Catherine Hill Bay Cultural Precinct | NSW Environment & Heritage

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Heritage

Catherine Hill Bay Cultural Precinct

Item details

Name of item: Catherine Hill Bay Cultural Precinct
Type of item: Landscape
Group/Collection: Landscape - Cultural
Category: Cultural Feature
Location: Lat: -33.1514011704 Long: 151.6276460500
Primary address: Flowers Drive, Catherine Hill Bay, NSW 2281
Parish: Wallarah
County: Northumberland
Local govt. area: Lake Macquarie
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Bahtabah
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
LOT7079 DP1029250
LOT2 DP1107593
LOT101 DP1129872
LOT105 DP1129872
LOT1 DP1151628
LOT2 DP1151628
LOT204 DP1164883
LOT1 DP1173431
LOT10 DP1180181
LOT3 DP1180181
LOT4 DP1180181
LOT5 DP1180181
PART LOT6 DP1180181
LOT7 DP1180181
LOT8 DP1180181
LOT9 DP1180181
LOT1 DP119202
LOT1DDP163
LOT1FDP163
LOT10BDP163
LOT12ADP163
LOT18BDP163
LOT20BDP163
LOT3FDP163
LOT5FDP163
LOT1 DP205598
LOT50 DP222717
LOT51 DP222717
LOT52 DP222717
LOT53 DP222717
LOT54 DP222717
LOT55 DP222717
LOT56 DP222717
LOT57 DP222717
LOT58 DP222717
LOT59 DP222717
LOT60 DP222717
LOT61 DP222717
LOT62 DP222717
LOT63 DP222717
LOT64 DP222717
LOT65 DP222717
LOT66 DP222717
LOT67 DP222717
LOT68 DP222717
LOT71 DP222717
LOT72 DP222717
LOT73 DP222717
LOT74 DP222717
LOT75 DP222717
LOT76 DP222717
LOT77 DP222717
LOT78 DP222717
LOT79 DP222717
LOT80 DP222717
LOT81 DP222717
LOT82 DP222717
LOT83 DP222717
LOT84 DP222717
LOT85 DP222717
LOT86 DP222717
LOT87 DP222717
LOT88 DP222717
LOT89 DP222717
LOT1 DP222943
LOT10 DP222943
LOT11 DP222943
LOT12 DP222943
LOT13 DP222943
LOT14 DP222943
LOT15 DP222943
LOT16 DP222943
LOT17 DP222943
LOT18 DP222943
LOT19 DP222943
LOT2 DP222943
LOT20 DP222943
LOT21 DP222943
LOT22 DP222943
LOT23 DP222943
LOT24 DP222943
LOT24 DP222943
LOT25 DP222943
LOT26 DP222943
LOT27 DP222943
LOT28 DP222943
LOT3 DP222943
LOT30 DP222943
LOT31 DP222943
LOT32 DP222943
LOT33 DP222943
LOT34 DP222943
LOT35 DP222943
LOT35 DP222943
LOT36 DP222943
LOT37 DP222943
LOT38 DP222943
LOT39 DP222943
LOT4 DP222943
LOT40 DP222943
LOT41 DP222943
CROWN LAND42 DP222943
LOT43 DP222943
LOT44 DP222943
LOT45 DP222943
LOT46 DP222943
LOT47 DP222943
LOT48 DP222943
LOT49 DP222943
LOT5 DP222943
LOT6 DP222943
LOT7 DP222943
LOT8 DP222943
LOT9 DP222943
LOTA DP330660
LOTB DP330660
LOT2 DP382429
LOT1 DP407474
LOT1 DP410730
LOT1 DP588793
LOT21 DP593154
LOT1 DP870210
LOT2 DP870210
LOT3 DP870210
LOT212 DP883941
LOT213 DP883941
LOT1 DP938223
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Flowers DriveCatherine Hill BayLake MacquarieWallarahNorthumberlandPrimary Address

Statement of significance:

The Catherine Hill Bay Cultural Precinct comprises picturesque and distinctive historic townscapes forming the oldest group of buildings in Lake Macquarie, set in land/seascapes of exceptional aesthetic and technical significance, both visually and as an archaeological resource for industrial heritage.

