris Cromwell, applied to the state government for
funds for a community vehicle as an alternative to
private transport. New South Wales recognised the
island as a transport-disadvantaged village, and in
March 1995 began funding SIRA to provide the service.
The vehicle’s first driver was Bill Keeley, Tracy
Smith’s dad and otherwise known as Geeps. Initially he
drove it seven days per week. Scores of islanders have
driven the vehicle over its almost thirty-year
history. It’s impossible to list them all, but many
will remember characters such as Karmel Patterson and
Mike Jones. Current regular drivers include John
Marshall, John Morgan, Sharon and Billy Dwyer, Ian
White and Roy Baker. There is also a team of backup
drivers, including Branko Kristevic, Cameron Nicol,
Duncan Watts, Greg Taylor, Julie Rodgers and Lisa
Francis. Lisa and Billy help with various aspects of
vehicle maintenance, as does Steve Valenti.
The service has had more than a few organisers and
co-ordinators in its time. Chris Cromwell and Harriet
Witchell both had a hand in its management, as did
Gordon Floyd for a number of years. Many other
islanders have contributed. In recent years Graeme
Crayford and Cass Gye took charge of the vehicle.
Sadly we lost Graeme in 2021 and many of his
responsibilities passed to John Morgan. But the
vehicle still operates under Cass’s ubiquitous gaze,
and she more than fulfils her role with inimitable
The current white Mitsubishi Triton 4WD is the
vehicle's sixth iteration. In recent years it became
apparent that compliance with modern transport
reporting regulations was too much for islanders. SIRA
still has a role in the provision of the service, but
in 2015 Easylink, a not-for-profit community
organisation based in Cromer, took over operational
responsibility. Today the vehicle is funded by New
South Wales and owned by Northern Beaches Council,
with Easylink leasing it from the council.
Even with the help of these outside agencies, the
service is still largely run by islanders who give up
their time to provide an essential transport solution
to many within our community. Thanks go to all those,
both on and off the island, who help make community
information on the community vehicle, click here.
Hill (left), alongside his partner of 43
years, Alan Yuille
is well known for its obituaries. But this time I get to
sing the praises of an offshore resident, and personal
friend, while he is still with us.
Alan Hill, long-term resident of Elvina Bay, was awarded
a much-deserved, and long-overdue OAM as part of last
week’s Australia Day honours. Alan’s award is for
service to conservation and the environment. Alan has
devoted countless hours to bushland regeneration around
Pittwater. But he is also secretary and treasurer of
South West Rocks Community Dune Care, an organisation he
was instrumental in setting up in 1992.
Hill, before and after decades of Bitou
Alan and his organisation have rehabilitated a
staggering 16 km (almost 1%) of NSW's coastline. He and
his fellow volunteers have successfully applied for, and
received, over $1.2 million in grant funding. In total,
they have contributed over 45,000 hours of work
improving the NSW coastline.
Alan grew up in a working class family in western
Sydney. He started out in his father's clutch and brake
workshops. He might have stuck at that, but he became
concerned about the long hours spent with asbestos, and
the associated health risks. Convincing himself he would
be dead by 40, Alan chose to seize the day. And so he
jacked it all in, turning to things he found more
meaningful: environmental work, alongside enriching
‘I wanted to see what I could do to improve my
relationships and my environment’, he says. He embarked
on a landscape management course at Ryde TAFE, which led
to awareness of Bitou Bush, an invasive weed that
infests most of NSW’s coastline. The problem was
particularly acute around South West Rocks, where Alan
owns a house. It was there that he set up his bush care
Cape, before and after decades of Bitou
South West Rocks is a small community, and Alan realised
that his group needed outside help. They applied for
grants so that they could employ contractors to do the
primary weed-clearing. But they still needed armies of
volunteers to do the follow-up work. In 2007 Alan hit on
the idea of a visiting volunteer program. Over the years
he has brought in over 500 people from outside the area,
all of whom contribute to the work.
Alan’s botanical knowledge is immense, and he is
involved in community awareness raising in terms of
threats to fragile ecosystems. For one of his videos,
Alan would never pretend to have achieved all of this
alone. Besides him has stood his partner of 43 years,
the indomitable Alan Yuille. Known locally as ‘the
Alans’, the couple have devoted many decades to
protecting not only the natural environment but also the
Northern Beaches’ built heritage.
