Walking Tour: The Spit and Chinamans Beach

Creating a walking tour guide for the Mosman Historical Society has been an incredibly rewarding experience. My familiarity with my project’s topic, its accessible scope and helpful advice from my organisation made it a pleasure to research and compile my final product.

I spent a significant amount of time collating sources and information regarding the Spit and Chinamans, before grouping these into common areas and then conducting the walk myself several times to see where I could best allocate each section of information.

My project’s implicit argument is to demonstrate that history can enjoyably accompany a range of everyday activities. In short, history is always worth seeking out! Many people may consider going for a walk in this local area, or they may be familiar with it through travelling through regularly, however, the history of it may be unknown to them. This concept does not just apply to the Spit, of course, and could apply to many scenarios and locations. My project proposes that engaging with local history and learning about a local area is a satisfying and rewarding endeavour.

My project satisfies a need by collating a vast range of sources, both primary and secondary, into a format that is comprehensive yet still easy to access and is engaging. It also nicely complements my organisation’s current array of walking tours in their online resources, and can act as an example for potentially transferring any current or future projects into online, interactive formats.

I made use of a lot of primary sources, particularly photographs, to ensure my project was visually compelling and to encourage audiences to continue reading through the content. The Mosman Library has a fantastic digital archive with lots of photographs and postcards, and I found it difficult to condense images I found into what would be most relevant and appropriate for my project.

Spit Road. 1922. Photograph. Mosman Library Digital Archive, Sydney. Retrieved from <http://images.mosman.nsw.gov.au?code=MjcxMDI=>. Accessed 7 November 2021.

There are also several public history projects, such as plaques, sculptures, and monuments, around the Spit which are somewhat distanced the primary walking track, for reasons of security I guessed. However, this means that many people are either not familiar with them, or unaware of them, as I uncovered when speaking with family and friends who have lived in this area for many years and had no idea as to their existence. I was able to incorporate these into my tour, which I feel added a nice extra dimension.

I created a document which contains my tour content written down and maps to accompany, and an online map version of my tour. I created a QR code for the online version, and incorporated this as well as the site’s URL into the written document. I am very grateful for this opportunity to contribute to my local community history.

The Spit & Chinamans Beach Walking Tour

Making tracks: Beauty Point Walking Tour Informative Guide

Eight kilometres north east of Sydney’s central business district, Mosman’s natural and built environment has a rich history. Growing up in Mosman, as my father and my grandfather did also, I have seen significant changes throughout the suburb in my lifetime. Being in a family that actively enjoys informal discussion about local developments and transformations greatly sparked my own personal enjoyment for history.

Given my fondness for my local area, I have organised to work with the Mosman Historical Society for my project. The Society was founded in 1953 as ‘an incorporate community organisation [to] promote the history and heritage of Mosman’ (1). It is staffed by a group of passionate volunteers who coordinate the documentation and sharing of Mosman public history. Many of them have an academic historical background and invite the community to join them as members of the society. Members are invited to annual lectures, social events, excursions, walks, and to contribute articles to newsletters. While joining the society as a member is encouraged, all activities the society organises are published on the website to ensure they are accessible to the public and visitors can join the activity at the time for a cost of $5. As they do not have a physical headquarters, the society hosts most of its events at the Mosman Library.

Whilst exploring the Mosman Historical Society’s website, I saw on their events page that they often organised walking tours as a society activity, and on their resources page they had published historical guides to local areas of Mosman. However, I noticed that their previous walking tours and historical guides did not extend to include Beauty Point and The Spit, which is the area of Mosman I live in. Thus, for my project, I will be creating an informative walking tour guide for Beauty Point. This area entails several locales, including the Spit, Chinamans Beach, and Pearl Bay. This part of Mosman was known to the Borogegal people of the Eora nation as Parriwi and Warringa (2). They inhabited and maintained by the Borogegal people until the area was discovered by European settlers in 1788 (3).

The Spit sand peninsular in 1885 (pre major land reclamation works in the 20th century) (4)

With my project, I wish to fill this gap but also to publicise the beauty and history of this area, which is not as well-known beyond local knowledge as other, larger Mosman areas, such as Balmoral. In my tour guide, I plan to include a variety of primary and secondary sources to complement the information that individuals will access as they walk around and to ensure it is aligned with the other, historically-oriented, walking tours the Mosman Historical Society currently possesses.

Map from 1889 of Beauty Point (5)

My “History beyond the Classroom” project is an opportunity for me to delve deeply into the history of the area I call home, and that my other members of my family have also called home for over fifty years, and to build a connection with my local history society. I hope that my project will be a valuable resource for the Mosman Historical Society to publish on their website to complement their current walking tour guides, and will be used and enjoyed by Mosman locals and visitors alike.

Reference List

  1. Mosman Historical Society. “Welcome.” Accessed October 5, 2021. https://mosmanhistoricalsociety.org.au/.

2. Souter, G. Mosman, A History. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1994 (p. 10)

3. Souter, G. Mosman, A History. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1994 (p. 10)

4. Sand spit peninsula with Grant’s Wharf, 1885. Retrieved Mosman Municipal Library, http://www.mosma.nsw.gov.au/library/trace

5. Extent of the Park Gate Estate, 1889. Retrieved Mosman Municipal Library, http://www.mosma.nsw.gov.au/library/trace