The boundary established by the Independent Heritage Advisory Panel for the Catherine Hill Bay Heritage Cultural Precinct encompasses the distinctive dwellings and coal mining infrastructure of the villages of Catherine Hill Bay and Middle Camp. The original buildings, most of which are small vernacular cottages dating from the 1890s to the 1920s form pleasing streetscapes evoking the settlement's origins as a nineteenth century mining village. Although few buildings belong to a recognised style or period, each is distinctive, and all display a high degree of consistency in terms of size, scale, form, setbacks, siting and materials. The urban pattern of the Catherine Hill Bay Cultural Precinct can be appreciated in its bush and coastal setting, particularly on the northern approach.

The Precinct is set in a landscape, now largely dedicated as a National Park, which is distinctive both for its coastal topography which creates a natural visual catchment and for its evidence of coal mining dating from the 1890s.

The Catherine Hill Bay Cultural Precinct is now rare, as an intact surviving example of "Company Town" development. In Lake Macquarie such developments generally evolved more informally than the company town infrastructures elsewhere in the Upper Hunter and other parts of Australia.
Date significance updated: 21 Jun 10
Note: The State Heritage Inventory provides information about heritage items listed by local and State government agencies. The State Heritage Inventory is continually being updated by local and State agencies as new information becomes available. Read the OEH copyright and disclaimer.

Description

Physical description: The Catherine Hill Bay Cultural Precinct, 26 kilometres south of Newcastle and 100 kilometres north of Sydney, located on the Wallarah Peninsula, bordered by Lake Macquarie to the west and the Pacific Ocean to the East.

The Precinct is set in a wider coastal landscape, now largely dedicated as a National Park, which is distinctive both for its coastal topography and which creates a natural visual catchment.

The village's early buildings in the village are typically small, vernacular mining cottages, dating from the 1890s to the 1920s, located sporadically in, and constituting a significant part of, the open coastal landscape.

The village is distinctive for its coastal topography as well as itsand bush backdrop. The area retains its open and undeveloped character, with slowly regenerating coastal scrub. Itand is highly sensitive, visually, to any new development due to a high degree of visibility from various vantage points across the landscape.

Catherine Hill Bay Cultural Precinct has negligible to low significance for its natural heritage values, which are due to its bush backdrop and regenerating coastal scrub.

Its two villages, Catherine Hill Bay and Middle Camp consist principally of modest miners' cottages lining both sides of the road through the towns. In the Cultural Precinct and its surroundings are the evident and easily accessible remnants of mining infrastructure from the 19th century to the present.

From the south, at the corner of Clarke and Montefiore Streets, the dramatic landforms of the headland and beach dominate rows of small houses stepping down the hill. From the north, along Flowers Drive through Middle Camp, the jetty and headlands are visible. Against this striking backdrop, the character of the streets derives from the low-scale built form and highly consistent pattern of predominantly single storey weatherboard cottages. This reflects the historical association with the coal company.

Although the varied and dramatic juxtaposition of broader sea-land landscapes, ranging from exposed ridges and cliff forms to sheltered sloping gullies, does not lie within the Cultural Precinct, this setting contributes powerfully to the sense of the built environment's modest scale.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
The Catherine Hill Bay Cultural Precinct forms the oldest collection of buildings in Lake Macquarie with scale, fabric and interrelationship of the features largely retained and in good condition. The Precinct and its surroundings are significant archaeological resources for the investigation of the area’s industrial heritage.
Date condition updated:21 Jun 10
Modifications and dates: Ongoing additions and modifications to the original building stock over time have tended to respect the prevailng scale, materials and spatial relations that characterise the Precinct.
Current use: Residential community
Former use: Aboriginal land, Mining company housing for miners, town settlement

History

Historical notes: Catherine Hill Bay village is the oldest collection of buildings in Lake Macquarie, retaining distinctive historical townscapes and land/seascapes, with scale, fabric and interrelationship of the features largely retained and in good condition.

Catherine Hill Bay takes its European name from the wreck of the schooner Catherine Hill, bound from the Richmond River, in 1867. In April 1865, Sydney merchants Jacob Levi Montefiore and Thomas Hale took out a mining lease on 265 acres, bordering the southern part of the bay. By the end of 1873, 'splendid samples of coal' (SMH) had been mined, the original jetty, a mine manager's residence and 'a number of good weatherboard shingled cottages for the workmen' were under construction in the new 'Township of Cowper'. In May, 1874, Thomas Hale wrote to the Postmaster General requesting a post office for the 100 people then in the township. In 1875, the company reduced miners' wages and the miners stopped work in protest, beginning a tradition of industrial disputes that was to characterise the community for a century to come. In March, 1876, the New Wallsend Coal Company, bankrupt and undercapitalised, suspended operations. By late 1880, the settlement was abandoned, many of its buildings dismantled and re-erected elsewhere.

