Valley is approximately 160 kilometres north of
Sydney; population circa 700,000, most of whom live in the Newcastle metropolitan area.
It is the valley of the Hunter River, one of the major eastwards-flowing rivers of South-Eastern Australia.
There are eleven main council regions within the Hunter Valley - Cessnock,
Dungog, Gloucester, Great
Lakes, Lake Macquarie, Maitland,
Port Stephens, Singleton and
GenWeb County Coordinator:
Local areas of the Hunter Valley are grouped
for convenience under a single regional GenWeb, administered
by Anne Whiteford.
(map) is a city and
local government area which in the past has been known as 'The
Coal Fields'. Today it is the gateway city and service centre to the renowned vineyards of Pokolbin.
The transition to wine service centre from a once prosperous mining town has been a long and at times difficult process.
Cessnock lies between Australia’s earliest European settlements
of Sydney, the Hawkesbury and the Hunter. Lying on the land route between these important settlements, it provided early European contact with Indigenous people, who have inhabited the Cessnock area for more than 3,000 years. The Darkinjung people were the
original inhabitants at the time of European contact, which subsequently proved to be disastrous for the Darkinjung tribe. Many were murdered or died as a result of European diseases. Others were forced onto neighbouring tribal territory and killed.
Pastoralists commenced settling the land in the 1820s. The township of Cessnock developed from 1850, as a service centre at the junction of the Great North Road from Sydney to the Hunter Valley, with branches to Singleton and Maitland. During the
1860s, land settlement was extensive between Nulkaba and
Pokolbin with wheat, tobacco and grapes the principal crops.
The establishment of the South Maitland coalfields generated extensive land settlement between 1903 and 1923. The current pattern of urban development, transport routes and industrial landscape was laid at this time. The surveying of the Greta coal seam by Professor Edgeworth David at the turn of the century became the impetus for considerable social and economic change in the area with the development of the coal mining industry.
Whilst mining was the principal industrial base and source of employment in the Cessnock, a slump which commenced about 1960 forced the closure of many mines. Subsequent changes to the mining industry, including automation and the introduction of sophisticated computerised equipment, led to the closure of the vast majority of the remaining mines in the area. This has resulted in a decline in population in many villages and townships over the last twenty years which has lead to the closure of some schools, shops and community meeting places. Consequently, many areas have undergone a change in character, with rural residential housing developments becoming popular, as well as small cottages and farms used principally as weekend retreats.
(map) is a town
and local government area (town population circa 2,500). The name is said to be a corruption of an Aboriginal word meaning
Dungog Shire is situated in the Barrington Tops region and consists predominantly of very rugged to hilly country
that becomes less rugged from north to south. The major population centres within the Shire are Dungog, Gresford, Paterson, Vacy, Martins Creek and Clarence Town. It also includes two main rivers, the Paterson River to the west and the Williams River to the east.
is a town and
local government area in the dairy country of the mid north of the state.
Located on the Avon River, just below its junction with the Gloucester
River, Gloucester was first visited by Robert Dawson, Chief Agent for the Australian Agricultural Company,
Settlement occurred in the
1830s; the township established in 1855. Although
established as a sheep farming district it soon became apparent
that the land was not entirely suitable for sheep grazing.
The main industries that eventually did take hold were timber, cattle farming
and coal. The timber industry has been prevalent in Gloucester since the late 19th
century; it and cattle farming are still major industries in and around Gloucester; both dairy and beef cattle.
In 1876 gold was discovered in Copeland, a small town north-west of Gloucester.
Along with an abundance of red cedar suitable for felling, Copeland's
population surged in excess of 3,000 inhabitants. Today it
boats less than 500 individuals.
The Australian Agricultural Company had originally been awarded mineral rights to half a million acres between the Karuah River and the Manning River, which covered the Gloucester district. The company employed surveyors in 1856-7 to undertake a trial survey for a railway between Port Stephens and
Stroud, passing through Gloucester to the Manning River. At the time it was felt that with the
formidable obstructions from ranges and rivers a line would be impractical
and thus construction did not proceed and coal mining was abandoned.
However in 1995, Gloucester Coal (originally Stratford Coal) began mining in Stratford, a small town 12km south of
(map) is a
local government area on the Myall and Wallis Lakes. The largest town and council seat is Forster
(population circa 12,188).
