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Scotland Island - Western Shores - Mackerel Beach

December 1, 2023

Newsletter for the Offshore Residents of Pittwater, Australia - Volume 24, Issue 1201

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


The Politician And The Pilot

The Taylor family, owners of Scotland Island, 1900 - 1906

Roy Baker

The Taylor family at their property near Moree. P T Taylor is holding a polo mallet, while his youngest son, P G ‘Bill’ Taylor, is the small boy sitting on the fence. Photo from the family’s collection, provided here courtesy of Pittwater Online News.

The PON recently catalogued three nineteenth-century rogues who at one time or another laid claim to Scotland Island: bigamist Robert Murray, fugitive John Dickson, and quack William Elmslie. The last defaulted on his mortgage in 1900. With the island once again for sale, could the next owner be any worse?

The plan of Scotland Island as it appears on
P T Taylor's certificate of title, 1900

The next owner was a politician. If that sounds like a cheap gag then it’s unintended. Britain’s postwar Labour governments were good to me and my family, so collective denigration of politicians doesn’t come readily. What’s more, this particular politician doesn’t seem to give us any specific grounds for deprecation. Indeed his business probity ‘was an example to others’, according to one former NSW premier. I suppose you could say that he wasn’t the island’s most colourful owner. Still, as we shall soon discover, unexciting isn’t something that could be said of his most famous son. 

First, though, to the father, the erstwhile owner of our island. Patrick Thomson Taylor was born in Glasgow in 1862. He was a sickly youth when he arrived in Australia, although a short spell on a cattle station seemed to cure him. He became an accountant and later a merchant. In 1883 he began his political career, becoming mayor of Mosman, where the family lived. He built up his own business and from around 1897 he took on a series of high-profile directorships, including with Sydney Ferries, the North Shore Gas Company, and many more. By the time of his death in 1922, Taylor was one of Sydney’s leading businessmen.

The son of a grain merchant, Taylor had an interest in agriculture. Around 1900 he bought land in Bayview, where he developed a hobby farm, keeping a cow and a kitchen garden. He also built a weekend retreat for himself and his family, which by now included three sons. The weekender he called Glen Sannox, after a valley overlooking the Firth of Clyde, close to his native Glasgow. Apparently the topographical similarity with Glen Sannox is striking.

Captain P G 'Bill' Taylor, by Norman Carter, 1940
Besides farming, Taylor’s other hobby was polo, which he played close to Mona Vale Beach. Taylor owned a number of ponies, and he ran horses on Scotland Island. Taylor and his sons also became keen sailors on Pittwater.

In 1917 Taylor was nominated for the NSW Legislative Council. He represented the Nationalist Party, not to be confused with today's National Party of Australia. The Nationalist Party formed in 1917 as a result of a merger between the Liberals and the National Labor Party, the latter formed by PM Billy Hughes after the 1916 Labor split over conscription. The Nationalist Party ceased to exist in 1931, but is considered a direct ancestor of the current Liberal Party. A backroom politician, Taylor rarely attended Parliament and never spoke there. 

It is now to the youngest of Taylor’s three sons that we turn. Born in 1896, Patrick Gordon Taylor disliked his first names so much that for the rest of his life he went by the name of Bill. As a child Bill would undoubtedly have played on his father’s island, and might well have met Catherine Benns, who still lived on Scotland Island when Bill was in his infancy.

Bill’s particular childhood love was sailing on Pittwater, where he owned a dinghy. He was an intrepid young sailor, frequently exploring around Lion Island. The same spirit of adventure is reflected in his decision, at the age of 20, to join the Royal Flying Corps. The year was 1916, and Bill served as a pilot in France during the horrors of World War I.

Bill Taylor's de Havilland Moth outside his boatshed at Bayview, 1927. Folding wings enabled storage in the shed. Photo from the family’s collection, provided here courtesy of Pittwater Online News.
In 1919 Bill returned to Australia and embarked on a career in civil aviation. He bought a de Havilland Moth seaplane, which he kept in a boatshed in Bayview. By the early 1930s Bill was flying as a captain with what was later to become Ansett Airlines. 

