Lake Macquarie History

History of Belmont Lagoon - Epilogue

Most notable changes in the history of Belmont Lagoon seem to have occurred in the past 200 years. Its geological status is most likely a coastal wetland/dune lake but aside from semantics, engineered changes in the 1940s effectively altered its nature and function. In 2018 the lagoon's surface water area was estimated at approx. 40 ha (43) . In terms of its hydrology this water body has since become more brackish/salt water than freshwater. Due to its large surface area (approx. 40 ha) and physical link to Cold Tea Canal and tidal influence from Lake Macquarie this water body is unlikely to dry out again.

Its ecology continues to change – aided by suburban and natural vectors. Bushfire on the lagoon’s eastern side in 2018-19 destroyed considerable low-level vegetation. Increased summer rainfall in the current La Nina cycle (2020-21) is supporting new growth - denser scrub (Viminaria, Phragmites reeds and Typha bulrushes). These will provide important habitat for wildlife, restrict soil erosion and remove sediment and nutrients from its water. Melaleuca, Casuarina and Banksia saplings are also becoming a taller, denser canopy.

Mudflats on its northern side are now exposed year round and Grey Mangrove seedlings are sprouting 20-40 m in from its reedy eastern edges. Together, these vectors will likely reduce the area of open water; verifiable from ongoing LiDAR measurements. However, this means migratory shorebird species observed at this site 50 years earlier (21) may not be seen here again unless these processes are reversed (as noted in a recent report on Ash Island of the Hunter Estuary (43).

Belmont Lake (or Lagoon) is a living museum. It is an important coastal habitat for native bird and fish species, and as a wetland it protects the quality of water entering the Macquarie Estuary (aka Awaba). Fresh opportunities for recreational fishing, bushwalking and cycling nearby will enable visitors and locals to enjoy and help protect this natural asset.