Tales of Sydney beaches

Living as we do, a stone’s throw from the ocean - or more precisely its sandy, warm-watered, wave-rich shoreline - it’s no surprise that we’re mad for the beach.

Here’s a handful of bite-sized stories, told by a cross-section of deadset Sydney ‘beachniks’.

They were developed as part of the Museum of Sydney’s hands on summer (past) exhibition Sand in the City and remind us that while our love and affection for the coast is widely shared, the motivations for ‘hitting the beach’, along with the range of things we do there, are many and varied.

So grab your thongs, cossies and towel, slap on some factor 30 and get ready for a frothy line-up of sunny, salty and sandy tales.
















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Gary Crockett

Gary Crockett

Former curator

It was the dog-eared world of Rouse Hill House, back in 1991, that inspired Gary Crockett to become a curator. Gary produced exhibitions on convict, immigration and legal history at the Hyde Park Barracks, studied spatial history at the Museum of Sydney, collaborated with artists and tenants at Susannah Place, architects and engineers at Elizabeth Farm, designers at Rose Seidler House, curated Surf City, an ode to Sydney surf culture, along with a string of video, audioguide and interactive museum projects.

Ruins of Temple of Vishnu, Dondra, Ceylon

City of Gods, my early experience and toy boat

Inspired by a watercolour of the ruins of the temple of Vishnu, refugee curator in residence Jagath Dheerasekara writes about Devinuvara as a site of pilgrimage, colonisation and uprising

Circular Quay, ferries 1936

Harbour views through time

More than 4000 striking images from the Sydney Harbour Trust and Maritime Services Board in the State Archives Collection have been released online

Enough rope

More than a kilometre of rope suspended the hammocks required to sleep 600 or more convicts in the Hyde Park Barracks dormitories between 1819 and 1848

B/W photo showing a beach-lined bay with rocks and some kind of makeshift swimming enclosure at the water's edge.

A pond in a privately owned paddock

Today, Sydneysiders would find it incredible that a century ago many of the harbourside beaches and parks to which they flock in summer were privately owned and not accessible to the public