Lake Macquarie History


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.

Name Origin:

Probably named after the town of Fassifern in the Scottish Highlands, though by whom cannot be verified. One possibility is that it was named by one of the early settlers in the area John Cameron (1840-1908), whose family came from Fassifern in Scotland. Cameron family descendants believe that John Cameron is responsible for the naming of this suburb.

It is known that in the early 1880s surveyor John Joseph Tucker and some other Newcastle business men formed the Fassifern Coal Company and took up a selection in the area, with the intent of mining coal. A condition of the agreement was that the property had to be continuously occupied for a period of three years, and a large wooden house was built (Fassifern House) with Tucker moving his family out there in 1885.

There are many geographic similarities between the two areas:

  • Fassifern in Scotland is bordered by Lake Eil, while Fassifern in Australia is bordered by Lake Macquarie.
  • The railway line runs through Fassifern in Scotland in a similar way to the rail corridor at Fassifern Lake Macquarie
  • A creek of similar size to our Fassifern's LT Creek runs into Lake Eil at Fassifern.

The railway station was at first called Wyee but changed to Fassifern on 18.3.1888.

Early Land Grants:

Portion 59 (Awaba Parish) of 49 acres was originally applied for by W. Donaldson, surveyed on 10/6/1879, and taken up J.R. and E.A. Donaldson. The Northumberland Land and Coal Co. had 2560 acres.

Early Subdivisions:

30/4/1881 J.C. Bonarius auctioned for an unknown vendor an estate called "The Village of Lorne". D.P. 9428, declared on 21/6/1918, no street names. Part of portion 59.

Early Industries:

A sawmill was operating near the Fassifern shore of Fennell Bay in 1883. In 1886 the Northumberland Land and Coal Company started operations on the western side of Fassifern. Two unsuccessful shafts were sunk and then a tunnel was used. The first use of electricity in a northern mine was here at these shafts. In 1894 they were taken over by the Ocean Steam Coal Co. From 1900 to 1912 they were leased to F. R. Croft. In 1914 Northumberland No. 2 was opened nearby. In 1916 they were sold to the Fassifern Coal Co. In 1919 this company opened Olstan adjacent. From 1925 - 1949 the Sulphide Corporation was supplied with coal from Fassifern. The name Olstan derives from Oliver and Stanley two of the owners sons. In 1949 all these old collieries were sold to the N.S.W. Electricity Commission which reopened them as Newstan.

In 1950 Newstan Colliery (The name is derived from Stanley's new mine) was opened on the old Northumberland Colliery site.

There were two smaller collieries to the south of Fassifern: Blackalls and South Pacific. The latter employed 35 men in 1926.

An arsenic plant, owned by Duncan and Elliot, operated near Fassifern processing ore from Warialda but closed due to difficulties with the patents for the process, cost of transport for the ore, and objections by surrounding landowners to the fumes from the plant. The N.S.W. Government Railways operated a large gravel quarry from 1898 to 1940. Much of the white gravel used on platforms in the Newcastle district came from this quarry.


Fassifern station opened in 1887 under name of 'Wyee'. Prior to this date the station was referred to as 'Lake Macquarie'. The present name was brought into use 12 March 1888. The initial purpose of the station may have been to provide a junction for a private branch line which ran to the Northumberland Land and Coal Co's mine.

On 7 March 1891 a private tramway was opened by the Excelsior Land, Investment, Building and Bank Company Limited. This line ran from Fassifern station to the Toronto wharf. On Sundays and public holidays, from August 1891, Government trains carried passengers and goods on this line.

First Post Office:

Opened I January 1888; closed 15 March 1889.

First School:

Public School was opened in August 1922.


The village of Fassifern developed because of the railway construction works and the mines.

Water Supply:



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 Fassifern