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Caroline Ford Presents 'Sydney Beaches'

Home > Sydney > Books and Writing | Beaches | Free | Libraries
by Gary Brown (subscribe)
I am a freelance writer and photographer from Sydney who has now had five books published on fishing. I also write for the NSW Fishing Monthly, Visit the Shire, Fisho App & Tackle Tactics. I also like to travel and experience new things to do.
You have to love Sydney's beaches. We have some of the best in the world.

Caroline Ford has been researching and writing about the history of Australian beaches for over ten years. She has worked as a research historian for Surf Life Saving Australia and as a cultural heritage researcher for the NSW Government. Caroline is an Honorary Associate at the University of Sydney's Department of History and the book is an extension of Caroline's doctoral research over the years.

Caroline's book, Sydney Beaches: A History photo courtsey of Caroline's web page.

Caroline's book, Sydney Beaches: A History hit the stores running back in October 2014. This book sheds new light on Sydney residents' shifting relationship with the ocean coast over the past two centuries, and shows how beachgoers of Sydney fought for the free access to clean, safe beaches we all seem to take for granted today. This book was made possible by the NSW Archival Research Fellowship which she was awarded in 2009.

Caroline's book launch photo courtsey of Caroline's web page.

Caroline Ford was the inaugural winner of the NSW Archival Research Fellowship in October 2009. She was awarded the $15,000 to enable her to research and write a history of Sydney's relationship with its ocean foreshores, commencing in the 1820 and extending to 1920. Caroline use information gathered from the records of the NSW Department of Lands, as well as those created by the other key agencies such as the Colonial Secretary and the Surveyor General.

Using this material Caroline documented the history of the contest over Sydney's coastal land and the debate over the public versus private use of the beaches, juxtaposing it with our modern understanding the beach as a site for recreation, which everyone has the right to access.

Listed below are some of the other books and publication Caroline has worked on over the years:


Sydney Beaches: A History. Sydney: NewSouth Books, 2014.

with Richard White (editors), Playing in the Bush: Recreation and National Parks in New South Wales. Sydney: University of Sydney Press, 2012.

Challenges in the Landscape: Memories of Conserving Historic Heritage in the NSW Park System 1967-2000. Sydney: Department of Environment and Climate Change, 2009.
Articles and book chapters

The Heritage of Public Space: Bondi Beach, Luna Park and the Politics of Amusement in Sydney' in Jason Wood (ed) The Amusement Park: History, Culture and the Heritage of Pleasure. London: Ashgate (forthcoming, 2015).

The Battle for Public Rights to Private Spaces on Sydney's Ocean Beaches, 1854-1920s'. [[i|Australian Historical Studies]], 41 (3), pp253-268.

'The Lifesaver' in Richard White and Melissa Harper (eds), Symbols of Australia. Sydney: UNSW Press and National Museum of Australia, 2010. pp153-160.

'"What Power, What Grandeur, What Sublimity!" Romanticism and the Appeal of Sydney Beaches in the Nineteenth Century' in Susan Hosking, Rick Hosking, Rebecca Pannell and Nena Bierbum (eds), Something Rich and Strange: Sea Changes, Beaches and the Littoral in the Antipodes. Kent Town: Wakefield Press, 2009. pp20-34.

with Ed Jaggard, 'Spreading the Word: Surf Lifesavers Overseas' in Jaggard (ed), Between the Flags: One Hundred Summers of Australian Surf Lifesaving. Sydney: UNSW Press, 2006. pp189-214.

'Gazing, Strolling, Falling in Love: Culture and Nature on the Beach in Nineteenth Century Sydney'. History Australia, 3 (1), pp8.1-8.14.

Caroline has stated that the time spent re-searching the book was fascinating and that the time that she spent reading thousands of pages of original government records explained why particular governments made critical decisions that changed the shape of our beaches forever.

Like the dredging of Newport Beach and filling in its lagoon to evicting working-class residents of Bronte to expand the popular Bronte Park, to reading about the disgusting rotten vegetables and animal carcasses that littered the beaches when the city's garbage was dumped at sea in the early twentieth century and how houses at Collaroy were completely destroyed by storms in the 1940s.


Caroline Ford will be a guest speaker on Tuesday the 3rd of February 2015 from 12:30pm to 1:30pm at the Sydney Mechanics' School of Arts: Mitchell Theatre Level 1, 280 Pitt Street, Sydney in the Mitchell Theatre. Click here for event details.

The Sydney Mechanics' School of Arts is the oldest operating School of Arts in Australia. Our members form a lively community that has existed since 1833.

They are a not-for-profit organisation and are wholly owned by their members. You can hire their large Theatre or our flexible Meeting Rooms, which can be configured to meet your needs. Maybe for your next AGM, conference or product launch. We have rooms perfect for talks, lectures, seminars and training days, not to mention committee meetings, film nights, and recreation groups.

The Mitchell Theatre. Photos courtsey of the Sydney Mechanics' School of Arts

SMSA can also assist with catering on request, covering everything from breakfast meetings, lunches, afternoon teas and cocktail functions. The view their 2014 menu click on the following link: Menu 2014 or contact them on (02) 9262 7300 or to discuss your requirements.

Photo courtsey of the Sydney Mechanics' School of Arts

If you get a chance you should pop along and listen to Caroline talk about her book, Sydney Beaches: A History. To keep up to date as to what Caroline is up to via Twitter: @DrCarolineFord or check out her web site at
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Why? Learn about the history of Sydney's beaches
When: 12.30 pm to 1.30pm
Phone: (02) 9262 7300
Where: 280 Pitt Street Sydney
Cost: Free and open to the public
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