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 Lieut-colonel James Thomas Morisset who was Commandant of Newcastle from 1818-1823. In April 1823 he made the first overland journey from Newcastle to Sydney and camped overnight under a tree on the western side of Lake Macquarie; the tree was situated just east of the present Morisset railway station, and is marked as a historic tree. However, there is also a possibility that it was named after his son E.N.V. Morisset who was superintendent of police at Bathurst, Maitland and Goulburn.

Early Land Grants:

Morisset was a Crown land subdivision, made when the railway was being constructed in 1886-7.

Early Subdivisions:

It was a Government subdivision and there were many buyers for the allotments. By 1887 a few homes were already occupied. The township was proclaimed on the 3 December 1887; it was bounded by the streets now known as Kilaben, Stockton, Awaba, Bridge, Wharf, Toronto, Temarang, Park and Ourimbah Streets.

Early Settlers:

Pioneer teamsters or millhands were the Hely's, Frosts, Wellings, Hansons and O'Leary. One early sawmill owner was HB. Mullard.

Early Industries:

The first two industries established were sawmilling, and the building and functioning of the railway. The sawmills were situated near the railway to make transport easier. Logs were brought by bullock dray from a wide area, many from the Wattagan mountains.

In 1909 the weekly output of one mill included:2000 tool handles, 8000 spokes, 100 pairs of rims, 200 pairs of shafts and 200 pairs of naves for wheels. Many of these were exported to New Zealand.

Early Transport:

Bullock dray, rail after 1887.


When the Great Northern Railway was opened in August 1887 there were only two intermediate stations, one was Morisset. The Morisset-Dora Creek deviation was opened on 14 September 1902. Arrangements were completed in March 1911 for duplication of the track.

First Post Office:

Opened on 16/6/1888 as a receiving office only, in charge of Henry Eckford, who was also the station master. He was followed in 1889 by G.H. Manson. On 16 November 1898 its status was raised to that of an official office.

First School:

Public School opened in August 1891. By 1909 about 70 pupils were enrolled. It became a central school from January 1951 until January 1965, when it reverted to a public school. Morisset High School opened in January 1965.


Morisset has one of the largest mental hospitals in the state situated on the lake shore several km from the town. Land (I 300 acres) was reserved for hospital in 1900 and by 1909 one ward had opened and contained 78 male patients. By 1954 the hospital had 16 "homes" and 1389 patients of both sexes. It includes wards for alcoholics, drug addicts and the criminally insane.


Estimated at 320 in 1909.

1911 - 123 homes and 640 persons. 1921 - 127 homes and 1125 persons. 1933 - 199 homes and 1587 persons.

1947 - 240 homes and 21 10 persons. 1954 - 273 homes and 2318 persons. 1961 - 313 homes and 2545 persons. 1966 - 270 homes and 2152 persons. 1971 - 264 homes and 1788 persons. 1976 - 1595 persons.

Occupied homes only in each case.

These figures include patients at the Morisset Mental Hospital. Some idea of the population of the town excluding the hospital patients can be seen from the following:1909 - 320 persons (estimated).

1954 - 929 persons.

1961 - 969 persons.

1966 - 826 persons.

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 Morisset