Wyong is an indigenous word said to mean either an edible yam or 'place of running water'. The inhabitants prior to European colonisation were reputedly the Darkinjang tribe, a subgroup of the Broken Bay tribe. They occupied the area from Wollombi and Putty in the west, south to the Hawkesbury and east to the coast including the areas around Brisbane Water and Tuggerah Lakes. They camped at Tacoma and in the Yarramalong Valley. By 1860, only two were left at Yarramalong and both were dead by 1870. The last Aborigine to frequent Tuggerah Lake on his bark canoe was Billy Fawkner who died in 1875.
The first European settler in the area was William Cape who received a 1000-acre grant in 1825, bordering on Jilliby Creek to the west. The headmaster of Sydney Public School he was assigned a convict to do the heavy work on the property. Each of his two sons received grants nearby and one of those properties, on the future townsite, was named Wyong Hill or Wyong Place. Cape was an unpopular man who was ultimately shot by Aborigines.
Timbergetters were drawn to the Yarramalong and Dooralong Valleys by the stands of cedar. Indeed, Yarramalong is said to mean 'place of cedar'. Getting the timber to Sydney proved difficult.
As traffic increased between Gosford and Maitland, Matthew Oldbury opened an inn at Wyong Creek crossing. Settlement really got under way along Wyong Creek in the 1850s with the sale of small allotments which attracted small farmers. The first school opened at Wyong Creek in 1883.
However it was the completion of the Sydney to Newcastle railway in 1889 which really started significant expansion and development. As a result of the new line The Royal Hotel was established and the first post office was opened.
The railway also enabled the growth of the timber industry with an immense demand for railway sleepers and the transportation to ship it. Resorts began to emerge around Tuggerah Lake from the turn of the century, with buses and ferry services and daily access via Wyong which became the commercial and administrative centre of the area.
Subdivision occurred in the 1920s and 1930s as people took up land that was cheaper than that at Sydney or Newcastle and built weekenders.
After World War II, retirees began to settle in Wyong. The opening of the freeway in the 1960s and the electrification of the line contributed to the growth of a large commuter community. Wyong Shire was created in 1947.