Sunday, December 18, 2011

Blanche is 110 and going strong

From the Maitland Mercury report:
Blanche Coward says there is no secret to a long life.
The resident of Calvary’s Mt Carmel aged care hostel at Maitland will turn 110 on Saturday – but she doesn’t know what the fuss is about.
She said there was no magic formula to celebrating 110 birthdays.
The family settled in Pymble, on Sydney’s north shore. Ms Coward worked as a salesgirl and married Charles Coward, who served as a stretcher bearer in World War II.
He died at 51, when Ms Coward was a week off her 45th birthday. They did not have children.
She remained living in Sydney, but her grand-nephew wanted her to move closer to the family in Maitland. That’s how she came to move into Calvary’s Mt Carmel aged care hostel, at the age of 99.

Full article by Briony Snedden available at Maitland Mercury, 16 Dec, 2011.

Six decades of care come to end for pharmicist

From the Maitland Mercury report:
Terry Bailey was merely a fresh-faced teen when he embarked on a career that would span almost six decades.
Aged 17, Mr Bailey started life as a fledgling pharmacist under the watchful eye of Morpeth’s Keith Drinkwater.
But now 58 years, and a few Maitland postings, later Mr Bailey has decided to call it a day.
“I’m well passed my used-by date,” Mr Bailey, 75, said. “I started in 1953 so I think I deserve a break. It’s going to be hard to leave but I’ve realised that maybe it’s time to go.”
Mr Bailey will retire from his role as Greta pharmacist on Saturday after 25 years working in the town’s main street.

Full article by Emma Swain available at Maitland Mercury, 16 Dec, 2011.

2011 NSW Government Heritage Volunteer Awards Winners

Congratulations to Jill Madew of Snowy Scheme Museum Adaminaby for winning one of the 2011 NSW Government Heritage Volunteer Awards.

The 2011 NSW Government Heritage Volunteer Awards recognise the outstanding work of individuals and groups in preserving and promoting heritage throughout our community. Now in its tenth year, these awards recognise the exceptional contribution to heritage conservation and management made by our communities unsung heritage heroes. Jill Madew is an outstanding example of perseverance, great leadership and ingenuity. In 2002 a group of Adaminaby residents, under Jill's leadership, formed a fundraising committee and raised $40,000 to purchase heavy machinery previously used in the construction of the Snowy Hydro-Electric Scheme in NSW. The money raised by the committee enabled the purchase of eight of the ten items earmarked as most historically important.

New Director Announced for the Australian National Maritime Museum

Kevin Sumption has been appointed as the new director of the Australian National Maritime Museum.

Mr Sumption holds a Master of Arts in museum studies and has held senior positions at the Powerhouse Museum and Australian National Maritime Museum. He has more than 10 years experience at senior executive level in both Australia and the United Kingdom.

Councillor honoured at Walka Water Works

From the Maitland Mercury report:
Walka Water Works was wild country overgrown with weeds when Cr Ray Fairweather embarked on an ambitious project to transform it into one of the city’s best-loved recreation areas.The historic site captured Cr Fairweather’s attention in “about 1982 or 1983”, in a report by a council planner about future urban development in Oakhampton and Aberglasslyn.

Full report by Briony Snedden available at Maitland Mercury, 14 Dec, 2011.

Royal Australian Historical Society December journal

RAHS Journal, Vol. 97, Part 2, December 2011 - includes articles:
  • Obituary: Dr Ruth Meredith Frappell.
  • Reading in colonial Australia.
  • 'Necessary and urgent'. The politics of Northern Australia, 1945-1975.
  • 'No common corrobery': the Robert Burns Festivals and identity politics in Melbourne, 1845-59.
  • Richard Dawson: colonial ironmaster, engineer, merchant and agent of technology transfer.
  • The origins of a white Australia: the coolie question, 1837-43.
  • Theatre, amphitheatre and circus in Sydney, 1833-60. 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Australian military history and research

The Gould Genealogy and History website has listed 51 links for Australian military history and research.  13 December 2011.
The links relate to Boer War, World War I, and World War II, and have been divided in several categories, including one for sites you’ll find on Facebook. As Facebookers we know that Facebook can be much more that just updates from family and friends. It has become an important modern day source of information. And with the numerous sites around just related to Australian military history (and that’s without noting all the individual battalion sites), its just as useful and educational as other forms of media these days.

