Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Manilla NSW Australia


Manilla is a small quiet country town in north west NSW, with a population of approx. 2500. It is my home town. I started school here, and grew up in Manilla during the 1950s-1960s.
 

Link to the inaugural first part story written in 2014  http://www.ezyrider.com.au/manillanswlife1950s1960s.html   Where the entirety and detail of this story, with pictures, is currently being written for a book publication. It currently spans 200 pages (C).

As a young boy living in Manilla in those times, life was created through initiative and imagination. Life was simple and peaceful, and externally, is still the same today. Much of life was spent outdoors, without computers, TV, air conditioners, and all the electronic devices of today. With a dirt road out the front, and our small timber and fibro home with an outdoor dunny just near the back door, we lived in luxury. We had a roof over our heads, food, a home, and the great outdoors that Manilla offered.

This site documents aspects of Manilla, and shows areas of Manilla, that are part of Manilla's heritage history.

"Life can still be captured within simplistic interests; if current social paradigms change. Detaching ourselves from the materialism of our society and reaching within enables our connection with nature for solitude."

There is a separate page for "The Manilla Weir." Link: https://manillaweirnsw.blogspot.com/

 The following is a range of pictures of the main street of Manilla, buildings and park area. The street still maintains the centre garden area as it was in the 1950's.
In the centre of Manilla Street, the main street, is a clock that still stands tall, symbolising a time that reflects a heritage. This clock was erected in June 1938 and documents important milestones for Manilla. In 2016 the historical information on the clock was updated.
Right: Looking south from the veranda of the Royal Hotel towards Tamworth.

Side A: Bridge erected over Namoi River 1887; Railway to Manilla 1899-1987; Electric light installation 1913; Manilla Street centre gardens established 1932; Manilla Hospital 1906-2012; Manilla MPS 2012; Manellae Lodge 1994; Memorial Pool 1967; Town Clock erected 1938. Water Installation - Main town 1934; North Manilla 1953; Split Rock Dam 1987. Sewerage Installation - Main Town 1953; Southbrook 1965; North Manilla 2000. 

Side B: Rural Pursuits/Attractions: Wool Sheep Cattle & Poultry Production, Grain Growing, Warrabar National Park, Lake Keepit State Park, Split Rock Dam, Fishing & Fish Hatchery, Bush Walking & River Walk, Paragliding and Hang Gliding, Manilla Historical Museum Royce Cottage,  Annual Manilla Show.

Side C: First Settlement est 1858. Population: 1866 - 50, 1901 - 780, 1938 - 2250, 1978 - 3100, 2016 - 3200. Incorporated as Municipality 23.7.1901. Mandowa Shire Incorporated 3.6.1906. Amalgamated to form Manilla Shire Council 1.1.1960. Amalgamated to form Tamworth
 
Regional Council 17.3.2004.


Side D: Graphical location NSW North West Slopes and Plains; Lat -30' 44' 51.43". Longitude 150' 43' 12.71". Road Distance: From Sydney 512 klms. From Brisbane 573 klms. Altitude 363 metres. Average Rainfall 675 millimetres.
Right: Beside the Post Office there is a chair where you can watch the activity around the main area of Manilla during the day. Left: Looking north towards the bridge and north Manilla.
Main Street Gardens
Left: Manilla and District Soldiers Memorial Hall and the building on the right of the hall, where community events were/are held. In the 1950s they had music and dancing functions providing energetic and enthusiastic entertainment. 
The foundation stone of the Soldiers Memorial Hall was laid on the 3rd May 1924. A series of memorials are located within the enclosure near the entrance. The largest (white) is a carved marble honour roll commemorating soldiers from the First World War. Names are listed in two columns. On each side of this memorial are brass plates (grey) engraved with the names of soldiers from the Second World War. Their dedication is engraved on a third plate positioned above the marble plaque. On the walls left and right are two small plaques commemorating the men from Manilla who served in the Boer War. Right: Anzac Day. 
Right: The Manilla Heritage Museum combined with 1884 Royce Cottage - a must visit while in Manilla.

