Early Days at Eraring
Lieutenant Percy Simpson received two grants to select, each of 2000 acres which he chose adjacent to one another in the vicinity of Dora Creek however the grants were not surveyed for two or three years. He was granted convict servants to clear the land which was named Kourumbung (seen on the map below). A house and stockyards were constructed and he owned an extensive herd of cattle. His grants extended from the southern bank of Dora Creek, westward from the confluence of Dora and Stockton Creeks to the vicinity of Cooranbong as it is today, and southward to Mandalong and Wyee. In a mistake by surveyor-general John Oxley, and unbeknown to Percy Simpson at the time, one of his 2000 acre grants was cancelled. Later this grant was selected by John Tingcombe . Patrick Frederick Campbell also acquired land
in the district. (see map below).
...Map showing Percy Simpson's grant at Cooranbong
In lieu of the grant that had been cancelled Percy Simpson selected a further 2000 acres near the mouth of Dora Creek. There was a lengthy wait while paperwork was approved however he was officially granted title to
two thousand acres of land known as E-ra-ring on 7th April 1838.......
- Commencing at the South extreme of the Western boundary line at Dory Creek and Bounded on the West by a North line of one hundred and thirty seven chains and fifty links; on the North by an East line of one hundred and seventy six chains to a salt water Creek, and by that Creek to the Waters of Lake Macquarie; on the East by the Waters of Lake Macquarie southerly to the mouth of Dory Creek; and on the South by Dory Creek upwards to the South extreme of the Western boundary line. 
financial difficulties and a large family to support, Percy Simpson sold his 2,000
acres E-ra-ring later in 1838 to John Edye Manning . Simpson had been dissatisfied with the land,
considering it barren scrub lacking adequate water.
Frederick Hely, Superintendent of Convicts in Sydney was
leasing land at the mouth of Dora Creek - part of the E-ra-ring land.
Hely became ill in January 1836 and resigned from his position. He
died in September that year and his wife Georgina and Edward Hely continued after his death . Edward Hely apparently afterwards acquired the Er-a-ring land from John Edye Manning.
Alfred Holden was appointed Police Magistrate at Brisbane Water
In a series of complicated land deals between Edward Hely, Alfred Holden and George K Holden the second Percy Simpson grant changed hands.....
Land Sale Edward Hely (vendor) to Alfred Holden (purchaser)......All those eight hundred and ten acres of land situated in the Co. Northumberland being part of two thousand acres lately granted to Percy Simpson and by him sold to John Edye Manning; which said land thereby is bounded in irregular lines on the Southern and South Eastern sides by the waters of Lake Macquarie, on the North commencing at the Extreme North Western corner of the said two thousand acres by ninety eight chains of the Northern boundary line thereof; and on the South West and North East by parallel lines running in a South Eastern direction to the waters of Lake Macquarie from the extreme point of the said ninety eight chains and dividing the land appointed on the North East from the two thousand acres belonging to Edward Hely . Another six hundred and ten acres was similarly sold.
In December 1839 the two thousand acre grant seems to have belonged jointly to Edward Hely, G.K. Holden and Alfred Holden. Alfred Holden's portion was known as Bourke's Estate.
In February 1840 Alfred Holden and George K Holden sold their portions to Edward Hely for 800 pounds. The land was subdivided into town allotments and marketed as Newport.
Auctioneer Mr. Smart advertised portions of land for sale at Newport in July 1840.  It was said to be part of Holden's Bourke Estate
SALE OF LAND AT NEWPORT
Smart will sell by auction at his rooms in George street Sydney on
Thursday 30th July at Twelve o'clock
A few Allotments of the
The Township of Newport, forming part of the
Bourke Estate, will be found, on reference to the map, the midway
station between the Brisbane Water and the Maitland or Newcastle
districts having the Hawkesbury and the Wollombi Ranges in the west
and the extensive and picturesque Lake Macquarie with its fertile
banks and the sea on the east.
