Friday, 25 May 2012

Lake Illawarra

The sale of the Peterborough Estate on the eastern side of Lake Illawarra in 1921 encouraged subdivisions and new towns began to emerge.

The holiday season in 1927 saw over 2000 holiday makers camped on the shores at Lake South. At night, crowds would gather with flare lamps and lanterns to go in search of delicious lake prawns that were found in enormous quantities. One only had to put a bucket into the water and scoop them out.

In those days, the sand hills at the lake were up to 70 feet high some days, depending on the winds. Locals and tourists would spend hours skiing down the sand hills on cardboard or Masonite off cuts. In later years some of the sand was used as infill during the building of the steelworks.
To cash in on the bumper tourist trade, Mr Harradine built a boarding house in Reddall Parade in 1929. Harradine's Clermont Guesthouse included 40 rooms and a dance floor. Many socials were held at Clermont which became the cultural centre of the town.

Mr Albert Orange also built a guesthouse Illawarra House and a jetty on the lake shore at Oak Flats. Albert's tourist launch Lady Albion was registered by the Illawarra Ferry Company and could take up to 70 passengers across the lake at a time. Holiday makers who arrived by steam train at Albion Park Rail could hop aboard the Lady Albion at the Windang Street jetty before being taken for a tour of the lake; stopping off at Gooseberry Island before making their way to the guesthouse.

With the onset of the Great Depression in the 1930s Mr Orange was forced to sell his famous guesthouse. The house was purchased by the Chambers family, who dismantled it and transported it piece by piece to Reddall Parade, Lake South, where it was rebuilt as The California.

Before Windang Bridge was built travellers could only get across the lake entrance at low tide. The first Windang Bridge was constructed in 1938 as a result of these emerging lake towns which today are centres of great importance in the city.

Sailing boat on Lake Illawarra c.1920.
Shellharbour Images Shellharbour City Libraries.

Reddall Parade, Lake South c.1920.
Shellharbour Images Shellharbour City Libraries.

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