In July 1878 a telegraph line had been erected as far as Manilla and almost to Barraba. The telegraph line necessitated the services of a telegraph operator and a resident postal officer. Mr Edward Dane was appointed to the position on August 10th, 1878. He was Manilla's first recognised official postmaster. The Post Office was situated in Manilla Street, a timber building near Mackenzie’s store.

In January 1879 the Postmaster General had taken steps to procure a suitable block of land in Manilla to build a Post Office. In 1889 a tender was accepted from T.J. Bowen for £1148 ($2296). Additions were made in 1898 and 1908. A manual telephone exchange was added in 1923 and the Manilla Street fa├žade changed in the 1960s. I find it hard to believe the facade was changed so dramatically, rather than preserve historical significance. 

In 1872 a mail contract was let to Wilkinson and Bowden to convey mail twice weekly by coach from Tamworth to Warialda via Manilla. Prior to 1872 the mail was conveyed on horseback. Country mail services started in September 1899 from Manilla to New Mexico and Hobden and in 1901 to Lowrey, Glendon via Halls Creek and Mundowey and to Chapman's on the upper Namoi River. All country roads and by-roads were serviced by mail contractors. Wilkinson's mail coach made its last trip to Warialda on December 3, 1906. Since 1872 it had regularly passed through Manilla and Barraba on its bi-weekly trip to Warialda.

During the two World Wars, 1914 to 1918 and 1939 to 1945, thousands of letters to and from the troops passing through the Post Office. On July 12th 1967, Manilla was given its postcode 2346.

On July 1st, 1975 the Postmaster Generals Department was disbanded and Australia Post and Telecom Australia were raised in its place but activities at Manilla Post office continued as before. The Post Office has now been privatised and as well as its traditional mail business, it now has a strong retail business. During these transitions, the original architectural counter was dismantled leaving a stark modernized clinical appearance. 

A Bridge was built over the Namoi River in 1887 and has a 15-tonne load limit. Right: Looking down from the bridge to the Namoi river.
A second bridge a short distance east was completed in 2021

Left: Main Street 1960s. Right: 1920s. Showing a Pipe Band playing and walking up the street. 
M.C. MacKenzie built a general store and opened in 1876. Left: 1912 Right: MacKenzie staff 1960s. MacKenzies was a popular large store in Manilla as can be seen from the number of staff. 
The Palais theatre and main street Manilla in the 1960s. The Palais was built in the 1920s. Right: Manilla Cafe. A popular place when open. Note the Juke Box at the rear.
The Palais Picture theatre was the centre of weekly entertainment in Manilla during the 1950s/1960s. With timber floors, brown vinyl swing up seats, it provided a variety of sustainable entertainment that transported patrons to different daydreaming worlds; that developed imagination for varying personal development. The Saturday Matinee, with its stable choice of cowboy serials and G movies, allowed parents to send their children away to "the pictures," for the afternoon. A safe and secure haven for children in the country setting of Manilla. With a simplistic half time enjoyment purchase of a packet of fruit tingles and a can of Fanta, we relished in this atmosphere of leisurely pursuits with no need for more. We had what we wanted.
A time where cafes were ordained with hand craftsmanship of the era; providing an ambiance that reflected our thoughts of security.
A time when contact with someone required a call to the telephonist who dutifully plugged your line into the line of the person you wished to communicate with. Where going to MacKenzie's store required your cash to be transported via a carriage suspended on pulleys, that was catapulted towards the cashier in the back office, who calculated your change and catapulted it back to your location.
A time where schooling in the early years was conducted on fine timber table and chairs and writing performed with nibs and ink. Where the three R's were rigorously ruled. If you misbehaved you gained the wrath of the teacher who proceeded to expedite a punishment from the cane. The number varied from 1 to 6 leaving fingers red and sore and making it difficult to hold a pen and complete the days schooling. When parents were advised they generally responded with, "You probably deserved it!"
 
In 1962 the 12/13 year olds at Manilla School dutifully posed for their yearly photograph. Not knowing their future and really didn't care. Life was an adventure in Manilla NSW Australia.

