Lake Macquarie History

Jonathan Warner

Jonathan Warner was born in Kimbolton, Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire England, on 12 February;1786, although some sources document Lymington, Hampshire as his birthplace.On the 18 August 1817 he married Mary Dunkley In Kimbolton, Huntingdon and together they had ten children - six sons and four daughters. He arrived in Australia on 12 September 1826, at the age of 40, aboard the Orpheus as a serving officer, with his family.

photo: biddaba, warners house c1930

After retiring from military service from the New South Wales Royal Veteran Battalion, Warner was employed as an assistant surveyor of roads and bridges in the Wiseman's Ferry district and had been sent to check a proposed road from the Hawkesbury to Maitland via Lake Macquarie in 1828. Warner selected his land in July 1829 and was authorized to take possession on 8 February 1831. He built a two-storey weatherboard house called "Biddaba" ("silent resting place") on a hill near the present Warners Bay Primary School and established a farm and orange orchard. He had a number of assigned convicts to work on the farm, besides his sons. In July 1829 he that selected 1280 acres at the northern end of the lake. Sir Ralph Darling authorised the land as a reserve on 1 July 1829, but it was converted to a grant 8th February 1831.On this piece of land Lieutenant Warner established a farm with an orchard and a house which overlooked the lake. The property adjoined William Brooks' and George Weller's properties.

photo: jonathan warner's sword and scabbard

Jonathan Warner was appointed Magistrate for Brisbane Waters in 1833, travelling toBrisbane Water from the lake each fortnight by horse, accompanied by two of his sons for safety. A temporary cottage was built in 1835, in the Brisbane Waters district, for the reception of the Warner family. Warner advised Headquarters that he wished to move his family to the cottage, leaving behind his estate in Lake Macquarie.

In August 1840 Warner subdivided part of his grant, advertising it as allotments constituting the township of Lymington believed to be his residence while serving in the military in England. In the 18th and 19th centuries Lymington housed a military depot and a thriving shipbuilding industry. The colony was in the grip of a land boom which collapsed soon after into the depression and Lymington remained unsold. It was Lake Macquarie's second subdivision, the first being Newport at Eraring. In 1855 a second attempt was made to sell the Lymington lots but was again unsuccessful and it was not until the third attempt in 1885 that some lots were sold. In 1878 "Biddaba" and its orange orchard were advertised for sale as Lot 1 plus 6 other lots and 679 acres of land but does not seem to have been sold.

Jonathan Warner died on 13 September 1843 at the age of 57, leaving his widow to manage the estate. The orchard was a showplace as late as 1870 and visitors came from Newcastle to see it. The Warner homestead was demolished about 1932.