Catherine Hill Bay Wharf – Photos
The village is named after the Catherine Hill, a schooner wrecked here in 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 70-100 men, whose cottages, still lining the roadside, formed the basis of the nascent township. 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 an insurmountable setback for the company. It closed in 1877 and the township virtually ceased to exist until the Wallarah Coal Company opened up the mines again in 1889. In the course of the next decade a school, a public hall, two churches, a sawmill, a new jetty and a tram track to the mine, 4 km away, were all built. The men travelled to work via train and a ferry across the lake to Cam’s Wharf which was named after a doctor, Samuel Cam, who owned a farm nearby in the 1870s. They then walked the remaining 4 or 5 km.