An era when Chubby Checker's Twist was attempted at the School Hall opposite Manilla Primary School on the Social Night. Then the British Music Invasion arrived in Australia and we played music on mono 45 or LP records; or tuned into Mike Walsh on 2SM in Sydney. MacKenzies got with the groove with pointy toe shoes and Beatle sox, and we entered the era of the Groovy 60s. (All documented in more detail in my book)

The Manilla Park is located at the southern end of Main Street Manilla. It is a tranquil setting with shady trees and seats to enjoy the natural surrounds.  
It still has the guns captured by the 33rd battalion, 1914-1918 - relics of the past. On the right of this relic, is the historic brick toilet block. The brick toilet block was demolished and replaced with a clinical metal object.
Right: On the top is a sundial. 
   Left: This sundial was erected by the Manilla Shire Council and the Manilla Community to Commemorate the turning of the Century 1.1.2000."

The Manilla Heritage Museum is located at 171 Manilla Street (northern end) and incorporates Royce Cottage built for G.H.Royce in the late 1800's. The museum is full of historical memorabilia and archives relating to the history of Manilla. Situated next to Royce Cottage is the Yarramanbully School House, a one teacher house operating during the 1920's. There is also the Manilla and District Rural Collection in Alexander Lane plus a Chinese Memorial Garden at the rear of the Museum. The museum is well worth a visit and their website can be linked to below.
http://www.manillamuseum.com.au/
Left - Royce Cottage - restored and part of the Museum. Right - Entrance to the Museum on the right and walk through to Royce Cottage.
Yarramanbully Schoolhouse (to the left of Royce Cottage)

The first Yarramanbully one-teacher school was built before 1920. Parents of children on farms too far away from the school in town asked to be sent a teacher, to give lessons in their own community. The farmers then built a one-room primary school for pupils from Year 1-6. The second Yarramanbully school was built in 1935, when a new generation of children required the school to be re-opened. Around six families from the Yarramanbully community sent their children to school here until Year 6. The families employed the builders Hunt and Lynch of Tamworth to construct the school, and it opened for classes on 31 July, 1935. The school remained open until December 1953, by which time all pupils had moved on to other schools for their secondary education. The Gallagher family donated the Yarramanbully School building to the Manilla community for the town's centenary of Public Education in 1977. Manilla Historical Society volunteers restored the building, which had been left intact with all its contents on the Gallagher property at the close of classes in 1953.

The Manilla Historical Society was formed from humble beginnings 50 years ago in 1972, after a small Group requested the then Shire President Brian Byrnes if he would convene a Public Meeting to gauge if there was enough interest in forming a Committee to set up a group to preserve the History of Manilla and District. So began the Manilla Historical Society. 

A meeting was held in the Town Hall and after much discussion it was decided to form the Manilla Historical Society. On the night a challenge was issued by Jack Maxwell (father of Jim), who said if he donated $100 would at least 9 others do the same. The challenge was taken up giving the committee a seeding bank account. 

A small Committee was formed to investigate the possibility of setting up a small Museum. A shop previously Noel Simpson's Chemist Shop was their first venue. The society quickly outgrew this venue. The society fought hard to get the Old Council Chambers in Stafford Street which was unsuccessful, but instead settled on Royce Cottage in Manilla Street, which is the oldest building in the Main Street. The building was restored with the aid of a RED Scheme Grant (To help regional unemployed people). The Grant finished in 1974, and the present Museum was established.

With the help of many people over the years, including the former Manilla Shire Council and currently Tamworth Regional Council the Society is still doing what it was set up for - keeping as much of Manilla’s History as possible. This can only be done by the generosity of families who share their history with others.

In 2022 on the June Long Week-end, 11th to 13th June, the Manilla Historical Society will be holding a birthday party, called “Back to Manilla” celebrations, with 2 objectives: One to invite former residents back to Manilla to meet up with other former residents and two, also in doing so, to collect more history.

On this June Long weekend in 2022 the Manilla Vintage Machinery Group will be holding their Annual Machinery Rally in Manilla and turning back the clock in Historic Manilla NSW.

