During the early 1950’s, life with Nanna and Pop at Narrabeen was wonderful. My cousin, Johnny, and I were as free as birds so long as we were home for tea.
Wearing our swimming costumes, we ran the beach from Narrabeen to Collaroy and back again, going in for a swim when we were hot and getting sunburnt in the process A rock face near Johnny’s home was a great place to test our climbing skills and we made like mountain goats, often coming home with an armful of freesias for Nana.
How we climbed down with the freesias whilst needing both hands for the difficult descent, I can’t remember, but I know it was a daily event during the holidays. At 15 I went back for a visit and decided to climb the cliff, but it was suddenly a lot scarier than I remembered!
Johnny’s father, Uncle Harold, was running the Putsey Carrier business and a man gave him a horse and bridle in payment of a debt. We had a wonderful time with Skipper, even without a saddle, and I got to ride him all over North Narrabeen.
Johnny and his mates quickly decided that it was easier to ride on bikes rather than bareback on the horse, so he was mine to ride. We were 11 years old, and I very quickly learned to hang on with my legs and feet. He pigrooted when he’d had too many oats, but he never managed to throw me off. We lined him up at the fence so I could climb on.
Flying across the country on Skipper gave me an exhilarating sense of freedom that I’d never experienced, and I was a bit put out when Uncle Harold found a buyer for him.
Narrabeen Lake was opposite Nana’s house, and this also was our playground. On a low tide, we could walk right across it. It was a great time to be alive, as nobody worried about us and there were few restrictions. It was quite safe to roam around the countryside and beaches and we, in turn, obeyed what rules there were and caused no problems. We always had something to do and never felt the need to look for mischief. It was a wonderful time to be alive as we had a great deal more freedom than the children of today.
By Margaret Irwin