The Alans have been great friends to the offshore
community, and to many within the offshore community,
myself included. We, and especially I, owe them a great
To learn more about the
Alans' dune care group, click here
. Alan Hill was recently
profiled by the WPCA's BaysNews
, and I am grateful to
them for their help with this article.
Boobook Owls and how to protect them
Can you find four rat
exterminators in the above photo?
I was on my deck on Sunday and managed to get a photo
of four Australian Boobook Owls and their babies. The
larger looking, lighter coloured owls are the fledglings,
and their parents are darker, and better camouflaged. One
adult is silhouetted. The babies look big because they
still have lots of fluffy baby feathers which seem to be
moulting right now. After the babies fledge, the family
stays together while the young owlets learn owl business,
which takes months.
This is the owl
species that you often hear calling to each other at night
around Pittwater, especially in winter. Boobooks make
other sounds which you hear in the early evening. They
call to each other and their parents with a distinctive,
cricket-like trill, and the adults sometimes make a
croaking trill, especially before they fly off to hunt in
the evening. You can hear their various calls by clicking
We also sometimes have Powerful Owls breeding in this
area. If you hear Noisy Miner birds making a big fuss near
your house, you may find an owl at its daytime roost.
Please don't use rat or mouse poisons, as rats and mice
are the main diet for these owls. If an owl eats
rodents that have been poisoned, it kills the owl.
Instead, hire a carpenter to find and plug up any holes
where rats are getting in. Or, cheaper still, plant groups
of small native trees to give owls a sheltered place to
roost on your block. We used to have a rat in our roof
before the Boobook family started hanging around the
Pythons also make great rat exterminators, and they are
also killed if they eat a poisoned rat. Speaking of
pythons, please take care while driving around the island.
Pythons often come out onto the road, and are not always
easily distinguishable from fallen branches, strips of
bark and the like. If you stop for a moment then they are
likely to slither out of your way fairly quickly.
the new committee
Following on from the SIRA
AGM in November, the newly elected SIRA Committee met
for the first time on Sunday.
The new committee has 15
members. In the above photo, starting top left and going
clockwise around the table, we have: Mark Martin, Robyn
Iredale (President), Ian White, Steve Seidman, Peta
Jacobsen, Julie Velina Cooper (Treasurer), Georgina Orr,
Robert Fox, Deb Wood (Secretary), CB Floyd (Vice
President), Sharon Kinnison (Vice President), John
Marshall and Boyd Attewell. Absent were Colin Haskell
and Jess Robinson.
to schedule an event
By following a simple procedure, you can put your
event on the calendar and the list of upcoming events
You can format your information and you can add images
(such as a poster) and links (eg to ticketing sites).
You can also give your event an appropriate category,
so that others can find it easily using a filter, such
as classes, performances, kids, groups, social,
council, or SIRA.
If you are booking the
hall, be sure to also select “_Hall Booked", so others
can see the hall is being used at that time. You can
even create a recurring event.
To create an event, go to
the website calendar
and scroll down
– you’ll see full instructions and a form there. Or,
if you’re booking the Hall or the Recreation Centre,
you can add your event at the same time you book –
just follow the instructions provided to do this while
booking. To book the Community Hall, click here
. To book the Recreation
Centre, click here
Need more help? Here is a
handy help page
to guide you through
the process. There are also instructions on how to
change details once you’ve posted.
It’s super easy and helps give your event the best
coverage. So try it out with the next event you are
Admins must approve all events but aim to do so within
Remember that if you
only need the Community Hall toilets and not the
other hall facilities then it is possible to pay to
hire just the toilets. Use the hall booking form.
CB Floyd (Communications Team Leader) and Alec Beckett
(IT manager for SIRA).
The Scotland Island play
Coming this winter: a
play written especially for the Pittwater offshore
The action focuses on two women: Catherine Benns and
Catherine Bouffier. Benns, a local midwife, moved to
Scotland Island in 1874, while Bouffier was mother-in-law
to Herbert Fitzpatrick, who developed the island in the
Bouffier was also a prominent Sydney vintner, and the play
is staged around a wine exhibition she is holding on the
Residents are invited to taste her wines. But unknown to
Bouffier, Benns' widower, Jo, is at the exhibition. He has
a very different agenda, for he knows where his wife
buried treasure on the island.
Herbert and his wife Florence turn up unexpectedly and
reveal that they've squandered the family fortune on their
ruinous Scotland Island real estate project. To complicate
matters, Tilly Devine and a chorus of wife-swappers also
show up. And so the race is on to find Benns' treasure.
