Awaba or Lake Macquarie in 1841

Heritage Map of Lake Macquarie or Awaba with geological locations
Heritage Map of Lake Macquarie or Awaba with geological locations (NSW Department of Trade and Investment)

This gem of a chart of Awaba or Lake Macquarie was located in the DIGS database this morning by our colleague Mr Russell Rigby.

It is an historical chart or map of Lake Macquarie with geological locations marked including Aboriginal place names. The database says that the outline was sketched by W. Procter from his examination in August 1841 and base printed by W. Baker Lithographer, King Street Sydney. Extensive notes were possibly made by the Reverend W. B. Clarke regarding rock outcrops and the location of fossils.

Of particular note is the fossil forest that is referred to by the Reverend Lancelot Threlkeld as Kurra-Kurran. For further information on this petrified forest please consult the following resource “Fossil Pine Forest, Lake Macquarie: Compiled by Michael Organ, with assistance from John Byrnes” (14 April 2009) Available online here: (Dead Link) View on the Waybackmachine:

On Michael Organ’s page is a link to a online resource by Mr John Byrnes which leads to a dead link. We have retrieved the original document from the Internet Archive, and can be accessed here:

“Kurrur Kurran ~ Seeking all aspects connected with A Fossil Forest at Fennell Bay (NW corner of Lake Macquarie)” by John Byrnes (4.7MB PDF File)

Heritage Map of Lake Macquarie or Awaba with geological locations
Heritage Map of Lake Macquarie or Awaba with geological locations (Courtesy of NSW Department of Trade and Investment)

The place names and annotations recorded on the chart include:

AWABA (an extra ‘a’ is included in ink) or LAKE MACQUARIE


“Broughton’s Point” (Now Bolton’s Point)

‘Fossil trees’ are marked in ink further along towards what is now Fennel’s Bay. On the inset map this is marked in ink as “Kurran Kurran” and the Toronto-Coal Point peninsula marked “Tirabeenba”

“Ebenezer Colliery” and “Wharf” at modern day Coal Point.

The possible site of Reverend Threlkeld’s Mission House is also illustrated with a drawing of a house at modern day Toronto.

In ink are the words “Tree Fossil Beds” on the southern coastline and the words “Tir abeenba” over the peninsula of what is now modern Coal Point and Carey Bay. Compare this name for the peninsula  with another recorded by Henry Dangar in 1828 as “Derahbamtbah” See:

“Erraring Bay”

“Wangee Wangee” (Wangi Wangi)

“Pulbah I[slan]d” and inside the island is printed “Burregorons I[slan]d” – is this a reference to Burigon, one time Chief of the Newcastle Tribe circa 1820?

“Point Woolstoncroft”

“Point Morrissett”

“Moon I[slan]d” is marked further down to the south of Catherine Hill Bay. Russell Rigby adds “there are several references in the 19th century to Moon Island as an area south of Catherine Hill Bay (hence Moonee Beach and Moonee Colliery) – now Flat Rocks?”

Further up coast is marked in ink “Wabung Head” at the southern end of Catherine Hill Bay

In pen adjacent to coastline is marked “Sand dunes Conglomerate Shales & Lignite Beds with trap dykes & faults”

Adjacent to present day Catherine Hill Bay is marked in illegible pen “Punibbo(?) Rozinba(?)”

“Coolocoolo” in ink near present day Caves Beach

Along present day Swansea is marked in ink “Fossil Tree Beds” & “Reefs”

Where Moon Island is today is marked in ink as “Nirritin I[slan]d” and below “Grits & Sand & Stones”

“Reid’s Mistake” (“Victoria Bay” in ink is marked)

“Shoal Point”

“Neck(?)” near modern day Black Ned’s Bay

“Keep Clear Point”

“Pelican Island”, in ink is marked close by “Mud Island”

“Canoe Point” and nearby in ink is marked “Kahiba” (close to “Kahibah” in Dangar’s 1828 Map see: )

“Fishing Point”

“Red Head”

In pen is marked “Coal Series(?)”

“Moderately elevated” is marked in pen along the coastline

In pen along coastline towards Red Head is marked “Sandy Dunes and Beach of blown? sand & shells”

“Three Hammocks”

“Flat Point”

The pen annotation on the side of the map – “The serious gale of April 1842 completely altered the entrance into the Lake WBC[?]”

Pen annotation near scale bar “incorrect scale”

Pen annotation top right corner (near Redhead) “33 [degrees] S”

There are also very faint & indecipherable pencil annotations in margin of map – we will need to see original to adequately decipher those.

There is also a square pencil grid drawn on map – was this done for reproduction at different size/scale?

1841 Awaaba Map overlay in Google Earth
1841 Awaaba Map overlay in Google Earth

KUR-RUR-KUR-RÁN  (Threlkeld 1834) “Forest of Petrified Trees”

Kur-rur-kur-rán (Kurrurkurrán) – The name of a place, in which there is, almost, a forest of petrifactions of wood, of various sizes extremely well defined. Situated in a bay at the N. W. extremity of Lake Macquarie. The tradition of the Aborigines is, that formerly it was one large rock which fell from the heavens and killed a number of blacks, which were assembled where it descended, they being collected together in that spot by command of an immense Guana, which came down from heaven for that purpose. In consequence of his anger at their having killed lice by roasting them in the fire, those who had killed the vermin by cracking, were previously speared to death by him with a long reed from Heaven! At that remote period the moon was a man named Pón-to-bung (Póntobung) , hence the moon is called he to the present day; and the sun being formerly a woman, retains the feminine pronoun she:. When the Guana saw all the men were killed by the fall of the stone, he ascended up into heaven, where he is supposed now to remain.
Threlkeld, L. E. (Lancelot Edward), 1788-1859. An Australian grammar : comprehending the principles and natural rules of the language, as spoken by the Aborigines in the vicinity of Hunter’s River, Lake Macquarie, &c. New South Wales. Sydney : Printed by Stephens and Stokes, 1834. (p. 85)

Kurra Kurrarn is Blackalls Bay at the north-western extremity of the Lake, and is known as a site of water-covered pertrified forest. Large numbers of petrified wood pieces have been removed from the shallow waters and used to form front fences at homes in Blackalls Park.

According to the Awabakal legend, as told by Threlkeld, a huge rock fell from the shy and killed a number of natives assembled there by the command of an immense iguana, who had descended from the heavens to call these natives together. This reptilian spirit (a rare mention of reptile life in this form) was angry because natives had killed lice by roasting them on a fire. (These were probably a type of sea lice that occasionally invade Lake Macquarie). The iguana had previously dealt with natives who had killed lice by cracking them. This the iguana did by spearing them to death with a long reed from heaven.
– Percy Haslam Papers A5410(i) leave 4

Gionni Di Gravio
University Archivist and Chair of the Coal River Working Party

4 thoughts on “Awaba or Lake Macquarie in 1841

  1. Congratulations on a great site and research. Regrettably many interesting aboriginal names have lapsed and replaced with bland European names.

  2. An article in the Newcastle Morning Herald of 12 August 1893 says that Pulbah Island’s Aboriginal name was Boorayurroon. Apparently this was corrupted by local settlers to ‘Bury-your-own’.

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