Maitland’s twin historic Church Street gems

From the Maitland Mercury report:
Maitland’s twin historic Church Street gems could face closure if the National Trust of Australia does not secure adequate recurrent funding to maintain and promote the properties.
Grossmann and Brough houses are two of more than 30 National Trust properties in danger of closing to the public if state government funding is not forthcoming. “While there are no immediate plans to close any specific trust properties, as a not-for-profit community-based organisation, we are seeking recurrent government funding to continue to maintain and promote properties like Grossmann and Brough houses,” National Trust of Australia (NSW) director of trust properties Gerry Hayes said.

Full article by Emma Swain available at Maitland Mercury, 13 Dec, 2011.

National Archives of Australia

Do we have a photo of your Anzac digger?   The National Archives has recently added several hundred digital images of Australian World War I servicemen to its Mapping our Anzacs website. We recently received these images from the Department of Veterans' Affairs after they were identified among the 16,000 World War I images held in the Bonds of Sacrifice collection of the Imperial War Museum, London.  

Were you photographed as an immigrant?Do you know a post-World War II immigrant who was snapped by a government photographer before leaving their home country or when arriving in Australia. The National Archives is developing a new website showcasing 26,000 immigration photographs which will encourage former migrants and their families to identify people and add their memories. But we need a few to start it off. If you or someone in your family had a photograph taken by a government photographer, please let us know.

$150,000 first step to reclaim gasworks site

From the Maitland Mercury report:
The former East Maitland Gasworks site that has been off limits for decades will soon be forced to divulge its secrets.
A call has gone out for a consultant to go beyond the padlocks and the overgrowth to investigate what contaminants – and in what quantities – remain on the site on the corner of Melbourne and Brisbane streets.

Full article by Briony Snedden available at Maitland Mercury, 12 Dec, 2011.

Round one: restoration

From the Maitland Mercury report:
Original construction of the Darcy family vault is slowly being revealed during stage one of the grave’s major restoration program.
The Darcy family vault is the final resting place of Les Darcy, one of Australia’s greatest professional boxers.
Known as The Maitland Wonder, he won 46 of his 50 boxing bouts, including 29 knockouts, but was never knocked out himself.

Full article by Emma Swain available at Maitland Mercury, 09 Dec, 2011.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Expert to preserve our city’s heritage

From the Maitland Mercury report:
Preserving and promoting the city’s heritage will be at the forefront of the revitalisation and redevelopment of central Maitland.
Maitland City Council has engaged Melbourne-based consultant Sue Hodges to develop a Central Maitland Interpretation Plan.
This is designed to ensure the historical value of the city centre is not lost in the changing face of the CBD – including the return of traffic to the mall.

Full article by Briony Snedden available at Maitland Mercury, 06 Dec, 2011.

Stepping back in time to uncover link to river

From the Maitland Mercury report:
Underneath the thick, dead lantana and piles of dirt, 14-year-old Nattina Phelps knew a piece of Greta’s history lay waiting to be uncovered.
The year 9 student and a small team of helpers have uncovered hundreds of sandstone steps thought to be built by convicts at the Hunter River Reserve in Greta.
Nattina said she thought convicts may have built the stairs to collect goods from boats that stopped on the river.
But Convict Trail Project executive director Elizabeth Roberts, who has been compiling the history of the convict-built Great North Road from Sydney to the Hunter Valley, said this was unlikely.
Only row boats could access the river at Greta, with Morpeth the last stop for steam boats.
Ms Roberts instead suggested the stairs may have been built as a path to collect water from the river or to use the river as a swimming hole.

Full article by Courtney Garnham available at Maitland Mercury, 05 Dec, 2011.

Historic Alison Homestead at Wyong devastated by fire

From the news report, 3 December 2011:
Police are searching for an arsonist who burned down historic Alison Homestead overnight.
The homestead was the oldest established continuous rural homestead in the Wyong District, built by Charles Alison in the 1870s.
A spokesman for Tuggerah Lakes Police said the caretaker of the property noticed a glow at 3.20am and arrived on the scene to find three buildings alight.
Police said the caretaker reported seeing a man running from the scene.
The spokesman said firecrews were able to save little of the historic buildings.
Samples of blood and other materials have been taken from the scene and investigations into the fire continue.
Alison Homestead was set on two hectares in a rural setting on Wyong’s first land grant. It was extended when original owner Charles Alison married the grand daughter of Blue Mountains explorer, William Cox. The property passed out of the family in the 1890s and was used for market gardening between 1898 and the 1970s.
In recent times the property became a museum and home of Wyong District Museum and Historical Society.

