Lake Macquarie History

Dora Creek

Name Origin:

Doree Doree meant a creek running into the lake. A map of about 1840 shows it as Dorri Brook. It was also known as Nekinda, Nellinda, Dorah, Badge and Manering Creek. After 1840 it was called Newport until 1887 when the railway was opened and the station was named Dora Creek.

Early Land Grants:

Dora Creek was the southern boundary of Percy Simpson's Eraring grant of 2000 acres on 7 April 1838 (Coorumbung Parish). He had originally chosen a different area but through a surveyor's error this had been allocated to someone else and Eraring was given to Simpson instead. He already had 2,000 acres at Cooranbong. As he was in financial difficulties he sold his grant in 1838. Thomas Moore was granted 100 acres in 1834 and J.E. Manning 1280 acres in 1837.

Early Subdivision:

The Dora Creek section of Simpson's grant shared in the land boom associated with Newport. The first Newport sub-division in 1840 had been to the north of Lake Eraring but later the north bank of Dora Creek was subdivided. As the soil was better here and the river provided better transport than the shallow lake, gradually the name Newport came to be applied to Dora Creek. Shops and a hotel were built on the banks of the Creek. But the depression of the 1840's wiped out Newport and only a few fishermen and subsistence farmers remained. In 1885 the Excelsior Land Co. subdivided several small estates in the vicinity.

D.P.2799, declared on 20/11/1891 as "Doree Private Village". It was formed either side of the main railway and bounded by Awaba Road on the Eastern side and Minnie Street on the Western side with Douglas, Dora and Coorumbung Streets in between. This was part of Simpson's Portion 86.

Early Settlers:

The 1841 census showed 4 houses and 15 persons. The 4 householders were Joseph Sherlock storekeepers Henry Worley sheep farmer; Edward James; and John Minton agriculture. Henry Worley was also police constable. In late 1841 two market gardeners, Smith and Carter, arrived and later a man named Vogan and an immigrant, Timothy Ryan. Development was slow during the next two decades (the years of the depression and the gold rush). In 1866 John Douglass opened a store. The Chinese farmed the rich alluvial soil. By 1870 there were 15 families including the Helys, Goodmans, Ryans and Fullers.

Early Industries:

Timber was the most important industry and the creek provided transport. It was sheltered and wave-free and penetrated the forest country. Ketches took the timber to Sydney, being poled up and down the creek. Later paddlewheels were used. The timber was general lumber for building, she-oak shingles for roofs before the advent of corrugated iron, and lathes for plastering. Half a dozen small sawmills, one of which belonged to Hely brothers, operated on the banks of the Creek, loading directly into the ketches. Bullock teams brought the timber to the mills. Pit props were also sent by barge to Cockle Creek for the mines at the northern end of the lake.

There was good alluvial soil along the Creek banks and farmers grew vegetables, grapes, fruit and even wheat until it was ruined by rust. The inevitable Chinese market garden flourished. Pigs, fowls and milk cows were raised. Lack of reliable transport for these commodities held back progress until the arrival of the railway. Floods were also a problem. Heavy rain, a high tide and south or S.E. winds occurring together could cause the Creek to flood and this was aggravated by siltation as trees were felled.

Fishing became important with the arrival of the railway as the catch could be loaded on the 9.30 pm train and be at the Sydney markets next morning. Many fishing families then settled at Dora Creek.

A sawmill which stood in (or near) the current Minnie Street closed about 1925.

First Post Office:

Opened as 'Dorce' post office on 1 September 1887. It was renamed Dora Creek on 16 January 1894.

First School:

It was a provisional school from April 1870 until December 1883, and public school from January 1884. The enrolment in 1870 was 27 and John Douglass was the first teacher. The school's name was 'Newport' until December 1901.

Transport:

Captain E. Hannell's small steamer Cora plied between Newcastle and the Creek. There was a track to Brisbane Water but most transport was by water until the arrival of the railway in 1887. At first Dora Creek had no station, only an unattended platform built in 1889. There was a 60 ft iron bridge over the Creek, replaced in 1957.

Town:

The passing of the Robertson Land Acts in 1861 brought new settlers. The timber ketches returning from Sydney brought supplies of flour, tea and sugar. The construction of the railway line in the mid 1880's brought an influx of labourers. One of the Worley family opened a small hotel on the southern bank near the line which later burned down. After the building oft a station people tended to build nearer the railway.

The artist J.J. Hilder first came to Dora Creek in 1915, where he stayed for several months at a time, and painted his beautiful series of "Dora Creek" pictures. In the 1920's his friend, Sydney Long, began to visit and also painted the Creek.

Floods continued, the worst being in 1978, the last in 1981. The intake tunnel for Eraring Power Station went under the Creek in a concrete caisson, assembled on the creek bank and put in place in January 1981. At the same time the Electricity Commission dredged the Creek and constructed two floodways - one each side of the intake - and these discharged floodwater to Bonnells Bay.

Further Reading:

A Fistful of Buttercups by Barbara Corbett. Sydney, Kangaroo Press, 1983.

The Heritage of J.J. Hilder by Brett Hilder. Sydney, Ure Smith, 1966.

The Life and work of Sydney Long by Joanna Mendelssohn. Sydney, McGraw-Hill, 1979.

Streets in Dora Creek