|View across Lake
Tourist resort on the shore of Lake Macquarie
Belmont is a suburban tourist resort on the eastern side of
Lake Macquarie. The flotilla of bobbing boats and white,
flapping sails which crowd the bay are a symbol of the
town's central activity although fishing and swimming are
In 1800 Captain William Reid became the first European to
make his way into the lake. Sent from Sydney to collect coal
from the mouth of the Hunter River he mistook the channel
for the river estuary, ventured inside and encountered some
members of the Awabakal tribe, who then occupied the area
from the bank of the Lower Hunter to the southern and
western shores of Lake Macquarie. After he inquired about
coal the Aborigines directed him to some embedded in the
headland. It was only upon his return to Sydney that he
realised his error. The lake was thus known as Reid's
Mistake until 1826 when it was renamed in honour of Governor
Reid's discovery excited no initial interest as Newcastle
was, at the time, a penal settlement which the government
wished to keep isolated from Sydney. Eventually pressure
from settlers wishing to move into the Hunter Valley caused
the penal settlement to be removed to Port Macquarie.
By far the most important of the early settlers was a
missionary, the Reverend Lancelot Threlkeld, an ex-actor and
businessman who, in 1826, established a 1000-acre reserve
for an Aboriginal mission which occupied the whole northern
peninsula, from Pelican north-west to Redhead and north-east
to Croudace Bay.
Threlkeld chose the land after noting it was a gathering
point for Aborigines, drawn by the living conditions and
food around the lake. He held his Aboriginal friends in high
regard and learned their language so as to communicate and
to translate scripture (this work being an early landmark in
Aboriginal studies). The mission house, called 'Bahtahbah',
was located on a rise overlooking Belmont Bay. It was
connected to Newcastle by a rough dray track. Threlkeld
started the first coal mine around the lake at Coal Point,
c.1840, and subsequently bought ten acres at Swansea Heads
for coal-loading and storage around 1842.
Thomas Williamson, of the Shetland Isles, bought 100
acres of land around present-day Belmont in 1863. He built
two cottages, established a farm and grew grapes and
bananas. Fellow Shetlander John Anderson bought 40 acres of
adjacent land and began farming and dairying. There was soon
a small contingent of fishermen in the district and a
steam-driven sawmill was built at Cardiff Point, at the
north-western tip of the bay.
The town's name derives from a weatherboard guesthouse
named 'Belmont' which Williamson built in the 1860s. It was
named after his birthplace on the island of Unst. The first
town allotments went on sale in 1868, taken up by miners who
worked at nearby collieries. A private school opened on the
Williamson property in 1873 and a provisional school in
1875. A church building followed and a post office opened in
1877. Williamson was the postmaster until his death in 1880.
The improvement of the roads in 1883 and the arrival of
the railway later in the decade prompted more substantial
development, the growth of the permanent population and the
expansion of the tourist trade. Popular with industrial
workers from Newcastle seeking a contrast to their working
hours it became known as the 'sanitarium of the north'.
As Newcastle has continued to sprawl, the desirability of
lakeside residences has become obvious and the population of
Belmont has greatly increased since 1970.
Things to see:
Koolewong Coastal Ecotours
If you want to experience the local area accompanied by an
expert local guide and are interested in the ecology, fauna
and flora of the district then double click here and check
Coastal Ecotours. Details of their tours are provided.
Koolewong Coastal Ecotours are conducted within the
Brisbane Water and Bouddi National Parks on the NSW Central
Coast. The trained Ecotour Guides have extensive local
knowledge of the flora and fauna of the native bushland.
Travellers are picked up from their Hotel from 8.30am and
and are returned by around 5.30pm. Optional starting and
return times can be booked where required.
|View from Marks Point
across Lake Macquarie
Cane Pt, Belmont South, is a small peninsula that juts out
from the mainland at the end of Ethel St which runs to the
west off the highway. It is a very pleasant little spot,
surrounded by the waters of Lake Macquarie on three sides,
with a caravan park, a boat ramp, and fine views.
Also at Belmont South, on the left-hand side of the
highway as you are headed north, there is a strip of
foreshore parkland at sea-level with a playground, picnic
and barbecue facilities, a few trees and views over the
lake: northwards to the flotilla of boats at the sailing and
yachting clubs and north-east to Cardiff Pt on the other
side of Belmont Bay.
To access the Lake Macquarie Yacht Club (tel: 02 4945 0022),
continue north along the highway past the caravan park then
turn left into Ada St. There is a boat ramp by the walkway.
The Belmont 16 ft Sailing Club (tel: 02 4945 0888) can be
reached by turning off the highway into Macquarie St. At the
end of the road turn right into Brooks Parade and continue
past the rock pool and boat ramp. Gerald St, with its
caravan park, is to the right and Ross St is to the left.
Follow the latter and then turn left into The Parade and it
is here that you will find the sailing club.
Belmont Golf Course
The club house is located at the end of a private driveway
which runs to the east off the highway at the southernmost
end of Belmont.
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