Now&Then 53 - December 2011

NSW State Records Now & Then December Newsletter is the final Issue for 2011, featuring of online news and updates, Open Day success, Spotlight on 50 years of State Records, the 2011 Christmas Competition.
  • Reading Room opening hours for the Christmas and New Year period
  • New Online Gallery: Sir Douglas Mawson - Blizzards and Bureaucracy
  • Index Updates
  • Today in History - revamp
  • New Scan Pro in the Western Sydney Reading Room

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission annual report 2010-2011 is now available online. The report provides an illustrated narrative account of the Commission's activities during the previous year, as well as financial accounts and statistical charts This year's report includes information on the challenges faced in North Africa and the Middle East as well as details of their ongoing work.   

Friday, December 2, 2011

Tips for dating old photos

Anthea Brown and Fiona Sullivan from NSW State Records have compiled a guide for Dating old photos - Tips, tools, shadows and social media. The guide has been created from a community-generated list, compiled via the Archives Outside blog.
The ten page document, published October 2011, is updated from the original version compiled in June 2010.

One of the most beautiful high streets in NSW

From the Maitland Mercury report:
Maitland has one of the most beautiful high streets in the state but we need to do more to protect it according to Greens heritage spokesman David Shoebridge MLC.
Speaking outside the National Trust Hunter regional committee annual general meeting at Grossmann House, Mr Shoebridge said there was a lot to be happy about when it came to the state’s heritage, but also a lot of work to do.
“Towns need to have something to make it special so that people want to visit and live there, and Maitland’s got it,” he said. “I think Maitland has one of the most beautiful High streets in NSW. I think it should be better protected in the decisions made by the local council.”

Full article by Frances Sacco available at Maitland Mercury, 28 Nov, 2011.

In grave condition: Les Darcy's family concerned

From the Maitland Mercury report:
The family of Australian boxing legend Les Darcy are worried his perfectly embalmed body is deteriorating because of water seeping through a crack in the grave.
Work on the restoration of the famous fighter’s grave is expected to start today using almost $80,000 in state, federal and community grants.
But the inclement weather during the past week has caused concern for family members, who visited the site where the Maitland icon rests next to his brother.

Full article Courtney Garnham available at Maitland Mercury, 28 Nov, 2011.

Submissions for the ‘History and Genealogy 2012′ Handbook Close December 2011

As 2011 draws to a close, and 2012 is only a few weeks away, the Unlock the Past team are needing to finalise the content that will be in the next edition of their "History and Genealogy 2012" handbook.
December 15th is the cut-off date for articles to be submitted, while December 31st is the final date for adverts and vouchers, and any Directory updates.

The History and Genealogy 2011 Handbook was the first of it’s kind in Australia. The 2012 edition won’t superceed it, but rather compliment it, as it will be in a similar style of but with a different range of articles, adverts, vouchers, and an greatly expanded Directory section.
Register your interest by emailing

City’s last brickworks to be demolished

From the Maitland Mercury report:
Bricks and clay pits once played an important role in Maitland’s economy.
Now the city’s last remaining brick works – the PGH yard at Metford – will be demolished under a plan approved by Maitland City Council on Tuesday.
The 1930s brick press building, clay shed, kiln shed, dispatch office, drying shed, loading dock, office and laboratory will be removed in two stages.
The brick press building will be archived, monitored and any heritage relics salvaged in recognition of its heritage significance.

Full article by Briony Snedden available at Maitland Mercury, 24 Nov, 2011.

2012 National Trust Heritage Awards

The National Trust Heritage Awards offer a unique opportunity to showcase individuals, organisations, government departments and community groups who have completed a project that promotes the conservation of Australia’s environmental, built or cultural heritage.
Applications close: Monday 6 February 2012.
Now in its nineteenth year, the National Trust Heritage Awards continue to set an industry benchmark to winners and entrants alike, as well as to provide recognition amongst industry peers of excellence within the field of heritage conservation.

Check the National Trust website for more details.


Your Community Heritage

Your Community Heritage is a new approach to supporting and protecting Australia's heritage that will enable local communities around Australia to celebrate their local heritage.

The program recognises that our heritage is not just about 'big' heritage such as places on the World and National Heritage Lists, it is also about the heritage of individual communities, be they in regional Australia or small towns or in dispersed multicultural communities.
The Your Community Heritage Program comprises the following sub-programs to which the public may apply:

  • Protecting National Historic Sites
  • Recovering from Natural Disasters
  • Commemorating Eminent Australians
  • Sharing Community Heritage Stories
  • Celebrating Community Heritage
The amount of funding to be allocated across each of these sub-programs will be determined by the demand for funding.
For more information, please refer to: Your Community Heritage

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Athel D’Ombrain photograph collection

University of Newcastle Archivist Gionni Di Gravio discusses the recent digitisation of the Athel D’Ombrain Collection comprising of over 2,500 negatives, and talks about his life and extraordinary contribution to the Hunter Region.

