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Scotland Island - Western Shores - Mackerel Beach

May 12, 2022

Newsletter for the Offshore Residents of Pittwater, Australia - Volume 23, Issue 1177

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



Leicester Warburton, long-term offshore resident and former editor of Scotland Island’s newsletter, died yesterday at the age of 101.

Leicester in the 1940s
Leicester and his wife, Florence, bought on the island in 1962 and spent much of their time here until moving off in 2004. For 28 of those 42 years Leicester ran S.I. News, the island newsletter. Leicester took over the paper in 1972, running it until 2000, when it became the Pittwater Offshore Newsletter.

Born in 1921, Leicester started his career as a cadet journalist on Sydney’s evening paper The Sun. He enlisted in the RAAF in World War II, serving with a bomber squadron in Borneo. It was while on leave that he met his wife, Florence Goetze, in the Sydney offices of Woman magazine. They were to remain married for over 70 years, producing two daughters and a son.

After the war Leicester spent a period in Canberra, working for a political party. Not wanting to be separated from his wife, Leicester returned to Sydney, moving with Florence to North Curl Curl, where they lived for 26 years. It was during this period that Leicester discovered Scotland Island, happening upon it while out on a country drive with his eldest daughter, Jane. This led to the ‘impulsive purchase’ of a block on Florence Terrace.
By the time of his purchase on Scotland Island Leicester had already switched to a career in advertising, working for British Commonwealth Pacific Airlines, which operated trans-Pacific flights before being taken over by Qantas. Leicester then worked for a ‘hard-driving young publisher’ Rupert Murdoch in connection with the 1964 launch of The Australian newspaper. This was an unhappy time for Leicester, who later spoke openly of his alcoholism and the strain this put on his marriage. Even so, Florence remained ‘loyally supportive’.

Leicester with his wife, Florence,
and their two eldest children, Jane and Mark.
Despite these setbacks, Leicester’s career in advertising flourished and by the late 1960s he was well respected in the industry. Indeed islander Penny Wise remembers that Leicester was an early contact for her when she first moved from England to Australia looking for a career in the media. Leicester had no work for her, but when they later became close neighbours on Florence Terrace a friendship ensued.

‘He was just gorgeous’, she recalls. ‘He loved the island, swimming outside his home every day’. It was during one such swim that Leicester and some neighbours dived to the bottom of Pittwater for what they thought might be a box of legendary sunken treasure. It turned out to be a dumped refrigerator.

In 1972 Leicester inherited S.I. News from Ian ‘Bunks’ Carmichael. Older island residents will recall Leicester delivering the paper house to house on the island, something Leicester recounted in an article he wrote for the PON in 2013, reproduced below.

Leicester with his friends at the 'Cremorne Coffee Club', Cremorne Point
Surprisingly, Leicester never lived full-time on the island. Starting as a weekender, after retirement he became the inverse, spending weekdays offshore and weekends on the lower north shore. But through his editorship of S.I. News Leicester won fans across the island. 'I was very fond of him', says Jenny Cullen. ‘He was a real gentleman’, recalls Gill Unwin. ‘A lovely, friendly guy’, remembers Alison Uren.  

Unfortunately the rigours of island life became too much for Florence and the couple moved to Cremorne Point in 2004, having already handed over S.I. News to Paul Purvis, who renamed it the Pittwater Offshore Newsletter.

Sadly Florence developed dementia and in 2015 he made the ‘heartbreaking decision’ to move her to a nursing home. After more than 70 years together, Leicester described the ‘ache of separation’ as ‘almost unbearable’. After Florence died in 2016 Leicester, with admirable candour, spoke about loneliness that might have driven him close to suicide. Fortunately he found solace in the Cremorne Coffee Club, a group of friends who met daily at a café at Cremorne Point Wharf.

In time the challenges of independent living became too much for Leicester and he moved to Uniting The Garrison aged care home in Mosman. It was while living there that he suffered a stroke earlier this month.

‘Our astonishing father, who has bounced back from so many challenges in his 101 years, passed away very early this morning’, said his family yesterday. ‘We are very grateful to the wonderful staff of the Garrison, Royal North Shore and Northern Beaches Hospitals for their care and concern’.  

Leicester leaves not only his children but also grandchildren and great-grandchildren. His family say that a celebration of his life will be held in the near future.

Leicester with Florence, his wife of more than 70 years


The Story of 'SINEWS'

When Scotland Island had its very own newspaper

Leicester was a writer, so it seems fitting to let him tell of his offshore journalistic endeavours in his own words. The following article, written by Leicester, first appeared in the PON on 1 November 2013.

