John Cowper, nephew of Bert and Vera Milner, remembers 47 Grantham St

My Childhood Memories of Danger Island in the early ’50s

My earliest memories of Dangar Island in the early 1950s have really been rekindled by the chance encounter of renting the same house on Airbnb, that I stayed in as a young boy, between the ages of 4 and 8. This house back then was then owned by my Uncle’s parents, Bert and Vera Milner. They moved off the Island back to Coogee in 1956.

Sweet beautiful memories of staying in my Uncle’s parents house. Great memories of Past Simpler times of veggie gardens, rowing boats, the smell of the boathouse, fishing, my first sighting of phosphorescent in the water when fishing at night, water tanks, fuel stove, chip bath heater, kero fridge and lamps, (No Electricity), lino covered floors, rain on the tin roof, sleeping head to tail in small beds with my cousins and brother on the closed in sleep-out veranda, outdoor backyard dunny, kids all bathing in the same bath water, older ones first, thousands of soldier crabs, jelly fish, poddy mullet being caught in long oyster bottles using stale white bread as bail, the call of magpies, the horse in the open paddock behind the house, walking bare feet on grass tracks to the store at the wharf, plenty of bindi eyes, long mud flats at low tide and of course the ferry, the short trip seemed to go on for ever those days and in my mind still does.

My younger Brother Dave can still remember catching his first fish, a flathead, and being stung by a jelly blubber while swimming at high tide.

My cousin Denise can remember my Uncle Norm’s Mother, Vera, turning out great baked dinners and baked custard from the fuel stove. I can remember my Dad, Bert (Norm’s Dad) and Norm going to the oyster lease at the end of the beach not far from the house at low tide to crack open and eat oysters washed down with Tooths D.A. (Dinner Ale) or Reschs Pilsener from large long neck bottles and probably telling stories that the ladies and kids were not privy to. They said that the rules of oyster leases allowed you to eat oysters on the lease but they could not be gathered and taken off the lease.

The fishing in the timber clinker rowing boat was always great, double kellicked up across the current or drifting for flathead. There seemed to be always plenty of bream, flathead and school duhies and the odd very annoying catfish which had to be handled with some rather gruesome “Catfish Pliers” while extracting the hook so as not to get spiked. No hooks were cut off, too expensive to loose those days.

I can still remember how sad it was to leave Dangar after those all too short holidays

Great days, Wonderful Memories and More to Come

With this history it is the perfect house for our next stay on Dangar in Feb.


Thanks for sharing your memories John.

We’d love to receive more stories and photos from people who have lived on Dangar Island, or holidayed here in times past. Please send your memories through the contact form on this website.