2010 – Year in Review

Unveiled Macquarie Pier Plaque designed by Danylo Motyka

The CRWP is an Inter-disciplinary Engaged Research Initiative sponsored by the Academic Division (Auchmuty Library) in accordance with the University of Newcastle’s Building Distinction Strategic Plan 2007‐2011: University Strategic Priority: (2) International research profile and impact (3) Indigenous Collaboration and (4) Community Partnerships and Engagement and Vice Chancellor’s Your Voice Staff Climate Survey Action Plan 2008: Key Action: Cross University Co‐operation.

– In honour of Macquarie 2010 celebrations the Coal River Working Party prepared a proposal for the quest for Macquarie Pier Foundation and Inscription stone. We have gained much local media coverage and have obtained the cooperation of the Land & Property Management Authority, Dept of Environment & Climate Change, NSW Heritage Branch and Newcastle City Council to prepare an archaeological dig.

– The Government Domain Committee (a sub committee of the CRWP), which we convene in Cultural Collections, prepared a feasibility proposal for the historic James Fletcher Hospital site.

– In May we held the Mitchell 1828 exhibition showcasing the students of Dr Ann Llewellyn and Emeritus Professor Fryer and their work and expertise in the investigation of Sir Thomas Mitchell’s 1828 Field book drawings of Newcastle. Two final Surveying Students  Mr Chris Towers and Troy Sumner, spent a year on this research and prepared a report on their findings which they presented at a meeting of the Coal River Working Party on the 7 December 2009. At that same meeting Dr Llewellyn’s Natural History Illustration students presented a series of their art works researched and prepared to present the early Newcastle landscape, and the flora and fauna that existed at that time. To celebrate the achievements of this work, the  University of Newcastle’s Cultural Collections in the Auchmuty Library has prepared an exhibition of the student’s artworks and research, as well as a collection of reproductions of Newcastle painted panoramas from various stages in its history, including the Mitchell 1828 sketches, to be displayed. Some of the Panoramas have never been seen before.

Art Work by Teresa Purnell

– During April to June work continued into the research and assembling of the team of professional expertise required in the search for the Macquarie Pier foundation stone.

– The Newcastle Port Corporation assisted our researchers in the use of their helicopter to check the survey readings and height measurements on an 1801 Barrallier survey plan, as well as an Edward Charles Close painting from 1818. A Presentation was given and tabled at the December 6th meeting with a resolution passed that it would be presented to the Board of the Newcastle Port Corporation in thanks for their wonderful cooperation.

Panorama of 1818 compared with same view 2010 – Photograph by Russell Rigby

– Preparations also began for an event in collaboration with the Fort Scratchley Historical Society for the creation of a Macquarie Pier marker plaque and Exhibition.

– On Monday 28 June at 10.30pm, the Minister for the Hunter the Hon. Jodi McKay announced that the James Fletcher Hospital site would remain in public hands, and that the State Nomination for the site would be supported. The Hon. Jodi McKay also launched the formation of the ‘Newcastle Time Team’ to rediscover the location of the Macquarie Pier foundation stone.

– As part of the National Trust Festival CRWP members were involved in staging a High Tea with Mrs Macquarie event at Monet’s Café on Saturday 17 April. The inaugural Australian Bona Fide History Awards celebrating the contribution of local historians and business was also held at the same event.

– In the Footsteps of Macquarie Heritage Walk conducted by members of the CRWP was also well attended with great interest shown in the James Fletcher Hospital site.

– It was also reported that 450 people, including overseas visitors, attended the Making of a Nation – Defending the Nation at Fort Scratchley.  The visitors were impressed with the history display that included reproductions from the Cultural Collections Snowball glass negatives and the work of CRWP members Doug Lithgow and geologist Russell Rigby.

– Russell Rigby prepared transcriptions of important documents including the 1818 extract from the Sydney Gazette listing the achievements of Captain Wallis,and 1881 articles on the Newcastle Fortifications.

– The Macquarie Pier Commemorative Plaque was unveiled by Her Excellency Professor Marie Bashir AC CVO, Governor of New South Wales at a ceremony at the Nobbys Surf Life Saving Club on the 4 August 2010 at 4 pm. To mark the spot a commemorative plaque cast in manganese bronze was commissioned with the financial assistance of the Institution of Surveyors (Hunter Manning Group) and Emeritus Professor John Fryer. This plaque inlaid into the path adjacent to the spot that marks the start of the stonework in November 2010. Following the unveiling Her Excellency then opened the Quest for Macquarie Pier exhibition at Fort Scratchley, and her husband, Sir Nicholas Shehadie AC OBE launched the search light and fired the guns in honour of Governor Macquarie, Governor Sir Roden Cutler and Her Excellency Professor Marie Bashir.

– From 13 – 31  October 2010 The Macquarie Show Curated by DAVID HAMPTON, AMY HILL and REBECCA HOLMES was held in the Watt Space Gallery. Students were asked to submit a work or series of works relating to Macquarie, Australia during his time as governor, his legacy or all three, or any variation there on. Supplementing these works will be an array of fascinating source material generously provided by the Coal River Working Party, giving an insight into Newcastle during the time Macquarie was governor and providing an historical context for the art works on display.

– In October we also received the great news that both our surveying students Troy Sumner & Chris Towers, who worked on our Sir Thomas Mitchell Project in 2009 won the Excellence Award in Surveying and Spatial Information Awards for 2010 in Sydney. This is the second time students working on our Projects have received such a distinction.

– Dr Brian Walsh prepared ‘Was Newcastle the Colony’s first place of secondary punishment?

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