Lake Macquarie History

Catherine Hill Bay

Name Origin:

After the schooner "Catherine Hill" which ran aground there on 21 June 1867.

European History

Early Land Grants:

Four portions make up the present township. All were purchased on I April 1865. Portion 20, owned by Jacob L. Montefiore and Thomas Hale (265 acres). Portions 17, 18 and 19, Robert Saddington and Charles Parbury, a total of 635 acres. All portions were in the parish of Wallarah. In 1888 this land passed into the ownership of the Wallarah Coal Co.

Early Subdivisions:

D.P. 163, declared on 5 April 1875 as the Village of Cowper was part of portion 20. This makes Catherine Hill Bay one of the oldest existing towns in the City of Lake Macquarie. The subdivision forms the part of the town in front of the bay itself an around the present hotel. In the early 1890's a settlement developed about 4 kilometres north of the original town and close to where the mines were then situated. This became known as "Mine Camp". In December 1910 a plan was approved to develop another settlement of just over 3 acres halfway between Mine Camp and the original town. This was called "Middle Camp" and was part of Wallarah Coal Co's portion 18 of 190 acres.

Early European Settlers:

Charles Albert Boult was the storekeeper and became the first Post Master in 1874. In 1875 Robert Talbot became the keeper of a hotel, and Mr. Trevillion the keeper of another hotel in 1876. In 1876 Mr. Caldwell was a storekeeper. Ah Hee was a market gardener.

Some of the first workers at the Wallarah Mine which began in 1889 were Mr. E. Stollard, Mr. Price and Mr. W.T. Gillespie who was a pioneer member of the Miners Federation in the town. Mr. Oliver Cooper came to the town from Wallsend in 1889 as a boy of 7 years. His family lived in a tent, which was common in those days when mining families moved from town to town.

Early Industries:

The New Wallsend Company began coal mining operations from a tunnel just above the beach near the jetty during 1873 and the first shipment was made from the newly constructed jetty on 17th December 1873. The mine employed some 70 men in 1874, but was closed for economic reasons in March 1877, resulting in many people leaving the area. Another coal company, Pope, Hardie and Co. (later the Lake Macquarie Coal Co.) began to sink a shaft in July 1875, but this came to nothing. The London based Wallarah Coal Co. acquired 1200 acres in the area from Messrs. Parbury, Saddington and Lamb in September 1888. The first coal was shipped from this mine in January 1890. Wallarah now belongs to Coal and Allied and is still working, using the Crangan Entry at Crangan Bay on Lake Macquarie. A Saw Mill existed in 1897. Market gardens operated by Chinese residents were situated at the end of Lindsay Street over the creek in 1898. A rutile plant operated in the 1960's.

Early Transport:

In the mid-1870's there were only two means of transport from the town to Newcastle. One was overland to the Lake entrance at Swansea, which was crossed by boat. Horses swam across. The other route was via the Lake itself, and by the late 1870's a ferry called at Reeces' wharf which was on the lake 3 miles over the hills from the town. The ferry disembarked at Cockle Creek or Speers Point and travellers then went overland to connect with Public Transport at Wallsend. Bullocks were used to transport goods from Reece's wharf to the town.

In 1874 the steamer "Susannah Cuthbert" carried mail and passengers to Sydney twice weekly but in 1875 the service was discontinued due to lack of patronage.

A bus service to Broadmeadow began in 1931. In 1958 the government bus service was terminated and A. and 1. Presland ran a private service.


The Wallarah Coal Co. built a railway from its first mine site, down 4 klms to the coal loading jetty. It was built between 1889 and 1890. Steam trains delivered the coal in hoppers.

First Post Office:

On 15 October 1874 the Post Office was opened in the charge of Mr. Charles Albert Boult who was the store keeper at the New Wallsend Company's settlement. This office, which closed 30 November 1879, was re-opened 1 September 1889. Mail was brought from Wallsend on horseback twice weekly.'Mine Camp' post office was opened 16 January 1903, and closed 31 March 1952.

First School:

A public school opened in January 1890.


The Wallarah Miners joined the Miners Union in December 1889 and a Lodge was in existence from about then. Some of the early Lodge Presidents were Mr. Mascord (before May 1896); J. Bassett (1904-1907); F. Roach (1909). The Wallarah Miners Brass Band was formed in July 1901. The first bandmaster was Mr. W. Baker.

The Progress Association was formed in 1900 and re-formed in 1908. One of the early presidents (1904) was Mr. H. Marks. The president in April 1908 was W.J. Nord. A Labour League (later A.L.P.) was formed in January 1909. A Parents and Citizens Association was formed early in 1910. These organisations were among the earliest in Lake Macquarie.


Nilson, Laurie & Leis, Susan & Noble, Rodney & Lake Macquarie (N.S.W.). Council 1985, Lake Macquarie : past and present, Lake Macquarie City Council, [Boolaroo, N.S.W.]

Streets in Catherine Hill Bay

Acknowledgement of Country

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