Central Coast Australia

Catherine Hill Bay

Catherine Hill Bay
  • Catherine Hill Bay
  • Catherine Hill Bay
  • Catherine Hill Bay
  • Catherine Hill Bay
  • Catherine Hill Bay
  • Catherine Hill Bay
From Sydney:
121kms   ·  98 mins by car
From Newcastle:
24kms   ·  41 mins by car
Quick Stats:
820 population (2021 Census)

Next Village:

Cam's Wharf

Catherine Hill Bay is a coastal bay and village south of the Pacific Ocean entrance channel at Swansea. The village is the oldest continuous settlement in the City of Lake Macquarie. The Aboriginal people in this area, the Awabakal were the first people of this land.Catherine Hill Bay has been placed on the State Heritage Register as a Heritage Township:

A new subdivision of the village, called Beaches Estate, has been developed on the site of the old coal mine adjacent to Moonee Beach since 2017 and comprises approximately 500 dwellings.

 

Catherine Hill Bay Attractions

Rows of 19th century miners' cottages, in a residential area known as Middle Camp in a gully surrounded by high hills, line the roadside. They are essentially simple and similar, box-like units with verandas and no fences, all situated very close to the street.

Northwood Rd which runs by the cemetery to a side road, leads out to First Lookout, a bluff overlooking the beach below. At either end are the two headlands which demarcate the bay's boundaries. At the southern end is the coal-loading wharf with the colliery on the hillside behind it.

Second Lookout is another viewing area offering a different angle and more elevated perspective over the same views.

Catherine Hill Bay History

Catherine Hill Bay was established in 1865 when the land was first purchased to serve as a base for coal mining in the area, for the town that was then called Cowper. In 1867, the schooner Catherine Hill ran aground and the town was renamed to commemorate this. By 1873, coal was being shipped from the town all over the world. In 1875, our oldest local pub was built – now known locally as The Catho.The coastal location facilitated shipment and avoided the bar at the entrance to Lake Macquarie. The enterprise employed up to 100 men. Their cottages formed the basis of the township and still line the roadside. A post office opened in 1874. The mail was initially shipped in by the company's coal steamer, the Susannah Cuthbert. However, it was wrecked in 1875 and this proved a major setback for the company which subsequently closed in 1877. The township virtually ceased to exist until the Wallarah Coal Company opened up the mines again in 1889.

Over the next decade a school, a public hall, two churches, a sawmill, a new jetty and a tram track to the mine were all built. The men travelled to work via train and ferry across the lake to Cams Wharf. They then walked the remaining 4 or 5 km.

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