Lake Macquarie History

Cockle Creek

Name Origin:

The largest creek in Lake Macquarie, Cockle Creek was named by Colonel William Paterson of the NSW Corps .This was because of the large number of cockle shells he found there. Cockle Creek and some of its tributaries have their beginnings in the Sugarloaf Range.

Aboriginal Occupation:

In 1828 an aboriginal tribe of sixty people inhabited the area.

Early Land Grants:

Land grants for the Cockle Creek area may be divided into those that fell on the western, and those that fell on the eastern, side of the creek. On the western side an order for 2560 acres was recorded for Captain James St. John Ranclaud, on 13 August 1829. On 4 September 1829 Ranclaud selected an estate which extended west from the mouth of Cockle Creek to the foothills of the Sugarloaf Range, at Killingworth. Upon Ranclaud's death this grant passed to his son, James Ranclaud junior, who (on 14 November 1837) mortgaged the property to James Walker for 700 pounds. In 1838 David Scott paid this debt. Scott received the title deeds(for the land now called Portion 31) on 12 July 1839. At some later date this land passed to A.W. Scott, and then to J. Black (prior to 1882).

Cockle Creek land on the eastern side of the creek was encompassed by William Brooks' Portion 10, 1 280 acres grant and Weller's Hampden grant of 2560 acres. Cockle Creek falls in both Kahibah and Teralba parishes.

Early Subdivisions:

See Argenton and Boolaroo for details.

Early Settlers:

A community of Chinese gardeners were among the earliest settlers. They lived on the flats, near the delta of Cockle Creek.

After John Black received his Cockle Creek land (Portion 31) he and his family moved to a large house on the western bank of the creek. This house had been brought from England in kit form strapped to the side of a ship and was erected on log foundations. The house later became the manager's residence for Stockton Borehole Colliery and was not demolished until the 1970's. Mr. Black kept a large herd of Angora goats.

Early Industries:

Chinese market gardens were situated near the railway bridge.

In 1886 the Teralba Colliery was started by the Teralba Co-operative Coal Company. This mine was known as Black's Colliery, after its next owners.

Circa 1906 the colliery was purchased by the newly formed "Borehole Colliery Ltd" (the principal shareholder being the Stockton Coal Co. Ltd) which subsequently changed the name of the Teralba Colliery to the Borehole Colliery. In 1908 the name was again changed, this time it became Stockton Borehole Colliery. In November 1949 the colliery was acquired by the B.H.P. and is still working.

In 1895 - 1896 the Sulphide Corportion Ltd commenced operations. It was originally intended to extract zinc from Broken Hill ore by the electrolytic process but this did not prove to be commercially viable and the works were converted to an ordinary lead smelting works.

In 1922 lead smelting was discontinued and the plant produced sulphuric acid, superphosphate and fertilizers. In 1924 a cement plant was added. Later the production of lead and zinc was resumed.

Cockle Creek Power Station operated from 11 March 1927 to March 1976. This power station, when built by Caledonian Collieries Limited, had a plant capacity of 10,000 KVA. Eventually it served several towns and 17 mines.

Early Transport:

In 1876 Millers Wharf - situated at the intersection of Cocked Hat and Winding Creeks - was used by both passenger and cargo ferries.

In 1888 the ferry 'Helen Taylor' (skippered by Captain Peterson), ran daily between Pelican Flat and Cockle Creek. This run was scheduled to co-incide with train arrivals and departures. By 1889 Wallsend storekeeper W.W. Johnson had introduced a daily ferry run between Cockle Creek, Cooranbong and Swansea. Johnson had previously used his launches, 'Little Pinafore' and 'Big Pinafore', to ship pit props between Dora and Cockle Creeks. At Millers Wharf the cargo was then loaded on to drays and transported to Wallsend.

In the 1880's Millers Wharf was used as a terminal by coal workers who commuted by ferry to the Catherine Hill Bay mines.

Until 1899 the Chinese market gardeners used a punt to ferry traffic over Cockle Creek.

From 1912-1930 a steam tram ran through this area.

Mr. W. Johnson continued his ferry service between Toronto and Cockle Creek with the ferries Maggie Johnson (later destroyed by fire), Phoenix and the Rose.

"Fisho Jack" Richardson also ran ferries:

the Auroka, Swansea, Toronto and Wangi Pioneer. The Agar Brothers took over from Richardson and their boats were:

Azile, Palm Beach and Wangi Pioneer. They ran a daily service to Swansea and excursions to Dora Creek.

Railway:

In 1887 a railway platform called Cockle Creek was provided on the eastern bank of Cockle Creek. In 1889 George Thompson was the station master. The Sulphide branch line, which ran to a junction near Cardiff Workshops, opened 16 July 1896. The new railway bridge was opened 15 February 1957. A new station was then erected on the deviation.

First Post Office:

Open 10 July 1889, closed 31 May 1905. This office opened in conjunction with the railway. In 1889 George Thompson acted as both post master and station master. On 24 November 1892 A. Case became the post master. This office incorporated telegraph facilities (1 March 1897) and money order, savings bank facilities (17 July 1899).

First School:

On 8 September 1884 Harry Wilkinson, the school's first teacher began enrolling pupils; by the end of 1884 the roll showed thirty six students. This school which was called "Hillsborough" - was sited on a half acre block near the present rail bridge that crosses Cockle Creek. The land was rented from the Newcastle Wallsend Coal Company for one peppercorn. George Froorne built the 24 by 15 foot wooden structure, for one hundred and five pounds. In February 1886 it was decided to move this school to the larger population centre of Teralba.

Organisations:

In 1908 the Sulphide Employees' Union was formed. The Sulphide Welfare Club was formed in 1937. A new clubhouse was built in 1967 next to the station.

Town:

A railway camp had been established by February 1884. This camp, which was situated on the eastern bank of Cockle Creek, comprised thirty one school age children, and a large number of adults. John McMillan and John Carmichael were spokesmen for the group. By the end of 1885 the construction work at Cockle Creek was completed and the camp moved to Dora Creek.

About 1889 Mr. McBride opened a small wine bar at the railway station. This bar was sited on the roadside next to the station. In 1906 Mrs. Manthie received a license for the

'Refreshment Rooms' which she operated in conjunction with the wine bar. The district's first police station stood in what is now A.B. Rea's carpark. Mounted police from Wallsend manned the station. By 1919 fairway construction for the Cockle Creek Golf Links had begun.

During the 1920's a large number of men waiting for jobs at the Sulphide Corporation lived in tents near the railway station.

Boolaroo Racecourse was formerly situated on Racecourse Road beside Cockle Creek.

On 18 June 1927 Charles Kingsford Smith and Charles Ulm made a forced landing on the racecourse in their Bristol tourer when attempting to break the record for a flight around Australia.

There were many boatsheds along the creek and these were occupied by the unemployed during the Depression.

For many years "Fisho Jack" Richardson's houseboat was moored in the creek near the old bridge. Later the house was removed from its punt and erected on land.

The first Watkins Bridge was constructed in 1899 near First Street, Boolaroo and the second bridge was built in 1973 over the Five Islands at the delta of the creek.