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:

Derived from the reddish coloration of the headland, especially when seen from the sea.

Aboriginal Occupation:

Many campsites have been identified at Redhead and numbers of stone implements found, as well as axe-sharpening grooves on the upper reaches of Freshwater Creek. There was good rock fishing and the swamps around the lagoon provided wildfowl. The aborigines are believed to have called the area "Kinti Irrabin".

Early Land Grants:

Portion 117 (Kahibah Parish), grant to Redhead Coal Mining Co. Ltd, 23/4/1883. Portion 1, grant to Redhead Coal Mining Co. Ltd, 30/8/1886, of 117 acres.

Early Subdivisions:

First subdivision was D.P.3109, declared on 18/6/1894 and bounded by Cain, Elsdon, Collier, Scrubby and Ocean Streets and including Bennett and Woods Streets.

Early Settlers:

James Parker, prior to 1865.

Early Industries:

James Parker began an orchard at 'Big Redhead' about 1865. His orchard was noted for its bananas.

The Burwood Extended Colliery opened at Redhead in 1889 but was closed in 1891 by the depression. It re-opened in 1903 as Ocean Colliery, known as The Clink. In 1904 T. Cowlishaw bought it and re-named it Burwood Extended. It was named Redhead colliery in 1920 when taken over by the Redhead Colliery Co. Ltd. On 21 January 1926 an explosion killed 5 men. The mine was closed in 1928.

About 1892 the Scottish Australian Company opened the Durham Colliery, with Thomas Croudace and his son Frank in charge of operations. In 1898 the name was changed to Lambton No. 2 Colliery, known as Lambton B. It is now operated by B.H.P. A rutile plant operated at Redhead in the 1960s.

Early Transport:

A private line (originally owned by the New Redhead Coal and Estate Co.) was extended through Redhead to Belmont in 1916. Tourist and passenger services were then operated. The charabanc (an early type of bus) was also used.

In 1931 a private bus service began operating to Broadmeadow, where it met the trams. This was taken over by the government bus service in 1937 and the route extended into the Newcastle.


The New Redhead Coal and Estate Company's line which extended through Redhead was completed in October 1916. Tourist trains ran on line in its early period and passenger services were continued until 1971. Miners' train ran morning and afternoon, so that they no longer had to live within walking distance of the pit.

First Post Office:

Opened 3 June 1907.

First School:

Public School opened September 1908.


In the 1920's the area held only forty houses. In 1925 an influx of English, Welsh and Scottish migrants raised the area's population by sixty. Prior to World War 11 mining was the primary occupation of the town's population. Redhead had the distinction of being a mining town without a hotel. In the late 1940's there was a home building boom. In 1949 thirty four houses were built. In 1949 there was an explosion when a bush fire set alight a mine powder magazine. Redhead Surf Life Saving Club was founded on 12/12/1908.

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.]

Conrick, Chris 1983, Redhead : village, beach and surf club 1908-1983, Alec Dobson & McEwan Pty, Adamstown

Tonks, Ed & Redhead Bowling Club 1981, History of Redhead Colliery, Redhead Bowling Club, [Redhead, N.S.W.]

Streets in Redhead