Home' Traveller : Scoop Traveller WA 018 Contents 46 Scoop Traveller June-December 2010
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The Peninsula Hotel
It burned down in 2003, but the name and
stories behind this Mandurah site live on.
Originally built as a holiday home for George
Brookman, an eccentric mining magnate and
one-time Lord Mayor of Perth, The Peninsula
was converted to a hotel – the second in
Mandurah – when Brookman returned to
Adelaide from Perth in 1904. Bought by the
Blakeleys in 1925, it was owned and operated
by the family for the next 62 years.
Set on prime real estate at Stingray Point, The
Peninsula became part of Mandurah’s social
fabric, a meeting place for many affluent West
Australians, as well as fishermen and prawners. In
the 50s and 60s, Perth residents would even make
the trek out to ‘The Pen’ for a drink when Sunday
trading was banned in the metropolitan area.
Considered a Mandurah institution by many,
The Peninsula was heritage listed in 1999 before
it was burnt down by arsonists in 2003. But
while the building is lost, the memories remain.
Cheryl Brewer recalls an idyllic childhood living
there while her dad, Harold Bakeley, ran it.
Life in a coastal paradise is not without its
problems: from 1843 to 1878, transport from
Mandurah to Halls Head was via ferry. In 1878,
the ferry was pulled onto the bank, awaiting
repairs... and it continued to wait there until
1894, when the council finally put a tender out
to build a bridge over the estuary.
After years of waiting, the bridge was built
from jarrah and karri in just six weeks. The old
bridge lasted 59 years, with a few modifications
along the way, before eventually being replaced
with the bridge you see in Mandurah today.
“The bridge has always been part and parcel
of my life,” said Hal Sutton in a 2007 interview
Next time you cross the estuary bridge,
think back to 1894 when the wooden
Traffic Bridge was the talk of the town.
“In those days, it was like living in the
biggest house on the block. The hotel was up
on stilts, and you could get underneath and dig
cubbies. There were mussels on the sea wall,
and Mum and I would pick them from the rocks,
take them home and pickle them in big jars.
“A car was used to go up to the brewery
– the road up to Perth was a limestone track
and it’d take six hours to get there and you’d
have to pack a lunch.
“I’m so proud of the way we worked in those
days- the pioneering spirit.”
(Hal passed away in 2009). “My earliest
memory is of running across it... we must have
crossed the bridge the equivalent of hundreds of
kilometres. I often think now about little kids of
six and seven going over the bridge to school...
these days, a mother would go with them.
Particularly as in those days when there was
only a 12-foot span (3.6m) of bridge, and if a
horse and cart or something came along, you’d
have to jam right up against the rail!”
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