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Our History

Our History

1st Sailors Bay Sea Scouts is local to Castlecrag and but has its origins in 1st Chatswood. While Scouts originated in England, its world wide growth was almost spontaneous from Lord Baden Powell’s bestseller “Scouting for Boys” in 1908.

Formed in 1914, 1st Chatswood Scouts was a very active group that was the state champion for at least 4 years and won the national competitive shield at the Melbourne corroboree in January 1923. The troop was known as “Lord Forster’s Own”, and on 3rd May 1924 the Governor General Lord Forster officially opened the new hall at 56-58 Laurel St, Willoughby built on land donated by Joseph Griffiths of ‘Laurelbank’ in 1922.

In 1932 the group split into Land and Sea Scouts, and the latter rented one of the boatsheds on the southern arm of Sugarloaf Bay from 1935. During the war they moved south of the peninsula to Sailors Bay, renting from Ron Eddies, who had taken over Bob Carr’s boatshed (now Castlecrag Marina). Rowing expeditions were made throughout Middle Harbour in the 18’ skiffs “Alice S” (donatd by Alice Shipway’s family), “JohnO” and later the whaler “Resolution” (sold in 1958 for £70). Sails were hoisted when wind allowed. 


The original 50 year old boat shed at Mowbray Point in Castlecrag burnt down in 1998, was rebuilt and officially reopened on 29th November 2003.


Civic presentation to 1st Chatswood Scouts in Chatswood? after returning from winning the E.Trenchard Miller Shield on 11th January 1923 at the 2nd Australian Corroboree in Melbourne. The report the next day in the Sydney Morning Herald read:

The scouts' camp at Flemington Showground was visited today by His Excellency the Governor General (Lord Forster) who was accompanied by Lady Forster and Sir Alfred Pickford.

Early in the afternoon contests for the E.Trenchard Miller shield were commenced. Eight patrols, two each from New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and Victoria contested, and keen interest was taken in the various items which were not concluded until 6 o'clock. Points were awarded for practical first aid and first aid theory, first stretcher drill, signalling, knot tying and lashing and uniform and general appearance. ......, The total number of points scored by Chatswood was 578 and the 1st Melbourne Patrol was second with 563 points. Dulwich Hill gained fifth place with 544 points. ..... 



War years Patrol Leader Dick McKenzie returned to the group as a Leader after his RAAF service, and Assistant Patrol Leader Gordon Ingate’s 1972 Munich Olympics trial boat is now the keeled boat “Tempest” that 1st Sailors Bay sails in Castlecrag’s Twilight racing.

In 1948 the group built its own boatshed next door at Mowbray Point with volunteer labour and 1st Chatswood continued to organize its Port Resolution Regatta which had commenced while in Sugarloaf Bay.  

In 1955 the sea scouts changed their name to 1st Sailors Bay Sea Scouts, with Cliff Bray as Scoutmaster and a few years later Greig Carnell was Assistant Scoutmaster. This active duo ran a very strong group of boys, but their ‘take no prisoners’ approach undoubtedly contributed to the conflict as they continued to share the Laurel Street hall with 1st Chatswood (land scouts) when not at their boatshed. The boatshed was wired in 1959, the slipway refurbished and a kitchen added in 1969.

1st Willoughby scouts initially met in private homes and a church hall from its inception in 1925 until 1934, when they moved into a shop at 27 Penshurst St which was converted into a hall next to Willoughby Public School. NSW scout numbers peaked in 1971, and the 9th Australian Jamboree at Leppington was attended by 16,000 scouts. 1st Willoughby left its hall in May 1973 to merge with the declining 1st Chatswood in the Laurel Street hall and remains there today. 

J.R.(Reg) Warner had established his ‘Waratah’ dairy in Edinburgh Rd in 1914 and in the late 1930s built the milk depot next to Sailors Bay Creek. Eastern Valley Way was only opened to traffic in 1939 after Warner’s subdivision . The cows were moved out to 150 acres of pasture in Minto and from ~1950 Warner replaced the horse and cart deliveries from the depot with trucks. Finally the milk runs and depot were sold to A.G.Lees and on to R.D.Suter, who was obliged to move his milk run for reasons of hygiene.

