INDIGENOUS Australians living in the beautiful stretch of NSW coastline we now know as Lake Macquarie called the lake for thousands of yearsby the name Awaba, which is said to translate to “a plain surface”.
The lake is often just that, a plain blue surface of sparkling water surrounded by small and large communities and stretches of bush.
The first European contact with the Lake Macquarie area was in 1800, when a man named Captain William Reid took a wrong turn on his way from Sydney to Newcastle and found himself in a lake rather than the river he had been expecting further north.
It is said that the trip was to retrieve a load of coal. Instead his wrong turn gave the Lake Macquarie area a new name between 1800 and 1826, as Indigenous names in NSW were swept aside in the push for European settlement.
The land of the Awabakal nation became known as Reid’s Mistake, until a colony that wanted to acknowledge Governor Macquarie named the area after him instead.
For a long time Lake Macquarie has been the beautiful area between Sydney and Newcastle with a split personality –the part of the community on the eastern side of the lake divided from the part on the west.
But over the past few years Lake Macquarie has come to rival Newcastle as the premier commercial and retail district of the Hunter region, and more recently as the place where people increasingly want to live.
The $80 million Water’s Edge proposal at Warners Bay, where 112 apartments are planned on what used to be an old BP service station site, is typical of the types of developments heading to the lake district. If built it will take its place opposite the Shearwater building, with another 112 apartments, shops and an Aldi supermarket.
Charlestown is now a true rival to Newcastle as a commercial and retail hub. For years the sight of an unfinished Sky Central twin towers development reflected the town’s not-quite-there status. But the twin buildings are now a giant gateway to the booming town as people travel up the highway.
Lake Macquarie City Council strongly resisted NSW Government attempts to amalgamate the area with Newcastle. After years of being the younger sibling of its northern rival, Lake Macquarie was not going to go down quietly. The cityof the “plain surface” now has a lot of depth.