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  • Isabel Letham with female surfers, Freshwater c. 1990. 

  • Olga Larkin and friend Erica with sailors, Collaroy 1945. 

  • Sunset on Pittwater, c. 1940. 

Monday, 6 September 2021

Did you know this week is History Week? It is an annual state-wide celebration, facilitated by the History Council of New South Wales, that provides an opportunity to engage with history. 

In celebration of this program, we wanted to share three of our favourite photographic collections that have been donated to our Local Studies team. These collections can always be found in History Hub

Isabel Letham Collection

Isabel Letham is famously credited as the first female surfer. She fell in love with surfing after she was introduced to the sport by Hawaiian surfer Duke Kahanamoku in the summer of 1914-1915, at a surfing exhibition in Freshwater. 

Isabel bequeathed her photographic collection to the Northern Beaches Council Local Studies team. The images depict her surfing career, travels and life in the Northern Beaches.

Larkin Family Collection

Isaac and Florence Larkin ran a very successful orchard, known as Waratah Farm, in the early years of the twentieth century. The orchard was located on Mona Vale Road, Ingleside and is where they raised their seven children. One of their sons’ Arthur Larkin became a contractor and with his team of horses, was responsible for laying many roads as well as making jetties and bridges for the area. 

Granddaughter Olga Johnson (nee Larkin) donated some wonderful photographs which depict everyday life on the Northern Beaches from the 1900s to the 1960s.

Bill McDonald Collection

The Bill McDonald collection consists of 50 images taken by Bill himself. The photographs capture many points from Pittwater to Narrabeen to Barrenjoey Headland, circa 1940. Bill cycled from Guildford, NSW to Pittwater on a regular basis and took photographs on his box brownie camera. 

Bill’s niece Wendy and her husband John Stead donated the photographs to the Northern Beaches Council Local Studies team.