Pittwater Life February 2017 Issue

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Times Past

Times Past

‘Rendezvous’ on Beach Road

It’s possible that ‘The

Rendezvous’ (as it was

originally called) at 1

Beach Road is the oldest

continuously operating

commercial property in Palm

Beach.

It was built by Timmy

Gonsalves in 1929 and first

occupied when he moved

in with his new wife Hilda

later that same year, also

to begin the commercial

life of the store. They had

spent the first few months of

married life under a tent on

Tim’s mum’s block of land

in Waratah Street, where she

lived in a small cottage.

Tim recalled that the site

was originally Crown Land

on a renewable 15-year lease.

Although it cost 15 pounds

($30) annually to lease the

land, there were no rates,

being Crown Land. Originally

the site of ‘The Rendezvous’

was used as a dumping

ground for people’s rubbish

and this was cleared simply

by burying the rubbish.

The stone for the piers and

footings was cut from the

base of Barrenjoey Headland

and then rowed along the

western foreshore of the

isthmus to the site.

Tim recalled how

important it was to pick

the high tides to avoid

dragging the stone across the

mudflats. The stone was then

wheeled up on planks and

across to the site.

They soon built 23

‘summer houses’ along the

western foreshore between

the store and the Customs

House. Several of these show

on the western side of the

store in early photographs.

Unfortunately they only

lasted until the Depression

when picnickers demolished

them for use as firewood to

heat their billies to boil water

– ‘they were too stingy to pay

the 6 pence (5 cents) to buy a

billy of hot water’.

The Gonsalves kept the

store for around 20 years and

then sold it and moved into a

stone house in Central Road

at Avalon Beach built by Tim.

From there he carried on his

work as a stone-mason and

finally as the much-loved

‘Uncle Timmy’, the cleaner at

Avalon Public School.

Tim (or Harry as he was

christened) was born in 1902

and brought to Palm Beach by

boat from Rose Bay, Sydney,

when 8 years old.

Early Palm Beach builder,

Fred Verrills had an uncle

who ran a carrying business

with a few horses and drays.

When he died Tim took

over the business in the

early 1920s. All building

materials, goods and stores

arrived by water then, the

road being more of a path

than a vehicular track. Gow’s

Wharf was the only wharf

in those days, located where

Gonsalves’ Wharf is today

(to the north of the public

wharf). Tim would carry or

drag the goods over the sand

to the dray and then deliver

to the different houses or

building sites. He even picked

up timber from a mill at

Clareville Beach and carted it

to Palm Beach to be used in

the construction of the two

dressing sheds on the surf

beach in the 1920s.

Most recently the

Rendezvous site has operated

as a pop-up store for The

Boathouse; the owner’s plans to

build a residence on the site are

currently before NB Council.

TIMES PAST is supplied by local

historian and President of the Avalon Beach

Historical Society GEOFF SEARL. Visit the Society’s

showroom in Bowling Green Lane, Avalon Beach.

72

FEBRUARY 2017

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