Lake Macquarie History

Great place for a picnic

Balcolyn was originally named Shingle-Splitters Point, and some consider it to occupy one of the best positions on the lake. The Casuarina trees attracted the timber industry to the area but visitors and picnic-makers also arrived in droves.

photo: shingle splitters point, balcolyn,1970

Visitors could catch a train or steamer to the popular site to enjoy the beautiful surroundings. One such group comprised of local dignitaries, Maitland aldermen, M.P's from Sydney plus two Americans, who came to picnic on Saturday 29th November 1890. After arriving at Cockle Creek Station the Maitland visitors met with forty odd gentlemen from Newcastle who then all boarded the steamer 'Maggie Johnstone'. They made their way up the lake to Dora Creek Railway Bridge where they picked up some more passengers and then proceeded to Balcolyn. It was here the drama began when the steamer became wedged on a sand bar. Some of the men even stripped off and swam around to push the boat off without success. They did eventually free the steamer and continued to the shore to enjoy a day of food, singing and speeches before heading down to Swansea then back to Cockle Creek by eight o'clock that night. During the run to Swansea one of the men caught two large tailor which they cooked and ate on board.

An elderly gentleman named Zara, said to be a member of the well-known Zara family of Newcastle lived on the point as a hermit. For many years, Shingle Splitters Point was called Zara's Point and it is claimed Mr Zara planted the Moreton Bay Figs and Norfolk Island Pines that grow there today.


1889 'LOCAL AND GENERAL.', Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners' Advocate (NSW : 1876 - 1954), 19 October, p. 5. , viewed 07 Nov 2018,

1889 'BALCOLYN.', Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners' Advocate (NSW : 1876 - 1954), 8 November, p. 5. , viewed 07 Nov 2018,

1947 'SUBURBIA—This Week Journey For A Quiet Week-end', Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners' Advocate (NSW : 1876 - 1954), 15 November, p. 5. , viewed 07 Nov 2018,

1954 'Business, Pleasure At Lake', Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners' Advocate (NSW : 1876 - 1954), 20 February, p. 5. , viewed 07 Nov 2018,

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