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Archives Outside - For people who love, use and manage archives

Can you date this photograph? [Watsons Bay]

A Moment in Time……

The infamous Gap looking towards Watsons Bay….

There have been a few changes to this view over the years. Can you date this photograph?

Larger version on Flickr

We have many other undated photographs in Photo Investigator and on our Flickr account. If you know the dates or any other interesting facts about these images please let us know.

  • beachcomberaustralia says:

    Latest date (so far) 1903 demolition of the house in the foreground, ‘Clovelly’.
    Earliest (so far) 1881 for the completion of St Anthony’s RC Church. But is it complete?
    Details on Flickr.

    September 26, 2011 at 7:50 pm
  • beachcomberaustralia says:

    Anyone else got any thoughts about this photo?

    I think it might be part of a panorama (ugh! not again, they scream!). See flickr comments. And closer to 1881 …

    October 3, 2011 at 5:44 pm
  • pellethepoet says:

    It certainly has the look of part of a panorama [he says stifling a scream].

    October 3, 2011 at 10:09 pm
  • Anthea Brown says:

    OMG … [clutching at hair] … not another panorama … !

    October 4, 2011 at 1:42 pm
  • Fiona Sullivan says:

    Blogger 1: Look, I don’t think it should be a sin, just for saying “Panorama”.
    [Everyone gasps]
    Blog moderator : You’re only making it worse for yourself!
    Blogger 1: Making it worse? How can it be worse? Panorama! Panorama! Panorama!
    Blog moderator: I’m warning you! If you say “Panorama” one more time (gets hit with rock) RIGHT! Who did that? Come on, who did it?
    Bloggers: She did! She did! (suddenly speaking as men) He! He did! He!
    Blog Moderator: Was it you?
    Blogger 2: Yes.
    Blog Moderator: Right…
    Blogger 2: Well you did say “Panorama. ”
    [Crowd throws rocks at Blogger 2]
    Blog Moderator: STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT RIGHT NOW! STOP IT! All right, no one is to stone _anyone_ until I blow this whistle. Even… and I want to make this absolutely clear… even if they do say, “Panorama. ”
    [Crowd stones the Blog Moderator to death :-(]

    With loving acknowledgement to “The Life of Brian”

    PS Definitely not making any suggestions lol!!

    October 4, 2011 at 1:52 pm
  • Anthea Brown says:

    Love it!

    October 5, 2011 at 8:09 am
  • Robert Mills says:

    Hi All

    I agree with Beachcomberaustralia’s assessment.

    It looks very much late 19th Century. The Clovelly building may have taken some time to demolish as I have a postcard of it sent several years after 1903. I think it was a former Governor’s residence ?

    The use of the name ‘Clovelly’, when later applied in c1915 to Clovelly Beach (ex Little Coogee), was disputed by the locals at ‘Clovelly’ (Robertson Park).

    Military Rd is just a rough track and no evidence of the Watsons Bay Tramway extension of early 1909 is present. Views taken of the US Fleet arrival in August 1908 often show the tramway construction in progress in Gap Park.

    Frank Hurley photographed this area during winter c1908. I have seen several of his postcard images but they show much more building development than this view.

    It looks like a small shop is present on Military Rd with the verandah/awning arrangement. The beginnings of the commercial centre of the ‘village’…..

    A safety fence straddles the cliffline and extensive vegetation is present in what becomes Roberston Park – if resumption took place for the formation of the park then the NSW Govt Gazettee may also cast some light on the probable date of the image.


    October 6, 2011 at 1:22 pm
  • Robert Mills says:

    Hi All

    Correction – Sir John Robertson, one time resident of “Clovelly’ was a former NSW Premier having served in that role 5 times.

    October 7, 2011 at 11:24 am
  • enno says:

    I am having trouble understanding why there is nothing at all at Bondi Junction.

    October 10, 2011 at 7:54 pm
  • Anna Gray says:

    Thanks for everyone’s input. I think a date of pre-1903 is the best conclusion for this one.

    Re: Bondi Junction – I assume it was low-rise only at this point!
    There’s certainly no hint of Westfield on the horizon! ;)

    October 11, 2011 at 4:06 pm
  • Robert Mills says:

    The only tall building at Bondi Junction then was the Methodist Church at the heart of the Junction. All other structures in the 1880s-early 1900s were two storey’s in height and most likely not observable from the ‘lee side’ of the ridge line – ie Watsons Bay – at that time.

    Also Westfield and Meriton did not exist in the 19th Century !


    October 12, 2011 at 3:58 pm
  • Anna Gray says:

    Thanks Robert for the extra details.
    Yes I realise Westfield and Meriton weren’t around in the 19th Century – that was my failed attempt at humour !! :)
    Thanks again!

    October 12, 2011 at 4:06 pm
  • beachcomberaustralia says:

    From that particular spot you STILL cannot see Bondi Junction, even the high-rises, as the modern day view (on Flickr) shows. Just the water tower on Bellevue Hill.

    The road on Bellevue Hill must be Old South Head Road and white telegraph poles are visible. (Btw the first telegraph line in NSW was this one in 1858 – from the Sydney Exchange to the Signal Station out of view to the left.) There is one telegraph pole in front of ‘Clovelly’ which does not show on a 1875 Bayliss photo. ie this is post 1875. There is no jetty in front of the Pier Hotel which fell down in 1881, when the Government built a pier on the current jetty site, out of shot to the right.

    From the shrub on the right of ‘Clovelly’ which is slightly bigger than this 1884 photo – , I would say this is c.1885.

    [Loving the Panorama Drama!]

    October 12, 2011 at 6:26 pm
  • nicole says:

    yay panorama! and what an awesome panorama the panorama looks to be!

    October 14, 2011 at 2:29 pm