Lake Macquarie History

Follow the Plaques 1988 bicentennial plaques

To commemorate the 1988 bicentennary of white settlement in Australia, Lake Macquarie City Council invested a grant from the Australian Bicentennial Authority into a project reflecting the early days of settlement in Lake Macquarie. This involved identifying and researching significant historic sites in the area and marking each area with a plaque. The project was designed to promote and generate interest in the white history and culture of bygone days in Lake Macquarie. The attached booklet was produced to mark this project.

The sites were selected in keeping with Lake Macquarie City Council's Coat of Arms, highlighting the close association with the mining, timber and fishing industries to the area along with recognition of the lake's discoverers and early settlers. Sites relating to early Aboriginal burial grounds, middens, ritual sites etc were omitted out of respect for the Awabakal Nation's wish to preserve their own history and preserve the integrity of those places.

Historic Plaques Locations

historic plaques mapl

In some instances plaques have been relocated or removed. While we have endevoured to give update information on the status of each plaque in the table below, we welcome feedback.

Plaque Number: Original Location: Inscription: Notes:
Plaque 1 IMAGE Swansea Heads (Reid's Mistake) - Foreshore Reserve , Lambton Parade Captain William Reid in the "Martha" landed near this point in 1800, mistaking it for Hunter's River. Coal was collected from this site which later became an important loading and storage facility for coal from the Ebenezer Mine at Coal Point. A salt works was established in 1834 by J. H. Broughton. In 1972 important Aboriginal middems, dating back 7,800 years were excavated from the headland overlooking the Channel.
Plaque 2 IMAGE Catherine Hill Bay - Flowers Drive, near Surf Club This area is named after the schooner "Catherine Hill" which ran aground in 1867. The township developed because of mining activities of the coal companies, New Wallsend in 1873 and Wallarah in 1888. The latter was taken over by J&A Brown and Abermain Seaham in the 1950s and now forms part of the Coal & Allied Group. A railway, which closed in 1963, linked the mine with the jetty. Moonee Colliery commenced in 1982.
Plaque 3 IMAGE Cooranbong - Martinsville Road Percy Simpson settled here in 1826 on "Kourumbung", his 2000 acre grant. A village in the 1860s, Cooranbong became prosperous due to the timber trade, exporting shingles, railway sleepers and pit props by steam boat down Dora Creek. In 1877 five sawmills were operating. The post office was complted on 26.5.1881 and is the oldest building in Lake Macquarie. Plaque relocated to Cooranbong Park, Freemans Drive.
Plaque 4 IMAGE Wangi - Reserve at end of Watkins Road The Peninsula was granted to Edward Gostwyck Cory in 1831. In 1897 a reserve of 105 acres was declared at the point. It has remained in its natural state ever since, attracting many campers and tourists over the years. Before this it was part of the territory of the Awabakal Aborigines who used it as a base for hunting, fishing and gathering as well as for travelling to their sacred site, Pulbah Island. Plaque removed during regeneration and landscaping work and is in the care of Lake Munmorah National Parks and Wildlife Services.
Plaque 5 IMAGE Biraban Reserve and Ebeneezer Coal Mine - Skye Point Road This reserve commemorates an aborigine named Biraban who aided Reverend Threlkeld in his translation of the Awabakal language. Threlkeld's Ebenezer Colliery, the first commercial coal mine in Lake Macquarie, was situated nearby. In May 1841 the first shipment of coal was transported to Sydney on the 20 ton ship "Ann". This mine produced intermittently until early 20th century and was known in later years as South Hetton Colliery.
Plaque 6 IMAGE Railway - Victory Parade - Regatta Walk (Toronto) A tramway was constructed in 1891 from Fassifern Railway Station to Toronto, setting down at Blackall's, Fennell's and Bower's. A variety of steam engines was used on this line including a horsedrawn carriage. Converted to a branch railway in 1911, it terminated here. Many thousands travell-ed by train to recreate over the years. The Prince of Wales, later King Edward VIII visited Toronto by train on 24.6.1920.