Bill is best known through his association with Charles Kingsford Smith, Australia’s most renowned aviator. By 1933 ‘Smithy’ was already famous, having piloted the first transpacific flight in 1928. But he needed money, and so was attracted by the prize money being offered in a London to Melbourne air race.

Smithy invited Bill to be his co-pilot in the race, but modifications to Smithy’s plane could not be completed in time. Instead, Smithy and Taylor flew from Brisbane to San Francisco, and this west-east trans-Pacific flight was another first in aviation history.

In 1935 Smithy and Taylor were authorised to offer a new Australia-New Zealand airmail service. During the inaugural flight disaster struck. Having left Sydney, the three-engined plane was almost half way across the Tasman when part of the central engine’s exhaust manifold broke off and severely damaged the starboard propeller. Closing down the vibrating starboard engine, Smithy applied full power to the other two, jettisoned the cargo and turned back for Australia. But then the oil pressure on the port engine began to fall alarmingly. The flight appeared doomed.

Bill Taylor reenacting his mid-air collection of oil from the Southern Cross's stricken starboard engine. The scene is taken from the 1946 film Smithy, the story of Charles Kingsford Smith.
Taylor reacted heroically. Mid-air, he climbed out of the plane and, in his socks, edged his way along the engine connecting strut to the now useless starboard engine. From there he drained oil into a flask. He then climbed out under the port wing, transferring the oil into the opposite engine. Unbelievably he repeated this procedure six times. The trick worked and the plane touched down at Mascot some nine hours later. Taylor’s courage was recognised with the George Cross.

In 1946 a film was made about Kingsford Smith’s life. Called Smithy, the film includes a reenactment of Taylor’s spectacular feat, performed by no other than Bill Taylor himself. If you’d like to see this son of Pittwater in action, click here. The relevant scene begins at around 1 hr 27 mins.   

After serving in World War II, Bill returned to Bayview, where in 1947 he established Loquat Valley School for his daughters. Today the school has become the Pittwater campus for St Luke’s Grammar School. Bill also returned to sailing on Pittwater, where he owned an 11 m sloop. He died in 1966 and his ashes were scattered over Lion Island, place of his youthful adventures.

This article is based on a number of primary and secondary sources. To find out more about the Taylors and their connections with Bayview, click here. To discover more about Hopton Lodge, a Bayview home associated with the family, click here.


Scotland Island Christmas Ode

Rachel Hofen

Christmas tree from the Scouts is just the start via the car a Holden Commodore, to the dock in the tinnie it goes at 3 metres tall it’s as big as the vessel.
Salt spray added as waves hit the boat and the seagulls hover over us must be thinking what for?
Thrown on the wharf at Tennis, and loaded on the golf buggy piled high like Santa’s sleigh, we charge on down the terrace rattling with dust in our wake.
Last leg now, heave it up the stairs and we can begin the yelling and the confusion about how to get the damn thing straight. In the bucket, bricks on toes, swearing and sweating, mum to the rescue, she’ll calm the farm and untangle the tub of lights.
Tis the season to be jolly or wicked if you prefer, can’t blame dad he’s gone out back for a tinnie and breaths a sign of relief when mum comes out bragging, it’s straight and has lights hurray, let the kids at it now to add the decorations.

Wouldn’t change a thing
I love this time of year, a time to make lists and think about each person and gifts to match. Something to wear, something to eat, a puzzle or two and of course a surprise project for an unsuspecting victim.
Mum’s hiding presents again, wonder if she’ll remember where they are before the big day, no doubt some will slip through til next year or become a random birthday gift.
Never to be outdone a pavlova I will make, and a few shortbread with that secret ingredient. Mum would be making the pudding by now on the farm. No way I say I’d rather have chocolate mousse any day.
We’ve started our tradition of gingerbread house making, our 1st was last year, and it was a challenge, although the walls and roof were rather chunky, it tasted great and with decorations added looked rather stunning.

