Una Voce a big hit on the river from WWI until mid-60s

Bruce King's launch at Una Voce c1930s. Courtesy of Juniors on Hawkesbury resort at Lower Portland.
Bruce King's launch at Una Voce c1930s. Courtesy of Juniors on Hawkesbury resort at Lower Portland.

Bruce King’s Una Voce Tourist Resort at Lower Portland was one of the most renowned guest houses on the Hawkesbury River from the 1920s through to the 1960s.

Bruce purchased the property from George Gosper in about 1915, as in 1947 King comments that he ‘bought property on the Hawkesbury at Lower Portland over 30 years ago’ and it is recorded “that Mr George Gosper has sold his property, the buyer being Mr Bruce King of Ashfield”.

Ted Lawler, a former licensee manager, comments that Bruce King and Frederick McKinlay bought the property in partnership. Bruce married Jessie May Dunstan in 1908 and Fred married Elizabeth Jane Dunstan in 1910: both were daughters of William Dunstan and Mary Lamb, and granddaughters of John Lamb and Alice Wall from Lower Portland, so they had connections with pioneer families on the Hawkesbury.

Ted Lawler records that “disagreements arose, so Bruce purchased Fred’s share – and aptly named the guesthouse ‘Una Voce’, meaning ‘One Voice”.

Bruce’s 28-foot boat, the Signet, equipped with a steam engine, was sailed out from England – and used for ferrying guests across the river.

Extensive renovations were carried out on the guesthouse in 1937 and by 1945, guests had access to “60 acres of fruit trees, bush trees, recreation hall, tennis, riding, boating, swimming, Greens and Putting Greens” all for 14 shillings a day and 16 shillings a day over Christmas and Easter holidays. Entrepreneurial Bruce ran a bus from Sydney to Una Voce for people staying at the guesthouse.

Bruce and Jessie and their two daughters, Phyllis and Elva took an active role in community life on the river and there were many concerts, receptions and tennis parties held at Una Voce.

Bruce was active on various committees, such as president of the Lower Portland Agricultural Bureau, secretary of the Hawkesbury River Cooperative Transport Company, vice-commodore of the Sackville Motor Boat and Water Skiing Club, Hawkesbury delegate to the Fruitgrowers’ Association and on the Hawkesbury-Nepean Tourist Region Association.

Always generous, Bruce supplied citrus fruit to many local families during the Depression and through the war years and the family collected nearly $2000 from holiday-makers at Una Voce for the Prisoners of War and Patriotic funds through World War II.

Bruce died in 1965 aged 79 and is buried in Lower Portland Cemetery. Nearby, a plaque commemorates Jessie, his wife, who died in 1971.

Una Voce was then bought by South Sydney Juniors Rugby League Club. The guesthouse was demolished in 1972 and the 33-room Souths Juniors Tourist Hotel was built at a cost of $500,000. Now known as Juniors on Hawkesbury, the resort continues to operate as a guesthouse and is popular with groups of all ages.