Freshwater, New South Wales

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SydneyNew South Wales
Freshwaterbeach pittwater council.jpg
Freshwater Beach
Population 8,252 (2011 census)[1]
Postcode(s) 2096
Location 17 km (11 mi) north-east of Sydney CBD
LGA(s) Northern Beaches Council
State electorate(s) Manly
Federal Division(s) Warringah
Suburbs around Freshwater:
Brookvale Curl Curl
North Manly Freshwater Tasman Sea
Manly Queenscliff

Freshwater is a suburb of northern Sydney, in the state of New South Wales, Australia. Freshwater is located 17 kilometres (11 mi) north-east of the Sydney central business district, in the local government area of Northern Beaches Council and is part of the Northern Beaches region.


Aboriginal culture[edit]

The area was once home to the Kuring-gai people and evidence of their habitation remains today in the form of rock engravings, open campsites, and rock shelters.[citation needed]

European settlement[edit]

The first Crown grant of land in the area was to Thomas Bruin on 27 September 1815, and consisted of 50 acres (20 ha) directly opposite the beach. The Manly Land Company subdivided and named the property Freshwater Estate in December 1884.

In 1886 W M Gordon surveyed the subdivision named Harbord Estate. The land, divided into two sections, north and south of Curl Curl Lagoon (now named Manly Lagoon) was offered for sale in August 1886.[citation needed]

History of the suburb name[edit]

The Harbord Estate was named to honour the wife of New South Wales Governor Lord Carrington (gov. 1885–90). Before her marriage, Lady Carrington was the Honourable Cecilia Margaret Harbord.

For many years, the beach and the district behind it was known as Freshwater which was probably named after the stream of fresh water that ran down to the beach (now Oceanview Road). However, some time after the naming of Harbord Estate, a number of residents began to believe that the holiday image of Freshwater should be upgraded by a name change to Harbord. The change of name attracted much controversy and debate and occasionally became quite heated. When the first local district school was built in 1912, a petition was sent to the Minister of Education requesting it should be called Harbord Public School. The Minister declined and officially opened it Freshwater Public School. Pressure was then directed towards renaming the post office. The Postmaster-General finally accepted the views of those who wanted a residential image and Freshwater officially became Harbord on 1 September 1923.[2]

Freshwater Bay Post Office opened on 20 April 1909 and was renamed Freshwater in 1912.[3]

In 2003 the Harbord Chamber of Commerce submitted a request to Warringah Council to support an application to the Geographical Names Board of New South Wales to rename the suburb of Harbord to Freshwater. In public consultation 774 voted in favour and 161 voted against with the results recorded in council minutes on 8 March 2005. The suburb of Harbord was officially named Freshwater on 12 January 2008.

Australian Home of Surfing[edit]

In December 1914, Duke Kahanamoku, the world sprint swimming champion, was touring Australia. He selected timber from a Sydney firm to fashion a board modelled on those used in his native Hawaii, and during a demonstration to the press, introduced surf board riding to Australia at Freshwater Beach on Thursday 24 December. It was the first recorded time that anyone had surfed the clean waves beyond the break in Australian waters using this Hawaiian-style surfing technique.

Re-enactment of Duke Kahanamoku visit and replica board, 2015.

It was so popular that a second spur of the moment demonstration was given on a Sunday in January 1915. Duke topped the performance by taking a local young girl, Isabel Letham on the board with him to surf the waves. Isabel went on to become a pioneer of Australian surfing. The board has been kept on display in the Freshwater Surf Life Saving Club since 1952. There is now a statue of Duke Paoa Kahanamoku on the headland at Freshwater. The statue was sculpted by artist Barry Donohoo, one of the last works by the artist before his death.[4]

In 2012, Warringah Council in partnership with Freshwater Surf Life Saving Club signed a Goodwill Beach City Agreement with the coastal community of Waikiki in Honolulu, Hawaii. The ceremony came as part of an annual celebration of Duke Kahanamoku, who introduced surfing to Australia at Freshwater beach in 1915. The signing by Warringah Mayor, Michael Regan and Honolulu Mayor, Peter Carlisle was a celebration and strengthening of historic ties between the two regions.[5]


At the 2011 census, there were 8,252 residents in Freshwater. The majority of people (67.7%) were born in Australia with the top other countries of birth being England 8.4% and New Zealand 2.9%. The median weekly household income of 1,833 was higher than the national median of $1,234. The housing in Freshwater was evenly spread between houses and units and the median monthly mortgage payment was $2,600.[1]


Freshwater is home to 2 primary education schools. Harbord Public School caters for students from years K-6 was established in 1912 and St John the Baptist Catholic School.[6]

In neighbouring suburb Curl Curl, Freshwater Senior Campus which is part of Northern Beaches Secondary College, caters for year 11 and 12 students.


Freshwater Beach is between Curl Curl and Queenscliff and lies on the Manly to Curl Curl Beach walk.

The Harbord Beach Hotel is 200 metres from the beach and is known to locals as the "Harbord Hilton", due to its previous state of disrepair prior to renovations.[citation needed] Harbord Diggers, an RSL club, has bowling greens and views of the ocean.

Twin/sister cities[edit]

Hawaii Waikiki Honolulu, Hawaii, United States

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Australian Bureau of Statistics (31 October 2012). "Freshwater (State Suburb)". 2011 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 4 May 2013. 
  2. ^ The Book of Sydney Suburbs, Compiled by Frances Pollen, Angus & Robertson Publishers, 1990, Published in Australia ISBN 0-207-14495-8.
  3. ^ Premier Postal History. "Post Office List". Premier Postal Auctions. Retrieved 12 June 2012. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Sister Cities & Agreements". Retrieved 6 April 2013. 
  6. ^ Retrieved 6 April 2013.  Missing or empty |title= (help)

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 33°46′30″S 151°17′16″E / 33.77490°S 151.28783°E / -33.77490; 151.28783