Wouldn’t change a thing
Mesmerised by the sight of the tall ships passing on their night of nights, all light up like sparkling sprinkles in the evening sky. As they drift and sway past the bay I catch a glimpse of the merry men on the bow, joking and hollering ‘Tack, tack, tack or we’ll crash into Ragamuffin’.
The dog’s got no clue as to what’s on its way, for a few more boxes we haul up each day. Post office overflowing, wish they would deliver to the front door of my island home. What’s the go, can’t we get services like Dangar dear council dear council.
Now to get the liquor across, ‘clink, clink, clink’ as we head down the gang ramp, that will make the situation much better, Baileys for mum and something stronger for dad.
The reindeer and sleigh are twinkling on the grass, our Christmas starts to feel merry with a tune or two from old Bing Crosby singing ‘White Christmas’. For we all know nothing will be white about our jolly Christmas as it will probably be 40 by noon and thundering by evening.

Wouldn’t change a thing
The Christmas bush is out and so are the blasted cicadas, what a life they lead, underground for so long to emerge to chant then die. The King parrot has arrived with his mate seeking sunflower seeds and shelter from the winds. For this time of year, it’s a blessing and a curse.
King tides and Bull Sharks in the bays, ferry wharf jumps and Jelly Fish stings. Lazy summer days will follow, shifting through the wrapping paper and saving every last skerrick. Rather relentless in the heat it’s the best time to relax and eat all the left-overs.
Santa hat and tongs in hand, the barbies on the go, smoke and some flame grill tucker to go with handfuls of cherries and prawns, this is our island Christmas
The mozzies now are biting, out with the citronella we must, for even through our tights these buggers bit. Welting, itchy kids are no fun not to mention the screaming from bindies underfoot.

Wouldn’t change a thing
The gums have shed their skin as the dry brittle bark litters the ground, fire hazard we all call, still traumatised from bushfire seasons past.
Carolers sing from barges and bays and Santa hangs off the fire truck scattering lollies amongst the youngsters wishing him fair tides on his voyage around this vast earth.
The community is gathering round for the dog race, for Christmas eve is upon us at last. No dog left behind no losers tonight, all winners for this is the spirit of a community more willing than most. To battle the commute, day in day out and jostle for parking with a quick ‘are you leaving mate?’
The cockatoos are screeching it’s the end of the day, the skies are dark as the leaves are still. Wonder what Santa will bring?
For at the end of the day we all are merry and grateful for the company and cheer as the water laps the shore, it’s a peaceful place except the hum of that tinnie going past!

Wouldn’t change a thing.


Scotland Island Residents' Association

2023 AGM Report

Roy Baker

SIRA's new 2023 committee (l to r): Marie Minslow, Maddy Bandfield, CB Floyd, Julie Cooper (Treasurer), Julie Paterson, Robyn Iredale (President), Julie Torney, Deb Woods (Secretary), Ian White, Colin Haskell (Vice President), Emma Harvey, Boyd Attewell. Absent are Sharon Kinnison and Basil Daher.

Around 40 islanders attended the 2023 AGM of the Scotland Island Residents' Association, held in the island's community hall on 19 November. Also present were Pittwater MP Rory Amon, Northern Beaches mayor Sue Heins and Councillor Miranda Korzy.

The meeting opened with President Robyn Iredale thanking the outgoing committee. 'We've been extremely lucky to have a very committed and competent group this year', she commented. 'It's demanding work, but we all try our best'.

Among those at the AGM were (l to r): Councillor Miranda Korzy, SIRA president Robyn Iredale, NBC mayor Sue Heins and Pittwater MP Rory Amon. Photos courtesy Oneal Photographics.
The meeting heard reports from various committee members. Treasurer Julie Cooper reported a small budget surplus, achievable only because of the first increase in water charges in seven years. In relation to water supply, Robert Fox told the meeting that generally the system works well, although he identified problems caused by fluctuations in mains pressure from Sydney Water that can cause the pump to shut down.

Ian White spoke in relation to the community vehicle, reporting that usage remains down from pre-COVID levels. In relation to transport, Bill Gye handed the attending councillors a 'to do' list, which includes installation of additional commuter boat tie-ups. CB Floyd reported on the activities of the Communications sub-committee, and George Orr did likewise in terms of Governance.  

Unsurprisingly, the meeting was dominated by the decision by NSW Transport not to register buggies. Numerous complaints were made about the condition of island roads and the lack of facilities for disabled residents. Rory Amon commented on the state government's concerns about safety, both in terms of the roads and many of the unregistered vehicles used on them.

