PHOTOS

Bonny Hills history: Bartlett family's contribution to establishing the land

Bartlett's Beach in 1949. Photo: Bartlett family.
Bartlett's Beach in 1949. Photo: Bartlett family.

Robyn O'Brien says she has a deep connection to the area of Bonny Hills and is proud to be part of a family which was so integral to its establishment.

Robyn's father Arthur Bartlett and her grandfather Thomas (Tom) Bartlett were early settlers for the Bonny Hills area.

In 1933 Robyn's grandfather Tom purchased 20 acres of land off A.D. Suters, which encompassed the area around where the Bonny Hills Post Office was established.

At that time the area was known as Greenhills or by the local nickname of Creamy.

A tractor was used to help manage the fruit plantations and dense vegetation. Photo: Bartlett family.

A tractor was used to help manage the fruit plantations and dense vegetation. Photo: Bartlett family.

The land on either side of where the post office is now located was planted with passionfruit and campers bought big bags for 10 cents.

Arthur wrote in 1991 that these plantations did well until 1938 when a black north east wind blew non-stop for three days.

"The strong slat spray killed all the vines," he said.

Banana and pineapple plantations also covered the land at First and Second Avenues. Bananas became a main fruit crop in 1946 to 1955 when 2.4 hectares was planted along the eastern side of Third Avenue.

Arthur Bartlett pictured before the dam was built in 1942. Photo: Bartlett family.

Arthur Bartlett pictured before the dam was built in 1942. Photo: Bartlett family.

In October, 1941 Arthur's brother Hugh joined the army and in December, 1941 he followed at the age of 18.

"We were able to always say Green Hill (Bonny Hills) had 100 percent enlistment, as there was only the two of us living there in that era and of the age bracket," Arthur wrote in 1991.

"My brother Hugh, was discharged in March 1946, after serving in New Guinea and New Britain.

"I was discharged in September, 1946, after serving in New Guinea."

Robyn said her grandfather Tom was a builder and it was thanks to his handy work that a dam was built to supply water to both sides of Bonny Hills.

The dam was built in 1944 when a large cement tank was secured at the foot of a freshwater spring.

The Bonny Hills publication of Yesterday and Today said fresh water which ran over the cliff acted as a shower and locals called it the fernery shower.

The dam photographed in 1945 before the top retaining wall. Photo: Bartlett family.

The dam photographed in 1945 before the top retaining wall. Photo: Bartlett family.

According to a news article written by Bob Marchment, the reservoir held 181,400 litres of water. Most importantly the supply was pumped to two 4,450 litre reservoir ranks on the south headland.

"Gravitation fed the water back to the camping reserve and as it was the only water supply many were grateful to Tom Bartlett for his initiative," the article stated.

Robyn was born in 1952 at Bonny Hills and said she's incredibly proud of her family's achievements.

Robyn, her three siblings and her parents moved to Wauchope when she reached the age to attend school, as there was no education options or transportation available in Bonny Hills.

Robyn as a youngster in front of their home on Jordan Avenue. Photo: Bartlett family.

Robyn as a youngster in front of their home on Jordan Avenue. Photo: Bartlett family.

However, her family returned to Bonny Hills for weekends and every holiday.

Robyn said her family would spend hours at the beach fishing, playing in the rock pools and swimming.

Her imagination would run wild and she had a special rock at Spooneys Bay where none of the other children were allowed to go.

Robyn grew up in a house on Jordan Avenue overlooking Bartlett Beach.

Since then Bonny Hills has gone astronomically, with houses popping up all along the coastline.

Robyn lives at Beechwood but has always had a strong connection to the Bonny Hills area.

Arthur on the steps which himself and his sons made in 1938 to lead down to Bartlett's Beach. Photo was taken in 1944.

Arthur on the steps which himself and his sons made in 1938 to lead down to Bartlett's Beach. Photo was taken in 1944.

Whenever she returns she enjoys standing on the steps that her father, uncle and grandfather built in 1938 down to Bartlett's Beach.

She will also gaze down to the right to admire the location of the dam which her grandfather established.

The dam. Photo: Bartlett family.

The dam. Photo: Bartlett family.

"I have a very deep, ingrained love for the whole place," Robyn said.

"I'm proud of what my father, grandfather and uncle did."

Robyn often wonders what her grandfather would think of the Bonny Hills area if he was to see it today.

She said he was an advocate of change and progress and would be absolutely blown away by the development of the area.

1000 bricks were made each day by Tom, Hugh and Arthur Bartlett in 1950. Photo: Bartlett family.

1000 bricks were made each day by Tom, Hugh and Arthur Bartlett in 1950. Photo: Bartlett family.

Robyn is grateful for the values which she's learnt from her family. She has gone on to have four children of her own.

Robyn had a close relationship with her grandfather Tom and her grandmother Cis.

She said they always spent time together as a close-knit family unit.

Her grandmother was also famous for her good cooking.

Tom and Arthur with their boat on the ramp in 1950. A boat shed was built on top
of high rocks 600 yards east of Bartlettss Beach. Photo: Bartlett family.

Tom and Arthur with their boat on the ramp in 1950. A boat shed was built on top of high rocks 600 yards east of Bartlettss Beach. Photo: Bartlett family.

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