Welcome to Wangi
The community of Wangi and members of the Lions Club of Wangi Wangi wish to warmly welcome you to this wonderful part of the world. Wangi is not only a fantastic place for people to decide to live but also a great destination for a large number who choose to enjoy a great holiday here.
Wangi has a very distinctive history, much of which reflects our strong links with the coalmining industry. One of the best sources of information is a book called "Wangi Wangi and its People" published by the local Southlakes Christian Women's Group in 1988 and reprinted in 2003. The following are some of the more significant aspects that a newcomer to Wangi may find of interest:
The main information for this brochure was resourced from: "Wangi Wangi and its People, A Local History" published by the Southlakes Christian Womens Group, Wangi Wangi, Lake Macquarie, NSW. Permission for its use and the dispersal of this brochure has been given by the Lake Macquarie City Council
A brief history of the Lions Club of Wangi is included.
We are always looking for new members to share service and fellowship with us. Contact 49753337 or Wangi Post Office
- Early roads were poorly constructed. Later roads favoured connections to Cessnock rather than Newcastle. Local gravel roads on the peninsula were developed in the 1920's. A bus service from Toronto began in the 1930's after the road via Rathmines and Arcadia was constructed. The Awaba to Rathmines road was sealed during WWII.
- Sir William Dobell was born in Cooks Hill, Newcastle, in 1899. His father bought land in 1923. He built a weekender, "Allowah" on the foreshore. William Dobell lived here from 1945 until his death in 1970. He won the Archibald prize in 1943, 1948 and 1959. His 1943 portrait caused controversy and was challenged on the grounds of it not being a proper portrait. His "Storm Approaching Wangi" won the Wynne Prize in 1948 for landscape painting. The house is now the museum known as "Dobell House" and is open Sundays and Public Holidays from 2.00 to 4.00pm.
- The first picture theatre was located near Dobell Park in the 1920's and later another was opened as part of Marshall's Hall
- A sports field. "Nunda Park", was developed in the early 1920's where the Wangi Hotel is located today. Cricket and rugby league (the "Magpies") were played. Don Bradman and Stan McCabe played on this pitch and during WWII it was used as a fuel dump.
- Wangi Oval was developed near the power station in the 1950's.
- The Wangi Bowling Club opened in 1959 and was replaced in 1981 after fire destroyed the clubhouse.
- The netball courts began in 1963.
- A swimming club operated in the Workers' Club baths in the early 1960's.
- A shop was built (1926) on the foreshore at the Lakeview estate selling fruit, vegetables and take-away. Nearby was a dairy with the animals grazing on the present Wangi Power Station site and a market garden near the present Bowling Club. Later, the "Cosy Camp" shop opened near the channel selling general goods, petrol, fishing and boating needs.
- The Wangi Methodist (Uniting) Church Hall opened in French Rd in 1935. Sunday School had been operating in 1930 in private homes. The new church was opened in 1984.
- St Patrick's Catholic Church was completed in about 1955 after using private homes and the old picture theatre previously for masses. It closed and the building was removed to the present Kilaben Bay church site.
- The Anglican Church began in the Methodist Church in 1946. A new church opened in 1954 and moved to the present site in 1958. It was demolished in a very heavy storm in 1960. The current church hall was built 1962 and has since been used for public meetings, craft, school and scout activities.
- The Bible Chapel Sunday school began in the local billiard room (234 Watkins Rd). A building was transported from Boolaroo and erected opposite the power station. A red Sunday School bus travelled over Wangi to pick up children.
- Electrical Power was first supplied to Wangi in 1937 and initially used for limited street lighting. The Awaba State Mine opened in 1948 when planning for the Wangi Power Station began. Building began in 1950 and was completed in 1958. Its final capacity was 330,000 kilowatts using about 3,000 tons of coal from the Awaba mines and closed in 1989.
- The Myuna Colliery came into production during 1982 to eventually service the Eraring Power Station
- A RAAF base began at Rathmines in 1939 with estimates of almost 2400 personnel and 500 wives living in the area. This RAAF base closed in 1960 and remnant buildings still exist. Ruins of four gun emplacements that were manned during WWII can be found along the highest ridge at the upper
extension of Crescent Road towards Wangi Point Reserve.
