Lake Macquarie in 1907

Captain Ernest Snowden Deed - Map of Lake Macquarie 1907-1908. Courtesy of the Cultural Collections University of Newcastle (Australia)
Captain Ernest Snowden Deed – Map of Lake Macquarie 1907-1908. Courtesy of the Cultural Collections University of Newcastle (Australia)

Deposited by Mrs Diana Stephenson (Grand daughter)
February 2007
MAP: M4802
TITLE: Lake Macquarie
CARTOGRAPHER: Captain Ernest Snowden Deed
DATE: 1907-1908
SCALE: 40 chs 2 inches = 1 mile (land mile)
FORMAT: Laminated Linen
SUBJECT/ AREA/ FEATURES: Original hand drawn map on linen, with annotations in pen and pencil and including depth soundings from across Lake Macquarie.
NOTES: Captain Deed was assisted by his two sons Captain Ernest James Deed and Captain Allan William Deed. Contains two news clippings from the Newcastle Herald.

The original map above was donated by Mrs Diana Stephenson, grand daughter of the late Captain Ernest Snowden Deed, a Newcastle Pilot, who during the summer of 1907-1908, undertook a detailed survey of Lake Macquarie with his two eldest sons.

It was donated in 2007,  100 years after it was created, and we sincerely thank her for entrusting this regional treasure into the custody of the University of Newcastle, and in making it available to historical researchers across the world. The map is provided for personal research use.

Gionni Di Gravio
University Archivist and Chair, Coal River Working Party


Here is the text of a newsclipping from the Newcastle Herald:

Sounding out the lake
Newcastle Herald (Australia) – Thursday, July 20, 2000 pp. 13-15

An old map of Lake Macquarie tells us something about what the lake looked like in the years immediately following 1907-08.

It was a time when the permanent population of Lake Macquarie was small and when most of its residents were to be found near the established townships, such as Belmont, Swansea, Cardiff, Teralba, Boolaroo, Toronto, Cooranbong and Morisset.

It was also the time when a Newcastle Harbour pilot, Captain E.S. Deed , and his family spent school holidays at the family weekender at Carey Bay.

One of their pastimes was sailing the family’s yawl, the Black Angel (later the Seabird).

In the summer of 1907-08 Captain Deed went sailing with his two eldest sons, Neville, then 9, and Ernest, 7. They had with them a rough linen chart of the lake and a lead line. And what began as a bit of fun became a annual summer hobby.

For during that summer of 1907-08, the two boys began to swing the lead, taking soundings of the lake ‘s depth while their father noted the results on the chart.

Over the next few summers, and with the later help of another son, Alan, the Deeds sounded most of Lake Macquarie .

Over the ensuing summers the yawl – a former cutter from a British warship – sailed from one end of the lake to the other. Additional information was added to the chart such as the location of sheltered bays, tidal effects at the lake entrance, and the spots where the family stopped for picnics.

The map has several interesting and unusual features.

Snake Point, near Valentine, was named at the time the young Ernest stepped ashore and found a coiled snake. Marjory’s Bay, south of Summerland Point, was named after the sister of the three boys and was entered on the chart as a ‘clean, sandy beach’.

When Black Angel entered Dora creek it was noted to ‘keep right hand bank opposite fir tree and cottages’. On Pulbah Island there was Pulpit Rock and Deed ‘s Landing. The latter was listed as ‘good landing here on a rock sheltered from N.E., E. and S.E. winds’.

Some of the names of bays and other places that appear are rarely seen or remembered these days. Among them are Shelsea (given as the name for Nord’s Wharf), Copper Point, Bareena Bay, and Tree Point. Green Point is listed as a ‘good clean landing’ site while at Coal Point there is a note on ‘demolished coal jetty chute’.

The Deed family’s summer hobby continued until 1914.

Captain Deed later was harbourmaster at Newcastle (1926-34). Four of five Deed sons went to sea. Ernest went to sea at a young age and over a 23-year period he was master of eight ships. He joined what was then the Maritime Services Board of NSW and followed in his father’s footsteps, becoming harbourmaster at Newcastle from 1957 until his retirement in 1966. He died in 1982.

In August, 1974, a retired Captain Ernest Deed with the assistance of Mr Charlie Hollis, of Marks Point, again took soundings of part of the lake , covering a small area sounded by his father, his brother and his younger self way back in 1907-08.

Overlay of 1907-1908 Survey with 2013 Google Earth Imagery of lake Macquarie
Overlay of 1907-1908 Survey with 2013 Google Earth Imagery of lake Macquarie

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