Lake Macquarie History

How We Grew - the 1840s

photo: immigration flyer

The economy of Australia was very much dependant on England, and a major depression in the 'mother country' caused a major downturn in the Australian economy in the 1840s.This was exacerbated by a widespread drought in the late 1830s and early 1840s. Free immigration was promoted, in hopes that new people would bring money and that would be used to purchase goods or for investing. Unfortunately, this ended up encouraging major unemployment.

Although the 1840's was a time of slow development for Lake Macquarie a few new ventures did start around the Lake

Edward Norton Hely settled at Rathmines in 1840 or 1841 and applied for a grant of 25 acres.

Threlkeld's Ebeneezer Coal Mines at Coal Point began operations. The narrow and dangerous channel meant that only small loads were able to get through the heads to Sydney restricting the scale of the business.

Percy Simpson sold his land at Eraring in 1840 and, together with another property, this was subdivided into the first subdivision in Lake Macquarie - Newport Estate. Today this town would have the area of Dora Creek and Eraring. It was much touted in newspapers of the day and The Australian of February 1841 reported:

"The Kangaroo will shortly be engaged to perform a trip from Sydney to Newport, passing through the Strait called "Reid’s Mistake" and affording the passengers a view, almost for the first time since the existence of the colony, of Lake Macquarie in its entire beauty. We shall hope to learn that these new project, having in their end so important a benefit, are prospering in a manner which they so well deserve."

The estate prospered for a short time but the harsh economic times, frontier nature of the area and lack of roads saw the project abandoned with only a few settlers remaining by 1845.

In August 1840 Warner subdivided part of his grant, advertising it as allotments constituting the township of Lymington (his hometown in England). The colony was in the grip of a land boom which collapsed soon after into the depression and Lymington remained unsold.


Clouten, Keith 1967, Reid's mistake : the story of Lake Macquarie from its discovery until 1890, Lake Macquarie Shire Council, [Speers Point, N.S.W.]

Nilson, Laurie & Leis, Susan & Noble, Rodney & Lake Macquarie (N.S.W.). Council 1985, Lake Macquarie : past and present, Lake Macquarie City Council, [Boolaroo, N.S.W.]

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