CRWP 2011 Achievements

Cartoon courtesy of Peter Lewis and The Newcastle Herald.

Our mission is to achieve world recognition for Newcastle and the Hunter Region’s historical place in the development of the Australian nation.

Our goals are to:

1. To have Newcastle and the Hunter Region’s historic sites nationally recognised

Ralph Snowball. James Fletcher Hospital and Gardens, Watt Street Newcastle [n.d.]

James Fletcher Hospital and Gardens, Watt Street Newcastle

Achievement: Newcastle Government House and Domain (former James Fletcher Hospital Site) was placed on the NSW State Register 22 March 2011.


2. To ensure our legislative frameworks are working effectively for our heritage


Cartoon courtesy of Peter Lewis and the Newcastle Herald

Achievement:  Advocacy – Published and promoted the findings of an archaeological report on a significant Aboriginal site in Newcastle on the former Palais Royale dance hall and have been advising on reforms to Aboriginal Heritage legislation. See:

3. To locate and repatriate archival records (physically or digitally) back to the Region

M3405 Garden Suburb, First Subdivision Newcastle, Saturday May 30th, 1914.

Achievement: In January we also began the search for an interesting Novocastrian relic dating from 1838. On Friday 14th October 1870, during demolition work on the site of Bank of New South Wales in Watt Street Newcastle workmen discovered in a wall a leaden case with a note dated July 10, 1838 and written by the plasterer Thomas Simpson. We have made enquiries with the Wespac Archives. For more info:

Achievement: In February we digitised the multimedia work ‘Aborigines of the Hunter Region Kit’ including books, prints, slides, audio tape and other teaching materials originally compiled in the 1980s. It remains one of the best resources for the teaching of local Aboriginal culture in schools:

Achievement: In March, thanks to our local Member for Newcastle Jodi McKay we relocated and digitised the first Register for Christ Church Newcastle dating from 1818. During the launch of the Newcastle Family History Society’s book on the Baptisms, Marriages and Burials of Christ Church Cathedral, their President noted that they could not consult the original register held in Sydney, and since the 1940s no one had been allowed to view it. After enquiries from the local Member the register was found buried within the NSW State Records Archives Resource Kit. It was digitised, but we have been unable to secure permission to make it publicly available through the web.

Achievement: We digitsed, transcribed and uploaded to the CRWP blog stories relating to a series of Mahlshedt and Gee Surveyors plans of Newcastle city from January 1886, the 627 subdivision plans of The Northumberland and Permanent Building Investment Land and Loan Society (est 1876), Dr Jim Wafer’s presentation on the Hunter River Language, Newcastle on the History Channel, Nobbys Head on Mars, Newcastle Proclamations and Regulations 1804-1818, and Illustrated Sydney News reports on Newcastle, Maitland, Morpeth, Raymond Terrace and artist John Rae dating from the 1850s.

Achievement: In September we identified the mysterious ‘Mr Thorn’ – Unsung Saviour of Nobbys in an extensive article here:

4. To research, investigate and verify historical documentary and tangible evidence

Achievement:  In January Emeritus Professor John Fryer and Mr Russell Rigby publically presented their findings from their collaborative research into the original height of Nobbys, proving through historical evidence that Nobbys was never 62 metres high (or 203ft as recorded by Ensign Barrallier in 1801) but more like 43 metres, which is about the height of the current signal station:

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

Achievement: We published online In Search of Nobbys’ Tunnels – by Roslyn Kerr, Geologist. Report to Coal River Working Party University of Newcastle, October 2010.

Achievement: Published final year project by Tim Chisholm  Sir Thomas Mitchell’s Field Notes and Sketches (2011) Sir Thomas Mitchell’s Field Notes and Sketches: An in depth analysis of Sir Thomas Mitchell’s field notes and sketches from an 1828 survey of the harbor and surrounds of Newcastle, NSW, using modern adjustment methods to estimate the accuracy of his survey and instrument(s). [Final Year Project – Discipline of Civil, Surveying & Environmental Engineering] [18.4 MB PDF]


5. To inspire and share knowledge and expertise to promote heritage across the wider community.

Achievement:  In January we also published online Mr John Farnill’s “The Background to John Shortland’s Discovery: John Hunter’s Missing List”

Vera Deacon Rings Bell to Start Amazing Race
Amazing Race Begins

Achievement:  Amazing Race – 2 April 2011 – To mark the start of the National Trust Heritage Festival the Amazing Race social event was held to raise money for Lifeline and the Vera Deacon Regional History Fund. Organised by the East Maitland Kiwanis Club) it involved teams solving clues that lead to a variety of heritage sites around the city of Newcastle. University Library designer Danylo Motyka designed the Amazing race Poster, and the CRWP facilitated meetings with event organisers to course out the routes and develop challenges. On the 4th July 2011 a presentation was made by the East Maitland Kiwanis Club to Vera Deacon and the University Foundation at Monet’s.

Tony Robinson in Newcastle (Courtesy of The Newcastle Herald)

Achievement:  In September the CRWP organised the Lord Mayor’s Round Table where members met with various landholders/stakeholders to discuss the organisation of the Tony Robinson Walks program. It was resolved that Screen Hunter would be the major point of contact, with CRWP members being called upon if the producers need expert advice on certain areas. Potential sites include: Nobbys, Macquarie Pier, Fort Scratchley, Christchurch Cathedral and cemetery, James Fletcher Hospital site/Bogey Hole, Rose Cottage, Maritime History and the Star Hotel Riot.

Achievement:  In October we digitised and transcribed newspaper reports relating to the vision of Mayor C.J. Parker, Mayor of the Borough Council of Newcastle between 1931-1932 and avid tree lover The Inauguration of Newcastle’s “Tree Spirit” – Are the Laman Street Trees a Memorial for the War Dead?

Morpeth 1865 – 2011

Achievement:  In November we took part in Episode 20 of Phil Ashley Brown’s River Stories, retracing the paddlesteps of the 1801 Survey mission’s journey from Raymond Terrace to Greenhill (Morpeth) then onto Maitland (Shanks’s Forest Plains).

Achievement: Signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Tom Farrell Institute for the Environment to facilitate and enable future research funding.

Gionni Di Gravio
Chair – Coal River Working Party

2 thoughts on “CRWP 2011 Achievements

  1. This is an impressive list of achievements and, I have no doubt, more will follow in 2012.
    I’m pleased to see that the Wallis Album (or should it now be called the Lycett Album?) is having its first public ‘airing’ in Newcastle at 10am on 20 February. The cost of this treasure (to the State Library) of $1.7m is roughly the same as the cost to Newcastle Council of removing the Laman Street Figs!

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