So it was that 1st Castlecrag scouts acquired the depot in February 1956.  1st Castlecrag had formed in 1953 with Cubs, Scouts and later Senior Scouts and Rovers. Leaders included Helen Ramsay, Gai Weston (nee Hogan), Joan Hogan, Peter Chown, Ernest Isaacs, Andrew Mackay, Michael Milston, Dexter Smith, Leath Vivers, Ron Bailey, Alex Charles, Albert Morris. When it was full, 2nd Castlecrag was formed for Cubs and Scouts born after the mid 1950s. Leaders included Vivienne London, Diane Lucas, Leslie Roger, Gordon & Jane Buckley, Ed Kerfoot. A number performed double roles. [1st Castlecrag met in the main hall; 2nd met in the anteroom with trophies; the Leaders den was added in 1SB times]

However, with declining youth numbers, 2nd and then 1st Castlecrag disbanded in 1968 and 1976 and 1st Sailors Bay was able to leave Laurel St, Willoughby in late 1979 and take up its current premises at the old milk depot at 43 Eastern Valley Way. Greig Carnell took over the scouts while Cliff Bray stayed to lead 1st Willoughby.  Other 1st Sailors Bay leaders included Peter & Judith Ward, Margaret Carnell, Suzanne Ballinger, Gwen & Bob Cleworth (only leaving April 2014!), Patricia Coulson, Leslie Wickham, Paul Langhorne, Michael Murphy.

Greig Carnell was both Scout Leader and Senior Scout Leader, and leather bound journals record many wonderful journeys and escapades from 1962 to 1997. The group sailed 16’ skiffs (named ‘Alice’, “That’s Right” I & II and “Ka-Sam” I, II & III), travelled to many regattas, including the CHS at Belmont, participated in scout swimming and athletics carnivals, won State Rally and made regular trips to the Blue Mountains, Warrumbungles, Snowy Mountains, Tasmania and New Zealand. Greig’s uncompromising standards and unorthodox tutelage did not always agree with the upper scouting echelons, but he enjoyed tremendous respect from the boys, who are now to be found all over the world. He was strong on fundraising through bottle drives and then phone book deliveries (later fertilizer sales and now Christmas trees) which ensured the group was well equipped, and had strict criteria on providing value for money. Some managed to earn their Queens Scout, the highest award in Scouting, which was no easy task with Greig as examiner.

On a 1st Sailors Bay trip to the Americas, Greig Carnell fell to his death on Cerro Catedral in Patagonia in December 1994. Greig had been in scouts 44 years and the boatshed was named after him in 1997. In the evening of 12th November 1998 the 50 year old boatshed and many boats were destroyed by a suspicious fire. The 14’ Hobie Cat was saved but suffered heat exhaustion and never sailed the same again, living down to its name “Low Mongrel Dog”. The group endured lean years with limited water access until the new boatshed built on the same site was officially opened by Cr Pat Reilly, Mayor of Willoughby, on 29th November 2003.

While the group had had female Venturers for many years, the Scout Troop first admitted girls in May 2007 and Cubs followed suit in 2009.  In May 2008 girls formed half of the Sailors Bay patrol that won the competitive event ScoutHike in Penrose State Forest, with 190 patrols in total (1000 scouts) participating. 1st Sailors Bay won the event again in May 2011 with an all girl patrol, and in May 2012 came 1st & 2nd of 198 patrols. In January 2010 19 Scouts from 1st Sailors Bay joined 12,000 others camping for 2 weeks at the Australian Jamboree  at Cataract scout park. 15 1st Sailors Bay scouts attended the Maryborough QLD Jamboree in January 2013, and 10 the Cataract NSW Jamboree in January 2016.

In 2002 Gwen Cleworth was named Willoughby Citizen of the Year in recognition of her 30 years service as cub leader. 1st Sailors Bay won the overall Commodore Cup at the Sirius Cup Regattas at Balmoral Beach in each of March 2011 - 16, having previously only won it in 1973 & 1974, the first 2 years of that trophy's existence.

Leaders in 2012 included Geoff Phipps, Frank & Chris Walster, Adrian Spragg, Jeff Loder, Ed Coates, Marc Lee, Ron McLaren, Gwen & Bob Cleworth and Michael Rohanna. In 2017 section leaders include David Courtness, Tanya Taylor, Frank & Chris Walster, Ed Coates, Michael Rohanna with Ron McLaren, Adrian Spragg, Ellie Freedman, Claire Hughes, Kiernan Hughes & Fiona Wright in support roles.

History by Adrian Spragg in 07/2010 from Scout Records & oral histories, updated 2017. 

1st Chatswood Scouts performing on 15th January 1924 at the 3rd Australian Corroboree in Adelaide?