In 1888 the Wallarah Coal Company, an English venture with strong colonial connections, purchased land including the former Cowper Township and began construction of a jetty to replace the original wharf which had burned two years before. By January 1890, the mining community was firmly re-established as 'Catherine Hill Bay' and the first shipment of coal left the new jetty. A brief industrial dispute the same year was resolved in the Company's favour. By 1892, Police services, a school, and rumours, at least of "telephonic connection with Wyee", joined several churches as harbingers of a lasting settlement. In 1899, several miners challenged their eviction from company housing in Court and won. By the turn of the century, Catherine Hill Bay's reputation as a 'picturesque' beauty spot had been added to its underlying identity as a scene of industrial prosperity and occasional labour unrest.

The township continued to grow and prosper through the first quarter of the 20th Century with expanding public services, a Court House, a School of Arts and a Brass Band. By 1908, miner's residences and mine-related services expanded to Middle Camp, a short distance up the bay, location of a pit-head and a large plant. In 1915, Catherine Hill Bay Public School, too, was shifted to Middle Camp, acknowledging this community as the new focus of Company development.

In August, 1917, miners at Catherine Hill Bay struck in sympathy with striking Railway workers. The Government replied by taking over direct control of the state's coal mines, importing strike-breaking labourers to keep them in operation. At Catherine Hill Bay, a train was deliberately derailed and the jetty dynamited. Extra police were sent to the town to protect the railway, the jetty, a nearby armaments depot and the strike-breakers. Even when relations between miners and employers were peaceful, discontent and public concern mounted over the deteriorating conditions in which Company housing obliged the miners to live. By February 1929, coal miners across NSW were once again on strike and strike-breakers were imported to work the Wallarah colliery. The world-wide economic depression followed. Jobs across the state in coal mining plummeted by some 10 000, by 1933. Increasing mechanisation of the coal industry affected Catherine Hill Bay by 1937, even as economic conditions began to improve, keeping employment precarious and fuelling the decade of industrial unrest that preceded the Second World War. In 1941, public attention focussed again on Catherine Hill Bay, when 100 Wallarah miners staged a stay-in for a record 101 hours over a penalty clause in their award. Publicity surrounding the event called attention to the squalid living conditions in the company town, noting that it was completely owned "by shareholders who live in England."

During the ensuing decade, sporadic schemes to improve housing, services and facilities in the communities of the Catherine Hill Bay Cultural Precinct stalled, failed, were indefinitely postponed or succumbed to token gestures such as the bowling green, tennis court and recreation area which graced Middle Camp in the early 50s. These modest amenities were the first substantial public works since the Public School, in 1915. They were also the last.

In 1962, Coal & Allied Industries Ltd. absorbed the J & A Brown Abermain Seaham Collieries which had taken over the Wallarah Coal Company, in 1956. In 1964 Coal & Allied decided to sell the company cottages to their occupants. While this scheme provided greater incentive for the new owners to maintain and improve their homes, dwindling employment throughout the remainder of the 20th Century saw declining population and a corresponding disappearance of community services. The Public School closed in 1985. In 1992 Coal & Allied retrenched 280 workers and, the following year sold the operation to Lake Coal which cut jobs still further in preparation for closing down the mine. The Anglican Church and the Post Office both closed in 1993.

Today, the remaining miners and descendants of miners in the Catherine Hill Bay Cultural Precinct have been joined by relatively recent arrivals, attracted by the distinctive character of the built environment and the aesthetic appeal of its setting. That environment is a rare survivor among the state's former company towns, most of which are either abandoned (Joadja, Minmi) or changed beyond recognition.

In 2000 mining began to decline due to geological issues and mining ceased in Catherine Hill Bay in 2002 (Coal & Allied, 2010, quoted in LMCC, 2017, 7).

In 2008 Catherine Hill Bay Cultural Precinct was listed on the NSW State Heritage Register (ibid, 2017, 7).