The play has been written by a young playwright, Jasper
Marlow, and is professionally directed by Sophie Lepowic,
a resident of Elvina Bay. The performance is peppered with
original music and songs by islanders Markus Plattner and
So come and join us for a rollicking adventure, a classic
island farce involving wine, merriment, a little sex and
lots of history, although admittedly very little of it is
will be performances of the play as follows:
- Friday evenings, 16 & 23 June
- Saturday matinees: 17 & 24 June
- Saturday evenings: 17 & 24 June
Times and full details
relating to ticket sales will be announced in due
Catherine Park, Scotland
Tuesdays, 9 - 11.30 am
Come and have fun with us at playgroup, Tuesdays from 9 -
11.30 am. We meet on the beach while it's still warm. We
also play in the park and the Recreation Centre (old
Elvina Bay Fire Shed
Saturday 4 February, 6.00
What better way to welcome in the Chinese new year than
with a fire shed dinner hosted by the auspicious Tai Chi
Don’t miss this wonderful community evening sharing food,
laughter and conversation - in a festive traditional
Chinese way, welcoming in a new year of good luck and
BYO: bring your favourite tipple
RSVP and payment: by Thursday 2 February please to firstname.lastname@example.org
COST: $25 per person. Families $50.
All proceeds go to support the work done by the volunteer
members of the West Pittwater Rural Fire Brigade.
Donations gratefully accepted.
To help with catering, we ask that you RSVP and prepay via
EFT details: West Pittwater Fire Brigade
BSB: 032 196
Ref: Add your surname as reference
Fire Shed dinners are a volunteer community event. If you
would like to help in any way it would be greatly
appreciated. Please contact Angela Cooney on 0423
West Pittwater RFS would like to stress that all fire
brigade dinners are NO DOG events – so please leave pets
at home for the evening.
Catherine Park, Scotland
Saturday 11 February, 7.30
- 10.30 pm
Othello is a tragedy of
shadows – those seduced by the dark become darkness
itself. Even the once streetwise Othello succumbs to
Iago’s shadow-play. The proud warrior falls. Twisting
his love for Desdemona into hatred. And when love is
not, chaos comes again. Finally, the green-eyed monster
of Othello’s jealousy mocks the man it feeds on.
Such Stuff Productions presents Shakespeare’s timeless
tragedy, Othello. Performing one Scotland Island show,
February 11 2023. Wet weather contingency venue will be
in the Scotland Island Community Hall.
Tickets: adults $40,
concessions $20, children under 10 yrs free.
Refund policy: refunds are
available up to one day prior to the event.
Scotland Island Community
Tuesdays, recommencing 14
February, 9.15 - 10.15 am
Dru is a potent and graceful yoga
based on Hatha philosophy. It comprises flowing sequences
of asanas (postures), breathwork and relaxation.
It is suitable for all ages and abilities and nurtures a
sense of calm and connection.
Teacher: Katya Marden, Accredited teacher for
over 14 years.
Phone: 0414 187916
Scotland Island Recreation
Tuesday 21 February, 11 am
- 12.30 pm
The Recreation Club runs a discussion group, meeting on
the third Tuesday of each month, from 11 am to 12.30 pm
in the Recreation Centre. Everyone is welcome.
take it in turn to design a session. For the first
meeting of 2023, Roy Baker asks: 'should we be "world
citizens"? The label might sound appealing if you
shun nationalism and care for humanity as a whole. But
what does 'world citizenship' actually entail? (NB this
topic has been carried over from January's meeting,
which was cancelled.)
Read David Miller, in which he
critiques cosmopolitanism, the doctrine behind the
concept of world citizenship (4 pages);
Read Thomas Pogge, in which he responds
to Miller, and asserts that the idea of world
citizenship warrants serious consideration (6 pages);
Read Thom Brooks, in which he attempts
a synthesis of Miller's and Pogge's positions, offering
an intermediary view (6 pages).
The group is administered via a WhatsApp group, which
will be used to distribute further information about
this and future discussions. If you would like to be
added to the group, send your mobile phone number to email@example.com.
Alternatively, contact Jane Rich (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more
information or to express your interest in
The Recreation Club asks for $5 per person per
attendance to defray expenses.
