Belmont, New South Wales
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Lake Macquarie, New South Wales
|Population||7,114 (2016 census)|
|• Density||808/km2 (2,094/sq mi)|
|Area||8.8 km2 (3.4 sq mi)|
|LGA(s)||City of Lake Macquarie|
Belmont is a suburb in the Hunter Region of New South Wales, Australia, located 20 kilometres (12 mi) from Newcastle's central business district on the eastern side of Lake Macquarie and is part of the City of Lake Macquarie.
The area around Belmont was inhabited by the Awabakal tribe of Aborigines. In 1825 Reverend Lancelot Edward Threlkeld established a mission at Belmont. He established small scale farming of wheat and Indian Corn and employed the local Aboriginal people to help him. While doing so, Threlkeld recorded phoenetically the language of the Awabakal and produced the first serious works on Aboriginal language, its grammar, usage, and relation to other Aboriginal tribal languages.
Thomas Williamson (1833–80) was born in the northernmost island of Unst, Shetland Islands in a town called Belmont. He was the third settler in the Lake Macquarie area and in 1865 selected 100 acres, including Bahtahbah (site of Rev. Threlkeld's old Aboriginal mission) to settle. On the rising land leading to the top of the hill, near the corner of Walter and Victoria Streets (and what became, many years later the Infants School) he built a large residence to serve as a guest house, naming it after the town of his birth "Belmont" House. It is thought the village which grew up around it may have assumed the name from the house. As the village grew, some of the streets were named after his children: Ada St leads down to the Lake Macquarie Yacht Club, Maude St comes from Cahill Oval down to the water at the baths. Walter St would have come right past the old Belmont house whilst Alick (named for Alexander) and Ernest Sts marked the eastern boundary of the original acreage. Thomas St, outside the shopping centre, is named after Thomas Williamson himself. On the eastern side of the old house Williamson planted a vineyard, facing towards the lagoon, and to the north an orchard including banana trees.
In 1874 he erected the first church just near where George St meets the highway, and the Belmont Post Office was opened in 1877 with Thomas Williamson himself as Postmaster. He continued in this capacity until his death. He was also the first licensee of the Belmont Hotel, which opened nearby the church. In 1873, realising that there were enough children in the local village to warrant the existence of one, he opened the first school, a single-roomed building, next to Maudeville Cottage. John Anderson bought "Anderson's Hill" in 1870 and built a guesthouse called "Bellevue" after which the road was named.
The area from Ross St on the water, to Lewers St was bought by Robert D. Lewers, Sydney Manager of the Bank of London and subdivided in 1916, known as Lewers Estate for many years.
The land around the lake was of such poor quality, apart from in small patches, that as early as 1828, Henry Dangar, Government Surveyor, knew that it was more suited " to the retired naval, military or civil officer, or to the merchant, inclined to quit the busy scene, one who is fond of shooting, fishing, or hunting, or boat sailing, where he can enjoy living with a most salubrious air..." Any industrial use or mining in the lake was constrained by the terrible nature of the bar on the lake's entrance at Swansea. Hence, in order to provide to a larger need for lifestyle and recreation, rather than industrial use, the issue of transport was vital. The road had been a major problem from almost the beginning of the township's life. It was reported as "one of the worst in the colony" – only 12 miles from Newcastle but taking two and a half to three hours by dray. Guesthouses failed to thrive because of the severity of the road conditions and really it was not until the road was formally fixed in the 1910s, and the Pacific Highway came through in the 1920s, that Belmont was able to make the most of its beautiful surroundings, and the township started to thrive. In addition, the New Redhead Estate & Coal Company extended their trainline to Belmont, where both a station and coal-loading ramps and sidings were constructed. Passenger trains ran every day of the week to Belmont. The line was closed in 1991.
Through urbanisation and the use of the hills to the north and north-east of the peninsula, Belmont has become one of the major centres of Lake Macquarie. The suburb itself is currently (2011 census) the fourth-largest by population, with the surrounding locality (consisting of Belmont North, Floraville and Jewells) the largest locality within the jurisdiction of Lake Macquarie City Council.
According to the 2016 census of Population, there were 7,114 people in Belmont.
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people made up 3.0% of the population.
- 85.2% of people were born in Australia. The next most common country of birth was England at 2.4%.
- 90.9% of people only spoke English at home.
- The most common responses for religion were No Religion 27.4%, Anglican 23.0% and Catholic 20.6%.
Belmont is home to many shops, restaurants and many other amenities. Belmont and the surrounding locality also include 4 primary schools (Belmont Public School, Belmont North Public School, Floraville Public School and Jewells Public School); 2 secondary schools, Belmont High School and Belmont Christian College, along with a tertiary institution in the form of a campus of TAFE NSW (formerly Hunter Institute of TAFE). Belmont Hospital, located on Croudace Bay Road, is the only public hospital in Lake Macquarie. Belmont Baths, a public swimming enclosure measuring 70m in length and 45m in width, re-opened to the public on 22 December 2018.
Until May 2006, Aeropelican (now FlyPelican) operated scheduled passenger services from Belmont Airport to Sydney Airport. The discontinuation of these services has all but closed the airfield, with owners seeking to develop the land. Belmont Airport is now privately co-owned by Red Bull Air Race pilot Matt Hall and a skydiving company.
Many collieries, large and small, sought coal from the coal seams which were plentiful in the Belmont area, the largest of these being the BHP's John Darling Colliery at Belmont North. The New Redhead Estate & Coal Mining Company operated a railway until recent times from Belmont to Adamstown, a suburb of Newcastle, where it joined the New South Wales Government Railways Main Line. The railway carried passenger trains as well as coal trains and served several collieries. Also, situated on a spur line just south of Belmont railway station, was a large railway coal loading facility, whereby motor trucks from collieries as far afield as Swansea, New South Wales, could load their coal into railway trucks for transporting to Newcastle's port. The smaller collieries closed due to the 1960s - 1970s slump in the industry, the last being Belltop Colliery. The larger collieries closed later.
- Daniel Abraham - Rugby league player
- Jack Marshall - Rugby player
- Brendon Cook - racing car driver
- Daniel Halangahu - rugby union player
- Brothers Brock and Blake Mueller - rugby league players
- Alex Read - football/soccer player
- Brett Kimmorley - rugby league player
- Australian Bureau of Statistics (27 June 2017). "State Suburbs: Belmont (NSW)". 2016 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 8 April 2018.
- Murrey, Peter. "Bahtahbah to Belmont". Newcastle Morning Herald.
- Neil Gunson. "Threlkeld, Lancelot Edward (1788–1859)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Retrieved 21 February 2018.
- "Belmont: Community History". Lake Macquarie Libraries. Retrieved 30 May 2015.
- Belmont: From Dreaming to Federation. Author Paul Brown, Dobson & McEwan print
- "Carrying coals at Newcastle". The Sydney Morning Herald. 19 February 1961. p. 42. Retrieved 21 February 2018.
- History of Belmont (Lake Macquarie City Library)