Lake Macquarie History

Belmont Lagoon - Aboriginal heritage

Professor John Maynard has compiled this research on behalf of the Lake Macquarie City Council for use on the proposed Fernleigh Track interpretative panels. Professor Maynard has generously granted permission to share his research with the community on Lake Macquarie History Online.

Belmont Lagoon

Belmont Lagoon is a place of great cultural and spiritual significance to the people known today as the Awabakal. It was the site of a major annual corroboree and the location of one of the region’s most beautiful traditional stories - 'When the Moon Cried and Formed Belmont Lagoon'.

The Awabakal belief that the moon is a man called Pontoe-Boong and the sun is a woman named Punnal was instrumental in maintaining a graphic tale of the sky hero's journeys across the heavens. A long time ago the moon man Pontoe-Boong became increasingly jealous of the sun woman Punnal. Pontoe-Boong grew sick and tired of having to make his long journey across the sky always in darkness, his discontent heightened by the fact that it was only on rare occasions that the mortal Aboriginal people could look into the night sky and see the fullness of his shining face. In comparison, Punnal the sun's glowing face, was open to the world's admiration every day (except when yura the cloud spirit was making rain). Pontoe-Boong saddened by this withdrew into total darkness. Deep in meditation he began to cry and his tears began to fall day after day, and at length formed a large lagoon. Next time he came close to the earth, the sad lonely moon man called out to the wise men amongst the Aboriginal people on the Redhead hills: "Don't be afraid; I've come to bring joy!" Pontoe-Boong saw his reflection in the glistening water of the lagoon; it was huge and silver in the lagoon of his tears. "Ha", he cried, "now the people will be able to see me whenever they like." He was overjoyed and at peace. Pontoe-Boong at once now happy, returned to the sky, but he never forgot his people of the lagoon. When he passed their way he shone his brightest, lighting the area almost like day. At these times the Awabakal clans would gather and hold a corroboree at the lagoon to honour Pontoe-Boong, the moon man. This place would always remain sacred in their hearts until the earth and sky were one again. The realities of this story could relate to the local Aboriginal people having witnessed an eclipse and a large-scale meteor shower!

Some additional local Aboriginal words along and around the Fernleigh track:
Tree(s), wood, timber, stick - kulay
Ti-tree - payaparr
Soft tea tree - talka
Thorny bush (bramble) - maru
Swans, place of - keeneebeah
Green wattle - patiki
Native fig tree - kukung
Oak tree - kunay
Red gum - Tarin
Red tea tree - piwang
Mangrove tree - kuwan
Bark of tree - pakaray
Honey suckle tree - waruparr