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Environment - cultural landscape-Activities associated with the interactions between humans, human societies and the shaping of their physical surroundings Developing local, regional and national economies-National Theme 3
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Environment - cultural landscape-Activities associated with the interactions between humans, human societies and the shaping of their physical surroundings Landscapes and gardens of domestic accommodation-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Environment - cultural landscape-Activities associated with the interactions between humans, human societies and the shaping of their physical surroundings Landscapes of industrial production-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Mining-Activities associated with the identification, extraction, processing and distribution of mineral ores, precious stones and other such inorganic substances. Miners' accommodation and living conditions-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Mining-Activities associated with the identification, extraction, processing and distribution of mineral ores, precious stones and other such inorganic substances. Mining for coal-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Transport-Activities associated with the moving of people and goods from one place to another, and systems for the provision of such movements Maintaining maritime transport routes-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Transport-Activities associated with the moving of people and goods from one place to another, and systems for the provision of such movements Building and maintaining jetties, wharves and docks-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Land tenure-Activities and processes for identifying forms of ownership and occupancy of land and water, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Leasing land for mining-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Land tenure-Activities and processes for identifying forms of ownership and occupancy of land and water, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Changing land uses - from rural to tourist-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages A Picturesque Residential District-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages A quiet Rural District-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages 20th Century infrastructure-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages 19th Century Infrastructure-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages Planned towns serving a specific industry-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The Precinct's built environments, location and geological character are state significant because of the key role played by 19th Century company towns in the development of Australian resources. It is significant for the continuing association of the area with coal mining. This development is clearly evidenced by remnants of railways, the structures and extent in the immediate setting of untouched landscape typical of mining occupation of the foreshores. The jetty and other structures play a key role in reflecting the long term importance of CHB as a company town. The place's strong sense of history is evidenced by remnants and structures which commemorate the working activity of the town.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
The Catherine Hill Bay Cultural Precinct is state significant for its associations with coal mining, organised labour, and early maritime industry in NSW. It is located on by the oldest coal mining lease in NSW, Consolidated Coal Lease 706. It is associated with the earliest examples of industrial action in NSW and with the evolution of unionised labour in the state.The Precinct's association with the Australian maritime industry is strong with regular shipping activity from the jetty stretching from its earliest days (1870s) to 2001, when shipping ceased. In 2004-5 the community subscribed $20,000 to build a memorial at the Bay for its citizens who died in war, most of whom were miners, jetty hands, seamen, or the family of those people. The Precinct is also associated with the State Heritage Register listed WW11 radar station RS208, near Mine Camp, which was a key unit in Australia's war time protection and was manned in part by Catherine Hill Bay women who were members of the WAAF.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The built form in Catherine Hill Bay Cultural Precinct' s two villages is aesthetically significant at a state level as a highly intact late nineteenth century company town characterised by a varied range of finishes and scale typified by simple forms of predominately one storey height. The Precinct's setting exhibits visual significance owing to the diversity of landforms, vegetation communities and waterforms. The pervasive evidence of the Precinct's industrial history is technically and archaeologically significant.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
Catherine Hill Bay exhibits a significant sense of place and history through a number of monuments and memorials and through its association with the development of company towns in NSW. The community remains closely integrated despite the aging and passing of older residents who worked in the mines, and their families. Some eight movies or TV shows have used the Bay as a location in the past 25 years and these form the core of the "Catho Classics Film Festival" inaugurated in 2004 with the screening of Mel Gibson's first starring film "Summer City" and a video documentary produced by local residents which recorded the memories of residents who participated in the movie. A current project by the Progress Association to produce a social history of Catherine Hill Bay miners' cottages focusses on the domestic life and extended networks of families who lived in the cottages from the 1890s to the present.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
The Precinct is an archaeological resource with potential to contribute to our understanding of the industrial heritage of Lake Macquarie and NSW. Lake Macquarie City Council's "Strategic Issues Study" on Wallarah South (1995) included a review of Aboriginal Archaeology which recommended that a field study should focus on the Middle Camp Gully. Further research and consultation are needed in order to formulate appropriate management strategies for the Aboriginal cultural heritage resource of the Precinct, its setting and the Wallarah Peninsula generally. The precinct also provides a rare living example of the scale, materials and spacial relations that typified Company Towns in NSW from the late nineteenth century onwards.
SHR Criteria f)
[Rarity]
The Catherine Hill Bay Cultural Precinct is rare in NSW as coal mining company town that has retained integrity of scale, shape and size with in situ comprehensive remnants and memorials of century-long mining activity in a natural coastal location. No other mining locality contains such an intact and compact representation of 19th and 20th century coal mining, rail and sea transportation in an isolated coastal environment which remains in much the same natural state as it was in the 1880s.
SHR Criteria g)
[Representativeness]
The Catherine Hill Bay Cultural Precinct is state significant as a documented and widely acknowledged intact representative of the era of company towns in the development of Australia's resources. The integrity and intactness of the Precinct's built environment, industrial infrastructure landscape and seascape, from the 19th Century to the present, are largely due to underground mining by coal companies which owned freehold land, thus restraining surface development for more than a century.
Integrity/Intactness: The Catherine Hill Bay Cultural Precinct remains an exceptionally intact example of an early Australian company town.
Assessment criteria: Items are assessed against the PDF State Heritage Register (SHR) Criteria to determine the level of significance. Refer to the Listings below for the level of statutory protection.

