Dee Why Beach


I grew up in middle-of-nowhere-town in the state of NSW, but every year between Christmas and New Year we would undertake an odyssey to Sydney to holiday at the beach.

We 4 kids would squish across the back seat of the station wagon, there was a overloaded luggage rack on the top and the little section behind the back seat would hold an esky full of sandwiches and drinks for the journey, and, our family dog (a doberman who would return to her breeder’s kennel for her own little holiday).  One year we even took some poor teenage girl along to help my mother when Cat was a toddler.  I really have no idea where she sat but suspect that one of us kids had to sit in that back section with the dog.  It was in the pre-seatbelt days anyway.

It would be hot as hell, (no airconditioning) the tarp covering the luggage would develop a sail bubble at some stage and thrash loudly about above our heads, there was no radio reception for most of the way and there was a lot of squabbling in the back.  My father would swear a lot and threaten to turn around for about the first 4 hours.

The journey would take anywhere between 8 and 10 hours and must have been truly torturous for my parents.  But, the instant we saw the ocean a transformation occurred and we were all happy little campers.

For many years we stayed in holiday homes between Manly and Narrabeen Lakes but for the last 5 years of our family vacations we stayed in the same house in Dee Why. (when I was about 17 our parents decided to move the annual vacation to various spots around Nelson Bay).

The origin of the name Dee Why is not definitively known –  the first reference found to it was a pencil note in surveyor James Meehan’s field book “Wednesday, 27th Sept, 1815 Dy Beach – Marked a Honey Suckle Tree near the Beach”.   From 1840 the name was recorded as one word “Deewhy” but was split in two during the 1950’s

As a continuation of her birthday celebration I took the Princess and her Godmother, Kate, to lunch at Dee Why beach:

View from the table to the water: 

After a delightful lunch we walked some of it off along the concourse and beach:   


.   Rocks  – there’s a pool in there: 

My cousins used to live in this house on top of the cliff.   Before there were too many siblings we used to stay with them.  There were many, many, many steps from the roadway to their house so I’m sure my mother was happy when we stopped staying there.   Back in the old days the house used to have bright orange trim!   The cousins kept goats which used to roam over those green areas – this was my first experience with goat milk (yuk) and goat’s cheese (yum)

It was a little cold so there were very few in the water…  you are meant to swim between the flags because this is usually the safest area and the area where the Lifesvers are meant to run out and save you as you go under for the last time.  My father used to insist that we go to the beach every day no matter what the weather was ….  there must be some family photos out there of four little very goose-bumped kids! 


38 responses

  1. What beautiful pictures of the beach!! Your stories are wonderful of your holidays as a child. I wish you had pictures of the goose bumped children and the car you all piled into to get there!

    Your daughter is so stunning and what a great picture of her with her godmother. I know you must be having a terrific time. I hope you bring back a lot more pictures to post! Enjoy.

    • I look back now and realise what terrific family holidays we used to have. We were very lucky – though we hated going to the beach on a cold, wet day when the surf was rough! I think it was my father’s way of getting back at us for being miserable little passengers on the trip there LOL.

  2. Great Photos! brought back some memories of my own vacationing with the family….endless miles in our station wagon…though our amily has less children…still lots of squabbles. My sister made up a game called “pet hand” which you can imagine caused all sorts of hilarity and squabbling….wonder if she remembers “Pet hand” must ask her.

    • Pet Hand sounds better than the game we played – adding up number plates! I think we had to find number plates that added up to a specific number. My mother would think up endless “I spy” questions too.

    • Goats seemed a real novelty to me as we didn’t have any on our farm and here my cousins in the city had them. One of the children was allergic to dairy so that was what started the goat collection. I’ve just remembered that they had a horse too!

  3. We used to holiday at Curl Curl when I was a girl, then my parents took into their heads that we should move to the area, they brought a house at Beacon Hill and I spent every day of the 6 weeks summer school holidays turning into a wrinkled old prune at Dee Why beach. Great post

    • Curl Curl was where my sister almost drowned in the rock pool! Not funny then but the incident usually gets dredged up every year or so… all we could see of her was her little hair bow floating on the top of the water. LOL about the prune. Every year we went home peeling! Those were the days before slip, slop, slap!

  4. I love reading your stories. Especially the parts where I can relate to because my generation was still partly “affected”. I remember car trips with my parents. Old car, no radio but I think there was already a seat belt.
    I didn’t own a walkman until I was about 14 years. And when that one broke it was never replaced. And I think my dad got a radio in his car for the first time about 17 years ago. It had to stay off because he wasn’t used to it and he felt disturbed by it.
    Today it’s a whole different story. Now it’s on “full” and mum is turning it down.
    Nevertheless I wonder how parents did it. Today at least you have the chances to built in half an entertainment center to keep kids occupied for 8 to 10 hours.

    • LOL @ the radio. I got a transistor radio for Christmas when I was about 12 years old and I insisted on trying to play it on the car trip that year. Most of the time it was just awful static! And, I don’t think it came with headphones! Once we got in the car and on the road my father would not stop for anything other than petrol. When we stopped at a service station (maybe twice during the trip) we would race each other to the toilets!

  5. Beautiful scenery and nice rocks. The Princess has amazing cheekbones! Four kids on a trip that long…YUCK. I say that as someone coming from a family that size. But you survived it and so did your poor parents.

    • I wonder at how my parents coped with it really as I didn’t do such a good job with 3 in the car and we never went on any long trips! We did take two on a plane flight north once – first and last time for that until they were old enough to fly by themselves! LOL.

  6. Lovely photos Emjay, and stunning one of The Princess.

    We had similar holidays every year to visit rellies in Italy, legs stuck to the (vinyl) car seats in 90deg heat and lots of grumpiness too, we loved it when we were there though.

    • Thank you Claire …. oh yes, I forgot about those horrible vinyl seats!!! We used to have to sit on our beach towels on the way home because mostly our legs were peeling by the end of the holiday!! fun times!

    • That day was really beautiful – we’ve had some cold ones since and that nasty rainy Tuesday! I didn’t bring enough warm clothes and was “forced” to go and buy a couple of things from Macquarie Centre – luckily they were on sale though there was not much warmer stuff to choose from.

  7. Marvelous and GORGEOUS pictures! Wow!!!!!!!! Such a beautiful place!
    And a sweet story that brought back memories of vacations…thank you for posting this!!!!!!

  8. I imagine goat’s milk is pretty gross! But I love the image of them roaming. You really captured the magic of this place – especially through the history (also interesting how Honey Suckle is now one word, honeysuckle, unless he’s referencing a different plant, which I think he is).

    Love the rock pool and the house way up high. All around cool post!!!

    • thank you Emmi – sorry to be behind in my responding …. one of my cousins was severely allergic to anything diary so the family got the goats. They used to milk them every day and yes, the milk was horribly gross! It is interesting to find out how places got their names and how plants were named too. When the first white men arrived here in Australia they were seeing things they’d never seen before. A lot of places have Aboriginal names but it seems that Dee Why is not one of them…

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