Lake Macquarie History

History of Eleebana

From a speech delivered by R Harkins at the school on 15th August, 1985.

History is usually a very uninteresting subject unless it is about someplace or someone you know. I propose today to talk about someplace you all know. About 5 years ago I gave a similar talk at this school, it is about the history of Eleebana and the beginning of this school. A copy of this history was enclosed with other material in a time capsule and buried in school ground which is on the 35rd parallel, this was just 5 years ago yesterday.

The history of Eleebana dates back to the aboriginal occupation of the area particularly by the Awabakal tribe. If it then had a name it has been long forgotten, I cannot find any record of a name other than Rocky Point or Echo Point, these names could easily have been given because of the rocky appearance of the foreshores.

Because sea shells were found during various excavations, it is thought that the area was partly under water many thousand of years ago. All the land was government owned - called Crown Land - and part of it was put up for public auction on I6th June 1869. Records show that 167 acres was sold for £175.7.0 - about $350.70 in the present currency. This sale was registered at the Registrar Generals office on 28th December 1874.

The early owners of this area later called Eleebana, were:

  • George Linklater Yorston with I8 acres about 64. hectares.
  • George Brown Watt 167 acres
  • Thomas Adam 194 acres and part of the Croudace land of 150 acres.

Ownership of these areas have changed, and just prior to any sub-division taking place the owners were:

  • The Capper Estate from Maitland,
  • The E.E.Croft Estate,
  • Realty Realisations Ltd and the
  • Croudace Estate.

The Capper Estate was later bought by A.Buckigham and the Croudace Estate was resumed by the then Lake Macquarie Shire Council in 1950.

In the early part of the century the only house was that of Mr Fred Croft and some fishermen's huts. Because of vandalism the house was pulled down and later re-erected at Fassifern where it still, stands.

There were no made roads, access being by bush track and transport by horse and buggy, I well remember coming out through the bush where Glad Gunson Drive now is. It was not until I934-35 that a public road - and then only gravel - was constructed from Warners Bay through Eleebana to Valentine. The clearing of the bush land and the construction of 2 miles of gravel road cost £25,000.

Galvanised iron storage tanks were used by the residents to catch and store rain water and illumination was by Kerosene lamps or candles. Water was laid on permanently by the Hunter District Water Board in 1946 and the electric power was connected in December 1947. The first telephone office was opened on a part time basis on 12th September 1946 and an official post office came into being on the 1st November 1948. It was closed as part of the Government's policy on 1st January 1974. It was because the name Rocky Point was unacceptable to the Postal Department that the Progress Association was asked to propose a name. After much discussion, a decision was reached by the Association and was accepted by the Postal Department. Eleebana was the name chosen and is an aboriginal name meaning a place of beauty. When you look at the sunsets from Eleebana you can easily see why the name was chosen.

The area of land covering Eleebana is about 769 acres or 312 hectares and is all coal bearing land, although as yet no coal has been extracted. I have tried to find out the present population of this delightful district but neither the City Council or the libraries can give me any figure, they just do not know. I think it is now well over three thousand people.

Sewerage work was started in 1974 and completed in 1977.

From 1947 into the fifties there were not many permanent residents, and for entertainment we held concerts in the open air using a lorry top for a stage. Several of the men lifted Mrs Solman's piano from the lounge to the lorry, and all in all we managed to stop being bored. Swimming carnivals and chocolate wheels were the means of raising funds.

As early as 1950 steps had been taken by the Progress Association for the establishment of a school, but it was not until 20th January 1954 that approval was given by the Education Department. On 1st February 1955 the school was opened in the Church of England hall with 20 pupils of all ages attending and being taught by one teacher - this Church hall was the school for the next 5 and a half years. As the education department had purchased the present site a start was made to erect the school building - which was a wooden structure - and this was opened as the Eleebana Public school on 23rd January 1960.

From that very humble beginning in 1960 the school as well as the district has rapidly grown, and it has been necessary from time to time to add to the buildings by some permanent and portable class rooms. There were about 300 pupils in 1980 and I believe that at the present time the number would be close to 500. Before the school was opened the children had to walk along the gravel road which was very slushly in winter to Warners Bay school and back after school. No transport was provided from the education department.

Eleebana has been very fortunate indeed in having such people appointed as Headmasters and teaching staff over the years, and the standard of work by the pupils has accordingly been high. I, as one of the older residents, feel very proud and honoured to be associated with it. Last Christmas at prize giving, my mind went back to my school days when I heard the school band perform. I was also a player of the cornet in the Cooks Hill school band and eventually played the trombone in an orchestra. That, boys and girls, was a long time ago. Keep up the good work - music is a relaxing and an enjoyable pastime. This year the school is celebrating its 30th anniversary and many boys and girls have been given a good primary education. I would like to say in all sincerity - well done and congratulations to all of the people who helped and worked for the wellbeing and education of the children of Eleebana.

Eleebana school has always been noted for the interest the parents and citizens take in the welfare of the children. The first fete was held in the school ground with all he stalls being made by the men folk from surrounding bush timber, quite different from the present arrangements. Last Friday night I had the pleasure of opening what I believe was the best organised Parents and Citizens exhibitions ever. A great deal of time, money and energy was spent in making it a success, and all for the benefit of the children of the school, people love you, and I know it is appreciated. There have been seven headmasters in the past 30 years - their terms ranging from one to nine years - and many changes in the teaching staff, but the high standard has been maintained throughout.

This could not have done without the entire co-operation of the staff, the pupils and the parents. In concluding this short talk on Eleebana I take the opportunity of wishing first of all you boys and girls that you seek the highest education possible and that you are all successful in the careers you choose in life and secondly that the school continues to receive all the support possible from the parents. Thank you all for being so patient.