Among the many natural
advantages of its position for which it was selected as a grant by
one of the early commandants, who was also an eminent surveyor or
engineer, the following may be enumerated -
contiguous to that part of the coast known as Reid's Mistake or Lake
Macquarie and the resort of fishing boats from Sydney and Newcastle,
the entrance at certain seasons of the year admitting also vessels
of larger tonnage. The borders of this lake are famed for the
inexhaustible source of investigation which the numerous specimens
of minerals and the continuation of the coal strata from Newcastle
have so repeatedly presented to the geologist and the lover of
Newport has in its vicinity forests of the best
Colonial timber especially cedar of the finest quality quantities of
which have been for years cut in the district and the trade is at
this time carried on it its full vigor.
The selection of
Newport as a township has been greatly approved of by Colonists of
experience as well a engineers and surveyors, while by several of
the first families of the Hunters River districts it is looked
forward to with some degree of expectation as the only means of
relieving them from the serious inconvenience of a long and perilous
night voyage by steam, during the more tempestuous seasons of the
year. Added to its mid way position between the above important
districts the road is with a few immaterial exceptions not only
direct but level. The distance of the Township is computed by the
government and private surveyors to be only about 25 miles from
Maitland or Newcastle and East Gosford, the township of Brisbane
Water, from which place the steamer at present running makes the
trip to Sydney in three or four hours; by means of which
communication it is evident not only residents on the Hunter but
their flocks and herds will be enabled to travel with ease certainly
and dispatch so that sales will be effected without subjecting
stockholders to the dearth and high cost of agistment, or grazing
round Sydney and the more serious losses of delays of the present
circuitous routes from those districts to the metropolis.
The scenery of the lakes which front Newport is considered by
travellers who have visited them to resemble some of the most
beautiful on the Continent of Europe and requiring only the industry
of man to perfect such resemblance, The soil of the township and the
adjacent lands will vie in comparison with any that can be selected
from the most alluvial parts of the Colony and favored as this spot
is with coast rains at all seasons as well a s abundant natural
supplies of water, Newport will assuredly be found a place of
comfort and repose for the traveller to and from the Hunter - a
delightful and healthy retreat for the invalid and to the capitalist
of every description as well as the emigrant of industry and
enterprise a township adapted by nature and especially its relative
position between Sydney and the Hunter for the immediate and
unlimited employment of capital talent and energy.'
The first allotments were sold soon after. Perhaps the stands of timber mentioned in the above advertisement encouraged and sustained the settlement for a while. However the claim of excellent alluvial land was later proved incorrect when rust ruined wheat crops 
The district was in uproar in 1840 when raided by the 'Jewboy
Gang' bushrangers. These marauders were enthusiastically pursued to the Watagans by Magistrate Alfred Holden who took with him on the pursuit, ticket of leave holders and constables. The gang together with their new recruit from the district, Richard Glanville, managed to evade capture.
thieves were also said to be active in the Lake Macquarie district.
Jeremiah Diplock who arrived on the
Coromandel in 1820 after being sentenced in Sussex to 7 years transportation, John Kindrick, known as 'Hellfire Jack' and William Bramble who lived in the vicinity were known to the authorities.
BEAUTY OF THE LAKE
However proponents for the development
of the area were not to be deterred from their enthusiasm and in
February 1841 The Australian reported-
"It is a great
advantage to the inhabitants of these districts, that the new road
from Maitland to Gosford, discovered by Mr. W.H. Wells, proves so
excellent a one. It avoids the hilly range of Wyee, and the Sugar
Loaf mountain, and is also shorter than the road lately in use. It
is, our readers will observe, upon this new road that the town of
Newport is situated, having Lake Macquarie on the one side and the
road on the other. A bridge has been constructed, nearly a furlong
in length, across a small arm of the lake; by crossing which, and
also by means of a punt at Dora Creek, a saving of eight miles will
The public will further hear with interest,
that the entrance from the sea to Lake Macquarie, an entrance which
is commonly called “Reid’s Mistake,” is discovered to be navigable.
An inlet for shipping is thus given into a most safe and beautiful
harbour, 300 miles in circumference; the only located spot of which,
at present, is the aforesaid town of Newport. It seems obvious that
the settlers on Jerry’s Plains will, instead of going out of their
way to Newcastle or Maitland, bring down their wool to Newport
direct, as shipping can lie within a cable’s length of the shore.
