Lake Macquarie History

Kahibah - 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.

Kahibah crossing South (Kahibah Station)

The current suburb of Kahibah has no traditional connection to the Awabakal word or its actual locality. The word itself is from ky-yee-bah, meaning place of games. The name originally referred to the Blacksmiths, Pelican and Marks Point vicinity on the eastern shore of Lake Macquarie. Kahibah is clearly displayed in two early maps, W. Proctor's in 1841 and Henry Dangar's in 1828. The traditional site at Marks Point is said to have been a place where running and hunting games were held in traditional times and was a ceremonial corroboree site. (Aborigines of the Hunter Region Resource, 1985: 68.)

This point of the Fernleigh Track is in close proximity to the Glenrock State Conservation Area. Glenrock Lagoon or Pillapay-kullaitaran (the place of palms) as the Awabakal referred to it is a place of high cultural significance to the traditional peoples. On the southern bluff overlooking Kurraka or the ocean entrance to the lagoon was a significant Awabakal corroboree site. To the north of the lagoon is Kona-konaba known today as Murdering Gully. Flaggy Creek known as Kai-a-ra-bah the place of weeds runs down the gully into the lagoon. Close down on the beachfront of the lagoon is the place called Koiyog or 'where the grass meets the sand'.

Evidence illustrates that Newcastle was an industrial site thousands of years before BHP was established:

Probably few people in Newcastle know that at one time, not so very long ago, there was a 'munitions factory' at Glenrock Lagoon. I didn’t know till the Warden of Newcastle University College (Mr. Basden) told me a few days ago. The 'factory' was run by Aborigines on a strip of sand between the sea and the lagoon. From hard stone found in strata running from Nobbys almost to Redhead, the Aborigines made axes and weapons many of which they traded to inland Aborigines who had no stone suitable for manufacturing purposes. Mr. Basden said chips of stone were all that remained of the factory now but at least two complete stone axes had been found in Murdering Gully, near the lagoon. One was in the possession of the Headmaster of Junction School. Probably more axes were in the area but they had not been recognised. (Carlos Cannon Stretch Collection – Archives University of Newcastle)

The level and skills of the Awabakal manufacturing are clearly acknowledged:

Newcastle district is noted for its ancient factory sites. The toolmakers of the Stone Age evidently traded implements with the tribes of the interior and factories were situated on the banks of the Hunter and along the coast to Lake Macquarie. Mr. Cooksey has collected more than five thousand excellent specimens in a few years, and his knowledge of the subject has been availed of by the authorities at the British Museum in London, and by the Sydney Museum. The similarity of the ancient stone tools and their modern steel prototypes is most remarkable. Saws, planes, chisels, knives, axes, hammers and lances were all known to the ancient inhabitants of Australia, and their manufacture is evidence of a very high degree of skill and monuments of their industry and patience (Voice of the North, 1926:18).