Warners Bay History

The Awabakal

“People from the Awabakal tribe or clan lived on the foreshore of Lake Macquarie around what is now called Warner’s Bay. The northern extremities of the Lake were important in the daily and ritual life of these people. Though there is little visible evidence remaining to suggest their habitation.” 1

Missionary Station

In January 1825, the Reverend Lancelot E Threlkeld of the London Missionary Society made the decision to found a mission among the Awabakal at Lake Macquarie. The site “Biddobar” or “Biddaba” was chosen as the location of the mission. In a map accompanying a claim for land in 1829, Threlkeld marked the location – at the lakeside of what is now Warners Bay. 2

Origin of Name - Warners Bay

Warners Bay was named after first settler, Jonathan Warner.

Early Settlers/Land Grants

Jonathan Warner was a disbanded officer from the New South Wales Royal Veteran Corp. He had also been the Assistant Surveyor of Roads and Bridges in Wiseman’s Ferry District. In this role he was sent to check a proposed road from the Hawkesbury to Maitland via Lake Macquarie.
Warner selected his land at the Threlkeld’s original mission site in July 1829 and was authorised to take possession in 1831. He built a two-storey weatherboard house which he called “Biddaba” - (silent resting place) on a hill near the present Warners Bay Primary School. There he established a farm and orange orchard. He had a number of assigned convicts to work on the farm in addition to his sons.

In 1833, he was appointed Police Magistrate for Brisbane Water, which involved fortnightly horseback journeys to Gosford to attend court sittings. He died in 1842, leaving his widow to manage the estate.  The orchard was a showplace as late as 1870 and visitors came from Newcastle to see it. The Warner Homestead was demolished in about 1932.

1 Warners Bay The Early Years – Peter Murray 2011 Edition, p3
2 Warners Bay The Early Years – Peter Murray 2011 Edition, p3-4

Early Industry

The Warner family had a small coal mine in the form of a tunnel on the waterfront below their house, the coal being taken away by boat from a jetty there. A second tunnel had been dug for coal in a gully near the homestead but it was not economical because of the difficulty of transporting the coal to the waterfront.

In 1883 a company headed by Hyde, Waterhouse and Cowlishaw leased the Warner Estate from the surviving heirs with the intention of drilling a third tunnel but the project does not seem to have materialized. On 24 July 1884, Archibald Gardiner notified the closure of the Warners Estate mine on behalf of the South Wallsend Coal Company.

Early Transport

By boat or horse; Jonathan Warner made his fortnightly journeys to Brisbane Water accompanied by two of his sons for safety. There was a horse and dray track to Newcastle, which was used to transport farm produce.

In 1931, a private bus service operated from Speers Point to Broadmeadow via Warners Bay and Charlestown. This was converted to a government service in 1937 and extended to Newcastle.

First School

Opened as a provisional school in July 1892, Warners Bay Primary School became a public school in April 1904. The school was called “Warner” until November 1913. Warners Bay High School was opened in January 1966.

Town Centre

The Warners Bay Shopping Centre expanded rapidly after 1980. Lake Macquarie Council created a reserve along the edge of the bay using fill from various sites. This foreshore has become a hub for recreational activity both on and off shore, sailing, kayaking and paddle boarding are all popular activities. The area also features a shared cycle path and walking track stretching from the Lake Macquarie Art Gallery at Booragul to Green Point;  the path is widely used by the local community.

3 Source:http://www.lakemac.infohunt.nsw.gov.au/library/lhist/suburb/lmp&p/warnersbay.htm