Lake Macquarie History

Thomas H. Halton Park

(Croudace Bay Park)

Thomas H. Halton Park formed part of the former estate of well known pioneer Thomas Croudace. In the 1940s, Lake Macquarie Shire sought to resume land around the foreshore of the lake; the Croudace estate was one that was affected.

In 1943 Thomas H. Halton, the Shire Clerk, approached grandson and trustee of Thomas Croudace's estate, Thomas Croudace, to purchase some land. The offer of 13 acres for £1750 was rejected by the Council. The Croudace family then offered 4 hectares of land to the Rocky Point Progress Association, from Eleebana, but these negotiations were brought to a halt by Lake Macquarie Shire Council, who announced the whole estate would be resumed under the Public Works Act. Despite opposition by the Croudace family, including legal battles, the passing of The Local Government (Land Acquistion) Amendment Act 1951 by the New South Wales Government, ensured Council acquired the land. After seven years of a lengthy legal battle, in 1953 the Croudace family was granted £14,250 for three portions of land.

photo: tents at croudace bay

Croudace Bay, Valentine and Eleebana Progress Associations formed an Advisory Committee which administered the reserve. However, in 1960 a management committee, The Croudace Bay Parks Committee was formed as a result of problems arising from the park's role and administration. It was around this time that criticism arose about the untidy appearance of the park. It had housed privately leased boatsheds at the northern end, as well as being used as a camping ground. The Committee asked Lake Macquarie Shire Council to allocate funds to develop the park, including the construction of a toilet block with hot and cold showers, laundry facilities, upgrading of the park land as well as adding water supply to the proposed new campsites. Council deferred these suggestions for future consideration at the time.

In 1961, The Croudace Bay Park Water Ski Club offered Council assistance, free of charge, to beautify the park. The Water Ski Club had their clubhouse on the site and hosted many water skiing events. Residents protested, which brought about a long running dispute with the water skiing fraternity and the Eleebana Progress Association.

In 1968, a proposal for leasing a portion of the land for use as a caravan park, marina and restaurant was submitted during the September 11 Council Meeting. This brought about serious concerns by some councillors and the development did not proceed, however, camping was still allowed to continue. The Shire President said Council did not have the funds to provide adequate amenities.

A grant of $225, 000 in December 1975 provided much needed funds for the improvement of Croudace Bay, Speers Point and Rathmines. It was about this time that camping ceased at Croudace Bay Park and it would then operate as a public reserve. Also at this time, the last of the boatsheds were removed, not without controversy. As well as the protracted removal of the boatsheds, disputes arose between the Eleebana Progress Association and the Croudace Bay Park Water Ski Club over noise pollution and the use of public reserves. The Water Ski Club clubhouse was removed, which ended the acrimony.

photo: croudace bay park

The final clearing of the park began in 1976. Debris from boatsheds, jetties and sliprails was removed from the foreshore and the reclamation of other parts of the park could begin. The recreational ground and parkland is named after Thomas H. Halton, who played a key role in securing the land for Lake Macquarie Shire Council. Thomas Halton served as Shire Clerk for approximately 30 years.

Currently Lake Macquarie City Council are planning further development of Thomas H. Halton Park into an exciting new recreation precinct. Key features include

  • enclosed dog exercise area, in addition to the existing off-leash dog arrangement
  • an upgraded playground with tree house, shipwreck cove, swings and roundabouts,sensory garden and hang out zone
  • learner cyclist circuit
  • skate and BMX park
  • upgraded picnic facilities
  • outdoor fitness equipment and exercise circuit
  • location for semi-permanent or permanent cafe
  • two new amenities blocks

The Draft Master Plan can be viewed here

Sourced Reading

Murray, Peter (2010) Green, Valentine, Eleebana & Croudace Bay