Recommended management:

Recommendations

Management CategoryDescriptionDate Updated
Recommended ManagementReview a Conservation Management Plan (CMP) 
Recommended ManagementPrepare a maintenance schedule or guidelines 
Recommended ManagementCarry out interpretation, promotion and/or education 

Procedures /Exemptions

Section of actDescriptionTitleCommentsAction date
57(2)Exemption to allow workStandard Exemptions SCHEDULE OF STANDARD EXEMPTIONS
HERITAGE ACT 1977
Notice of Order Under Section 57 (2) of the Heritage Act 1977

I, the Minister for Planning, pursuant to subsection 57(2) of the Heritage Act 1977, on the recommendation of the Heritage Council of New South Wales, do by this Order:

1. revoke the Schedule of Exemptions to subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act made under subsection 57(2) and published in the Government Gazette on 22 February 2008; and

2. grant standard exemptions from subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act 1977, described in the Schedule attached.

FRANK SARTOR
Minister for Planning
Sydney, 11 July 2008

To view the schedule click on the Standard Exemptions for Works Requiring Heritage Council Approval link below.
Sep 5 2008
57(2)Exemption to allow workHeritage Act - Site Specific Exemptions SCHEDULE C

1. Existing approved development:
All works and activities in accordance with a current and valid development consent from Lake Macquarie City Council in force at the date of gazettal for listing the Catherine Hill Bay Cultural Precinct on the State Heritage Register.

2. DAs complying with the Lake Macquarie City Council Lake Macquarie Council Development Control Plan No 1 Part 2 Section 2.4 and its Heritage Guidelines for Catherine Hill Bay.
Nov 5 2010
57(2)Exemption to allow workStandard Exemptions SCHEDULE OF STANDARD EXEMPTIONS
HERITAGE ACT 1977
Notice of Order Under Section 57 (2) of the Heritage Act 1977

I, the Minister for Planning, pursuant to subsection 57(2) of the Heritage Act 1977, on the recommendation of the Heritage Council of New South Wales, do by this Order:

1. revoke the Schedule of Exemptions to subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act made under subsection 57(2) and published in the Government Gazette on 22 February 2008; and

2. grant standard exemptions from subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act 1977, described in the Schedule attached.

FRANK SARTOR
Minister for Planning
Sydney, 11 July 2008

To view the schedule click on the Standard Exemptions for Works Requiring Heritage Council Approval link below.
Nov 5 2010

PDF Standard exemptions for works requiring Heritage Council approval

Listings

Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - State Heritage Register 0182805 Nov 10 1265421
Regional Environmental PlanHunter REP 03 Nov 89   
Local Environmental PlanLake Macquarie LEP 1993RT-18; CH-0001 Oct 93   
Local Environmental Plan  30 Jan 14   

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenArchitectural Projects Pty Ltd Heritage Assessment Conservation Plan for Catherine Hill Bay
WrittenNSW Department of Urban Affairs and Planning Planning Report: Strategic Review of Coastal Development - Wallarah Peninsula
WrittenSuters, Doring, Turner1993Lake Macquarie Heritage Study, Catherine Hill Bay

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

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(Click on thumbnail for full size image and image details)

Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Heritage Office
Database number: 5061182
File number: EF14/4827; H03/198


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