Mosman Voices - oral histories online

Nancy Phelan

Interviewed by [talk at Mosman Library] on 28 June 1990
Subject: ,

As I say there was no road down to Chinamen’s Beach, there wasn’t even a footpath, you just sort of went down and crawled up and then later on they cut a big slice off our garden and cut down our cypress trees to make the road. We hated the road, we hated it, and then cars used to go down – that was the beginning of cars going down to the village. The road didn’t go down to the beach it went down to the covered steps, there were stones steps cut in the rock, and we went down the steps. I remember that very clearly. They were always covered with sand and there was a very strong smell of lantana, which was always encroaching on the steps.

When you got down there, there was just nothing, it was just the beach. The only place down there was the Armitages’ place, it was called ‘Shellcove House’, a lovely old stone house with fields round it, and Mrs. Armitage had a cow and there were lovely smells, and wood-smoke and milk scalding. The first time I ever smelt this wonderful rancid scent of the datura tree the one with big white bells on it and a marvelous scent.

We used to go there a lot but we were a bit frightened of Mr. Armitage he was rather short tempered, he used to shout at us, but we loved Mrs. Armitage she was at school with my mother actually. She was very big, and she had a very sweet smile and when she laughed she shake all over. (laughter).