Broadcast Notes:
The Athel D’Ombrain Collection was deposited with the University of Newcastle Archives in 1982.
The following notes are from an 1981 article in the University News entitled “University Post” (Vol. 7 No. 12 July 1981 p.[3]) supplemented with further notes from a variety of websites. He left an incredible and varied legacy in the wider Regional community. These photographs are an outstanding document of his life’s work and contribution to the natural world, history, architecture, science and art. They document many historical buildings throughout the Hunter Region, prior to restoration. They also document buildings and structures no longer extant.
The negatives were digitised by Sharon Mee and Michael Sherriff, and both should be congratulated for scanning the two and a half thousand odd negatives that are very challenging to handle. Sharon is currently uploading the negatives to the University Cultural Collections flickr site.

National Trust News

Trust News, Vol.4, no. 10, November 2011. Contents include:
  • Ned Kelly's story lives on : old bones and new science
  • Challenge on Perth's waterfront project
  • Promoting Queenslan's secret sites
  • Treasure of a sunken battlefield
  • Our heritage at risk 2011 - a review
  • Rediscovering Governors Macquarie's 19th century armchair
  • Australia's forgotten wartime hospital
  • A grave on the shore of Botany Bay
  • Sir Howard Florey - a place on the National Heritage List

Milton Morris - Scrapbooks stay at ‘home’

From the Maitland Mercury report:
Flip open any page in one of about a dozen scrapbooks kept during Milton Morris’s almost 25 years as the Liberal Maitland MP and there is a snapshot of the city.
There’s a picture of a young Mr Morris jumping into Maitland Pool for charity and riding a camel along Church Street.
For as much as the yellowed pages filled with press clippings from the Maitland Mercury, the national papers and beyond document Mr Morris’s distinguished political career, they also tell of what life was like in Maitland in the era he represented the city in parliament.
Mr Morris could not be happier that the material will be permanently shelved at Maitland Library, in the electorate that returned him as its parliamentary representative nine times.

Full article by Briony Snedden available at Maitland Mercury, 21 Nov, 2011.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Another fabulous old tree in trouble

From the Maitland Mercury report:
Another of Maitland’s iconic London plane trees is in danger.
The tree, at the front of Maitland City Library, looks half dead with leaves only growing on one side.
The tree is the third London plane tree in Maitland’s CBD to show signs of ill health.
Two trees near Maitland courthouse were identified as suffering from a bug infestation and heat stress when Lochinvar arborist Steve Watson and Newcastle arborist John Atkins examined them at the Mercury’s request in February.
Full article by Belinda-Jane Davis available at Maitland Mercury, 15 Nov, 2011.

Inside History Magazine

Inside History is for people passionate about Australian and New Zealand genealogy, history and heritage. In the November-December 2011 edition (issue 7):
  • Our preservation special looks at how to care for mementos, and how you can help conserve a piece of Australia's history
  • It's our first birthday! You could win up to $970 in prizes, including the ultimate findmypast subscription package
  • Looking for the lost grave of an ancestor? Read our guide first
  • What heritage roses in cemeteries can reveal about your family's past
  • She has my face! How author Hazel Edwards caught the genealogy bug
  • Plus, take a tour around Tasmania's stunning – and historic – Maria Island

New Exhibition - National Museum of Australia

Inside: Life in Children's Homes and Institutions

On show from 16 November 2011 to 26 February 2012
Studio Gallery, National Museum of Australia

Inside features the words, voices and objects of the Forgotten Australians, Former Child Migrants and those who experienced institutional care as children.
About half a million children spent time in Children's Homes and institutions, mostly run by state governments, charities and churches from the 1920s to the 1980s.
Inside examines how children were committed to 'care', what it was like to grow up on the inside, life on the outside and reactions to the Australian Government's 2009 National Apology to Forgotten Australians and Former Child Migrants.

