Lake Macquarie History


West Wallsend was a disadvantaged community. Surrounded by bushland, rural landholdings and disused mines Westy was poorly connected to the outside world through both roads and public transport. There was no nearby shopping centre and little local employment. West Wallsend High School struggled with a reputation for being rough. The nearly unchanged rows of miner's cottages, old pubs and shopfronts suggested a place whose moment had passed.

History teacher Brian Hayes founded a small museum at the high school through a course called 'Setting Up A School Museum'. The museum received funding under the Disadvantaged Schools program. It was 1985.

The museum was a collecting institution with a social and educational purpose. Brian enriched his students. He connected people to each other and to their local history. Students set out with tape recorders and asked older locals about the past. They documented and repaired donations and set up displays. Those students still affectionately remember their time working and learning in the museum.

The collection grew, filling two buildings and nearby outside areas. Many local residents contributed to the West Wallsend High School and Community Museum. They volunteered their time and donated items.

In 2018 Lake Macquarie City Council offered to acquire the collection and build it a new home: Sugar Valley Library Museum

We invite you to continue the social and educational purpose of this collection here. We can connect to the past and to each other through these stories. Let's build something enduring together, just like Brian and his students.

Acknowledgement of Country

We remember and respect the Ancestors who cared for and nurtured this Country. It is in their footsteps that we travel these lands and waters. Lake Macquarie City Council acknowledges the Awabakal people and Elders past, present and future.

Council acknowledges traditional custodians throughout Australia. We commit to listening deeply to and collaborating with First Peoples in our work.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website and Council's cultural collections may contain images, voices or names of deceased persons in photographs, film, audio recordings or printed material.

This website may contain place names, opinions and terms that reflect authors' views or those of the period in which the item was written or recorded. These may not be considered appropriate today.

If you experience any issues with the website or its content please contact us [email protected]