Sunday 16th January 2022

Memories of Sydney I Knew. 2018.32.

UPDATE: Recently I was contacted by a writer for Chris O’Brien Lifehouse to share my story about my cancer as my professional team had let the organisation know I was blogging my way through this! It was published last week and it helped me to remember that I CAN do this…as the next surgery, on May 16 was something I was dreading. Now I realised, I have to do what I have to do to get well and use this mouth of mine as intended! Here is the link and whilst I was wanting to be more light-hearted this week, it is timely that it has been published. Denyse x

Memories of Sydney I Knew. 2018.32.

Aged 10, I  moved to Sydney’s Balgowlah Heights with my parents and brother when Dad received a work promotion.

Memories of coming to Sydney then, involved “NOT” finding a place to live on the southern side of the city as Mum and Dad had hoped because it would be closer to friends and family in their home towns of Wollongong and Dapto. It was getting pretty close to when we literally had to move from Gwynneville in Wollongong as people had bought our house and Dad was already commuting to Sydney.

Then one day, Dad was told of the somewhat newly developed area called Balgowlah Heights. Near Manly. Over the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Over we went in our Holden and I will never forget seeing the spans and patterns of the Bridge for the first time AND how we could pay the toll (which was per head in the car) to the man with our shillings or sixpences.



By December 1959 we had moved to what would be Mum and Dad’s house until Mum’s death in 2007, and Dad’s alone until he sold in 2011.

Dad & Mum – Around the late 1990s.

Driving up the old street recently. Cannot see ‘our house’ for the trees! I barely recognise the ‘old neighbourhood’ as most dwellings have been renovated.

But not ‘our old house’. Bought by architects in 2011 and with a young family then we know there are renovations coming but not sure when or what! The house (but not the garden) looks the same as when Mum and Dad lived there.

I lived there through my last 2 primary school years where I attended Balgowlah Heights P.S. and then to Manly Girls High School for my SIX years of schooling under the new Wyndham Scheme. Then in 1968 and 1969 I lived at home and commuted by Dad’s car, borrowing Mum’s or going by bus to the city and onto Balmain Teachers’ College.

I lived in Sydney’s northern beaches area from 10 to 20. Golden years for this teen and young woman!

The view from Arabanoo Lookout Balgowlah Heights down to Manly and beyond is Manly Beach.

Dobroyd Point where many of us played as kids, learned to drive around its one-way road, played sport on the newly made Tania Oval…and just look at this view of the harbour and North Head & South Head.

Manly Beach. Iconic. My Dad used to walk here while he still could drive his car. We tended to swim further up at Queenscliff as a family and for me as a teen, it was to the ‘middle’ one between Manly and Queensie, North Steyne where I surfed and met friends…

From the walkway leading to Shelley Beach and Fairy Bower, this is the view looking back to Manly. Magical day!

Do you know Sydney?

What memories do you have of Sydney?

What places in Sydney do you enjoy visiting?


Joining with Kylie Purtell here for I Blog On Tuesdays.

On Wednesday I link here with Sue and Leanne for Midlife Share the Love Party.

Thursdays it’s time for the Lovin’ Life Linky with Leanne here.



  1. What an idyllic location to live from the age of 10 to 20!

    I love visiting Manly and walking from Queenscliff to Shelley Beach and back again. I used to do this all the time when my twins were babies in their twin stroller.


    • Yes and it is not until much later in life that you appreciate these things. Mind you with Mum and Dad living there we visited and stayed in school holidays in the early years of married life. Then as grandkids came along they too got to enjoy staying there too.

      I bet you and my Dad would have passed each other on that walk!! When he was younger (and about the same number of years back when your twins were babies) he went to Manly most days for a walk around to Shelley Beach from Manly.

      Superb place for sure. He misses it a lot and is not very mobile except via a walker around the place where he lives. Occasionally my brother takes him for drive from Dee Why around Curl Curl and Freshwater to see the sea!

      Denyse x

  2. I love the Chinese Gardens in Sydney. Such a quiet spot in the bustle. I’d never want to move to Sydney but I do like a weekend there just wandering the city.

    • I often went into the city on quiet Sundays and got excellent parking deals near the centre of the city. I would take my camera and enjoy the more peaceful days where I could reminisce about my life as a teen growing up there.

      My recent visit, for surgery, took me down to the Quay and onto a ferry and in May when I am up for 4th surgery my hub wants to come with me this time.

