Ray Page
Cabin 1 and the House
'Peter Page's' 1959

Our Story

Ben Ricketts began its life as a retreat from the city for lovers of the bush in the 1940s - but its story goes back even further.
 

Peter Page and Ray Birt, members of the Sydney Bushwalkers Club were happiest when away from Sydney, bushwalking. While Peter was in the Army during World War 2, Ray and her friends were searching for their rural retreat. Alex Colley helped them find it in the mountains above Jamberoo where his relatives, owned land, including Ben Ricketts then owned by the Cameron family.

In 1947 Peter & Ray Page gave up their Sydney jobs, married, bought an ex army Jeep and moved to their new life on their mountain at Jamberoo. They named the property 'Ben Ricketts' after George Ricketts who had the property in the 1860’s and 1870’s, while 'Ben' came from the Scots word for a mountain. When purchased by Ray, there were no buildings and only a stone chimney at the site of the present Ben Ricketts house. They lived for a while in a cottage on the adjoining Colley property. They later bought the cottage for removal and later used the materials to build two cabins. The early guest accommodation was in two ex army tents with gravel floors, kerosene lamps and cookers. Les Harper built the first cabin on their land, 'Cabin 1'.

Bushwalking friends of the pages, Frank & Anice Duncan, Alex and Hilma Colley, Paddy & May Pallin, Ray & Jean Kirkby, Dorothy Hasluck and later John & Grace Noble & Trisha Dean, bought the adjoining land from the Brennan family and soon set up a small community of holiday cabins.

As well as their bushwalking friends, many of the early guests were refugees from war torn Europe. At the Pages they found a friendly welcome, free of hostility or prejudice. The green hills also reminded them of their homelands.

The accommodation changed over the years with cabins replacing tents, electricity replacing kerosene and inside flushing toilets replacing the outside dunny. However much of the old character has been retained.

To Ray there was no generation gap. At the age when most have lost most of their friends Ray had the interest and ability to make new friendships. Ray died on the 10th January 2000. While she had no close living relatives, the extent of her extended family was shown by the 250 people who attended the funeral at her Jamberoo home. One family was represented by four generations being present, seven families with three generations present and fourteen families with two generations present. Barry Duncan carried on the property for several years and when he decided he could no longer manage it, friends and neighbours of Ben Ricketts grouped together in 2004 to form Ben Ricketts Environmental Preserve Pty Ltd.

 

We still work together to preserve and enrich the property for future generations to enjoy and would love others to join us. If you would like to learn about becoming a friend or shareholder of Ben Ricketts, please contact us at members@benricketts.org.au.

"Great walk in the rainforest after the rain. The sun was out and the steam was rising"

"My kids just adored Ben Ricketts when they were small and want to stay there even now as teenagers!"

"Getting away to Ben Ricketts after a busy week is the best way for me to unwind."