Jack Windsor died in November 2022, aged 95. He moved from Launceston to George Town around 1950, then built and lived at Low Head from around 1959, but his memories of the area go back much further. He was a long term member of the George Town & District Historical Society and had a wealth of local knowledge. After acquiring a computer and discovering word processing, Jack wrote a number of articles between 2000 and 2003. This was one of the first. Opinions expressed are entirely those of the author!
Now at the age of 86, I can still remember the times I spent at Lagoon Beach in the late thirties. I remember the old boat sheds, the jetty and of course the boats. At the time I got to know some of the weekenders and local people.
My parents built a cottage on Pilot Bay, which is now owned by Booths. Out on the beach in front I met Bessie, Ann and Ellen Husband with whom I spent lots of time. They taught me to swim there off a special rock down in front of their cottage. I was a skinny boy and did not like the cold water, but they persevered on hot days and eventually I could swim.
After that I was allowed to join the others swimming from the Lagoon Beach jetty, and here spent many hours diving off the deep end. I met Jonathon Tyson and others.
We got our milk from the Parishes, and I have served my time on both the milk separator and butter churn under the supervision of Avis, the eldest girl. The youngest boy, Ken took us up Gum Hill and around the back of the big lagoon showing us the ringtail possums that nested there in the ti-trees and also the nearby cormorant nests. Over time I got to know the whole family, old Bill the shepherd, George, Noel, Douglas, Erna, Joan and Judy.
Lagoon Beach was a popular netting spot, and many a fish has been caught there over the years. Not everyone had a net, but those that did had many helpers who shared the catch. Behind the sheds there was a thick patch of ti-trees which formed a wind break from the summer time easterly winds and made the spot in front of the sheds very popular for mothers with small children at high tide.
Inside the old dry-stone wall there at the northern end of the beach is a nice little area then called the tennis court. It was sheltered from the winds by some large pine trees along the road inside the rock wall. This was a very popular camping spot for people from surrounding areas.
When I first came to Low Head in the early thirties, the road from George Town went along the beach, just above the high tide level together with the telegraph poles. Remnants of this road still exist today, a rock wall at both ends and remnants of it along the middle of the beach. Parts of the old road still exist at both ends of the beach, which are now sealed.
In later years a new road was built, which the locals call the back road, which now carries all the traffic behind Lagoon Beach. This became necessary because the strong prevailing winds carried too much sand up and over the original road.
After heavy rains, the big lagoon flooded up and covered the low ground northwards across the paddocks and discharges into the bay at the northern end. A ditch was surveyed and dug to carry
this water away without too much flooding of the back paddocks and now discharges under a culvert at the northern end of the old tennis court.
Sometimes there is a big run of white bait up this ditch, which lasts for a few days each year. On a quiet night it is not uncommon to see native water rats at Lagoon Beach which use the old boat shed as their day time shelter.
It was a very sad day for me when I saw the old sheds go; it was here that I proposed to my wife Mary. I know that something had to be done with them; but it need not have been so drastic. In my opinion, that hideous toilet block and touristy junk does not do anything to enhance the once lovely old place.
The old characters have all gone too, Fred Stewart and his sisters, Aunty Nell who loved to sit in her chair at the boat shed door and watch the children, Geoff Tyson with his watercolour paintings and many others. That was an era that disappeared along with the sheds.
I really don’t think that the Lion’s Club shelter and smelly barbeques do much to improve things. They only attract masses of people we could well do without. The crowds at holiday weekends do nothing for the peace and tranquillity either. I have noticed that during these times, the local people all seem to disappear to somewhere else, perhaps up to the lakes or mountains for a spell.
Since some of the oldies have now gone, their old places have been taken over by strangers … There is one thing that I definitely hate and that is the dog walkers that allow their pets to run wild on the beach, leaving behind their messes for small children to build their sandcastles in.
Another pet hate are those uncaring water scooter people, who ignore all the regulations and render parts of the beach both noisy and dangerous. Perhaps I am getting cynical in my old age, but I truly think that the old days were better.