      I have been past the Chinese Gardens since they were established and never gone in. I guess because I tend to be in the other areas more.

      Denyse x

  3. What awesome old pictures. I love the way the house is on such a slope. I have been to Syndey many times but really on a superficial level.

    • Thanks Natalie. It sure was on a slope…but at the top of the hill. Much of the house’s foundation used the natural sandstone in the ground. So,first step inside you came into the living area, kitchen, deck and 1 bedroom and bathroom..and downstairs 2 more bedrooms, a sun room, and combined laundry/bathroom. It was an original design new build Mum and Dad bought quite reluctantly at first because of its unusual layout but they loved it. Dad put a fabulous pool in the back time for his grandkids and great grandkids to use!
      Denyse x

  4. Lovely snaps. We lived in mosman for our early years in australia (almost equi-distant between the zoo and balmoral beach). Still the happiest time of my life. I regret moving up the shore to Wahroonga when baby number 2 was due. Someday I hope to have a similar lifestyle again (walking to local shops and cinema, beach nearby, public transport at hand etc). I am settled in Brisbane but every summer when I hate the weather here I still long for a sydney summer.

    • I sense that longing will never leave you. I understand that Brisbane’s relentless heat/humidity would get to me too. Sydney however is not that much better these days!! Denyse x

  5. We passed through your old stomping ground on our recent walk from Spit to Manly and it’s stunning. What a fabulous place to grow up! I’ve just had a glorious couple of weeks exploring Sydney with my overseas friends. The thing they said they loved was how enthusiastic I was about seeing stuff, even places I’ve been to hundreds of times. It’s funny because I in turn loved their enthusiasm and found it infectious. Sydney always looks beautiful to me and revisiting some of my favourite places reminds me how lucky I am to call Sydney home!

    • Yes I was very lucky and the fact that my parents back in 1959 took a risk to go over the bridge to find us a home in Sydney was great.
      Even though Dad is Wollongong born he rates Manly as his spiritual home I think!

      Many memories for me still when I view these pics but we could not afford to even consider buying a house on the Northern Beaches back in 1978 when we arrived back in Sydney from the bush, so Kellyville it was for us.

      I love that you consider Sydney certainly do it proud with your photos and posts!
      Denyse x

  6. I was born in Sydney – Punchbowl – and then we moved to Carlingford. We left when I was 8 & Dad worked around NSW country, returning to Sydney in 1983 & settling in West Pennant Hills where Mum & Dad still are. I left for Canberra straight out of Uni, coming back in 1992 with my now husband & settling in Castle Hill. There’s something so beautiful about the harbour & the beaches & I still get a thrill from seeing the bridge & the Opera House – even after driving over it in the bus all those mornings.

    • Oh yes, it never fails to thrill or delight that Sydney Harbour and its sights! You had that trip around the ‘bush’ with your parents as did our daughter but we were back in Sydney, eventually buying at Wrights Rd and she came to school with me to Jasper Road. Then she went to Crestwood HS. Our son born when we lived in K’ville, started at KPS and also went to Crestwood. No Kellyville HS built until it was our grandkids’ times!
      West Pennant Hills is so lovely but for the most part so busy traffic wise in some spots.
      I venture to Westmead again tomorrow and might come home via Castle Hill again just to get another look at ‘what have they done now!!’
      Denyse x

  7. Such nice memories and photos you have of Sydney. I’d like to visit the city one day.

    • Thank you. We only live around 2 hours away now but visit just for my medical and dental appointments. Of course to see my Dad as well. It is a lovely place to visit but it is a long plane ride as many northern Americans find.


  8. I do love to visit Sydney, and lived there a couple of times, and try and discover something new each time. Last time we wandered the Botanic Gardens and took in some historic houses. Amazing places to eat.

    • It is a great place for sight-seeing. Unfortunately much of the street-scapes are being changed to accomodate light rail and that is taking FAR longer than anticipated. At least the areas near the Harbour are somewhat untouched. The Botanical Gardens are an oasis in the city for sure!


  9. Can you believe I have never been to Sydney?! I must change that one day! Loved reading about your childhood memories #teamIBOT

    • Really!? Then again I have only been to Brisbane as a girl, and never to Adelaide, Perth or Hobart.
      Maybe see if a Bloggers Brunch is being held in Sydney this year and get to that. The one I have been to in Sydney was amazing!


