Lake Macquarie History


Name Origin:

From Aboriginal word "Kour-an-bong" meaning rocky bottom creek or water over rocks. Early spellings include 'Kuringbong'(1834),'Coorumbung'(1841), 'Corumbong' (1879). The name was officially adopted with the opening of Cooranbong post office in 1866.

First Nations History

The Awabakal tribe was predominant. Aboriginal tribes from other districts sometimes invaded the Lake area. 'Kourumbung' was often used as a site for clashes between tribes over possession of available land.

European History

Early Land Grants:

In 1826 Lieutenant Percy Simpson selected 2,000 acres at Cooranbong in Coorumbung Parish. He lived on the grant from 1826 until 1828 and then left an assigned servant, Moses Carroll, as overseer. It is believed that in 1832 or 1833 Frederick Augustus Hely leased the property, with Alexander Oliver as his overseer.

In 1830 John Tingcombe received a grant adjoining Simpson's but the deeds were finally issued to John Manning in 1837.

Early Subdivisions:

Seven lots (from 10-272 acres) were sold on 1 August 1861. Most lots adjoined the western boundary of the Simpson grant. This area became the village centre. D.P. 3533, declared on 3/5/1897 and encompassing Forest, Park, College, Maitland, Stockton, Orchard, Fern, Central, Alton, and Northern Roads, was part of Portions 87 and 40. Portion 87 was a grant to Patrick Fredrick Campbell on 22/9/1851. Portion 40 was a grant to Patrick O'Leary on 5/8/1870.

Early European Settlers:

Percy Simpson's family moved into their 'Kourumbung' homestead (situated near the present site of the Roman Catholic Church) in 1826. Here they remained until 1828. The 1828 Census shows the following people at Simpson's, though there were definitely others:

Patrick Maguire, convict labourer,

George Taylor, convict labourer,

Philip Thorogood, convict labourer.

When Simpson left, Moses Carrol - one of Simpson's assigned convicts - stayed as overseer. The Carroll's were probably the only permanent residents of the region in 1833; although it is possible that Alexander Oliver (the overseer for F. Hely, leasee of Simpson's property) may have lived there then. James Armitage settled with his family in 1860, as did Thomas Russell. Russell - was active in the community - acted as postmaster, operated a number of businesses, and pioneered the tourist trade. The land sales of 1861 brought to the area the families of Patrick Malone ((1830), Deaves and Blackford, among others.

Early Industries:

1826-28 Simpson operated a cattle and dairy farm. By October 1833 Mr Manning was operating a dairy. In the late 1850's swans were hunted so that their down could be sold in the Sydney markets. From the 1860's Cooranbong exported timber products. July 5, 1874, Robert King's sawmill exported its first cargo of timber. Two more sawmills - Moon's Mill and Steel's Mill were operational prior to 1877. In the 1890's, the end of railway contracts combined with a national economic depression to curtail the timber market. Fishing was an early industry of Cooranbong, as was shipbuilding. In 1875 Kennah and Braid built four vessels for the lake trade. The Seventh-day Adventists established the Sanitarium Health Food company during the 1890s.

Early Transport:

Cooranbong mainly used lake transport. Probably the first ketch employed in the timber trade during the 1860's was Thomas Boyd's TURTLE. In 1864 Thomas Russell brought provisions to the town in his VILLAGE MAID. By 1875 about twelve boats traded with Cooranbong. It was an overnight stop-over for Cobb and Co.'s coaches.


Cooranbong was by-passed by the Waratah to Homebush railway. This adversely affected the towns development, as Cooranbong began to rely on Morisset to fulfill transport needs.

First Cemetery:

first recorded burial was 1861

First Post Office:

Opened I January 1866; Postmaster: John Bormett (possibly Bormell). Mail was brought from Wallsend twice weekly on horseback. Avondale post office was opened in 1910.

First School:

Opened as a 'Non-vested National School' November 25th 1861:

36 children attended; Jeremiah Crouin was the teacher. It was the first school in Lake Macquarie. Originally in the Catholic Church, it was installed in a government classroom in 1879. The school's name was originally spelt 'Coorumbong'.


The Police Station and lock up was built by Henry Worley in 1835. Moses Carroll was the Superintendant. The township came into existence around the time of the 1861 land sales. It was announced in 1866 that a bridge was to be erected over Dora Creek. The first Catholic church was erected by November 1861. Thomas Russell opened the first hotel. By 1875 a racecourse was operating on O'Leary land. The Seventh-day Adventists established a college at Cooranbong in 1896.

Water Supply:



In 1865 it was estimated that the town had 150 residents, who were chiefly timber workers. In 1884 the population was about 700 but the census of 1891 showed only 206 people, possibly due to the depression of the 1890's affecting the timber trade.


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.]

Australia. Postmaster-General's Department 1962, Cooranbong, Posts & Telegraphs, Sydney

Clouten, Keith 1967, Reid's mistake : the story of Lake Macquarie from its discovery until 1890, Lake Macquarie Shire Council, [Speers Point, N.S.W.]

Streets in Cooranbong

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.

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