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:

After an early landholder Dr. John James Hill of Lambton.

Early Land Grants:

Portion 44 (Kahibah Parish) of 40 acres owned by John James Hill, granted on 31/12/1875.

Early Subdivisions:

First subdivision was D.P.215, declared on 28/4/1876, and encompassing Percy, King, Chadwick, Moody, Cooper and Glasgow Streets. Related to portion 44. A land sale established the suburb in February 1876. Thomas Morley was the vendor.

Early Settlers:

The area was first settled by three brothers named Price.

Early Industries:

Dr. J.J. Hill, who was the first landholder, was a medical officer for the local collieries and at one time was Mayor of Lambton. In 1874 the doctor and four others, Messrs. Price, Moses, Williams and Robyns, floated the Australasian Coal Co. However, they had to obtain finance from a Melbourne group who then had a controlling interest. The Company drilled and struck the 13 ft Australasia Seam. This seam was relatively near the surface and could be worked by a tunnel, thus saving the expense of a shaft and its equipment. Robyns was appointed manager.

Transport was the first problem, as there was no Sydney to Newcastle railway at that time and local collieries built their own lines. Between Hillsborough and the port of Newcastle was a steep ridge known as Stoney Pinch, where today Hillsborough Road joins Charlestown Road at a set of traffic lights. It was decided to build the company's railway from the port along the same route as the Waratah Colliery's newly-opened Gully line, diverging to cross Kotara South and climb the ridge through a series of cuttings culminating in the tunnel through Stoney Pinch. It was a difficult route but a start was made and a steam engine purchased. Then it was found that the tunnel had been incorrectly surveyed and was heading in the wrong direction. As a temporary measure it was proposed to haul the coal up Stoney Pinch with a stationery steam engine at the top and then let it roll down the other side.

The local men were finding it difficult to work with the Melbourne people who countermanded local decisions. When the coal was finally marketed it was found to be of inferior quality to the Borehole coal and could not be sold. The Company had spent 68,000 pounds for no return and was liquidated, abandoning its enterprise at Hillsborough in 1879.

Early Transport:

In 1938 a government bus service to Newcastle via Cardiff South commenced. It terminated at Broadmeadow during the war years 1942-46 where passengers transferred to trams. In 1963 a direct service was introduced.


The proposed railway from Hillsborough to Newcastle was never completed.

First Post Office:

Higham Road post office opened on I November 1876 as "Winding Creek" post office. Its name was changed to "Higham Road" on 1 April 1877, This office closed on 30 September 1880. In 1889 mail was delivered by contractor.

First School:

Provisional school opened October 1876-1877. It operated as a public school from January 1878 to May 1881. This school was accommodated in a church hall until it moved to a rented building in Higham Road. Hillsborough Public School opened January 1963; 42 students were enrolled, Mr. Mervyn Hall was the principal.


Hillsborough-Charlestown Golf Club opened in 1981. The Northern Canine Club has a large dog showground and training area on Hillsborough Road.


By 1877 the town comprised eight houses and a hotel, as the Australasian Coal Company prepared their large mine. Two shops and two more hotels were erected but when the Company went into liquidation the town was virtually wiped out. It was described as "a deserted locality" (Newcastle Almanac, 1883). It was not re-settled until after the Second World War. Dillon Brothers ran a piggery on Hillsborough Road for many years. Until 1969 the town was split between two State electorates: Lake Macquarie and Kahibah.




Australian Railway Historical Society Bulletin Vol. XV (New Series) September 1964, page 161: "The Australasian Coal Company" by J.F. Webber.

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 Hillsborough