  10. Hi Denyse, I used to love travelling to Manly, we lived firther down the coast so it was always a special time, taking the ferry and seeing the huge beach as we walked up the main street . We always walked around to Shelley beach. Great memories for you, and me, so many thanks for your post. #mlstl

    • I am so glad you have those great memories. As Wollongong residents till we moved in 1959, coming to Sydney was a treat (for the Royal Easter Show when it was still at Moore Park) and like you, to go on the ferry to Manly! None of us realised that would be ‘home’ for my parents for all those decades either!


  11. Lovely area to grow up in Denyse and Mum took us each summer holidays for a trip to Manly on the ferry. Congratulations on having your story published. You have certainly been inspirational and that message can really help others. Good for you and thanks for linking up at #MLSTL

    • Thanks Sue. Glad you too have some holiday memories of the Manly Ferry!
      It was interesting having the story published because it only covers part of the story – after the diagnosis and then the first surgery.
      So much more has happened since then but like you, I hope the story may help others as there was nothing relevant for me. However, I also may not have been ready to absorb much either. It is a heavy load to carry initially just knowing you ‘have cancer’.


  12. Great memories Denyse – it’s amazing how some things change and some stay the same – I definitely would have expected your old house to have been completely renovated – nice to see it still looking the same (even though one day it will change). Congrats on Lifehouse publishing your article – they must have thought it was well worth sharing. x

    Thanks for linking up with us at #MLSTL and I’ve shared this on my SM xx

    • It was always a comfortable house for us as a family and our parents made some changes inside including a new kitchen but it was very well maintained by Dad and tradesmen (and Mum who had a regular window cleaner!!) and it is a double brick house so well insulated. It will be interesting to see what the two architects who bought it in 2011 do with it!
      I hope they do not ditch the swimming pool! It was great.

  13. What wonderful memories you have of your childhood. I would love to visit Sidney and it is on our to do list for 2019.

  14. My sister lived at Balgowlah Denyse, before her divorce. She has moved back to Brisbane now and lives not far from me. She had a beautiful home and I loved visiting her there. I loved the Balgowlah and Manly area – just gorgeous. What a lovely place to have spent some of your childhood days. Your family home looks lovely too! It was lovely to see that photograph of your parents. What a treasure! xo #TeamLovinLife

    • Thank you Min! I remember now you mentioning where your sister lived before her divorce. It was a great place to grow up in but we could not afford to live there as teachers. My brother eventually retired close to the beach at Narrabeen. I have some great pics of Mum and Dad and it is nice to remember them from ‘those days’ too.

  15. I don’t know Sydney well at all Denyse and have barely spent any time there.

    It’s weird to contemplate how our parents or their parents lived compared to us. My mum is still in the house she and dad bought 53 or so years ago. She’s lived in this street the longest and it’s changed a lot over the years. Sadly it’s pretty feral now compared to what it was like when we were at primary school and there were lots of other kids in the street etc….

    • Yes indeed, even when we bought our first house in 1978 it was 3 beds, 1 bath, i living area and a double garage. Nothing fancy but very solid. Cost $44,600. Sold most reecntly we saw for nearly $900K. We added a parent’s retreat/bedroom/ensuite and a pool in the time we were there. Houses are so much more spacious in many cases now but with not much space to play. I bet you and your mum have seen changes and they are not always of the better kind.

  16. They’ve changed a lot those places. It must be funny wen you return. I drove past our old house, which seemed so big but now has ‘shrunk’ as I’ve got bigger myself…

    • The big thing for me, after only two years away from being in Mum and Dad’s street was the vegetation growth! I drove back to the Central Coast yesterday from Westmead via Norwest Sydney and the old street we lived in as our first house in 1978. Again it’s the vegetation…but I must add at Kellyville I was appalled at the development in less that 3 years since I visited . So. Many. Houses. Not enough infrastructure to support them. Was glad to drive back to the Central Coast!

  17. I didn’t know you had to pay “per head” for bridge tolls once upon a time! Love looking back on how things were Denyse x

  18. Great photos and memories for you!

  19. Wow. How lucky to be a North Sydney girl. And the toll was per person in the car! Wow. #teamlovinlife

    • I sure was and am very pleased I did grow up there. Just did a quick search on the history of the Bridge Tolls and it was from 1960 they charged per vehicle not per passenger. Denyse x