Memento: National Archives of Australia

Issue 4 of Your Memento from the National Archives of Australia includes:
  • Death register sheds light on those laid to rest - North Head Quarantine Station
  • ‘Holding you in my Holden’: a nostalgic look at an Australian icon
  • Traversing Antarctica: the Australian experience
  • Promoting history, culture and literature: ABC television and the creative writer

Ghost Tour - Miss Porter's House

SUN 27 NOV | 6.30PM - 9.30PM | Miss Porter's House
A night to dabble in the extra-terrestrial, learning more about the history of the House and Porter family – and perhaps getting in touch with those who lived there! Newcastle Ghost Tours paranormal investigation team will talk about how spirits manifest themselves and we will look at the modern ghost-hunting equipment they use. Perhaps we will learn more about Herbert and Florence Porter, or their daughters Ella and Hazel, than has been documented to date! 
Bookings: essential
Tickets/Enquiries: Renata Daniel 0411 357 519

Friday, November 18, 2011

Paterson Historical Society

From the Maitland Mercury article:
Concerned Paterson residents have joined forces to save Australia’s only public corn staddle from demolition.
The Paterson Historical Society has brought in reinforcements to save the iconic Tucker Park building before it is too late.
During the past week community members have lifted the main section of the building from its beams with a view to restoring the staddle to its former glory.
The century-old corn staddle and hearse shed are remnants of the once thriving coach business run by two generations of Maitland’s well-known Fry family. The staddle was built to store cobs of corn when they were harvested off the flat. They remained there until they were ready to be milled for horses.

Full article by Emma Swain available at Maitland Mercury, 08 Nov, 2011.

Australian War Memorial exhibition - Nurses: from Zululand to Afghanistan

The Australian War Memorial’s exhibition Nurses: from Zululand to Afghanistan opens to the public on 2 December 2011. Australian nurses have been going to war for well over 100 years, but their important contribution to Australia’s overseas military operations often goes unreported.
The exhibition explores the involvement of nurses from the first known Australian in the Zulu War of 1879, right up to the experiences of the male and female nurses serving in recent conflicts and peace keeping operations.
Using the Memorial’s rich collection, the exhibition will highlight the personal stories of Army, Air Force and Navy nurses who have served overseas; their difficulties and challenges, along with their determination to care for the sick and wounded come what may.

Steamfest wins category

From the Maitland Mercury report:
Maitland has come away with one first place and was highly commended in three categories at the weekend’s Tidy Towns, Sustainable Communities Awards.
Hunter Valley Steamfest took out the Cultural Heritage Award category, in which the Look Who’s Talking Local History program was also highly commended.
The Les Darcy Family Vault restoration project was highly commended in the Bush Spirit category, and improvements to Morpeth Museum were highly commended in the Heritage Building Restoration category.
Full article available at Maitland Mercury, 07 Nov, 2011.

Liverpool Leader added to digitised newspapers

The National Library of Australia has announced that the Leader (Liverpool, NSW : 1946-1949) is the most recent New South Wales newspaper added to Digitised newspapers on Trove. This title has been funded by Liverpool City Library. 

Women of Tocal remembered

From the Maitland Mercury report:
The lives of many strong women are recounted in Jean Archer’s Tocal book. There are the Aboriginal women, followed by the convicts and, more recently, the details of Myrtle and Marguerita Curtis who lived at the homestead until they died – three days apart – in 1985.
Titled The Women in the History of Tocal, the book is also a first for the region and includes a historical section and an imaginative re-creation of events. “I’ve written stories that could have taken place featuring women’s perspectives,” Mrs Archer said.

Full article by Emma Swain available at Maitland Mercury, 03 Nov, 2011.

Dates for Australian Heritage Week 2012 announced

Tony Burke, Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities has announced the dates for Australian Heritage Week 2012. It will be held from Saturday 14 April until Sunday 22 April 2012. These dates incorporate 18 April which is the International Day for Monuments and Sites celebrated around the world every year.
Heritage Week is about honouring the places and stories that make Australia special and provides the opportunity to celebrate Australia’s unique heritage. State and territory Government agencies are encouraged to host events or activities.
Australian Heritage Week website has details. 

Australian Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Material

AICCM (the Australian Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Material) presented ten awards on Thursday 20th October 2011, to conservators, volunteers and the media for their significant contribution to the conservation profession in Australia. This coincided with their National Conference in Canberra, ACT.
More information at the AICCM web site.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Milton Morris steps down

From the Maitland Mercury report:
After 30 years at the helm of Australia’s oldest and largest group training organisation, Milton Morris borrowed the words of a Labor prime minister to explain his decision to step down as chairman of the Hunter Valley Training Company. Mr Morris, also fondly known as as Mr Maitland, said he was “taking a step back”.
Full article by Briony Snedden available at Maitland Mercury, 01 Nov, 2011.