Link: https://manillavintagemachinery.com.au/

Left: Showing the vast range of the community archive folders and collections.
An old dentist's chair on the left.
An old manual operated telephone exchange on the left.
Rooms have been set up to re-create an era of the past.
An old cash register on the left that was used in the 1950s-1960s. I was able to secure the same for my shop in the early 1980s. A local store was closing and auctioning all their items. On the right a washing tub and wringer. We used a similar in our home in the 1950s. 
Visit the Manilla Rural Museum in Alexander Lane Manilla.
The Chinese Memorial Garden at the rear of Royce Cottage with head stones and texts. The headstones originally marked the burial places of Manilla's early Chinese farmers and market gardeners who grew vegetables and tobacco on plots and farms along the Manilla and Namoi Rivers. These monuments were removed from their original sites during property transfer. In 1987 they were brought to the grounds of Royce's House and a section of the grounds was set aside for their permanent relocation. Here they were placed and dedicated in acknowledgement of the Chinese Community's contribution to Manilla's early development, their provision of fresh produce to the townsfolk, and their working life on the farms hereabouts. This Memorial was opened on May 4th 1996.

The rail line was opened in September 1908 and provided an important link to centres surrounding Manilla and was an impressive technical feat for those days. It is now closed but stands as a heritage reminder of years gone by.

The Manilla Railway Bridge (Viaduct) crosses over the Namoi River, through the Showground and to Manilla Railway Station. (the station is not there anymore)
In the 1950's it was a daring journey as a young fella to walk over the bridge, climbing up the embankment west of the Namoi River, firstly laying down and listening with an ear on the train track to see if a train was coming, and then commence the walk across the bridge towards the Manilla Showground. Stepping from one timber plank to the other, looking down to the river and hopefully reach the other side without falling through the spaces, and before a train arrives. Fortunately some stayed behind, as during one crossing a rail repair carriage was approaching and with arms waving to stop the workers, they slowed down and collected the walkers halfway across. The walk was achieved by some where they climbed down to ground level at the showground.
The bridge near the Manilla Oval
Left: The Railway Bridge over the Namoi river.
   Right: At the entrance to Manilla is an old railway crane and (below) a plaque detailing this area.

Manilla Railway Station 1950s
 These pictures show the types of trains that used to travel to Manilla in the 1950's - 1960's. Called steam hauled mail trains with all wooden carriages. Some had sleepers and it was an interesting ride to Sydney overnight, listening to the clickclack of the wheels in the quiet of night - a peaceful sound. The train to Manilla was called the North West Train. It was this type of train that I left Manilla on in 1964.
Pictures from the 1950s
Left: The Manilla Railway was opened on 21st September 1908 and ran for 99 kilometres north along the Manilla valley to the town of Barraba, from the main north railway line at West Tamworth.

For more information and pictures of the Manilla Railway please visit http://www.manillamuseum.com.au/ They have an amazing range of historic memorabilia.
The Chinky-Chow bridge is located towards Southbrook on Manilla St. We road our bikes (or walked) towards Southbrook and under the small railway bridge. It was always a dare to stay under the bridge as the train moved over us. Intimidating, as these locomotives were large and noisy and thundered along like a beast on heat. Right: The bridge is not there anymore.

For a comprehensive informative page with pictures about the Manilla Weir, click on this Link:  https://manillaweirnsw.blogspot.com/


If you would like to travel further afield from Manilla Township, and surrounds, two places are Borah Creek and Warrabah National Park.
Borah Creek is a 30 minute drive along the Rangari Road and Longarm Road, north of Manilla. (Link) The Borah Creek runs into the Manilla River and is just a 10 minute drive towards Upper Manilla. Warrabah National Park is a 40 minute drive along the (winding) Namoi River Road, north east of Manilla. Right turn into Warrabah Trail Road, and you'll find the Warrabah Campground and Picnic Area. Click Here for Link
Left: Borah Creek. (Link) Right: Warrabah National Park. Click Here for Link
If you really want to get away and be totally free of society, either of these two places would provide your escape.

As a young fella in Manilla the best way to get around the countryside is via a pushbike. You can explore many areas and enjoy the solitude country provides. This was my main mode of transport and looked after for my numerous travels around Manilla. Was this a precursor for the future? It could be, as I am doing the same today - but this time on a Motor-Horse. 


