Aboriginal people of the Awabakal nation have lived in the Lake Macquarie area for more than 8000 years. The name Awabakal is derived from the Lake, meaning people of the calm surface. Traditional art and shell middens can be found around the Lake, evidence of a nation who thrived on the area's rich shores and woodlands.
Arrival of Europeans
The first European to discover the lake was Captain William Reid. In 1800, Reid sailed his 30-tonne schooner Martha into the narrow entrance, at what is now Swansea, mistaking it for his intended destination of the Hunter River.
It was only when he arrived back and returned to Sydney that Reid discovered his error. Until 1826, the Lake was known as Reid's Mistake, then it was officially changed to honour Governor Lachlan Macquarie. The name of the southern headland of the entrance to the lake is now known as Reid's Mistake. Reid's Mistake by renowned local historian Keith Clouten contains the first reliable and connected account of the early years of European settlement in the Lake Macquarie region.
Captain Reid's discovery sparked little interest in Sydney. No further exploration took place for 20 years, partly because of the difficulty of getting overland to the area across rugged rocky unexplored terrain, but largely because King's Town - as Newcastle was known in those times - was a penal settlement, which authorities wished to keep isolated.
It was only after pressure from free settlers eager to move into the Hunter Valley that the days of settlement began.
Birth of the City
Lake Macquarie was proclaimed a shire on 16 May 1906.
The shire's first local election was conducted on Saturday 24 November 1906, when the community elected six Councillors to represent three ridings - namely "A", "B" and "C".
The first elected Council held its initial meeting at the Teralba Court House on Saturday 8 December 1906.
Councillor Sydney Croudace was unanimously elected President for the remaining term of that Council, which extended until 1 February 1908. The Presidential allowance was fixed at £50 a year.
The first Council building
In 1913, the Lake Macquarie Land Company donated land at the corner of Main Road and Council Street, Speers Point, for a Council Chamber. On 30 June 1914, Council accepted a tender from Messrs Southon and Waller worth £2,299 for the construction of a Shire Office and Council Chamber.
The Council Chamber was first used for the Council meeting held on Saturday 8 May 1915, and the building was officially opened on 6 June 1916.
To make room for the Council's expanding workforce, a new Council Chamber and Shire office building was erected in 1955, at the corner of Main Road and Park Street, Speers Point, opposite the former building. The Hon J B Renshaw MLA, Minister for Public Works and Local Government, officially opened the new office on 5 November 1955.
In February 1976, the Council commissioned Civil and Civic Pty Ltd to undertake the first stage of the design of a new administration building. Council subsequently appointed the company as managers to complete the design and supervise construction. Wills, Denoon and Partners were appointed the Project Architects.
In October 1977, the Council accepted a tender from Civil and Civic Pty Ltd in association with Wills, Denoon and Partners Pty Ltd to design and construct Stage II in four phases.
Stage 1 of the new Administration Building was officially opened by the Premier of NSW, the Hon. Neville Wran QC MLA, on 12 August 1977. The Minister for Local Government and Minister for Roads, the Hon H F Jensen MP, opened Stage II of the building on 31 August 1979. The Administration Building was built at a cost of approximately $4.5 million. This latest upgrade resembles the same building that is still in use as Council's Administration Building today.
From Shire to City
The Shire of Lake Macquarie was proclaimed as a municipality from 1 January 1977 and became a city on 7 September 1984.
The Lake Macquarie History website contains information on the social, cultural, industrial and environmental history of the City, with individual narratives covering people, places, recreation, Aboriginal and industrial history.