Lake Macquarie History

Glenrock Lagoon

The City Council of Lake Macquarie acknowledge the Aboriginal people known today as the Awabakal, as the traditional Custodians of the land, respecting Aboriginal Elders past, present and future. Lake Macquarie City Council recognise the local Aboriginal community today in all of their diversity, who came forward to share their experiences, knowledge, images and memories.

Picturesque Glenrock Lagoon has been a recreational area for the people of Newcastle and Lake Macquarie for over a century. The area has dramatic headlands, attractive beaches, and pockets of littoral rainforest. Its rock-strewn creeks flow over waterfalls, past surrounding cliffs into rock pools. The lagoon is a small, shallow body of water approx 900 metres long and approx 100 metres wide covering approximately 8 hectares and is located within the Glenrock State Recreation Area. Two main tributaries, Flaggy and Little Flaggy Creeks, construct a dramatic creek and gully formation, which flows into the lagoon from the west.

photo: picnic burwood lagoon

In close proximity is the Awabakal Nature Reserve, which is located between Dudley and Redhead. It is much less accessible than Glenrock and is open only to walkers. The Awabakal Field Study Centre is located next to the Dudley School.

Glenrock Reserve houses many recorded historic sites. These include:

  • Australia's first commissioned copper smelter
  • a unique coastal railway on Burwood Beach
  • the Burwood Colliery (one of the oldest and best preserved remains of a 19th century coal mine in the Hunter)
  • winding engine foundations at Leichhardt's Lookout
  • brick-lined air shafts, a dry stone rock wall,
  • railway relics
  • the 'ziggy track' (a cutting through solid rock created by miners).
  • The area is home to a diverse variety of natural flora and fauna species, with significant bird species diversity in the area, all of which is provided by the combination of marine, wetland, heath and forest habitats.


    photo: scout camp, glenrock

  • 1791 It has been speculated that escaped convicts Mary and William Bryant were the first European visitors to Glenrock. Soon after coal was discovered.
  • 1804 A settlement for unruly convicts as secondary punishment is established and named Coal River, also Kingstown and then renamed Newcastle, after England's famous coal port.Three convicts escaped from the penal settlement at Newcastle, visited Glenrock along the way then made their way down the coast as far as Broken Bay
  • 1835 James Mitchell purchases about 900 acres of coastal land extending from the far side of Merewether ridge to Glenrock Lagoon, naming it the Burwood Estate. Later he acquires a further 934 acres.
  • 1842 Ludwig Leichhardt visits the Burwood Estate and drew up the stratigraphy of the coastline.
  • 1846 Mitchell commissioned a tunnel through Burwood Ridge known as Mitchell's Tunnel. Historically significant, its construction was the first of its kind, and led to the opening up of independent coal mining, which in turn led to the establishment of the Hunter as a coal mining centre.
  • 1856 Walter Bailey cultivates a 120 acre orchard and market garden, called Mount Pleasant, in the valley above the southern end of the Dudley Beach, producing a variety of vegetables and fruit.
  • 1869 James Mitchell dies and leaves his estate to his partner of four years, Charles Wolfskehl. Disputed by the family, known as the 'Great Will Case', favour was granted to the Mitchell family.
  • 1872 Mrs Mitchell dies and Burwood estate, encumbered with debt, passes to her daughter and is managed by husband, Edward Merewether.
  • 1884 Merewether leases out land for mining to the Burwood Coal Mining Company, as well as land for residential and business purposes.
  • 1893 Burwood Coal Mining Company sells the colliery to the Scottish Australian Mining Company.
  • 1900 The coastal railway ceases to operate. The new owners now employ the Redhead Coal Company's railway, via Adamstown, (present day Fernleigh Track).
  • 1904 The coastal railway reopens by the newly formed Glenrock Colliery, after theScottish Australian Mining Company sublets a portion to them.
  • 1923 The mine at Glenrock closes.
  • 1932 The Scouting movement acquires a 99 year lease to land adjacent to Glenrock and builds the Glenrock Scout Training Camp.
  • 1944 The Glenrock Colliery closes and the railway tunnels are sealed.
  • 1971 Sir Ian McLennan opens Stage 1 of the new Scout training camp, Glenrock War Memorial Training Camp.
  • 1986 Glenrock is declared a State Recreation Area
  • Reference

    Grothen, John F. (John Fredrick) 1982, The history in and about Glenrock Lagoon, Rev, J.F. Grothen, [Belmont North, N.S.W.]

    Ableson, Barry W 2005, Scouting and Glenrock Lagoon : a history of the Scout camp at Glenrock Lagoon, [s.n.], [s.l]