There are a number of heritage style homes in Manilla. Many with verandas, as during summer the temperature rises significantly. I placed a thermometer outside in the summer one year and it rose to 120 degrees (48c). It was hot!
On the left is the Rector's Home for the Anglican Church, on the right. It was called the Church of England in the 1950s. The Church of England (Holy Trinity), with the 'Cuerindi' memorial tower. Cannon Quayle officiated the church services during the 1950s - the father of John Quayle, a rugby league player, who found success in Sydney first as an NRL player and then an administrator.
 
In 1938 the foundation stone for the western end and tower was laid by Bishop Moyes. A tube was placed at the back of the tablet containing a script, two copies of the Manilla Express, a copy of the Tamworth Leader and an order of service for the day. On February 10th, 1939 the Cuerindi Memorial Tower and the western end were dedicated by Sir Charles Rosenthal - the first stage built by Walter Jackson, the second stage completed by W.C Grantham. The Baptistery and the Cuerindi Memorial Tower were a gift of the Allen family of Cuerindi in memory of their father and mother.
Above right is the house opposite the Church of England Church. A very stately home with large grounds and I think a market garden at the rear of the property. I used to mow lawns and do gardening at these premises for 50c an hour. I was working there for a while and thought I'd ask for a rise to 75c an hour as I was saving up for a transistor radio that cost 15 pounds (about $30 dollars) Which meant at 50c per hour it would take me 60 hours to save up. The 75c per hour wasn't looked on favorably and I lost my job!
These pictures are of Durham Court Homestead owned by Otto Baldwin in the 1950s. It is only 4 kilometres from Manilla township and on the banks of the Namoi River. Durham Court has been held by the Baldwin family since 1848 (Until 2016)My mother used to drive out there in our little light green Anglia and look after the household requirements to gain a little more money, where Otto was introduced to fresh vegetables from our garden. His purchase became an extra helpful income. My mother was very thrifty with her money. Carefully selecting items from the supermarket, paying at the manual checkout she was given a print out of the cash register docket and at home meticulously inspected each item's price. If there was an error in charging she went back to receive her refund. Money was so tight even 5 cents made a difference to the household budget. I still had a roof over my head, healthy meals and my own room. What else could I ask for? It was a safe environment even when we left the doors open and unlocked overnight when the heat rose in the summer time.
The Interior of Durham Court
On the left is Corra Linn Homestead, and on the right Oakhampton Homestead. Corra Linn Homestead overlooks the Namoi River and has been the home of Cam and Jenny Henderson. Corra Linn was built in 1912 by the Fermor Family.
 

Over 175mm of rain caused rapid rises in the Namoi and Manilla Rivers forcing the evacuation of one third of the population. The approaches to the Namoi River Bridge were cut off and the bridge over the Manilla River on the Boggabri Road was washed away. The town was completely isolated overnight on the 15th January 1964.

In our house in River Street, we had nearly 8 feet of water in the house, causing destruction of much of our possessions. We were watching the large flow of water in the Namoi River across the road and hoped it wouldn't get higher. 

Then we watched as the water slowly made its way along the side of the road and moved into our yard. My parents went inside to stand as much as they could on solid furniture while I stayed outside and put most of the outside garden chairs and other items on top of our small shed.     

My mother came outside with all the family photo albums and other priceless possessions and put them in the car. I was directed to drive the car towards the back lane and drive the car to higher ground while they finished what they could inside. They eventually waded out towards the lane and reached higher ground. It was to no avail. The water just came so fast and so high and swamped our house and River street homes and beyond.

As fast as it rose it decreased quickly also. We, and the rest of River Street residents, arrived the next morning to view the destruction. Four inches of mud in the house and all over our possessions. As my mother opened the back door and moved inside she burst into tears. Almost 10 years of hard work was now ruined. The backyard shed was gone, the chook run, the bird aviary, the vege garden, everything.... and even my prized Phantom comic collection! It was noticed the house had moved on the foundations and fortunately stayed put. One house was washed away. 

Left: Water everywhere. Right: The next day at the northern end of River Street.
Right: Ruth and Graeme Ridley's house in River Street the next day. The front window had a large tree trunk protruding out.
Right: River Street the next day.
Numerous newspaper articles were written about the Manilla Flood. On the left is Win Rogerson, featured in the Manilla Express, who lived at 87 River Street. Behind her is Glen Harley.