- The Wangi RSL club first met in 1947 in Marshall's hall, then in a boatshed, then in a garage at 225 Watkins Rd. The original Club was built in French Road. The current site was purchased in 1955 and the new club building opened in 1961. A marina and baths were built in 1965 and extensions to the club opened in 1968. In 1967 the club formed the Wangi RSL Sailing Club which eventually opened its clubhouse in 1986 with assistance from the Wangi Lions and the Coastal Patrol.
- The Wangi Workers Club was built in 1953 to support the community and the power station workers after public meetings and planning since 1949. There have been a number of extensions and renovations and a new building was opened by Sir William Dobell in 1965 and further extensions in 1982.
- The Wangi Hotel was opened on its current site in 1955 after many unsuccessful attempts to gain approval since 1926.
- Boy Scouts first met in the old RSL hall in the 1950'. It later disbanded and a Sea Scouts troop set up after a public meeting in 1960. Eventually the current hall was completed in 1972. This group disbanded and the 1st Wangi Scouts were reformed in 1976. Wangi Lions assisted in extensions to the hall which also operates as a Scout Water Activity centre. Brownies and Girl Guides operated for short periods during the 1960's
- Part-time doctors visits began in the late 1940's. A surgery opened in a small building at 134 Dobell Dr. This building later contained Wangi's first library. The first opened in 1953 at 102 Dobell Dr. Hospital care was first provided at Norway House, 183 Watkins Rd in the early 1920's. A convalescent hospital was established at Lake View in 1954.
• Lake Macquarie was originally named Reid's Mistake in 1800 but given its current name in 1826 by Governor Lachlan Macquarie. It is 22.4 km (N-S), 12.8 km (E-W) with a shoreline of 160km. It is four times the size of Sydney Harbour and is the largest saltwater lake hi Australia.
• Aboriginal history is linked to members of the Awabakal tribe, people of the "plain or flat surface" (Lake Macquarie). Wangi was part of their hunting grounds. Sites of feasting and middens have been found at several places near Dobell Park, Pebbly and Pearl Beaches and Wangi Point Reserve
• Early names include "Wonde Wonde" (1826) meaning "place of much water", "many night owls" and "Wangee Wangee" place of many trees" (1841)
• White settlement dates from 1829. Edward Cory selected land and gained a Crown Grant for the whole point in 1842. Purchases by Francis White (1873), Jenkin Williams (1879) and a consortium of Duncan McLean, George Smith, Alfred Harwood and Chisholm Ross (1894) followed. McLean built the first house in the mid 1890s near Puna Rd.
• There was evidence of Chinese gardens near the present Bowling Club and in the Point area in the 1890s. In 1916 a Chinese garden/vineyard was near the present Workers Club.
• Ferries brought visitors to the Point before Government Wharf was built in 1891 at Stinky Bay (near present Wangi Point Tourist Park). Nol Wharf at Little Wangi Bay was visited by ferries from Toronto, Speers Pt and Cockle Creek.
• Wangi Point Reserve (42.3 hectares) was proclaimed in 1897 and in 1899 the peninsula was subdivided into 9 sections spreading westwards from the "Village Reserve" at Wangi Point and encompassed by a 100ft foreshore reserve.
• Homes, including "Hill View", then began to be built hi the Wangi Point Estate near present Reserve Rd
• The Wangi Development Company formed hi 1916. Land sales and house construction commenced slowly after 1918. The Lake View Estate, west of present Puna Rd, was laid out hi 1925. It was used for holiday houses, weekenders or tents for camping. A fence and toll gate with a 6 d was erected at the entrance and a wharf and free baths built below the estate.
• At Little Wangi Bay several houses and a store which became Wangi's first newsagencv and a dancehall were built in 1923/4. Later Patches' Bakery was built in this area.