There seemed to be consensus that no one wants an island dominated by cars, and Robyn Iredale reported that SIRA has applied for funding for a communal buggy.

On a lighter note, the meeting was told about numerous successes in terms of community events. The island café, which meets monthly, continues to attract a healthy crowd. Renovations to the Recreation Centre are now complete and sound equipment has been purchased. Robyn Iredale made special mention of The Two Catherines play, which earned enough money to cover its costs. All in all the Rec Club returned a modest profit, which will continue to be reinvested in a range of activities.

Committee reports having been delivered, it was time for election of the new committee. Robyn Iredale was returned as president for her second year. Deb Wood and Julie Cooper were also reelected to their respective roles of secretary and treasurer. Sharon Kinnison and CB Floyd stepped down as vice presidents, but will remain on the committee, as will Boyd Attewell and Ian White. Colin Haskell stepped up as SIRA's new vice president. 

In addition to the above, SIRAC has five new members: Basil Daher, Julie Torney, Julie Paterson, Emma Harvey, Marie Minslow and Maddy Bandfield.

SIRA's 2023 annual report can be accessed here.


Scotland Island Community Vehicle

Driver Positions Available

We are looking for volunteer drivers to join the Scotland Island community vehicle team. It’s a great opportunity to give back to your community and contribute to the lives of others.

If you feel that you can commit a day or half day, we would love to hear from you!

For more information, please contact:
John Morgan     0416 733 147      johnmorgan@bigpond.com
Sharon Dwyer    0452 361 861     sharon.dwyer03@gmail.com


Markus Plattner Farewell Concert

Robyn Iredale

Jim Piesse (drums), Sandy Evans (saxophone) and Markus Plattner (guitar) performing in Scotland Island Community Hall

Markus Plattner
What a treat! Markus Plattner, Sandy Evans, Craig Scott and Jim Piesse delighted us with their amazing jazz on 5 November. They were joined by Jessica McGowan for four songs. You would have thought they played together often, but no, this was the first time. But as one of the musicians said, ‘if you get asked to play with Markus, you never turn it down!’ You can see it - the simple signals, the nods, the smiles and the pure joy of creating beautiful music.

We have been so lucky to have Markus and Susan on the island, especially during COVID when they could not escape to Switzerland. Markus has given us two concerts, composed the music for the Two Catherines play this year, and entertained us at the ‘Jazz and Gin-Tasting’ evening on 18 November.

We are sorry to see them leave and wish them well in their future travels. They have given us many lovely memories, as well as a lovely sofa in the Recreation Centre.


Scotland Island Website

For a link to the directory form, click here.

Gardening Tip

Xanthorrhoea arborea (Broad-leaf Grass Tree)

Hazel Malloy

Form: Grass tree with trunk up to 2 m tall, but usually much shorter.
Soil: Well-drained sandy or sandstone-based soil; drought-tolerant but prefers moist soil; tolerates clay if on a slope.
Light: Prefers light shade; leaves can be burned by sudden increase in sun or temperature.
Propagation: Easy from seed, but slow.

Hard to find in nurseries. Some native plant nurseries carry a smaller species that is a local native from elsewhere in Sydney, X. resinosa, found in heath or low woodland in NSW and Vic, which would likely be a better choice in very sunny locations, but not good in heavily shaded sites. X. arborea, with its wide leaves, is well adapted to dappled shade.

When planted as mature specimens, grass trees generally die within two to three years, when the reserves they have built up are gone. While larger pot-grown plants are available at some nurseries, seedlings are still a better choice as survival is better for grass trees grown from small seedlings.

You can ask someone who has them on their property to let you collect a few of the very plentiful seeds, and grow them yourself. I’m in the process of collecting seeds from several waterfront properties on Scotland Island and when they grow into plants, will sell them at island events. I’m also sharing seeds with local native nurseries so that even more people can grow this wonderful species.

Germination and growth in the first few years is slow; you will need to put a ring of rocks or stakes around the seedlings after you plant them out. Otherwise, they can get smothered by vegetation, or stepped on.

