The Arboretum is named after Miss Minard Fannie Crommelin MBE, a force of nature when pushing for the preservation of bushland in the Pearl Beach community, her home for 30 years. While officially the Crommelin Native Arboretum, over the years it also has become known as the Pearl Beach Arboretum.
Meet Minard Fannie Crommelin MBE, better known as “Crommy”: A retired postmistress from Woy Woy with a wild passion for conservation and community.
As a Pearl Beach local for 30 years until her death in 1972, she chose to donate her entire property as a gift to the University of Sydney for continued biological research.
Today that site is known as the Crommelin Biological Research Station, standing proudly alongside the Crommelin Native Arboretum.
The name ‘Crommelin Native Arboretum’ was gazetted by the Geographical Names Board on the 15th May 1978.
"The beach is so beautiful – with a great number of Cabbage Tree Palms growing along the little creeks and up the valleys and hillsides. There were many shells, little rock warblers hung their nests from the roof of caves under Mount Ettalong…"
– M. Crommelin
Note from her first visit to Pearl Beach, circa 1910
The Crommelin family first travelled from France, to England, to India, before finally getting to Australia, where baby Minard was born in 1881 at Bombala, New South Wales. Minard Crommelin first came to Pearl Beach with her friend, Charles Pryce, in a small, cedar sailing boat around the year 1910, during her late twenties. At the time she was also the Acting Postmistress at the Woy Woy Post Office.
In 1938, when she was 57 years old, Minard chose a site at Pearl Beach to build her dream: a biological research centre and library for the study and preservation of Australian flora and fauna. She called her 7.5 acres of land at the end of Crystal Avenue ‘Warrah’, an Aboriginal word meaning “a wide view” or “seen from a long way”.
Minard Crommelin was a major force in pushing for the preservation of the natural bushland and luscious, green hillsides that still surround the Pearl Beach area today. She had a lifelong interest in botany and natural history, as well as being an avid conservationist. She worked tirelessly for the establishment of Warrah Sanctuary, now a part of Brisbane Water National Park.
Following her death on Valentine’s Day in 1972, aged 90, Miss Crommelin’s property at Pearl Beach was gifted to the University of Sydney. Her ashes were scattered from the Warrah Lookout over the bushland she both loved and fought tirelessly for.
You can now see the Crommelin Biological Field Station still standing in the valley to the west of our Arboretum, continuing the brave and promising conservation work one woman started all those decades ago.
If you are interested in learning more about Minard Crommelin, here’s some great resources:
Biography in the Encyclopaedia of Australian Science
Minard Fannie Crommelin History on crommelin.org
‘Pearl Beach Legacy’ by Joan B. Webb, 1994
Letters to Margaret Sadler, 1952-1963
“All’s Well, and Cheerio!” – Minard and Charles Pryce’s Love Story