Geoff Ayling Manilla Story 1939-1948



Manilla’s first Show was held on March 2nd and 3rd, 1932 and has always been a big annual event on the Manilla calendar. 
The widespread Manilla farming community are drawn to this event each year and it is a time when the relative isolation of farming becomes integrated as a community of farmers at the annual Manilla Show. Not only farmers. Manilla township gathers together their community spirit and participates in this celebration of country. The Pavilion features farm produce, arts, handcraft, horticulture, photography, wool and displays from the local schools. Outside the cattle and sheep judging produced some fine species; while the camp draft highlighted expert horsemanship. The oval contains the equestrian contestants, executing maneuvers only a specialist could achieve. While the surrounding areas are filled with cars, utes, 4WDs, horse trailers and caravans. The area suturally murmurs with a laid-back attitude, all mixed in with animal aromas, where their waste is sowed with regularity. 

Since 1932, the Manilla Show has provided local people with an opportunity to celebrate their achievements and enjoy a break from day-to-day routine, with a combination of serious competition and light entertainment. These annual shows acknowledge and rewards the hard work and skill of primary producers as well as the continued effort of the organisers of the Annual Manilla Show.

As a young fella in the 1950s, the Manilla Show was the event we all looked forward to. Watching all the trailers arriving in the weeks before the big day with their side show alley equipment. Checking it out almost on a daily basis to see that was going to unfold. The operators camped on the bank of the Namoi Weir and we could smell their cooking in the early evening when we ventured down to view these intriguing scenes. They travelled around NSW - we lived a stable life in Manilla, and this was different. We tried hard to be patient for the Big Opening Day, as the Manilla Show days were always the pinnacle of our imagination.


In the 1950s there was a variety of entertainment that tempted us to experience. The tattoo lady, dwarfs, the haunted castle, the hairy lady, and the pea shooters, where you could shoot the flat metal ducks down to win a prize. All this was pretty dramatic entertainment for us country people. The Wall of Death motorcycle ride being a spectacle on its own. Riders defying gravity and riding motorcycles horizontal to the ground, and performing skills that defied any imagination that these were possible. The Sharman boxing tent provided continual entertainment, with the travelling boxers, and our local contestants, lining up on the elevated front stand area. A drummer beating his large bass drum; a sound that boomed around the grounds, and always in the background of your attendance. The spruiker's loud voice regularly enticing anyone who wanted to have a round or two with the travelling boxers.

Sharman was a boxer and showman from NSW who was famous for his travelling troupe of boxers and wrestlers. With catchphrases such as: “who’ll take a glove?” and, “a round or two for a pound or two”, Sharman invited locals who fancied themselves as fighters, to challenge his boxers in the ring and win some prize money. Sharman's son Jimmy, took over from his father in 1955 after playing as a professional rugby league footballer.
Another popular event on the Manilla Calendar is the Manilla Vintage Machinery Group's Rally each year. Link below:

Friday was heritage day at the 2014 Manilla Show, and the Manilla Primary School attended a special Heritage Day Event in heritage clothing. It was a day full of activities including demonstrations and games. The Manilla Vintage Machinery Group was in attendance providing demonstration information on their well maintained machinery. There were shearing demonstrations, leather work, whip cracking, and animal husbandry. Two games included the egg and spoon race and the three legged race (which were popular in the 1950s) and horse shoe throwing. It was a fine and sunny day and certainly enjoyed by everyone in attendance - the smiles on their faces said it all.


Manilla Central Primary School Photographs from the 1950s 1960s

Keepit Dam on the Namoi River (actually, it is the combined Namoi and Manilla Rivers as the Manilla River runs into the Namoi at Manilla township) was proposed as early as the 1890s to boost agricultural production in the Namoi Valley. Farmers relied on artesian water to supplement variable river flows but by the 1930s water levels were falling. The Dam would also provide water for stock and household needs in the Namoi Valley. In 1939 work finally began on Keepit Dam, was halted in 1941 by World War II, resumed in 1946, and was completed by 1960. 



The Lake Keepit State Park is located 34 kilometres from Manilla on the Rushes Creek Road. The Dam is equal the size of Sydney Harbour (425,000 ml). 


