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:

Named after an early settler Vere James Winn. Called Surprise Township until 1913, when it became 'Surprise Town'. In March 1951 the town's name was gazetted as 'Windale'. This change was advocated by the 'Surprise Town Progress Association'.

Aboriginal Occupation:

In 1973 Mr. C. Fisher found an aboriginal eating place at a gorge in the area.

Early Land Grants:

Grants issued in 1876 include (Kahibah Parish):

  • Micah Proctor - 80 acres, granted 31 March. Land Bounded by Lake Road (to quarry), Scrubby Creek and Mulga Road (in the west). This was Portion 54. Two months after purchase Proctor sold his land to Dr. John James Hill. The land was then passed to John Bennett (1891), David Hamlin and Johannes Jacob Bertram (1892). In 1923 Vere James Winn purchased land which was, in 1947, resumed by the Housing Commission.
  • John Gibson - 50 acres, bounded by South Street, Balerno Crescent and Willow Road.
  • William Crocker - 102 acres in two sections, 66 acres and 42acres. The latter was Portion 69. Part of this grant was at Bennetts Green. In 1932 this land was auctioned and a section was bought by green grocer Thomas Jack whose house on the highway was well known to passers-by on account of the cement gnomes in the garden. In 1949 the Housing Commission resumed 7 acres of Jack's land (bounded in part by Willandra Crescent and Lachlan Street) and in the 1960's the remaining 5 acres were also resumed (South Street and Yertala Close). (d) Crown - 107 acres.

Early Subdivisions:

March 1892 Han-din and Bertram subdivided Proctor's Portion 54. They called it 'Surprise Township', because of its isolated and unexpected location. It was acquired by the Housing Commission in 1949.

Early Settlers:

Although some people settled prior to 1900 their names are not known. It is probable that some of these settlers were also land holders. John Job Tarrant bought land on Scrubby Creek and settled prior to 1913.

In 1917 Vere James Winn (1876-1944) and his wife Emily Ada (1870-1953) moved into a farmhouse in South Street. The Winns were accompanied by their relatives Lillian and Charles Colgan, and Elsie and Alexander Gill. In 1920 Winn's nephew William Gore arrived.

The Gore's and the Tarrants were among the area's only permanent residents in 1949. On 18 April 1949 Mr. D.M. Ure moved into Lot 17, No. 9 Lake Street, Ure was Windale's first Housing Commission tenant.

Early Industries:

In 1913 John Tarrant operated an orchard. James Winn operated a poultry farm in 1917. About 1927 Mrs. Tarrant sold, and delivered by cart to Merewether and Hamilton, her farm's fruit and vegetable produce.

Early Transport:

In the 1800's Cobb and Co. coaches were driven from Newcastle through Windale by James Scully. In the early 1900's Mr. McAuliffe ran a horsedrawn bus service from Newcastle to Catherine Hill Bay; Robert Dyer was the driver.

Prior to 1922 King and Prudis operated a private bus route which incorporated Windale

On 14 September 1954 Government bus route 323 was introduced to run from Newcastle to Windale.

First Post Office:

Opened 2 July 1951 in the Winn farmhouse (South Street). Mrs. Lillian Gore was Post Mistress until 1963; she also delivered the mail. Australia Post took charge of mail deliveries in the late 1970's.

First School:

Windale Public School opened in January 1953. Sid Grant was the headmaster; there were 98 enrolments. The Infants Department opened February 1956. St. Pius X School opened 27 January 1959. Sister Virgilius was the superintendent.


In 1950 the Surprise Town Progress Association was formed; this name was later changed to Windale Progress Association. In 1952-3 the Windale Community Advancement Co-operative Society was registered; shares were sixpence each. An early objective of this society was the construction of a town hall.


In 1882 bread and groceries were supplied and delivered by Patterson's Charlestown store. In 1929 there were four houses in Surprise Town. In 1949 the Housing Commission of NSW opened a housing development. Contracts had been given to three builders: Arthur Tenant, Herb Minter and Eric Frend. In 1952 Lillian Gore became the first storekeeper; she operated both this confectionary shop and the post office from her home. In January 1952 the gas supply was connected. By 1966 the Housing Commission had built 813 homes, 8 units for the, aged, and six of the town's thirteen shops.




In 1949 - just over 100 people. 1953 - 2000 people. 1966 - 815 homes, 4500 people. 1981 - 1512 homes, 4,975 people.


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.]

Saxby, Max & Lake Macquarie (N.S.W.). Council 1990, The history of Windale : a surprise township, Lake Macquarie City Council, [Boolaroo, N.S.W.]

Streets in Windale