Trampolines, girls and a rich history

From the Maitland Mercury report:

Mick Fairleigh and long-time friend and collaborator Paul Doherty have reflected on their years at the PCYC (Police Citizens Youth Club) for their fifth book on the history of Maitland.
“We used to go to the police boys club when we were kids and we had such a great time there so we thought we’d put together a book on what we did there, but we’ve also decided to chase a bit of history as well,” Mr Fairleigh said.

Full article by Emma Swain available at Maitland Mercury, 01 Nov, 2011.

Society of Australian Genealogists

CALENDAR - November
•Saturday 12 November (9.00am - 10.00am) - Orientation Tour
Members only. A one hour orientation tour of our library at 379 Kent Street. Bookings Essential. Free - but a gold coin donation to our Building Appeal on the day would be appreciated.

•Tuesday 15 November (8.00pm - 9.00pm AEST) - Webinar - Are Your Ancestors Hiding?
Tips and tricks to help you locate ancestors that you know must be there somewhere. Presenter: Heather Garnsey. Bookings essential and limited to SAG members only. Price $10.00.

•Tuesday 15 November (10.45am - 12.15pm) - Parramatta Heritage Centre - Behind the scenes tour
346a Church St Parramatta. Join Gay Hendrickson at the Parramatta Heritage Centre. Bookings Essential. $15 ($20 non-members) - limited to 20 participants.

•Saturday 19 November (10.30am - 12.30pm) - British Military Service Records
The records of members of the British Army, the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force are extensive and can provide an insight into the lives of our ancestors who served their country. Presenter: Jeremy Palmer. Bookings Essential. $20 ($25 non-members).

•Thursday 24 November (10.30am - 12.30pm) - Getting Started on Your Family History
Learn the fundamentals to start you on the road, and where to find and ask for help. Members Only. Special Price of $10.00. Bookings Essential.

Tribute to Galtons history

From the Maitland Mercury report:
A beautiful part of Maitland’s history has finally seen the light of day thanks to the Maitland Historical Society.
Seven brightly coloured leadlight panels from the famous Galton’s department store are among the newest additions to the historical collection.

Full article by Clare Harris available at  Maitland Mercury, 31 Oct, 2011.

An Afternoon with Mrs. Beckett at Brough House

National Trust Event
Spend an afternoon with Mrs Beckett at Brough and Grossmann Houses, the 1870's National Trust's houses in Maitland's beautiful Church Street. Experience a taste of the leisurely activities in which an 1870's lady of the house would have participated, such as card games, and croquet, as well as learn about the social customs of the time. A traditional afternoon tea will be provided.
Saturday 12 November 2011
1:00pm - 4:00pm
Cost: $17 NT Member / $20 Adults
Please contact Holly McNamee for details (02) 4934 4314

Friday, October 28, 2011

Mystery of the violin and the bushranger

From the Maitland Mercury report:
A three-quarter sized violin has passed through four generations of David Harwood’s family, along with the story of how his great-grandfather found it among a stash of bushrangers’ treasures in a cave in the New England region about 140 years ago.
There is the possibility it was stolen by none other than Captain Thunderbolt.
But the violin’s story begins well before that.....

Full article by Briony Snedden available at Maitland Mercury, 20 Oct, 2011.

Dunmore Bridge Upgrade

From the Maitland Mercury report:
The second stage of a $6.1 million upgrade of the timber Dunmore Bridge at Woodville has begun. The project involves the replacement of all three spans, as well as the approach span and the connection between the road and the bridge on the Woodville side.
Full article by Briony Snedden available at Maitland Mercury, 20 Oct, 2011.

Maitland Showground Grandstand

From the Maitland Mercury report:
Maitland Showground is fast becoming not only an embarrassment but also a disgrace.
If ever there was a golden opportunity to secure funding for the showground’s dilapidated grandstand it was at the start of this year.
With the 150th anniversary celebrations of Maitland show in full swing, and none other than Governor-General Quentin Bryce presiding over the official opening, the century-old heritage-listed grandstand was well and truly under the spotlight.
Full article available at Maitland Mercury, 20 Oct, 2011.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

End of the road for historic bridge

From the Maitland Mercury report:
Timber bridges in Maitland could soon be history with one of the last of three Maitland City Council-owned structures to be demolished and replaced this month.
Trappaud Road Bridge is scheduled to be removed from October 24, as part of a $1.7 million project paid for under the Local NSW Infrastructure Fund for a new bridge and road realignment.
It will leave Melville Ford and Dagworth as the city’s only timber bridges.
Morpeth Bridge is the responsibility of the state government.

