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:
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!