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Scotland Island - Western Shores - Mackerel Beach

April 15, 2022

Newsletter for the Offshore Residents of Pittwater, Australia - Volume 23, Issue 1175

We acknowledge and pay our respects to the Traditional Custodians of Pittwater, as well as our indigenous readers


Farewell to a Postie: Brian Dickeson

Roy Baker

Offshore living has its share of unpredictability, what with sudden downpours, falling branches, sinking tinnies and the uncertainty of a spot in the car park. But for the last 19 years one thing has been reliable: the helpful and friendly service of Brian Dickeson, keeper of the Church Point Post Office.

But soon that will be gone, as Brian retires later this month. How will we cope without him? It's a measure of the warmth and familiarity of offshore living that we all know our postie’s name, and many of us feel that we have far more than a business relationship with him.

There has been a post office at Church Point since at least 1908, although it used to be located more or less in the middle of what is now Thomas Stephens Reserve, the paved area adjoining the Pasadena. Like today, the post office doubled, and in fact started out as a general store, owned by James Booth, who also owned the boat shed on the site occupied by the current general store.

The post office grew along with the onshore and offshore community. But because there has never been a postal delivery service to offshore Pittwater, Church Point post office has always played a special part in the lives of islanders and western foreshore residents.

The post office wasn’t always the sophisticated operation it is today. Within living memory, residents who wanted to check their mail simply walked in and gave their name, whereupon whoever was on hand would sift through a pile of alphabetically sorted letters.

Brian began at Church Point in 2003, by which time mailboxes had been installed and things were rather more efficient. Brian initially worked with Brian Wright before running the show single-handedly. With the growing popularity of online shopping, the heart of the operation switched from letters to parcels. Prior to 2020 the post office received fewer than 400 parcels a week. But that number doubled as a result of COVID.

Today, Brian processes around 750 parcels a week, let alone the many letters and flyers he handles. Brian estimates that around 70% of his business comes from offshore residents.

Church Point's original post office,
viewed from the rear (c. 1909)
Despite his daunting workload, Brian remained invariably efficient, affable and seemingly unflappable. He always had a moment to chat with customers, and seemed particularly understanding of the peculiar needs of offshore residents.

Brian was more than our post man. He was at times an ad hoc lost property office, a place to leave messages for neighbours and friends, or the guardian of shopping bags while their owners went off to look for somewhere to park.      

‘I’ve even been asked to mind children’, says Brian. ‘I’d just say “leave them over there next to the fishing bait”’.

Brian, who used to live in Mona Vale but has now moved to Dee Why, says he will miss offshore residents. ‘They are a nice bunch,’ he remarks.

Without Brian, posting a letter or receiving a parcel will never be quite the same. But he promises that he will, from time to time, return to the Point. No doubt many of us will once again appreciate his warm, disarming manner, and his readiness to pass the time of day. Thanks, Brian, for looking after all our letters and parcels. 

Church Point, c. 1909.
The old general store and post office can be seen on the right, with a boatshed occupying the present site of the store.


Island Race: the Results

The three fastest runners:
Winner Will Blackband, with 2nd placed Peter Cumming and 3rd placed Craig Lauchlan

Last Sunday saw the running (and walking) of the second annual Scotland Island race, this time held in memory of Graeme Crayford, keen jogger and former president of the fire brigade, who died earlier this year.

Oldest and youngest first:
Andy Derijk blows the starting whistle for the 2022 island run.
23 runners and walkers registered to take part, almost double the number last year. Participants lapped the island once, starting and finishing in Catherine Park. They then completed an obstacle course designed by Andy Derijk, a fitness instructor and resident of Elvina Bay.

Immediately after the race, prizes were given, followed by breakfast at the Two Catherines Café. As a result of the event around $300 were raised for the island fire brigade.

Despite a muddy course, a new record was set by race winner Will Blackband (aged 11). Will completed his lap of the island in 12 mins 5 secs, beating last year’s record of 12 mins 13 secs.

Billy Dwyer works the exercise ropes, helped by grandson Lewis
In second place was Elvina Bay resident Peter Cumming, and third was newcomer to the island Craig Lauchlan.

The fastest female runner was Ros Forrest (14 mins, 7 secs), followed by Christine Cumming.

Penny Wise was fastest walker, marching around the island in 24 mins 24 secs.  

What’s particularly encouraging is that almost everyone who took part last year managed to improve on their time. The biggest improvement was that of George Orr, who went from 16 mins 44 secs down to 15 mins 37 secs.

A last minute surprise entry was Lewis, five-year-old grandson of Billy Dwyer. Both competed the run in fine style.

Congratulations and thanks go to all runners and walkers. Thanks also go to Andy Derijk for once again volunteering his time, as well as George Orr for baking the tasty prizes, and the various timers and others who helped out.