Most recent arrivals on the gem of Pittwater are unaware that a record of life on the island over 60 years ago is archived in the Mona Vale Library Local Studies Unit for residents to read at their leisure.

It was back in 1955 when the first two-page issue of the Scotland Island Progress Association Newsletter was born, printed on an ancient Gestetner and with a print run of about 50 copies. Not many were needed in those days. Residents were mainly week-enders on waterfronts with only a couple of houses owned by courageous climbers higher up in the thick foliage.

Those early copies are faded now and so is my memory of the name of the first editor who later fled to Gosford. I think it was Geoff Steen. But the second was Ian 'Bunks' Carmichael, a senior executive at the ABC, who lived to survive a giant gum tree, blasted by a fierce nighttime storm, topple over his house and come down, cutting the house in two while they slept. His term as editor lasted for two years, rallying residents to an occasional meeting in the fireshed which stood, in those days, just near the end of the Tennis Wharf walkway.

One day 'Bunks' announced that he was being sent to London by the ABC to head the office there. Some sort of fall guy or eager beaver was required to take over the island editor’s mantle. It seems I was to be the bunny. It lasted for 28 years. It was during this time that Scotland Island News was more conveniently condensed into S.I. News and so it was referred to ever after. Interestingly the subheading of 'the journal of the Progress Association' was later replaced by 'the journal of the Residents Association' when it was decided the residents felt the sylvan peace of the island could be marred by the suburbanisation of progress per se.

One of Gwyn Perkins' inimitable cartoons relating to offshore life
I had trained as a journalist but was working in advertising at the time so I did have some useful background experience to contribute. I was also able to utilise some of my secretary's free time to cut the necessary stencils for our printing. As time went on I was able to utilise the services of one of the artists at the agency to design a far more professional and punchy masthead for the title page. Later, I inveigled Gwyn Perkins to contribute his skilled illustrations of topical island activities laced with his wonderful sense of humour. This he continues to this day in the paper’s outstandingly modern successor, Pittwater Offshore Newsletter, at the beginning of each month.

I set myself a whimsical task one day about halfway through my editorship with a sub-sub-headed alliterative line like 'the quixotically quidnuncial quarterly of the Scotland Island Residents’ Association' or 'the roguishly riparian report'. I found my readers were wondering amusedly what bizarre piece of alliteration was coming in the next issue!

Right from the start I was determined to make the occasional publication as folksy and personal as possible as well as an Association news-sheet. I felt it would help to build a sense of community and personalise the place when one side of the island did not see or know much about the other side. New babies, new arrivals, new services, all the special information to make the escape from suburbia entertaining without being intrusive. Later I began a series of interviews uncovering the wide-ranging experience and careers of residents under the heading of 'The people we know'. When it was felt necessary we included editorials urging action or improvement. Problems at Church Point were a continuous news source. They still are.

The introduction of advertising had to come. So much began to happen as the population grew and the need to know kept growing. Eventually the print run passed 300. Issues now ran to eight pages. Collation was quite a job for my helpful family.

For many years I had handled the distribution alone most of the time with occasional help from my wife. Every issue was delivered into the hand or, at least, to the door. On one very warm day at the end of my run I debated whether I would climb a steep track to the last house or not. Finally, when I staggered around the back there on the mat was a copy delivered by my wife from the top of the island! On hot days this could also be a serious hazard as generous and sociable islanders would offer a cooling but usually alcoholic drink. After several collisions with trees as a result, I was compelled to decline after that.
There were other hazards. I was bitten by dogs eight times, on one occasion twice by the same dog. First it bit my calf at the front door of the house. Then, when I found its owner at the back, it ran through the house and bit me again.

Then came the remarkable improvement with offset printing and first use of computers. The convenience of instant correction to 'typos' made all the messing about with obliterations unnecessary. Once, while the dear old ferry, the Curlew, waited, a major change was effected right on printing deadline.

It was March, 1995, that the last issue of SINEWS appeared, celebrating 40 years of publication, sharing the anniversary with the bush fire brigade for the same length of service.

The sterling character Paul Purvis, an expert on computers and now of Elvina Bay, felt it was timely to embrace the internet and gather information for all residents of West Pittwater with the introduction of a more contemporary news service with the Pittwater Offshore Newsletter. It was immediate. It was fast. And it was sooo easy to deliver. He even recruited me to write a monthly historic piece with the quaint title of 'History Corner' which ran for two years.

Subsequently he handed over editorship to Julian Muir who has continued to do a remarkable and dedicated job. I am sure he would agree that it can be hard work but it leaves you with a good feeling.

Leicester Warburton

Thanks, Leicester. A good writer is never silenced. 


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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