Ted Blackwood Hall,
Friday 24 & Saturday
25 February, 7:30 pm
Pink Floyd's The Dark
Side of the Moon was released in 1973 and became
one of the greatest albums of all time, spending more
than 18 years in the charts. The legendary Pittwater
offshore community's Flaming Doghouse Showband will
perform the full album, from heartbeat to heartbeat,
plus plenty of Floyd favourites - over two hours of
live, local music intended to sweep you back to 1973 and
blow your mind.
Flaming Doghouse have
performed many tribute shows over the years, including
The Beatles, Pink Floyd, The Commitments, The Rocky
Horror Show, The Blues Brothers and Lady Sings the Blues
- all to huge acclaim.
This show reprises, and
brings to the mainland for the first time, their classic
Pink Floyd show to coincide with the 50th anniversary of
the release of The Dark Side of the Moon.
'This has been a secret
Pittwater offshore project during the covid years - so
almost three years in the making', says musical director
David Richards. 'The Pink Floyd catalogue is a mind
blowing body of work. Dark Side is just the tip
of the psychedelic iceberg. We can't wait to play this
show for you'.
'We chose the Ted Blackwood
Hall in Warriewood to preserve the community feel that
has always been a part of the Flaming Doghouse persona,
to avoid the noise of commercial venues and because this
show just doesn't fit in a smaller space. In a way, it's
a bit nostalgic in that the big live shows on the
northern beaches in the seventies were in the larger
Dark Side struck a collective nerve, becoming one
of the most critically acclaimed records in history. The
glow of that impact still shines as we celebrate it 50
To buy tickets, click
Scotland Island Community
Saturday 25 February, 7 -
The Recreation Club
asks for $5 per person per attendance to defray
Catherine Park, Scotland
Sunday 26 February, 10 am
- 12 noon
Scotland Island Community
Sunday 26 February, 11.30
The NSW state election is
just around the corner: 25 March is polling day.
Jacqui Scruby, independent candidate for Pittwater is
visiting the island. Jacqui is keen to meet the
community and listen to what matters to you. She will
chat informally at the island café, then at 11.30 speak
and take questions in the hall.
Jacqui is an environmental
lawyer, small business owner and, most recently,
campaign manager and advisor to independent federal MP
for Mackellar, Dr Sophie Scamps. Her policy priorities
include protecting Pittwater’s special environment,
smart climate action and restoring trust and integrity
The state government is
responsible for land use planning, health, education,
transport, environmental policy and many other areas
which affect our daily lives. With the current Liberal
MP Rob Stokes retiring, and the recent success of
independents in the federal election, Pittwater will be
a contest to watch.
Although this event is being held concurrently with the
café, this does not constitute an endorsement by SIRA or
the Recreation Club. Other candidates are welcome to
visit the café.
To visit Jacqui's website, click here
Scotland Island Community
Saturday 11 March, 7.30 pm
PLAYERS - CALL FOR PARTICIPATION!
We are looking for singers, musicians and performers.
We're also super keen to get teenagers involved too, so if
you have a daughter who can sing or perform, we'll help
and support them to find their voice.
Get in touch: Barbara 0400 377 056.
Catherine Park, Scotland
Sunday 26 March, 9:20 am
us for the third annual island run/walk, once again
held in memory of Graeme Crayford, who died last year.
Graeme made many contributions to the island
community, including in his role as president of the
island fire brigade. But many will also remember him
as a regular island jogger. What better way to honour
Graeme’s memory, keep fit and raise money for the fire
brigade than to join us on another Graemesque jaunt
around the island.
Once again we include a special walkers' category
so you can participate at your own pace. A number of
participants have already expressed interest, ranging
in age from 9 to 80. Like last year, the event will
incorporate a fun obstacle course. But if you are fit
enough to walk around the island then the obstacle
course won’t be anything you can’t handle.
There will be separate
prizes according to your age and gender. For those who
participated in previous years, there will also be
prizes for best personal improvement.
Entry: $20. This
includes a hot drink and breakfast at the island café,
which will be operating in the park alongside the
event. Profits go to Scotland Island Rural Fire
For full details, including
information on how to register, please download the
race information sheet, available here
. The link to register is here
Once again, Andy Derijk,
personal trainer and Elvina Bay resident, is donating
his time to help organise and facilitate the event.
Andy offers one-on-one personal training, as well as
fitness classes in Elvina Bay. To contact Andy about
this race or his fitness training, phone 0418 613 890.
Missed out on a previous
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Scotland Island Community Calendar
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expressed in this newsletter are not necessarily the
views of the Scotland Island Residents Association
or the Western Pittwater Community Association