The Kangaroo will shortly be engaged to perform a trip from Sydney
to Newport, passing through the Strait called “Reid’s
Mistake;” and affording the passengers a view, almost
for the first time since the existence of the colony, of Lake
Macquarie in its entire beauty. We shall hope to learn that these
new project, having in their end so important a benefit, are
prospering in a manner which they so well deserve.
INN AT NEWPORT
1841 an inn was operating at Newport. Innkeeper William Thomas
Mitchell was married to Mrs. Jane Sherlock on the 10th August that
year by visiting Minister the Rev. Edward Rogers. (7) It seems Mrs.
Sherlock's husband, a shingle splitter, had been drowned on the lake
the previous June when out on a pleasure cruise with three others.
He was at the time building the hotel together with Mr. Mitchell.
Perhaps it was this inn that a Mr. Ainsworth was selling liquor from
later(5) This inn was closed down when Ainsworth was found guilty of
selling liquor without waiting for his license to be approved. The
Police Magistrate at Brisbane Water seized all the liquors he had in
stock effectively closing him down. There was said to be a need for
an Inn for travellers apparently often passed that way on the way
between Maitland and Brisbane Water.
October 1841 the Monitor reported that a school house was
about to be built at Newport. The funds were being raised by
subscription with the government to contribute towards its support
an equal sum.
In July 1841 the Australian once again
reported on the potential of Lake Macquarie – 'We are informed
that a vessel has at length arrived from Lake Macquarie with coals.
This is an occurrence of some interest, as it establishes the fact
of the entrance to the Lake (commonly called Reid’s Mistake) being
navigable. The Ann, of Newport (the vessel in which the coals
arrived), is one of twenty tons burden, but it is said that vessels
of much greater size can effect an entrance. If such be the case, it
really is a most important circumstance. Lake Macquarie is of no
mean extent. It might, indeed, from its dimensions, be almost, with
propriety, be termed a sea; whilst, not the extreme beauty of its
scenery merely, but the remarkable fertility of the land on its
banks, entitles it to the attention of every new settler. Were small
farms laid out on its margin, being, as it is, upwards of three
hundred miles in circumference, we are certain they would be bought
up with avidity, and to the great advantage of the Colonial
exchequer. Every one knows at what a high rate small patches of land
sell, having frontage to the Hawkesbury, and that solely on account
of their possessing the advantage of water carriage to Sydney. Nor
is the fertility of its banks the only recommendation of this fine
Lake. Shingle wood, in many parts, abounds; whilst, at the head of
Dora Creek (the southern boundary of the Newport property)’ timber
of the more valuable kinds, but particularly cedar, is to be met
with in abundance. Aware of the richness of the land on this fine
creek, which is about five hundred feet wide, Government has lately
withdrawn from sale a section on its south bank, to some parties
well known, by the name of Stingaree Point; but the extensive
estates in the immediate neighbourhood – those of Mrs. Hely, Mr.
Campbell, and John Terry Hughes, Esq. – have all of them more than
an average proportion of good soil. Much good land, too, is not yet
taken up. It is a pity these estates are not apportioned to small
and industrious settlers, who would make them far more availably
useful than they at present are, as mere fields for grazing. We
trust the adjacent Crown Lands will be put up in small portions,
within the means of the little industrious settler to purchase, and
we are much mistaken if the result be not of the most flattering
In 1842 the Sydney Herald reported favourably
once again noting that the area was at length beginning to develop
its true resources although slowly owing to poor financial times.
They noted that a fair trade had sprung up in the shingle business.