Full article by Briony Snedden availabe at Maitland Mercury, 18 Oct, 2011.

Significance Assessment Workshop 2011

This significance assessment workshop is designed for anyone working with cultural or scientific collections.
When: Monday 28 (9.30am to 5.00pm) and Tuesday 29 November (9.00am-1.00pm)
Where: The Burgmann College, the Australian National University in Canberra
Cost: Advance payment of $AUD495 (GST incl.) is required and includes catered morning and afternoon breaks, lunch on Monday 28th, and a Certificate of Completion.
Contact: ph: (02) 6291 6334 e:
Further information: and to book online visit

Captain Thunderbolt

From the Maitland Mercury report:
Though his brush with the law began with his arrest in Maitland for receiving stolen horses, a new book – Captain Thunderbolt and His Lady:The True Story of Bushrangers Frederick Ward and Mary Ann Bugg, found a beautiful, educated half-Aboriginal woman was perhaps the real lead character in Fred Ward’s tale.

Full article by Briony Snedden available at Maitland Mercury, 14 Oct, 2011.

Timbergetters, Sawmills and Sawmillers

From the Maitland Mercury report:
Dr McDonald’s research led her on the elephant trail which was part of life circa 1918 when the elephants were used to cart the timber around the old Pender and Foster Sawmill at Pitnacree.

“The elephants were used to move the timber around and people actually remember seeing the elephants walking through East Maitland on a Saturday morning going for a drink,” Dr McDonald said. “The things you find are just amazing.” Research for the book included interviews with many people across the district.
Full article by Emma Swain available at Maitland Mercury, 14 Oct, 2011.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

NSW Government Heritage Volunteer Awards

Nominations are now open for the 2011 NSW Government Heritage Volunteer Awards. A Heritage Volunteer Award formally recognises the outstanding performance by individuals and community groups who have significantly improved the profile of heritage management in their local communities, successfully motivated and managed heritage projects and promoted the value of heritage by significant means and through exemplary work. Whether their contribution is through education, fundraising, historical research, interpretation, management, physical conservation, promotion or undertaking surveys and studies – this is the community’s chance to acknowledge the wonderful work undertaken by volunteers.

Nominations close: Friday 28 October 2011.
Contact: Lucy Moore at the Heritage Branch, Office of Environment & Heritage on (02) 9873 8535 or
Further information: The nomination form and list of criteria for the 2011 NSW Government Heritage Volunteer Awards program can be downloaded from the website:

Preservation Australia- Workshops in Sydney

Preservation Australia is holding two conservation workshops in Sydney in November.

Monday 21st NovemberCare of Collections. This seminar covers the deterioration of mixed collections looking at the agents of deterioration, and preventive conservation and storage options.
Tuesday 22nd November -Disaster Combo. This day discusses the principles of Disaster Planning (am) followed by a hands-on salvage procedures exercise (pm). This workshop will provide a good background for undertaking your own Disaster Preparedness.
Further information: regarding the workshops can be found on the Preservation Australia website, along with information about how to book and where the workshops will be held. Workshops are $350 each, with a 10% discount if two or more are booked.

Alan’s story takes you inside Hogwarts

From the Maitland Mercury report:
He left England for a new start on the other side of the world, leaving behind family and friends for a career at a company in a town he’d never heard of – Rutherford.
After 20 years with National Textiles, he faced redundancy and reinvented himself, eventually becoming the guardian of historic Grossmann House.
But as a tome in Maitland City Library’s Living Library, Alan Todd’s “readers” are more fascinated by his nine years at a British boarding school in the Yorkshire village of Giggleswick.
Full article by Briony Snedden available at Maitland Mercury, 12 Oct, 2011.

River Stories

River Stories is a series of radio interviews, videos and photos about the Hunter River. 1233 ABC Newcastle’s Phil Ashley-Brown first travelled down the river ten years ago and in 2011 he is tracking down the river again to see what has changed. The series is being broadcast on 1233 every week and it features the people who live along the river and the unique challenges they face. Click for a full calendar of events at MRAG River Stories.

National Archives of Australia

The National Archives website has been revamped with a fresh look and layout.You can browse the collection or find advice on records management. Check out our images or discover the latest touring exhibitions dates.

