Lake Macquarie History

Sunshine - Lake Macquarie

Shirley Seamer

This lovely area figured greatly in my life from the time I was five years old until I married and had my children in 1959 – 1966.

My parents Arthur and Emily Goodwin, my siblings Mary and Arthur Gordon (Digger) and my much loved grandmother, Mary-Ann Henderson, lived at Kurri Kurri. When I was about 5 years old they rented a cottage over the miners’ holiday period, at Sunshine, one of three cottages built by the Burg brothers, builders from Maitland. These cottages were built on a rise across from the reserve and swimming baths, which consisted of a jetty and two other sides of slatted timbers. The Baths also had two dressing sheds, one male and one female. Great times were spent here even though, I might add, our swimmers were made of wool and when wet were saggy!

photo: sunshine lake macquarie

I think we had two holidays in this cottage, then my father purchased a two room, unlined house on a rise at the end of the road with bush on one side and a small gully on the other. It was later lined and had an L shaped verandah added. One room was the kitchen, with a wood stove, the other a living/dining room. No electricity was connected and lamps supplied our light. A tank supplied our water. We had no bathroom (a big metal tub served as a substitute) and, of course, a toilet up the back – no collection service – another job for dad. Our sleeping quarters were on the wide verandah, canvas blinds for our protection. A punched metal safe, draped with a wet cloth and placed to catch any breeze, kept goods, hams etc. protected. Our dish for washing up was a kerosene tin cut diagonally with wooden slates added for protection against sharp edges - one side for washing the other side for drying.

As there were no deliveries in the early days, our meals came from the lake itself, canned food and for Christmas dinner our Uncle bought about five live chickens from the Sydney markets when needed. These were beheaded, drained by hanging on a line, and plucked by my grandmother over a tub of steaming hot water. The nearest shop was Mrs Hanson’s post office and general store situated at the junction of the roads servicing other settlements on the lake. I think the only telephone available was at the post office. It was a long walk to the shop through the bush from our house! The one-teacher primary school for the area was also situated at this junction. In 1939-40 my brother was teacher-in-charge of this school, leaving to join the air force.

photo:sunshine nsw

Our house was built behind the area where the VJ sailing club was later built – the concrete blocks for this being made on the shore by very keen people from the nearby towns. A bush shed at the back of our house held our row boat. It was a cedar boat which had been a sailing boat - a long boat with a place for a rudder in the middle. Being cedar it was easy to row. Another boat was purchased later. Our entertainment consisted of reading, fishing, swimming, walking and, at night, playing all types of card games – and of course, supper with crab sandwiches!!

There were not many houses in the early days. I remember Maloney’s in front of us (the first house on the waterfront) and Kola’s big house on the point between Sunshine and Sunshine Extended (as it was then known). My parent’s friends, the Gardeners, had converted a boat-shed (as was often done) right on the water’s edge into a comfortable holiday place. A house on the higher side of the road along from us was owned by a mother and son then later by Mr Fisher. I cannot recall the others which were built later. Where our house stood, in recent years, the land was flattened and new homes built. During the war years, along from us in bushland a seaplane from Rathmines base was hidden, camouflaged, in a bay cut into the shore.