Mosman Voices - oral histories online

John Dansie

Interviewed by Susan Kelly on 7 March 2002
Subject: ,

John Dansie. As I’ve told you Sue, in the park there are some old sandstone steps. There are two sections – the bush or the park – there’s three and a half acres there in the reserve, or 1.4 hectares. Curraghbeena Road, which cuts through the park is access to the subdivision at the bottom where those waterfront homes are down there. That was constructed in about 1910 I would say, probably by the Mosman Council, but the stairs that I found in two sections, I didn’t realize until a few years ago, obliterated about 150 to 200-feet of the stairs or path that went down to the foreshore of Sirius Cove.

In other words the road followed the same grade as the stairs in that section. Those stairs were constructed, I estimate in about 1885 to 1890, possibly by the council, or possibly by people who were active over at Curlew camp on the eastern side of Sirius Cove.

We uncovered those stairs, as boys in the 1950s, and over the last 50 years they’ve become quite overgrown. Only recently I put together what the significance of those stairs were. They were part of the pathway that led down to a jetty in the middle of the park’s foreshore boundary, and from there they used to row across to the other side to Curlew camp, which was the camp where the artists – Arthur Streeton, and Tom Roberts etc, lived. It was a pretty famous part of Mosman now, so these stairs, which I’ve re-located, have a tremendous historical and heritage significance in Mosman.

Susan Kelly. Would you like to tell me something about the construction of the steps and your opinion of the sandstone?

John Dansie. The sandstone obviously, was cut from the rock on site. In larger boulders where the stone has been broken off to form the stairs – I can show you plenty of locations where big chunks of stone are missing from big boulders where they’ve taken the stone. In those days all they had were picks, crowbars, gads, hammers and chisels and shovels. It would have been a lot of hard-yakka, and they built the sandstone retaining walls and these stairs.