Lake Macquarie History

How We Grew - the 1860s

Although the gold rushes were still at their peak in the 1860s, the decade saw some miners returning to coastal towns - many with wealth from the goldfields to set up businesses. The resultant surge in industry generated a need for coal and timber, and Lake Macquarie was well set to provide these.

photo: joseph marshall

Ventures like Joseph Marshalls fish cannery and sugar refinery at Mirrabooka, was established.

1861 also saw the passing of the NSW Lands Act. This allowed for the subdivision of many large land grants and introduced the notion of Conditional Lease and Conditional Purchase which enabled thousands of settlers to take up small portions of land. It also allowed for Crown land to be made available for development. This bought new settlement, which in turn meant public amenities like schools and post offices were needed.

This decade saw a further influx of Chinese settlers who set up market gardens and fishing. Swansea, Dora Creek and Cockle Creek were sites of early market gardens.

The newfound prosperity of the times made more leisure pursuits possible, and tourist establishments like Williamson's at Belmont sprang up.

The early timber industry in Lake Macquarie had mostly exported shingles. Now the increased demand for timber from the mines saw an upturn in the timber industry around the lake and establishment of settlements around Martinsville and Cooranbong.


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.]

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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