The Great Lakes
also includes the towns of Tuncurry (population circa 5,631), Bulahdelah
(population circa 1,832), Hawks Nest & Tea Gardens (with a
combined population of 2,618), Nabiac & Failford (with a
combined population of 2,184), Pacific Palms (population circa
3,252) and Stroud (population circa 2,384).
include Bungwahl, Coolongolook, Wootton, Girvan, Booral and Stroud Road.
Lake Macquarie (map) is
a local government area located approximately 150km north of
Sydney and 20km south of Newcastle (population circa
189,150). The area is demographically a set of closely contiguous towns that surround a coastal saltwater lake, and merge with the suburbs of Newcastle to the north. Some suburbs, such as Adamstown Heights are partly in the City of Newcastle and partly within the City of Lake Macquarie.
Significant population centres include Belmont, Cardiff, Charlestown,
Glendale, Morisset, Mount Hutton, Swansea, Toronto and Warners Bay.
The various towns and suburbs are classified as being part of the Newcastle Statistical District, so their population is included when Newcastle is commonly listed as Australia's sixth largest city. However, the City of Lake Macquarie has its own independent local government (Lake Macquarie City Council), which is planning to develop a new Central Business District. The largest commercial centre in the region is Charlestown which has a turnover greater than that of Newcastle's central business district.
(map) is a
city in the Lower Hunter region approximately 200km by road
north of Sydney. Maitland city is sometimes called the
largest inland city in New South Wales, though Wagga Wagga also
claims this title due to Maitland being only 25km from the coast
and a satellite of the Newcastle Metropolitan Area. It has
a population circa 60,000 spread over an area of 396km˛.
Several prominent Australian theatre and film artists were born
in Maitland including Ruth Cracknell, John Bell, Nick Enright
and David Berthold.
Founded in 1820, vessels with a shallow draft could navigate the
Hunter River to West Maitland. Nearby Morpeth served as the head
of navigation for larger ships and goods were transhipped
upriver to West Maitland on barges and smaller vessels. Maitland
was therefore the point at which goods were unloaded for, and
distributed to, the hinterland. Large warehouses were built
facing onto the main High Street and backing onto the Hunter
River (some of which still exist). For almost 20 years
until the gold rushes in Victoria, Maitland was the second
largest town in Australia. The arrival of the railway from
Newcastle coupled with the increasing silting of the river and
larger ships spelt the end of the traditional river traffic.
Originally there were three separate municipalities. West
Maitland was a privately founded town which grew due to its proximity
to the river and which today is the commercial centre of the
city. East Maitland was established by the colonial
government; while Morpeth was another private town founded by Lieutenant
Close, a Peninsular War veteran. The present city was
proclaimed in 1945 with the amalgamation of the three local
government areas. The city's boundaries have further increased
by incorporating parts of other local government areas since
then; most notable was Kearsley Shire, which from 1946 to 1949
was the only local government area in Australia's history to
have a Communist majority of councillors.
known as Muswell Creek)
(map) is a town and local government area
located in the Upper Hunter Valley region, about 285 km north of
Sydney (population circa 15,500).
European to explore the area was Chief Constable John Howe in
1819. It was declared a township in 1833. The area is
predominantly known for coal mining and horse breeding.
Located to the south of the Muswellbrook township are two coal
fuelled power stations, Liddell and Bayswater.
Commissioned in 1973 and the mid 1980s respectively, they
currently employ over 500 locals.
the sixth largest city in Australia and the second largest in
the state of New South Wales. Situated 160 km north of Sydney,
on the mouth of the Hunter River, it is the predominant city
within the Hunter Valley region.
area was traditionally
occupied by the Awabakal and Worimi people. The first
European to explore the area was Lieutenant John Shortland in 1797.
His discovery of the area was largely accidental; Shortland had
been sent in search of a number of convicts who had seized the
Cumberland as she was sailing from Sydney Cove. While returning
he entered what he later described as 'a very fine river' which
he named after New South Wales' Governor, John Hunter. Shortland
also returned with reports of the deep-water port and abundant
coal in the area. Over the next two years, coal mined from the
area was the New South Wales colony's first export.
the early 1800s cedar joined coal as a major export as it was
urgently needed as building timber for the infant Sydney
colony. Philip Gidley King, the then Governor of New South
Wales, decided to establish a small post at the river mouth
headed by Corporal Wixtead. Wixtead was soon replaced by
Surgeon Martin Mason but Mason's rule ended in a mutiny; King
subsequently closed the settlement early in 1802.
