Lake Macquarie History


Name Origin:

Most probably named after Charles Smith, manager of the Waratah Coal Co. This company's first shaft was known as Charles' Pit. It was also called Raspberry Gully or The Gully Pit, although its official name was South Waratah. All these names were applied to Charlestown in its early days.

European History

Early Land Grants:

Land owned by the Waratah Coal Co. (Kahibah Parish).

Early Subdivisions:

D.P.216, "Plan of Waratah Coal Company's New Township Charlestown South Waratah on the Company's purchased property". This subdivision which formed Ida, Pearson, Milson and Frederick Streets, was surveyed on 29 April 1876. This was probably the earliest subdivision of the Charlestown area. The Waratah Coal Co. held a land auction in 1876 and the first lot was sold to Mr. Harry Wright.

Early European Settlers:

Miners from the Gully Pit and shopkeepers such as the Pickerings and Pascoes.

Early Industries:

The Waratah Coal Co. was formed in 1862 to mine in the Waratah district. It bought another 2,600 acres to the south and began sinking a shaft in Raspberry Gully in 1873. The mine was opened the same year, coal being taken along the "Gully Line" to Waratah. The mine did well at first but conditions were very competitive during the latter part of the 19th century. It was closed after World War II. "Moreton Bay Gardens" is built on the site of the manager's residence and the mine was in the deep gully to the north.

Early Transport:

Horse buses ran to both Newcastle and Belmont. In 1931 private buses ran to meet the trams at Broadmeadow, not being allowcd to compete by running into the city. In 1937 the government took over these routes and extended them to Newcastle. Charlestown was on Route 24 to Speers Point via Mt. Hutton.


Charlestown was at first included in the Municipality of Waratah. In 1877 it had thirty to forty houses. By 1879 it had a Post Office, three hotels, a School of Arts and several stores. By 1883 it had a Mechanics Institute and two churches. The Government Savings Bank opened in 1879. The towns-people advertised for a doctor in 1885. The first picture theatre was the Renown, built by Mrs Nelson in 1928. Charlestown Square was opened in 1979.

First Post Office:

Opened on 1 February 1877. Mail was brought from Newcastle three times a week on horseback. A telephone exchange opened in 1925.

First School:

Opened April, 1879. Enrolment was 68.

Charlestown East, in James Street, opened 14th September 1959, with an enrolment of 119.

Charlestown South, in Patricia Avenue, opened on 29 January 1963, with an enrolment of 96.

Charlestown Evening School opened from late 1899 to 1911.

Water Supply:





Estimated at 200 in 1877. Estimated at 500 in 1892. 1911 - 120 homes and 515 persons. 1921 - 158 homes and 736 persons. 1933 - 318 homes and 1357 persons.


Australia Post. Historical Office, N.S.W 1970, Charlestown Post Office history, Australian Postal Commission, Historical Office, N.S.W, Sydney

Charlestown Primary School 1979, Centenary of education : Charlestown, 1879-1979, Charlestown Primary School, Charlestown, N.S.W

Face, J. Richard 1976, Charlestown Centenary, 1876-1976, Cambridge Pr, Newcastle

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.]

Swane, Julianne 1990, A directory of local history sources for Charlestown, J. Swane, [Charlestown, N.S.W

Streets in Charlestown

Acknowledgement of Country

We remember and respect the Ancestors who cared for and nurtured this Country. It is in their footsteps that we travel these lands and waters. Lake Macquarie City Council acknowledges the Awabakal people and Elders past, present and future.

Council acknowledges traditional custodians throughout Australia. We commit to listening deeply to and collaborating with First Peoples in our work.

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