My first sight of Rosedale was with Mum and Dad in 1947, as they explored the NSW south coast. After the excitement of the ferry river crossings, we drove in along the ridge and through the farm on a narrow dirt track. Continuing on up the hill (now Knowlman Road), past the Nuns’ property (at that stage, I think it belonged to the Smidmores?) and onto Burri. Mum and Dad bought four blocks there, just below the famous Fred's Burra.
We spent fun times camping in hammocks at Burri until we all went away to boarding school. There was no more coast until 1964, when Dad announced they were buying a house and planning to retire to Rosedale (this house is currently owned by the Nicholases).
In 1969 Mum and Dad, with Mum's brother Bob Stevenson, bought the block at 23 Knowlman Road. They sold the Burri blocks and built the current house next to Harry Bell's cottage. Being so close to the Bells became a huge attraction for me, as their gorgeous daughter, Barbara, lived there with her guitar. This began our many wonderful years of family, friends and children at Rosedale.
In hindsight, having Bards and I arrive with four boisterous children must have been stressful for Mum and Dad but it was so much fun. Bards and I bought the Creek Cottage in 1982, adding a deck to replace the collapsed one held up by the water tank! Fun times followed with snorkelling in the lagoon, visits at all hours from neighbours in their boats, guitar singsongs on the deck and meeting new friends. Fishing with Dad as we motored out with a flotilla of boats, sometimes three or so miles out from Jimmy's Island on the reef. Big fish to compare with our mates, as the long-suffering family helped clean them. Engine failure and rowing back. Finding our way back to shore when engulfed in a sea fog (fortunately, Gordon Brody had a compass)!!
We sold the Creek Cottage in 1991, after arranging to buy Mum and Dad's house if and when they wished to move. This happened in 1997, when they made the decision to move back to Goulburn after 30 years of wonderful friendships and happy times at Rosedale. Dad was involved with the formation of the Boatshed Company. He also renovated a house in Rosedale Parade with Eric Saunders. He set up a fire hydrant hose base at the Knowlman Road house, boated, fished, wormed and made wooden toys for his 12 grandchildren. He hated leaving Rosedale.
The most wonderful part of Rosedale is how we all grew up in the holidays with good friends, as did our children and now our grandchildren. We have been so lucky to have Rosedale as our second home.
My mother, Margaret, was the eldest of the Knowlman children. She married my father in the UK and in 1947 we all arrived in Australia. I was three years old and my baby sister was only months old. It was not long after arriving in Australia that I was first taken 'down the coast'. This was the start of my many holidays at the log cabins, built by my grandfather (Jack Knowlman).
In the early days, the trip down from Goulburn was a nightmare. It would take at least five hours, if not more. There was a 'blue road' till Killrea (just out of Tarago) and a dirt road after that all the way. If we were good, we were promised an ice cream in Braidwood then off down the mountain. I was always car sick and my sister took one look at me and she was also sick, so maybe the ice cream was not such a good idea! We always stopped at the bottom of the mountain for a sandwich lunch at Cabbage Tree Creek, then onto Nelligen. My father liked to time the arrival at Nelligen. If the punt had just left, he had time for a beer at the Steampacket Hotel. If, on the other hand, we arrived as the punt was pulling in, there was no time for the beer. One also had to be careful that one did not arrive at Nelligen at meal times, as the punt man went off for his dinner or lunch and you had to wait three quarters of an hour till he returned.
We then headed off on another piece of windy road to Batemans Bay and another punt! This punt was bigger than the one at Nelligen and no Steampacket Hotel. There was a very bad road from the Bay to Rosedale, so we always went via Mogo and Tomakin then around past the wetlands, up the hill and in through the farm gate, which is now called Bevian Road. This was fine unless it had been raining, as it was very easy to get bogged. This happened on a number of occasions. Finally we arrived at the cabins! First, lamps were lit, beds made and the kerosene fridge started. We always stayed for weeks, which was no wonder after such a long trip.
In the early days I remember the cows on the beach every morning. They came down and walked along the beach, then grazed on what is now called Banksia Flat. In the afternoon, Mrs Stewart (the farmer’s wife) came on her horse and drove them back. In the morning, we children would set off with a billy can, collect our friends on the way and walk to the dairy for milk, which we then carried carefully back. We loved this walk through the bush track and enjoyed the fresh milk for breakfast. Shopping was a weekly excursion to Mogo or Moruya to buy provisions. If we went with Grandpa, it took all day as he liked to stop and chat to the locals. He also bought eggs, lemons and other produce from them.
In the 1950s there were few houses at Rosedale and everyone knew everyone. As we became teenagers, we had a great group of friends. We swam, fished, collected pippies and worms, and went for wonderful long walks taking a picnic lunch. The sand hills were sand hills and we had great fun running up and down them and even sliding down them on a baking tray! The lagoon, as we all called it, was clear and open to the sea and this is where we all learned to swim, with the promise of 2/- once we could swim across. We also fished for poddy mullet with Grandpa’s walking stick, which had an oyster bottle with bread in it tied to the stick. Grandpa used to set a line over night and in the morning we had to see if he had caught an eel, which he did on many an occasion. I don’t remember ever eating the eels. One didn’t in those days. Fish were always plentiful, caught mostly from the beach and the lobster pot always had a few in it. The lobster pot was put in just off the first rocks (no getting your feet wet) and baited with rabbits, which had been shot the night before.
As Canberra grew, the road to the Bay was improve and more and more people came to Rosedale. About this time, the Knowlman family had also grown and my mother was allocated the May holidays for her 'turn' at the cabins. She didn’t like this at all, so bought a block of land which was then sold and the cottage (16 Miller Avenue) was purchased. Cleverly, my parents and the two neighbours also purchased the block of land in front of the cottage and we have a right of way to the beach that can never be built out.
I always loved staying at the cabins. My aunt Florence used to say they were one step up from camping but I loved the simple style, being so close to the beach, neighbours coming around the corner with a cup of coffee or drink in hand, the sun rise over Jimmies and being able to watch the children in the surf.
In the very early days, there was no power and no water, lighting was by kerosene or hurricane lamps and there was a spear pump on the flat in front of the Malletts. Water was pumped by hand and carried back to the cabins. The shower was a large drum, with a shower head that lowered by a pulley filled up with warm water and pulled back up into position and under we quickly jumped. There was no washing facilities. Babies were bathed in the kitchen sink and nappies were boiled up on the wood stove. The lavatory was another story! The first one I remember was the long drop. This was followed by a wonderful new invention called a 'Hygiena' which was a bit like a Lazy Susan. One lifted the lid, did what had to be done, then closed the lid and hopefully around it went to be deposited in an underground tank. Thank heaven for the septic tank!
Once married, I lived in the UK then Sydney and then Braidwood but Rosedale was always my constant holiday home. Harry and I renovated 16 Miller Avenue and retired to Rosedale in 2012. We had eight happy years there together until Harry died in 2020. I continue to live at 16 Miller Avenue and my family, friends and neighbours are regular visitors.
My children have loved Rosedale all their lives and now my grandchildren are enjoying it too. My oldest friends are Rosedale friends and their grandchildren are now having wonderful times with my grandchildren.