In 1804 a second attempt to settle was made. Named Coal
River it became a place of secondary punishment for unruly
convicts. Lieutenant Charles Menzies of the Royal Marines,
was appointed superintendent. The new settlement
comprising convicts and a military guard, arrived at the Hunter
River 27 March 27, 1804 in three ships, the Lady Nelson, the
Resource and the James. The convicts were rebels from the 1804
Castle Hill convict rebellion, also known as the second Battle
of Vinegar Hill. Newcastle remained a penal settlement for
nearly 20 years. The military rule was harsh, often barbarous,
and there was possibly no more notorious place of punishment in
the whole of Australia than Limeburners' Bay, on the inner side
of Stockton peninsular, where incorrigibles were sent to burn
oyster shells for making lime.
Under Captain James Wallis, commandant from 1815 to 1818, the
convicts' conditions improved, and a building boom began.
Captain Wallis laid out the streets of the town, built the first
church of the site of the present Anglican Cathedral, erected
the old gaol on the seashore, and began work on the breakwater
which now joins Nobby's to the mainland. The quality of these
buildings was poor and only (a much reinforced) breakwater
survives. For these works, and for his humane rule in the
convict colony, Captain Wallis earned the personal commendation
of Governor Macquarie. It was Governor Macquarie's opinion
though that the prison colony was too close to Sydney and that
prsion labour was insufficient to market the local
resources. Thus in 1823, military rule in Newcastle ended.
The number of prisoners was reduced to 100 (most of these were
employed on the building of the breakwater) and the remaining
900 were sent to Port Macquarie. Freed for the first time
from the infamous influence of the penal law, the town began to
acquire the aspect of a typical Australian pioneer settlement,
and a steady flow of free settlers poured into the hinterland.
Between 1826 and 1836 the convict-built Great North Road
established the overland link with Sydney. Coal mining
began in earnest in the 1830s, with collieries working close to
the city itself and others within a ten-mile radius. Most of
Newcastle's principal coal mines (Stockton, Tighes Hill,
Carrington, the AA Co., the Newcastle Coal Mining company's big
collieries at Merewether and the Glebe, Wallsend, and the
Waratah collieries), had all closed by the early 1960s, being
steadily replaced over the previous four decades by the larger
coal mining activities further inland at places such as Kurri
Kurri and Cessnock.
Around 1850 a major copper smelting works was established at
Burwood, near Merewether (now a suburb), an engraving of which
appeared in the Illustrated London News on 11 February
1854. The English and Australian Copper Company built
another substantial works at Broadmeadow circa 1890; and in that
decade a zinc smelter was built inland, by Cockle Creek.
What was said to be the largest factory of its kind in the
Southern Hemisphere was constructed in 1885, on a 22 acre site
between the suburbs of Tighes Hill and Port Waratah, by Mr
Charles Upfold (1834-1919) from London. His Sydney Soap
and Candle Company replaced a smaller factory in Wickham. Their
soap products won 17 medals at International Exhibitions, and at
the Sydney International Exhibition they won a bronze medal, the
only first prize awarded for soap and candles. Following
The Great War the company was sold to Messrs Lever & Kitchen
(today Lever Bros); the factory closed in the mid 1930s.
is a local government area of which the largest town and council
seat is Raymond Terrace.
includes the towns of Nelson Bay, Anna Bay, Soldiers Point,
Mallabula, Karuah, Medowie, Williamtown, Tomago, Woodville,
Seaham, Salt Ash, Salamander Bay and Lemon Tree Passage.
(map) is a
town and local government area on the banks of the Hunter River,
approximately 2.5 hours (183 km) northwest of Sydney (population
circa 22,000). Major industries near Singleton include
coal mining, power stations, vineyards, horse breeding and
cattle production. It is also one of the wealthiest towns per
capita in Australia due to the nearby coal mines.
main districts include the town centre, Singleton Heights,
Dunolly, Darlington, The Retreat and Hunterview.
Surrounding villages include Broke, Camberwell, Jerry's Plains
is a local government area formed in May, 2004
from Scone Shire and parts of Murrurundi and Merriwa
Shires. The Upper Hunter is one of the best horse-rearing
regions in Australia. The Burning Mountain Nature Reserve, near
Scone, is the site of a subterranean coal seam fire that has
been burning for several thousand years.
The towns of the Upper Hunter are Scone, Aberdeen, Murrurundi,
and Merriwa. as well as several smaller villages.