People, Nature, and Sport in Windale Artwork

A $50,000 public art project in Windale celebrates the feelings, stories, dreams and aspirations of the local community.

The 10-metre long multi-media work, adorning the side of planter boxes in Windale’s main retail precinct, was inspired by workshops with Windale residents and school students and revolves around three key themes: People, Nature and Sport.

Pictured above ~ Local artists John Cliff, Saretta Fielding, Joanna O’Toole and Warwick O’Toole  with Mayor Fraser (in red).
Pictured further below, students from St Pius X who contributed to the artwork.

Lake Macquarie City Council’s Cultural Services Manager, Jacqui Hemsley, said the project was part of the ‘CREATE’ city-wide initiative aiming to bring communities together and enliven public spaces through meaningful public art projects.

Art in public spaces encourages a sense of ownership by locals, improves the City’s profile and has potential flow-on economic benefits,” Ms Hemsley said.

The Windale community has a strong sense of pride in their area, and the artists worked hard to reflect this through the piece.”

Local artists John Cliff, Saretta Fielding, Joanna O’Toole and Warwick O’Toole created the mural, which features Aboriginal motifs and a curved design representing nearby Scrubby Creek.

The Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal motifs represent community, harmony, collaboration and bush tucker,” Ms Hemsley said.

Two steel elements symbolise the ‘dinosaur’ bridge of the Newcastle Inner-City Bypass.”

New plantings surrounding the sculpture include bush tucker species for the Windale community to care for and use freely. Curved timber seating designed as part of the new artwork has also been installed.

Mayor of Lake Macquarie, Councillor Kay Fraser, said public art helped enrich the lives of residents and visitors, providing many positive social and economic benefits. 

The new public art work is just one of a suite of projects worth more than $7.5 million, helping revamp Windale,” Cr Fraser said.

It marks the first milestone in our exciting CREATE initiative, with further works rolling out across Lake Macquarie in the near future.”

Work on a Charlestown CREATE project is expected to start later this year.

A brief history of Windale

The following tale should quell our Windale cousin’s discontent about the size of their flat screen telly’s, or that mobile phone plan for the kids.

Messrs. Creer end Berkeley will sell to-day, at 11 a.m., (2nd April, 1892) at their rooms, furniture, sundries, and clothing; and during the afternoon, on the ground, Surprisetown, near Charlestown, 130 building and cultivation sites.

But, if Mr Thomas Croudace, of Lambton, had his way in 1893, he would have closed the road on his land at Lake Macquarie, and the townships of Violetttown and Surprisetown might ever have come to pass. Read the full struggle, and a fascinating tale, at NLA’s Trove.

Named after an early settler Vere James Winn, the area known as Surprise Township until 1913,  became ‘Surprise Town’ when, in March 1951, the town’s name was gazetted as ‘Windale’.

Lake Macquarie Shire Council adopted the new name last night on the suggestion of Surprisetown Progress Association, The council will notify the Post master-General’s Department of the change. The Engineer (Mr. J. W. Webb) will report on street light requirements in the area.

Windale’s fame around Newcastle in the post-war period was as one of many well-known “housing commission” areas.

Residents were doing it relatively tough at first, with unsealed roads, no phone, post office, school, sewerage, and – if any service at all – low water pressure. A meeting in June 1951 found locals complaining about Munro Street that was such a quagmire, from drainage and sullage mixing with the unsealed surface, they nick-named it “Mud Row (Street).”

Living conditions at Windale were worse than he had seen in the islands during the war, Mr. P. G. Lewin told Northumberland Council of Progress Associations.

Twenty years earlier (July 1930) an incident suggested nasty surprises were par for the course.

The road at Surprisetown, near Charlestown, is in such a bad condition that  early in this week a cacrier with a motor lorry, who had cause to go there, was bogged whlile on the return journey. After strenuous efforts to get the lorry out. of the bog hoad proved unavailing, he was forced to leave it on the road overnight. The next day another motor lorry, which aIttemped to pull the first one out of the mud, was also bogged, and finally, a block and tackle were  procured, and attached to a nearby tree. By use of the block and tackle both lorries were eventually pulled to firmer ground.

The first post office was opened in 1951 and work progressed at a cracking pace on providing the residents with a telephone.

A non-official post-office under the control of Mrs. L. M. Gore, of South-street, Windale, will he established on July 2, the Postmaster-General (Mr. Anthony) has advised Mr. James, M.H.R.

A public telephone service was expected soon for Windale, the President of the Northumberland Council of Progress Associations (Mr, H. Bowerman) said yesterday. He said he had been told by the District Engineer of the Postmaster General’s Department (Mr. White) that cables were through to Windale and the only hold-up now was a shortage of cabinets. Efforts were being made to make the first cabinet available for the Windale service.

Sewerage was next on the agenda, to replace those disgusting “dunny cans.” But the cost – £500,000 for just a projected 6000 residents – was a big ask in those days.

Representatives of the Hunter District Water Board and Lake Macquarie Shire Council agreed yesterday that the council should call a conference of representatives of the board, the council and the Housing Commission to discuss the provision of a sewerage servicte for Windale (Surprise Town).

In view of the small ultimate population of the area (6000) it had been agreed that the scheme was financially  impracticable at this stage.

By June 1952 the good folk were still agitating for drainage, street gutters, a bus shelter, a doctor, and even a mail box. Not to mention growing strife over the lack of a school.

Of 21 cottages to be erected in Windale (late Surprisetown) by the Housing Commission, eight in James-street. and five in Roto-street. will be supplied from existing water mains. The board decided to lay 290 yards of 4-inch cement-lined cast iron pipe in Lake-street. to supply the remaining eight cottages in that street, at an estimated cost of £600.

And finally that school…

The urgent need for the establishment of a public school at Windale will be brought before the Minister for Education (Mr. Heffron) by the District Council of Parents and Citizens’ Associations. Mr. H. Bowerman,  said the Progress Council had asked for a school because children now had to walk to school almost a mile along the Pacific Highway, which his council regarded as "extremely dangerous."

Then, in September of 1952:

The contractors would start work soon on a school at Windale, the Department of Education advised Windale Progress Association. A working bee of association members has cleared enough of the site to enable work to begin.

And so it went, through the decades.