That's why it's Oaks, folks!



Residents of Dee Why will be familiar with Oaks Avenue. The thoroughfare runs east from the shopping centre on Pittwater Road to the southernmost end of the beach.

Many residents would not know how it got its name.

Residential settlement did not arrive in Dee Why until the coming of the tram in 1912, prior to that it was semi-rural.

James Jenkins originally cleared part of the land east of Pittwater Road and south of the lagoon for cattle grazing. When his daughter Elizabeth Jenkins gave that land to the Salvation Army in 1885, they developed it further as a farm, with cows, pigs, chickens and vegetables.

The portion of the land nearest the beach was sandy and covered with trees – mainly Casuarina glaucae, commonly called Swamp She-Oaks or just She Oaks. They were so dominant and conspicuous that they gave their name to their environs.

James Wheeler called his 90 acres, which lay immediately to the south of Jenkins’ land, The Oaks. The southern corner of the surf beach was called Oaks Corner and the rocky cliffs above were Oaks Point. Then, when a 10-acre picnic ground was opened on the point it was called The Oaks Picnic Ground.

To take advantage of the imminent arrival of the tram, the Salvation Army subdivided their land in 1911.   For marketing purposes, they called it The Oaks Estate.

As part of the subdivision and the creation of residential housing blocks, they formed three roads running east west.

The source of the name of the first, Dee Why Parade is obvious.

The second, Howard Avenue, is named after the very-recently-appointed Chief of Staff of the Army, Thomas Henry Howard.

And the third, which reached the coast at Oaks Point and Oaks Corner, essentially named itself - Oaks Avenue.

Richard Michell, Contributor, Peninsula Living Magazine

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