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:
153 population (2006 Census)

Next Village:

Cam's Wharf

Catherine Hill Bay is a secluded and sleepy old mining village in the hinterland behind the Central Coast within the City of Lake Macquarie.

Access is via a sealed beach road off the Sydney - Newcastle Freeway and the Pacific Highway. Despite the beauty of the bay and its attractive situation in a valley surrounded by high hills and bushland, the presence of the rusty iron and lifeless machinery inevitably gives the Bay a very different feel to other busy tourism-based towns of the Central Coast.

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. Some of these are available as rental accommodation. They are essentially simple and similar, box-like units with verandahs 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.

Cams Wharf Rd takes you to Crangan Bay in the south-eastern corner of Lake Macquarie . There is a picnic area with a boat ramp and views west to Point Wolstoncroft at the tip of the peninsula which marks the western boundary of the bay, with the stacks of Eraring Power Station on the western shore of the lake in the distance and the mountains in the background. Off the point is Pulbah Island, a nature reserve, and, to the north-west Wangi Wangi Point and, behind it, Coal Point, both long, narrow peninsulas which stick out from the western shore of the lake.

Raffertys Rd leads to a resort with a very pleasant and tranquil park with well-established trees, barbecue facilities and shelter sheds at the entrance.

Catherine Hill Bay History

The village is named after the schooner "Catherine Hill" which ran aground there on 21st June 1867.

Coal was discovered and mined by the New Wallsend Company which bought up the land, built a jetty and opened the mine in 1873. 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. Approximately 1000 tons of coal a week was taken by horse-drawn skips from the mine to a loading chute on the jetty.

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.

The area has been at the centre of controversial housing and preservation disputes over the past decade, and there are plans to surround it with proposed National Park zoning. It is one of the last coastal areas in the region to be 'discovered' by developers.

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