This is an edited excerpt from Sydney Local Native: 150 In-depth Native Plant Profiles for Gardeners by islander Hazel Malloy. You can get your copy from Hazel at Scotland Island’s monthly café, or from these local native plant nurseries:
 - Harvest Seeds & Native Plants, 281 Mona Vale Road, Terrey Hills, phone 9450 2699
 - Ku-ring-gai Wildflower Garden Nursery, 420 Mona Vale Road, St Ives, phone 9424 0353.


Table Tennis Is Back!

Scotland Island Community Hall

Tuesdays, 9 - 11 am (starting 5 December)

Table tennis is back on the island, and at a new time. Groups will now meet most Tuesdays and anyone is welcome. Sessions are supported by the Scotland Island Recreation Club.

Sessions may not run every Tuesday. 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.

Adult players are asked to contribute $5 per player per attendance to defray expenses.


Carols Afloat

Thursday, 14 December

5.30 pm (Scotland Island)

7.30 pm (Church Point)


The Tuesday Discussion Group

Scotland Island Recreation Centre

Tuesday 19 December, 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.

Members take it in turn to design a session. At the November session, Roy Baker led a discussion on the meaning of intelligence, which encompassed human, animal, plant and artificial intelligence, as well as that of some toilets.

For the December meeting, Hazel Malloy asks us to consider the ethics of giving.

Forced into choosing, which would you rescue from a burning building: a child in danger, or a Picasso that could be sold to help thousands of other children? Advocates of effective altruism use evidence and reason to benefit others as much as they can. Or do they? Are your altruistic activities as rational and effective as possible?

The following readings are presented in order of brevity, shortest first:

1. 'Effective Altruism is logical, but too unnatural to catch on', from Psyche (audio version also available)
2. 'Effective Altruism', from Wikipedia
3. 'In search of a way to do good that amounts to more than feeling good', from The Spinoff (particularly recommended)
4. 'The do-gooder movement that shielded Sam Bankman-Fried from scrutiny', from The Washington Post. This is behind a pay wall, but you should be able to read it for free as an introductory offer. Alternatively, click here for a pdf version.

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 editor@scotlandisland.org.au.

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

The Recreation Club asks for $5 per person per attendance to defray expenses.


Carols Up The Creek

Lovett Bay Boatshed

Thursday 21 December, 6.30 pm

There will be carols in Lovett Bay again: a sing-along on the shore by Lovett Bay Boatshed where Salvation Creek meets the bay. Come by boat and raft up. Come by ferry or kayak or simply swim. Sing your hearts out: join the Bay Bays, sing alone, or just enjoy the ambiance.


Santa to Visit Scotland Island

Friday 24 December, 3 pm onwards

Scotland Island Rural Fire Brigade has done it again, and secured an exclusive visit by Santa. Our boreal friend will depart his hiemal home for his regular perambulation around the island, meeting friends and fans, young and old, good and (in the case of parents, at least), the downright naughty.

So listen out for the merry wail of the siren, and prepare to meet the real Santa: bigger, brighter and better than you've ever seen him before.


As You Like It

Catherine Park, Scotland Island

Saturday 10 February 2024

Sunday 11 February 2024

Look out for further information, including on how to buy tickets.


Moon Dance

Scotland Island Community Hall & Recreation Centre

Saturday 17 February 2024

Saturday 6 April 2024

Saturday 27 April 2024

To buy tickets, click here (available from 7 December 2023)


For sale: Bathtub

For Sale:
BATHTUB. Free-standing, lightweight acrylic. No scratches or marks. Cost around $800. Sell for $300 or make an offer.
Dimensions: 1.5 m length, 870 width, 520 height.

Ring Jon, Elvina Bay 0412 440 719


For sale: Polycraft Brumby

 Make: Polycraft
Model: Brumby 4.8m Cuddy Cabin
Hull year: 2009 
Description: Cobalt blue colour with canopy, swivel seats on storage boxes, rear lounge, 70L underfloor fuel tank and carpet floor.
Outboard: 2016 Suzuki 4-stroke, 70HP, electric start, trim & tilt, fuel line and fittings, owner manual, alloy propeller and filled with motor guard.

Good Condition, fully serviced annually and well maintained.

Offers under $15,000.
Available from early December.

Please contact Terry on 0418 849 801.


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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