Lake Macquarie History

The Old Well

Poem by Ron North

There's a little fence on a hillside
That has a story to tell
It marks the spot where once
Stood the town's first water well.

The well now no longer exists
But still the clear waters flow
From a spring that fed the well
All those years ago.

You'll find it in a shady nook
On Wangi Bay along the promenade,
Hidden behind the reeds and lillies,
In a quiet spot, so many disregard.

There's still a happy little trickle
It flows with no noise or sound
Seeping out in a steady flow
From deep down in the ground.

It seeps out from the hillside
Such is natures wonderous scheme
As it has for so many years
With an ever precious stream.

It's there below some grey gums
That were plentiful in days of yore
Sadly, with the town's development,
Just a few remain upon the shore.

A seat has been provided there
Where you may sit down and rest.
And soak up the quiet ambience
For which this place is blessed.

The bird life is abundant there,
Feeding on blossoms and the seeds,
And the little spotted crakes,
Are darting in and out the reeds.

Hear the breezes stir the casuarinas
Their murmurings pleasant to the ear,
Do they sigh for happy yesterdays
When the Kourumbung clan camped near?

With beautiful shellfish from the lake,
And other morsels that they'd bring,
Twas a favourite camp of the aborigine
Seeking fresh water from that spring.

Then came the wandering white man,
Scoundrels of society trod there first.
Cattle duffers and felons drank there,
To refresh and quench their thirst.

Next came explorers and the pioneers
Found the lakes edge had outcrops of coal.
Shipping it back to Sydney town
Was now a speculator's goal.

A shaft was sunk across the ridge,
From this ancient little well,
Was a fortune won or lost?
Our local history does not tell.

Forests grew to the water's edge,
Prized timbers fell to the axe.
Shingle splitters felled the coveted oak,
While living along the shore in shacks.

Fishermen began to ply the lake
Supplying fish for Sydney town.
And market gardeners soon appeared,
As pioneering families settled down.

The well now sustained life,
When tanks and dams ran dry.
The cool clear waters always flowed,
On the well they did rely.

The depression years brought many folk,
In tent and shack they'd dwell.
Rabbits and fish were their manna,
With fresh water from the well.

Then came the happy, joyous times,
With picnics and holidays at the lake.
Many campers flocked to the shoreline
At Christmas and any school holiday break.

Now the town began to grow,
A great holiday haven, many tell.
The powerstation then brought progress,
So they no longer relied on the well.

So rest a while when next you pass,
Listen to the oaks and their symphony,
Just pause a while at this old shrine.
And absorb the ambience of local history.