Table Tennis

Scotland Island Recreation Centre

Most Saturdays throughout the year

2 - 3 pm: Introduction to Table Tennis

3 - 5 pm: Table Tennis practice

Groups meet most Saturdays and anyone over 12 is welcome. Sessions are supported by the Scotland Island Recreation Club.

Play from 2 - 3 pm is intended primarily for those new to table tennis. The session from 3 - 5 pm is open to everyone, regardless of your standard of play.

Sessions do not run every Saturday. If you are interested in taking part then it's best to join the table tennis WhatsApp group to receive up-to-date information on who is playing. If you would like to join the group, please email editor@scotlandisland.org.au. Alternatively, you can just turn up and take your chances.


Charity Pizza Night

Scotland Island

Saturday, 16 April, 5:00 - 7:30 pm


Easter Egg Hunt

Catherine Park, Scotland Island

Sunday 17 April, 10 - 11 am

Scotland Island Rural Fire Brigade presents the great annual Easter egg hunt. Families with children are invited to Catherine Park to search for cunningly hidden eggs.

There will be three separate hunts, each for a different age group:
  • Children under five will have their eggs hidden within the perimeter fence of the Recreation Centre (the old kindy);
  • Children from five to nine will be excluded from the above area, and will need to look for their eggs further afield in Catherine Park;
  • Children aged 10 and above will need to search for and then answer questions if they are to enjoy any eggs. The questions will test their powers of observation.
Following the hunt, toasted hot cross buns will be served, courtesy of your friendly firefighters. All welcome.


International Folk Dancing

Scotland Island Community Hall

Saturday 23 April, 7 - 9 pm


Scotland Island Café

Catherine Park, Scotland Island

Sunday 24 April, 10 - 12 noon


Anzac Day Memorial Service

Thomas Stephens Reserve, Church Point

Monday, 25 April, 10.45 am

Our traditional ANZAC Day service will be held at Thomas Stephens Reserve, Church Point on Monday, 25 April, commencing 10.45 am.

The guest speaker will be Andrew Cutler, captain of West Pittwater Rural Fire Brigade. He will speak about his uncle, Sir Arthur Roden Cutler (1916 - 2002).

Sir Roden was the longest-serving Governor of New South Wales and recipient of the Victoria Cross in relation to his service in Syria during World War II. Following the war he served in Australia's diplomatic service. 


Read Essays and Discuss (READ) Group

Scotland Island Recreation Centre

Tuesday 26 April, 11 am - 12.30 pm

The Recreation Club has a new discussion group, meeting on the last Tuesday of each month, from 11 am to 12.30 pm in the Recreation Centre. Everyone is welcome.

Members take it in turn to design a session, choosing material for discussion. This can consist of essays, articles or podcasts, or a combination of all three. The idea is that group members shouldn't be committed to more than a few hours' preparation in terms of listening or reading. The idea is to be open to a wide range of topics and material. 

The inaugural meeting consisted of Jane Rich leading a discussion on Water Access Only: More Tales & Adventures from Pittwater. The ensuing debate covered issues such as the meaning of 'community', the effect that talk of an inclusive offshore community might have on people who don't feel included, connection with place, construction of individual identity, memories of family relations, what makes for a happy and interesting life, and more.

In the next meeting, Roy Baker leads a discussion on social class. For most of the last couple of centuries, debate around social injustice in western nations centred largely on social class. More recently there has been a marked shift, with the focus moving to race, gender, sexuality and disability. While attention to disparities involving these characteristics is obviously a good thing, have we lost something by overlooking class?

●  Listen to 'Why don't we talk more about class?' The Minefield, ABC Radio National, available here. (54 mins, 7 secs);
●  Read some or all of the Wikipedia entry on Social Class, available here (and as many of the connected entries or readings as strike your fancy);
●  Optional extra: 'How America Fractured Into Four Parts' by George Packer, The Atlantic, available here.
●  And if you are really keen: 'The Collapse of American Identity' by Isaac Chotiner, The New Yorker, available here.

Contact Jane Rich (janebalmain@hotmail.com) for more information or to express your interest in participating.


Fire Shed Dinner

Scotland Island Fire Station

Saturday 30 April, 7:00 - 11:00 pm

To book, click here.


Woody Point Yacht Club: AGM

Lovett Bay Boat Shed

Saturday 30 April

RSVP and pre-book tickets: woodypyc.treasurer@gmail.com
Book early to avoid disappointment as COVID limits apply.


Fire Brigade: Information and Social Evening

Scotland Island Fire Station

Friday 6 May, 6 - 8 pm


Love Letters

Scotland Island Community Hall

Saturday 7 May, 5.30 pm


Scotland Island BBQ Café

Catherine Park, Scotland Island

Sunday 8 May, 10 - 12 noon


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  • The views expressed in this newsletter are not necessarily the views of the Scotland Island Residents Association (SIRA), or the Western Pittwater Community Association (WPCA)
    Original Newsletter Design:Paul Purvis & Julian Muir