Manly Heritage Plaques Walk
The Aboriginal Heritage of Manly
East Esplanade Reserve
This plaque acknowledges that Australia's Indigenous
Peoples, in particular the Cannalgal and Kayimai clans,
were the custodians of this area long before it came
to be known as Manly. The Cannalgal and Kayimai people
were custodians of the land, and all the sacred and
secret sacred sites that were bequeathed to them by
Baiame, the all powerful being who created men and women
and their world.
culture is rich and varied; it is a proud and intrinsic
part of Australia's heritage. To all Aboriginal peoples,
the Earth is the mother of all things. It is therefore
the base of the kinship system which binds all people,
plants, animals, birds, land and water into one huge
family. The image on the plaque represents this relationship.
moon, the stars and the hands are in balance with Mother
Earth, represented by the large circle; together they
tell a story of caring and sharing. The contour lines
reflect the foreshore and the landscape of Manly. The
hands represent the family and unity. The large hands
are those of the elders, whose wisdom is all important,
the smaller hands represent children, our future. The
plaque was unveiled on the 3 July 1994 by Lowjita (Lois)
O'Donoghue CBE AM, Chairperson, The Aboriginal &
Torres Strait Islander Commission.
by Mini Heath, 1994
Courtesy: The artist.
Manly Cove ~ 1856
Manly Cove near Manly Wharf
This is how Manly looked in 1856 when S.T. Gill sketched
an unnamed paddle-wheel steamer approaching the first
pier and the Pier Hotel. Manly was very isolated. It
took about two hours to travel from Sydney by land,
crossing Sydney Harbour at Dawes Point and the Spit
by punts. By 1854 Sydney Harbour was experiencing an
excursion boom. On Boxing Day the paddle-steamer Nora
Creina cruised to Manly, landing at "a spot surpassing
all others in the harbour of Sydney." As there
was no wharf then, passengers probably went ashore by
boat or landed at North Harbour Wharf. Henry Gilbert
Smith, 'The Father of Manly', showed remarkable foresight
when he first purchased land in 1853 to develop his
'Brighton of the South', where people could enjoy fresh
sea air and escape from the dirt and noise of the city.
By the end of 1855 he had built the first Manly Wharf,
initiated a ferry service to bring day-trippers to his
resort and built the Pier Hotel for more leisurely visitors.
The historian, C.H. Bertie wrote: "Today the reserves
on the ocean and harbour frontages and the parks, are
... the result of this worthy man."
S.T. Gill, Manly, 1856
Photograph courtesy: Manly Art Gallery & Museum
Gilbert Smith (1802-1886) 'The Father of Manly'
Until the mid 1850s, Manly was undeveloped bushland.
It was an Englishman, Henry Gilbert Smith, who saw
its potential as a seaside resort. He wrote to his
family in 1853: "Its situation, 7 or 8 miles
from Sydney by water, is as fine a thing as you can
imagine and it takes in the only ground which has
the sea beach on one side and a fine sandy cove on
the other..." He purchased and leased over 300
acres of land and planned the streets and parks much
as they are today. He named his project Ellensville,
after his first wife, but later changed it to Brighton,
suggesting to holidaying New South Wales residents,
most of whom were British, that time spent here would
be as good as a holiday at Brighton, one of England's
finest holiday resorts. The name Manly was officially
adopted when Council was constituted in 1877. Born
in Northhamptonshire, England, he came to Sydney in
1827, aged 25, and established an import and export
agency with his brother Thomas. Over the next 39 years
he lived alternately in New South Wales and England,
successfully fostering his commercial enterprises,
including the first steamship built in Australia,
The Surprise, in 1830. Although he was a man of extensive
business interests, he entered the NSW Parliament
as a member of the Upper House in 1856. Henry Gilbert
Smith's words written in 1856, express his vision
and love for Manly:
".. there is no spot to equal it in beauty.
It is truly delightful ... there is nothing like it
that I have seen in the widewide world."
courtesy: Manly Library