Lake Cathie history from establishment in 1945

While Lake Cathie is well-established in 2018, back in 1945 when the first residents moved to the village it was little more than scrub. 

Sally and her husband Bob Pead were the first residents to move to the area and responsible for giving the village its name. 

Sally gave the name ‘cati’ to her home, because that to her was how the village was known. 

It was reported in the Port News in 1975 that Cati remained nothing more than an isolated fishing spot until 1945 when Sally and her husband Robert James (Bob) Pead settled in the location. 

The couple farmed 60 acres of land on the southern side of the lake. 

Bob and Sally married in Tamworth and they lived in Guildford, Sydney where they established a poultry farm. 

“With the depression only a couple of years away it was a bad time to be in business, although the couple made it pay until their house burnt down in 1938,” it was reported by Port News. 

After the fire the couple moved to Wauchope, where Bob had been born and raised, to establish a taxi service. 

The business was sold when the opportunity to buy 60 acres at Cati for $500 cropped up. 

“Most of the land was timbered, but after picking out a spot on top of the hill the couple set to work and built themselves a rough shed to sleep in,” it was reported. 

View of Lake Cathie 1970.

View of Lake Cathie 1970.

The residence Sally described as ‘basic’, with just four walls, a roof and earth floor. 

Sally, Bob and their three children lived there until a builder came out from Wauchope to build a house. 

The house was built on the corner of Elanora and Orana Drives. As payment the Peads gave the builder a block of land fronting the beach. 

The family had to contend with the harsh lifestyle of living in the middle of the bush, with all its dangers and hazards. 

“It was hard right from the beginning, but we had a lot of fun,” Sally told the Port News in 1975. 

Sally learned how to bake bread, milk cows, make butter and cheese, grow vegetables, drive a tractor and horse sleigh. 

The village

Bob, realising the potential of the area, sold some of the front blocks on the foreshore and in next to no time a small village formed. 

The Peads catered for their needs by starting a shop at the side of their house. 

Up until 1957, when a telephone exchange was installed in Sally’s shop, the town and area had been called Cati Creek, but Sally wanting more prestige for the place changed the name to Lake Cathie and listed it as such in the telephone directory. 

Sally Pead. Photo: Port News 1964.

Sally Pead. Photo: Port News 1964.

It was largely through the instrumental actions of the Peads that Lake Cathie Progress Association was formed. 

The organisation obtained for the area the post office, telephone exchange, electricity, water and sealing of the streets. 

It was also the Peads who made gifts of the land for public purpose on which the local tennis courts were constructed. 

Opening the lake in 1949

Opening the lake in 1949

It is Cat-eye not Cathy say residents 

To the continual annoyance of most locals, many visitors to Lake Cathie pronounce the name of their town correctly. 

It is pronounced Cat-eye not Cathy as all of us have heard at one time or another. 

Long time resident Sally Pead was largely responsible for the naming of the area. 

Originally it was known as Cati Creek but this didn’t suit her. She thought the area was too beautiful to be known as a creek. 

Sally rang the Kempsey Postal Inspector and suggested it be changed to Lake Cattai. He agreed to a change but told her there was already a town by this name in Sydney. 

She then suggested Lake Cathie but retaining the pronounciation of the first nomination. 

Whenever she hears her town called Cathy, she says the hair rises on the back of her neck. 

Information courtesy of:

  • Port News 1975 
  • Port Macquarie Express 1990
  • Helen Tarrant, Lake Cathie resident