' The entrance of the lake is still believed to be un -
navigable, notwithstanding shingles being are being sent from the
place, both to Newcastle and Sydney. Time however must eventually
remove this prejudice, and as shingle wood (which is getting so
scarce in other quarters) is to be had on the Lake without carting,
(in almost any quantity), a considerable trade may be expected to
arise eventually. One or two active, stirring folk, would do well in
this line. They might get their shingles into Sydney market several
shillings a thousand cheaper than they can be had elsewhere, where
the ground is more beaten. Beautiful little farms are springing up
on the banks of the Lake, and the small settlers seem, on the whole,
pleased with their prospects. There would be plenty to do here for a
steamer, to run between Newport and the entrance. There is a sailing
vessel for the purpose, but a small steamer would answer better. It
is said, the East Gosford Packet is to be put on for this place, to
run regularly between it and Sydney. She would do well enough
certainly, but several such will be wanted before long. Nothing can
exceed the great beauty of the scenery in this neighbourhood, and
should bathing-houses be erected, in connexion with a good inn, it
would be a delightful resort for the good folk of Maitland, and that
neighbourhood Despite these glowing reports this fledgling township
on the edge of the lake, like George Weller's proposed township
'Hampton' on the banks of Cockle Creek, was doomed to failure. A
line of road connecting Sydney with the Hunter Valley favoured by
Percy Simpson failed to eventuate and settlers from the upper Valley
did not use Newport to ship their wool. With the entire colony
suffering under the circumstances of the depression of the 1840's,
the Newport settlement failed entirely. Settlers in the district
were not immune to the effects of the depression and by 1845 Alfred
Holden was undergoing insolvency proceedings.
settlers remained in the district making their living by cattle,
agriculture or fishing - farmer John Minton, Henry Worley, constable
and sheep farmer and Edward James also a sheep farmer.  James
Bradford ran cattle at Newport in 1846. Settlers travelled by water,
horse and dray. Market gardens were planted and orchards established
but the area remained mostly undeveloped.
By 1880 the area
of Lake Macquarie was described as 'one of the most wild,
romantic, and picturesque spots that can be imaged. The route to the
Lake is full of interest abounding with wild flowers , scented
groves of myrtle, valleys of lilies romantic spots and curiously
formed trees; altogether affording amusement to those in search of
RAILWAY STATION AT DORA CREEK
With the opening of the railway station
at Dora Creek in 1889 access to the area became easier and goods
could be taken to market. Those living in Eraring walked from the
railway station across Muddy Lake (Lake Eraring) to their homes.
The Excelsior Land Co provided a further subdivision in 1910 and
small blocks were able to be purchased. Waterfront land was
purchased by the Lambert family around this time. Later the property
across the creek from this purchase became residence of Dr. Leighton
Jones who was renown for his work with monkeys. (See photographs below)
A school house was opened in 1923 and a post office
NOTES AND LINKS
Dr. Henry Leighton Jones - Jack Marx - Sydney
Opening of Eraring Public School 1924
Monkeys at the Lake - Newcastle Morning Herald
3 January 1939
Arbour Day Celebrations at Eraring 1936
New Swimming Baths at Eraring 1939
Centre: Kitty Lambert. Far Right: Iris Lambert
 State Records Authority of New South Wales; Registers of Land Grants and Leases; Series: NRS 13836; Item: 7/460; Reel: 2549 Description Year Range: 1836-1840 (Vol· 9) Source Information Ancestry.com. New South Wales, Australia, Registers of Land Grants and Leases, 1792-1867
 Sydney Gazette 15 September 1836
 Returns of the Colony - Colonial Secretary 1837
 The Australian 23 July 1840
 Clouten, Keith H. Reid's Mistake, p. 113 - 116
 Roope, C., Gregson,
P., An Organised Banditti, The Story behind the 'Jewboy' Bushranger
Gang, Colin Roope and Patricia Gregson, Lake Macquarie,2002.
 Sydney Morning Herald 24 August1841
 Maitland Mercury
13 December 1845
 1841 Census
 Shaw, W.H, The
Newcastle Directory 1880/1881
 The Australian 4 February
 The Australian 13 May 1841
Monitor 27 October 1841
 The Sydney Herald 28 October
 The Sydney Herald 27 January 1842
 State Records Authority of New South Wales; Kingswood, NSW, Australia; Archive Reel: 1587; Series: 12992; Description: Registers of Memorials for Land. 1825-1842. Description Date Range: 1821-1838 Source Information Ancestry.com. New South Wales, Australia, Land Grants, 1788-1963
 Clouten, Keith H. Reid's Mistake, p. 42-48