I know I’ve said this before so forgive me for sounding like a parrot, but moving up to the Central Coast of New South Wales was the best decision I have made in quite a long time. I’d lived for so long in the same place (20 years) and never imagined leaving….not until the death of my mother in 2000 did all this change.
Since her passing I have moved five times, including a brief stay on the coast to re-settle my father, which was when I began contemplating a more permanent address by the sea.
My family have a long close connection to the coast and so it was no surprise that my parents decided to make a sea-change part of their retirement plan, in turn creating the perfect holiday destination for their “kids” and families.
It didn’t matter how many times I travelled the roads from Sydney to the Coast, once I left the freeway and could taste the salt air, knew I was coming home…
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.