Plaque 7 IMAGE Toronto - Victory Parade - Regatta Walk This is the site of Reverend Threlkeld's second mission for aborigines, established in 1830 on his 1280 acre grant, "Derambambah." (Derahbambah) at Punte later purchased by the Excelsio Land Company, together with 91/2 miles of Crown water-front reserve, the subdivision was named Toronto. Picnic grounds were established and the Toronto Hotel opened on 27.12.1887. The suburbs of Carey Bay, Coal Point and Kilaben Bay are also part of the old grant "Derambambah."
Plaque 8 IMAGE Teralba (Trialba - Freshwater Creek - Glen Mitchell) - Anzac Parade Anzac Parade 1829 — First European settler James St. John Ranclaud on 2560 acre grant "Trialba". 1884-7 — "Canvas Town" for workers at the gravel pits. Gravel used as ballast on Great Northern Railway. 1887 — Formation of Great Northern Coal Com-pany (later Pacific Colliery) and Teralba Colliery (later Stockton Borehole). Both still operating 1988. 1890 — Gartlee Colliery (later Northern Extended which closed 1964). 1978 — Macquarie Colliery (renamed Pacific Colliery 1985).
Plaque 9 IMAGE Lake Macquarie Park (Speers Point Park) - near wharf This park was gazetted in 1887 and officially opened 22 May 1888. Thomas Abel and James Fletcher M.L.A. of Wallsend persuaded the government to purchase the land from William Speers for use by the residents of the coal mining suburbs of Wallsend and Plattsburg. It became a favourite venue of the working people for sailing and sculling regattas, holiday camping and organized picnics, especially with the opening in 1912 of a steam tram service from Newcastle.
Plaque 10 IMAGE Sulphide Corporation - two plaques: main entrance and main office Formed in 1895 Sulphide Corporation is Newcastle's oldest continually manufacturing site. Smelting of zinc from Broken Hill ores began in 1897 using Ashcroft's Process. This proved not commercially viable, so the plant was converted to produce lead until 1922. Fertilizer production, begun in 1913, is still carried on by Australian Fertilizers Ltd. Cement was manufactured from 1925-1956. The present zinc and lead smelting operations were re-established in 1961 using the Imperial Smelting Process. Plaque at main entrance was not found. Current location is unknown. Main office plaque is now behind former laboratory building on Pasminco site.
Plaque 11 IMAGE West Wallsend - Park in Main Street A Colliery township founded by the West Wallsend Coal Company and subdivided in 1887. Collieries of the area were: 1888 — West Wallsend 1888 — Newcastle New Wallsend later West Wall-send Extended (Killingworth) 1890 — Monkwearmouth (later Seaham No. 1) 1905 — Seaham No. 2 1971 — West Wallsen No. 2 (still operating 1988) West Wallsend Colliery was a pioneer in the use of an all-metal headfram in the Australian colonies.
Plaque 12 Cardiff (Winding Creek - Lymington) - Harry Ford Reserve - Macquarie Road Macquarie Road The current name is linked with the area's early mining heritage associated with Cardiff in Wales. Once an important coal mining centre, little remains of those activities today. Mining extended from the 1860s to 1950s and the largest mines were Cardiff, Cardiff Borehole, Lymington and Myall. In 1902 the railway was moved from near the intersection of Macquarie and Myall Roads to its present location. Harry Ford Reserve was resumed for construction of new shopping centre. Plaque was relocated to concrete bench in location of former fountain.
Plaque 13 IMAGE Warners Bay - Warner Reserve , The Esplanade near Warners Bay Road Jonathan Warner was the first European settler in this area, selecting 2,000 acres known as "Biddaba" in 1829. A two-storey timber house was built on the hill opposite in the early 1830s which remained a prominent landmark for 100 years. As a magistrate, Warner travelled extensively between here and Brisbane Waters (Gosford). The Warners and convicts worked a farm, orange orchard and small coal mine. The loading jetty was nearby.
Plaque 14 IMAGE South Waratah Colliery - Kirkdale Drive, Kotara South The Waratah Coal Company transferred operations from Waratah to Raspberry Gully (sited opposite) in 1876. Thus creating the town of Charlestown. In 1902 the gully line connected the mine with Port Waratah. South Waratah Colliery closed in 1961 with most surface features surviving until 1969. The remaining tunnel is a 1950s attempt to make the mine economically viable.
