Lake Macquarie History

Arcadia Vale

The City Council of Lake Macquarie acknowledge the Aboriginal people known today as the Awabakal, as the traditional Custodians of the land, respecting Aboriginal Elders past, present and future. Lake Macquarie City Council recognise the local Aboriginal community today in all of their diversity, who came forward to share their experiences, knowledge, images and memories.

Name Origin:

Arcadia Vale was originally named Kirkdale after early settler Joseph Kirk. The Hely family of Rathmines are thought to have renamed the suburb Arcadia Vale. The word Arcadia is from Greek mythology and translated it means “paradise.” When designing Arcadia Vale developer Henry F Halloran was influenced by the English “Garden City” movement. This movement was popularised in the U.K. in the late 19th century and promotes; “planned, self-contained, communities surrounded by greenbelts…” .

Aboriginal Occupation:

There was a campsite at Arcadia Vale.

Early Land Grants:

Portion 50 (Awaba Parish) of 500 acres belonging to Thomas Brooks, surveyed in December 1878.

Early Subdivision:

D.P.12507 declared 23/10/1922. Consisting of Ilford Ave, Dartford Rd, Newark St, Arcadia St, Sherwood St, Brighton St, Eastcote Ave, Lemington Pkw, Todmorden St and Wrexham Circlet. Henry F. Halloran subdivided the old Brooks and Osborn estates as Arcadia and Buttaba Hills in 1922. It was a typical Halloran plan of curving streets and many small parks, influenced by the English "Garden City" movement and by Burley Griffin's Canberra plans. The water front was divided into boatshed sites and these sold first. Joseph Kirk of Cessnock bought the first at the end of llford Ave. As the other lots did not sell as readily, a bonus was added: either a boatshed site or a second lot on the hill went free with every lot sold.

Early Settlers:

Macnamaras were the oldest permanent residents, followed by the Guests and Lockwoods. Harry Felton kept goats on the Buttaba Hills. The Chinese had a market garden by the creek in what is now a park off Ilford Ave. G. Hawkins had a sawmill nearby, approximately where Lisburn St joins Ilford Ave. The sale litho for Arcadia Estate contained a notice: "Special note to purchasers: timber procurable from G. Hawkins adjoining the estate". Hawkins built the shop near the jetty in 1922-3.

During the Depression of the 1930's many families moved into the boatsheds along the waterfront, especially out-of-work miners. The boatsheds were cheaper than renting a house and there were fish in the lake. Wells were dug for fresh water.

Early Industries:

Hawkins' timber mill.

Early Transport:

Ferries ran regularly to Toronto and Wangi from a long jetty beside Arcadia Reserve. Later a private bus service operated from the railway station at Toronto and a bus even ran to the steelworks at Mayfield for a time.

First Post Office:

Opened 2 May 1949: closed 31 January 1975. Christensens kept a post office store at the comer of Brooks St. after World War II. It was during this period that the name Kirkdale was used. Jim Christensen was President of the Progress Association which did much for the suburb.

First School:

Public school opened September, 1958.


At the date of survey in 1878 Brooks' portion had improvements on it to the value of 15 pounds which included a house worth 10 pounds. His house was situated on the corner of present day Dartford Rd and llford Ave. Arcadia baths were built in 1959.

Nilson, Laurie & Leis, Susan & Noble, Rodney & Lake Macquarie (N.S.W.). Council 1985, Lake Macquarie : past and present, Lake Macquarie City Council, [Boolaroo, N.S.W.]

Streets in Arcadia Vale