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Local History
AUSTRALIA: BOOLAROO

 

This page is the starting point for information regarding the Lake Macquarie town of Boolaroo. Boolaroo is located in New South Wales, Australia, not too far from Newcastle. If you are able, and are willing, to give information, photos, etc, to assist in the building of this developing resource tool, please contact me.

 

On This Page:

 

INTRODUCTION:

The origin of the name 'Boolaroo' is apparently that of an Aboriginal word meaning a 'place of many flies.' However, I can't say that I found growing up in Boolaroo to be of any particular note because the place was over-run with a whole heap of flies. I think in the Summer months just about any place in Australia can become quickly unpleasant due to the flies.

 

EARLY HISTORY:

One of the first Europeans in the area was William Brooks. In 1839 (May 16), he was awarded a government grant of some 1280 acres, stretching from the area now marked by Cockle Creek Railway Station to the lake, around to Stinky Point (Fairfax Road) and back toward Glendale. The land eventually became the property of Sir James Fairfax. Later (by 1900) sub-divided land was purchased by a Thomas James Thompson.

1886 saw an explosion in the population of the Boolaroo area, with a tent town forming around the area of what is today the middle of Seventh Street. These pioneering settlers came to the area in order to work at the Stockton Borehole Coal Mine which had opened in 1886.

The actual township of Boolaroo began to be formed with the 'Boolaroo Estate' subdivision in October 1896 around what is now Lake View Road. Further subdivisions followed in 1899 and 1902, largely forming the basis of the 'Township of Boolaroo.' I believe this was arranged by the Sulphide Corporation, then in its early days.

Among the earliest settlers of the area were the Hawkins, Frith and Gilbert families, names that have become well known in the area over the last century.

The first shop that opened in Boolaroo was operated by T. Frith in 1898. This was located on the main road. Early business and industry in Boolaroo included G. Hawkins and Sons Pty Ltd and a sawmill operating near the creek toward the site of the old Watkins Bridge, which was built in 1899. Visit: http://www.lakemac.infohunt.nsw.gov.au/lmphotos/lak020/lak02097.htm Prior to this small punts would transfer goods and people across the creek at that location. The bridge now used via the Five Islands, was opened in 1973.

A Fire Brigade came to the town in 1910. For a photo visit: http://www.lakemac.infohunt.nsw.gov.au/lmphotos/lak047/lak04721.htm

The Bank of New South Wales established a branch at Boolaroo in July, 1937. For a photo visit:
http://www.lakemac.infohunt.nsw.gov.au/lmphotos/lak020/lak02098.htm 

 

HAWKINS FAMILY AND BUSINESS:

The Hawkins family also began to establish their family business at Boolaroo in 1896 and this would develop into a major company over the following century. The family of George Hawkins originated in Worcestershire, England. A twenty six year-old William Charles Hawkins (with 21 year-old wife Sarah nee Devall) arrived in New South Wales aboard the 'Exodus' as a free settler on July 28, 1855, and settled at Waratah where he opened a general store. William and Sarah had eight children, with George being born in 1869.

In 1896 George Hawkins began a small business at Boolaroo. This fledgling company was set up in order to transport various goods around the area by horse and cart. Here the family of George Hawkins began to sink their roots. George and his wife, Sarah Jane nee Williams, were to have ten children.

In 1896, the boy destined to lead the family business to greatness, was born at Waratah on September 13. Albert George Hawkins (known as A G by many) would manage the business from 1914, taking the firm from a small company to one worth millions, until it was sold in 1980.

The business soon began to take off, being involved in carting much of the material from the new Sulphide Corporation which began in 1897. Lakeview Street became the focus of the company during this time, with its office and yard located not far from the Suphide site. More contracts followed from the surrounding coal mines, government works and the Lake Macquarie Shire which was established in 1908.

The company would often transport goods to and from Cockle Creek Railway Station and Millers Wharf at Young Wallsend for distribution further afield. Land was purchased by the company on Munibung Hill for use as a quarry for the various road building roles that it was involved in.

In 1910, when aged just 14, Albert George Hawkins was required to drop out of school in order to run the business. His father had become ill and eventually moved to Orange (he died in 1936). In 1921 A G was married to Iris Jane Tremain (b 15/06/1901) and would eventually have three children who would assist in the business (Lance, Neville and John).

In 1925, Hawkins and Sons moved their office into the main street at Boolaroo. It was situated on the corner of Main Road and Fourth Street, opposite the Store site.

With the onset of the Great Depression, the Hawkins company sought to assist as many family's as it could through a house building programme, with the homes being rented out to families. Some fifty homes were built in and around Boolaroo by this method.

In 1980 the transport side of the company was sold to Howard Smith Limited. A G died on July 10, 1982, his wife had died before him on January 18, 1980.

 

SULPHIDE CORPORATION:

The Sulphide Corporation set up shop at Boolaroo in March 1897. Some 800 people were employed in constructing the site after the model of Edgar Ashcroft. However, this failed and the site was quickly transformed into a normal lead smelter. A zinc production plant soon followed and quickly closed by 1908.

In the years that have followed its eventful first decade, the business has seen various projects go ahead at the site, but also a number of financial collapses and takeovers, with the site set to close forever in the near future.

Early Photos: http://www.lakemac.infohunt.nsw.gov.au/lmphotos/suburb/pasminco.htm

 

MILLERS WHARF:

In the early days of development at Boolaroo, goods were transported via the creeks in the area. This was done by various watercraft, including various punts and steamers. The main dispatch and embarking point was at Millers Wharf back toward Edgeworth (or as it was then known, Young Wallsend).

 

BOOLAROO POST OFFICE:

The first post office was opened at Boolaroo on March 1, 1901. To see a photo visit:
http://www.lakemac.infohunt.nsw.gov.au/lmphotos/lak009/lak00987.htm

The lovely building in which the post office was housed has now ceased to be the post office.

 

BOOLAROO PUBLIC SCHOOL:

A Provisional School was opened at Boolaroo in 1897. The Boolaroo Public School officially began in July 1900. Visit: http://www.lakemac.infohunt.nsw.gov.au/lmphotos/lak019/lak01942.htm

 

BOOLAROO BAPTIST CHURCH:

 

BOOLAROO POLICE:

Police first began to operate from the Boolaroo region in 1909.

 

BOOLAROO EARTHQUAKE:

The town became the centre of attention on December 28, 1989, when an earthquake measuring 5.6 struck the Newcastle area. Boolaroo was determined to be the epicentre of the quake. Thirteen people were killed in the earthquake and over two hundred were injured. Nine of the thirteen people killed were at the Newcastle Workers Club and another three at the Kent Hotel. Numerous buildings and homes were damaged and destroyed.

See http://www.agso.gov.au/education/earthquake/earthq2.html for more details. For photo visit: http://www.lakemac.infohunt.nsw.gov.au/lmphotos/lak040/lak04066.htm

An earthquake measuring 5.0 also struck Boolaroo on December 18, 1925.

 

RELATED LINKS:

 

MORE INFORMATION:

  • A Glimpse of the Past by Jeanette Campbell. Boolaroo, Boolaroo Baptist Church, 1983.
  • Albert George Hawkins Biography; Joyce Watt; Available from Speers Point Library.
  • Seventy-fifth Anniversary. Boolaroo, Boolaroo School, 1975.

 

 

Boolaroo Baptist Church - 1968

The Sulphide

Boolaroo Post Office

Speers Point Garage

The Miller's Wharf Area

Contact

UPDATED: 27 February 2011

tracingourhistory.com 2011