- Wangi town started to develop in the 1920s. A building, later to be rented as Wangi's first school (1920), was built on the present Anglican Church site in Dobell Drive. Marshall's shop and galvanised hall were built in 1922 on land at the Dobell Drive/Watkins Road/Kent Place corner and their land extended to No2 Wharf behind the present shopping area. It contained the first postal agency and the hall, to become the "Regal Theatre", was used for concerts, dances, balls and picture shows. Chidgevs' Store was built (and is still there) on the foreshore close to No2 Wharf. The Post Office agency moved to a small premises on Watkins Rd with a lock-up building close by the present Sailing Club. The Kookaburra Cafe was erected on Dobell Drive opposite the Park and south-side baths. The early school was later the site of McLaushlan's shop in 1927. It provided for most goods but also included betting and early cricket broadcasts.
Shops sprang up as a 'shopping centre' developed:
- Marshall's shop was rebuilt after fire in 1926 and contained a petrol pump. It was later renovated. Part of the land was subdivided in 1953 where a garage operated. The current service station was built there in 1959
- 295 Watkins Rd: Wangi Library moved into a small wooden building here in 1955. It was replaced by the current larger building in 1978.
- The Baby Health Centre was opened in 1963 beside the Library. It operated a half day a week had a Play Group.
- 293 Watkins Rd: the current Post Office site dates back to a garage being built to house a barber's shop which was moved closer to the street and included a clothing store It then passed through a variety of uses including hairdresser, fruit shop and electrician before the current Post Office
- 291 Watkins Rd: one of several shops (291,289,287,285) constructed from army hut materials in 1962. This building had two shops containing a hairdressers and Bank of NSW
- 289 Watkins Rd: has seen a variety of businesses, fruit shop, dress shop, delicatessen, toy shop
- 287 Watkins Rd: has been used as a grocery store for many years before being converted to a pizza shop
- 285 Watkins Rd: existed as a clothing store for a long time before being converted to a barber's shop
- 283 Watkins Rd: A bakery was opened on the waterfront at the back of the block and a butchers shop built on Watkins Rd. It has since been converted to a boat shop
- 281 Watkins Rd: started out with two shops. One contained a fish shop selling food and fishing gear and became a take-away shop in 1974. The other shop was a cake shop
- The original RSL Club building was used as a clothing factory and charity shops
- 232 Watkins Rd: a mixed business shop and newsagency (1939). A new general store was later built on the site. A café was added. A pharmacy was opened on the corner section in 1949 and is now a real estate agency It was renovated with the general store being divided into two current shops (1966).
- 234 Watkins Rd: contained a bakery (1931) which was converted to a billiard room then used by the Ambulance and finally developed into a hardware store (1978) as present
- 236 Watkins Rd: The mixed business and newsagency moved from 232 and later briefly became a real estate office and a tile shop (1971). In 1979 it was converted into two smaller shops, a bottle shop and a dentist's surgery.
- 238 Watkins Rd: existed as a double shop, real Estate office and a shoe store, then converted to a hardware store in 1968 and finally to a real estate office as present
- 240 Watkins Rd; site of a drycleaners shop until the current newsagency was transferred from No 236 in 1970
- The present Fire Station was opened in 1968 and replaced a network of fire-box posts throughout the district
- The shopping centre now containing IGA began in 1986
Other Wangi Highlights
- A new school was built and opened in 1922. Further additions were built by 1935. The school on its present site was opened in 1952 to cater for the influx of children associated with the power station construction with further additions opened in 1967, 1979 and 1982.
- Pulbah Island was set as a nature reserve in 1917 and a caretaker's cottage and wharf built in 1929. Known at times as Bulba and Barryowen it was a sacred place of the Awabakal Tribe. Today it is a National Parks sanctuary.
- Wangi became a favoured summer holiday venue for coalmining families travelling by car, bus, launch and ferry from Cessnock, Kurri and Wallsend. Miner disputes of 1909, 1929 and World War II strikes saw many miners make Wangi Point their temporary home. The Great Depression (1920's and 1930's) also saw coalfield families settle in Wangi.