Plaque 15 IMAGE Whitebridge Cemetery - Dudley Road The graves of people fatally injured in the area's collieries are to be found here including most of the victims of the 1898 Dudley Colliery disaster. It also contains the graves of Anders de Flon, a coal mining pioneer of Catherine Hill Bay. The area's patriotism during two world wars is also reflect along with members of prominent local families and those who have been decorated for bravery or community service.
Plaque 16 IMAGE Site of Burwood Colliery - Burwood Road opposite Bowling Club Shaft sinking commenced in 1889 and coal was initially despatched via the Redhead Company's Railway in 1892. The original timber headframe was replaced during the 1928 Christmas Holidays by a steel lattice girder headframe erected by Morison & Bearby Engineers of Carrington. B.H.P. acquired the mine in 1932 from the Scottish Australian Mining Company and developed it into one of the largest in Australia. Operations ceased in 1982 and site demolition commenced in 1983. Plaque relocated to Heywood Wilkinson Park, Paterson Close, Dudley Beach Estate
Plaque 17 IMAGE Site of Dudley Colliery - Dudley Park, Gardner Street Originally known as South Burwood, sinking commenced in 1888. On 21 November 1889 four sinkers were killed in an overwinding accident. The name changed to Dudley in 1891. Fifteen men were killed in an underground explosion on 21 March 1898, the majority being buried in Whitebridge Cemetery. In 1906 the Colliery employed 403 men and boys. It closed in 1939 with most surface features demolished about 1940. The headframe stood until 1956.
Plaque 18 IMAGE Lambton Colliery - Collier Street, Redhead 1887 — Scottish Australian Mining Company announced development of Ryhope Colliery at Redhead. 1888 — Name changed to Durham. 1898 — Name changed to Lambton B. 1924 — Name officially became "Lambton" after the S.A.M. Co. sold their old mine in the suburb of Lambton. 1932 — Acquired by B.H.P. and developed into the first fully mechanised mine in Australia. 1960s — Surface and entries greatly altered following modernisation but some 1890s building retained. Plaque relocated to gate arch of colliery building - now Men's Shed - Geraldton Drive..
Plaque 19 IMAGE Redhead Colliery - Park near Caravan Park, Kallaroo Road Development began in 1889 as Burwood Extended on the site opposite. Known from 1903-4 as Ocean Colliery, the name reverted to the original in 1905. It became Redhead Colliery in 1921 but was known to the locals as the "clink". In the 1920s the colliery became a major producer with employment often exceeding 350 men and boys. On 21 January 1926 an underground explosion claimed five lives. It closed in 1928 but the headframe stood until 1960.
Plaque 20 IMAGE John Darling Colliery - John Fisher Road - Belmont The first colliery developed by B.H.P. and named after a former Chairman of Directors. Construction began in 1925 and coal first despatched in 1927. A significant feature was the set of two metal head-frames which rose to a height of ninety feet. Surface appearance and transport access altered in the 1960s. No. 3 shaft was sunk in 1968 and No. 4 through Belmont Lagoon in the early 1980s. Longwall mining began in 1982. Plaque was relocated to grounds of Belmont Christian College.
Plaque 21 IMAGE Fishing Industry in Lake Macquarie - Lakeview Parade - Pelican By the late 1840s the farmer-settlers around the shores of Lake Macquarie were netting and salting fish which were taken by horse and cart to market. The industry expanded when the Chinese, returning from the goldfields, settled across the channel at Pelican Flats (Swansea) in the late 1850s. The dried and cured fish were exported to Sydney and New-castle. A commercial fishing industry is still in existence (1988).


Lake Macquarie Bi-Centennial Steering Committee 1988, Follow the bicentennial plaques route and discover historic Lake Macquarie, Lake Macquarie Bi-Centennial Steering Committee, Lake Macquarie, N.S.W

Acknowledgement of Country

We remember and respect the Ancestors who cared for and nurtured this Country. It is in their footsteps that we travel these lands and waters. Lake Macquarie City Council acknowledges the Awabakal people and Elders past, present and future.

Council acknowledges traditional custodians throughout Australia. We commit to listening deeply to and collaborating with First Peoples in our work.

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