In the 1950s we used to water ski along the Namoi River in between the willow trees. The water was very calm and provided an excellent water ski area. It was possible to camp on the bank, water ski along the river, turn around at a larger expanse of water and return to the start.

When word was out the Dam would be completed the local water skiers got together a few working bees and started to cut down a number of gum trees in a large area, and burn them. It was also a good opportunity for many to cut up wood for the fires at home. 

Lizards and bird life had to find other homes, and they did. Plenty of gum trees left. We found a birds nest of galahs and took one home for a pet. We called him Sam. Scrawning little things at this stage, but grew up to be a nice bird specimen after feeding him on warm milk and weetbix. Bacon and eggs weren't going to work. Also found a lizard and decided it would be a good pet. Put him under my hat and took him home also. The Manilla country side's life of adventure in inquisitiveness.  

It was at this stage the Water Ski Gardens were named. When the Dam filled there was a large area free of trees. In the early stage’s logs appeared on the surface and had to be removed. Didn't want to take the chance of a broken ski, or even a foot or leg. The Water Ski Gardens are located 20 klms from Manilla on the Rushes Creek Road.

The only problem with this large area, if the wind came up it was choppy and rough. Nothing like skiing in the calm waters between the Willows. But it still gave a large area for skiing, parking, trailers and camping. And so started a new chapter of water skiing at Keepit.

In the 1950s Rushes Creek road was a virtual dirt track in many stages, so precautions had to be taken to protect the boats on trailers. It was a time when inboard timber ski boats ruled the waters. 


Scouting started in Australia in 1908 and in 1953 The Scout Association of Australia became an independent Member of the World Scout Conference. In 1909, Major Chuck of the New South Wales Forces, and the Scout Master for the Tamworth District, came to Manilla Public School to swear in the 1st Manilla Boy Scout Troop.


The Scouting Organisation is a voluntary movement and its leadership is based on the willingness of highly motivated men and women at local level to dedicate themselves to the service of young people.

While attending Cubs and Scouts in the 1950s at Manilla my leaders were Jack Harding, George Harley and Mady deSmid.

Three dedicated individuals that devoted many hours, and were an integral part of the further development of young boys and teenagers in Manilla.

I look back now with appreciation. Without their involvement and guidance many of the young boys in Manilla would have missed out on this opportunity, and the experiences in life they taught. (Pics: Manilla Scout Hall, and George and Mady with a group of Manilla Scouts and Cubs)

In my book, Scouting in Manilla NSW is dealt with in more detail as it was a major influence for us all while exploring life in Manilla NSW Australia. 


The Manilla River Walk is a relaxing and naturally peaceful walk from either of two points: Start under the Bridge (1) or head down Market St, adjacent to the Manilla Museum (2). Both walks take you to the Junction of the Namoi and Manilla Rivers and towards Higgins Bridge, just below the Showground.  
At the junction, in 1853, George Veness built a slab hut, store and inn, sited on the bank. He established the first postal service at “The Junction” and named the town Manilla, when the postal service was set up in 1856. A plaque at the timber arch, at the top of the path, marks the 150 year anniversary of Manilla’s founding.
   The corner of River and Market Street shows the entrance to the River Walk.
Continue walking under the archway towards the river junction.
The Plaque reads: "Manilla Shire Council. The Manilla Historical Pecinct and Nature Walk Project was undertaken by Council as part of the Celebration of the Centenary of Federation. This Community Project was funded by a Commonwealth Federation Grant together with financial support from Council and was officially opened by the Federal Member of New England Mr Stewart St.Clair. M.P. on Saturday 1st September 2001."
Left: Just below River Street at the start of the walk near the river. During the 1964 Flood the water rose to almost the top of these trees. Right: Entrance to the other end of the walk near the Showground area and Higgins Bridge.
Walking down the bank and water,it provides private areas to sit and feel the natural surrounds. Climbing under the trees on the right, shows an area where the young used to go 'craw-bobbing' during the 1950's-1960's. 
Plaques are erected along the walk providing wildlife information
Right: Entrance road to Higgins Bridge
Higgins Bridge area has some nice fishing and swimming spots. Not much water when these pictures were taken. Hope to have better pictures in October 2022.




(Still developing - come back soon)