What was the original height of Nobbys?

"Sizing up one of Nobbys tall stories" Newcastle Herald 11 January 2011 p.15

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Please click below for a copy of the Draft Presentation prepared by Emeritus Professor John Fryer and Mr Russell Rigby to the Newcastle Port Corporation and Land and Property Management Authority.

Reshaping Nobbys Version 2 (3.7MB PDF File)

2 thoughts on “What was the original height of Nobbys?

  1. Excellent work Professor Fryer and Russell Rigby – congratulations.

    Someone must have beaten Mitchell (1828) to the mark in establishing the height of Nobbys, perhaps Lieutenant E.C. Close or John Busby (my money would be on Busby, based on his series of visits from May 1824.)? Both of course, were engineers.

    The ‘Travelling Correpondent’, in The Monitor, of 30 June 1826, on page 2, lists some impressive stats about Macquarie Pier and also confidently identifies the height of Nobbys as 122 feet (which I calculate as 43.6m).

    This seems to correspond nicely with calculations made by Mitchell and the Fryer-Rigbty team.

    The only question is: who was the Travelling Correspondent and where did he get his measurements from – he had to be working for the Government.


    Mark Metrikas

  2. The Travelling Correspondent refers to the vertical cliff on the south side of Nobbys as 133 feet (40.5m) high. This gives a minimum height of Nobbys, but does not allow for few extra metres of (grassed?) hilltop which is indicated on some of the paintings. Of the other dimensions that are quoted, the 200yards (182m) is reasonable, but 40 yards (37m) is less than the present flat top of Nobbys, and significantly less than the 100m or so across the original island

    “that if 50 feet were shaven off the crown of Nobby’s, the entrance would be facilitated, and shipwrecks prevented. This island is about 200 yards long and 40 wide, with a perpendicular clift on the South side, 133 feet high ; and it is this which takes the wind out of the sails of vessels as they are doubling it, during which they are liable to drift, with the current on the North Shore, as two have done recently.”

    No Title. (1826, June 30). The Monitor (Sydney, NSW : 1826-1828), p. 2. Retrieved January 31, 2011, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article31757603

    There are references in the State Archives to surveys of Newcastle and coastline by Dangar (and possibly Meehan) in 1822. These are still to be investigated in detail.

    I suspect that the 203 feet height of Nobbys was “fixed” after the publication of the “Historical Records of NSW” in 1893, which included the figure in a report from the Grant/Barrallier surveys of 1801. By the 1890s there would not have been many who had seen Nobbys at its full height in the late 1840s, and who were in a position to correct the error. Because the height of Nobbys had not been recorded in any of the commonly available documents, the HRNSW reference became the accepted value.

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