Historic Houses Trust

Domes Day : The guardhouses at the entrance to Hyde Park Barracks will soon have new shingle-covered domed roofs. The pair of buildings, once occupied by convict guards and clerks, were a key decorative element in colonial architect Francis Greenway’s controversial design for the convict establishment in 1819.
To celebrate the restoration of the guardhouse domes, the Historic Houses Trust in conjunction with Polyartistry will be running a series of events which will culminate in a family day at Hyde Park Barracks to mark the completion of the project and unveil the finished domes. Historic Houses Trust website has more details.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Maitland’s historic trees

From the Maitland Mercury report:
Maitland’s historic trees will not survive the next decade if an expert arborist is not employed to oversee their long-term maintenance and care, a concerned resident has warned.
Brian Harkin, who has worked in the gardening industry for the past 40 years, said trees including two London plane trees at the front of Maitland Courthouse and a group of Moreton Bay figs at Morpeth Common are suffering at the hands of inexperience and a lack of knowledge.

Full article by Emma Swain available at Maitland Mercury, 04 Oct, 2011.

Historic walk set to uncover Morpeth’s intriguing past

From the Maitland Mercury report:
It’s an historical walking tour of the region’s best preserved colonial portside village, but with an investigative twist.
Morpeth St James Church ladies guild has come up with a novel way for people to explore the history of Morpeth in an event where participants will search for clues to the village’s past with a check list of 37 sites of interest.

Full article by Briony Snedden available at Maitland Mercury, 04 Oct, 2011.

Society of Australian Genealogists seminars

Society of Australian Genealogists full details of activities at the web site.

Friday 14 October (10.00am - 1.00pm) - Arrivals in Aus & NZ - Library Hands on Workshop

Held in the Library at 2/379 Kent St, Sydney. This is a hands on session for beginners who would like assistance on the various ways of locating arrivals for their ancestors in both Australia and the New Zealand. There will be a short presentation followed by a research session with SAG volunteers assisting members. Bookings Essential and limited to 14. $40 ($50 non-members).

Saturday 15 October (10.30am - 12.30pm) Ephemeral Treasures :Using postal stationery for FH

Letters, diaries, bills, receipts, postcards and other "scraps of paper" are highly prized by family historians because such items have usually been created or handled in some way by an ancestor. Yet their real value as a portal to the past can easily be overlooked. Social historian Pieter Koster uses postal stationery to show you how to get more from your ephemera. Bookings Essential. $20 ($25 non-members).

Saturday 15 October (1.30pm - 3.30pm) - Out of sight - the civic legacy of the convict era

Drawing on her latest book, Australia's Birthstain, Babette Smith will explain how shame about our convict foundations distorted our history until the reality and strongly developed ethos of a flourishing convict society is neither remembered nor understood. They were 'Out of Sight', taking with them knowledge of our civic heritage from the transportation era. It was the investigations by hundreds of family historians that recovered our lost memory. Bookings Essential. $20 ($25 non-members).

Thursday 20 October (1.30pm - 3.30pm) - The Irish Online - Found, but what does it mean?

This session will cover the online indexes and databases provided by National Archives of Ireland (NAI) and the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI). Records covered in detail will be: 1901 and 1911 censuses for all 32 counties; The 1926 Census of the Republic (26 Counties) and Northern Ireland (6 counties) - Are they available, and when will we see them?; free online. Presenter: Terry Eakin. Bookings Essential. $20 ($25 non-members).

NSW State Records Open Day

Archives Open Day on Friday 28 October 2011
As part the State Records 50th birthday celebrations we are opening our doors and taking you behind-the-scenes. Come and join us at the Western Sydney Records Centre at Kingswood for a day of talks, information sessions, tours and hands-on-workshops.
PLEASE NOTE: We've had a wonderful response to the Open Day and some sessions were rapidly booked out. We are hoping to make more space available soon. Please re-visit the booking form after October 6 to see which sessions have been re-opened.

Les Darcy: The boxer, the farm and the tribute

From the Maitland Mercury report:
Before he was famous, before he stole the heart of a nation, Les Darcy worked on a small farm in High Street, Maitland.

Here he built up his muscles, developed enormous strength and, of course, went on to become a boxing legend and Maitland’s favourite son.
Now Rutherford artist Jim Casey has captured this part of Darcy’s history.

Full article by Emma Swain available at Maitland Mercury, 30 Sep, 2011.

Grant to restore Howitzer gun

From the Maitland Mercury report:
A Howitzer gun that served in the Vietnam War will be restored with a grant from the federal government.

The grant was given to the Maitland Vietnam Veterans’ and Services Legion as part of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs Saluting Their Service commemorations program.

Full article available at Maitland Mercury, 30 Sep, 2011.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Gould Genealogy - millions of new records online

From the Gould Genealogy blog, 29 September 2011 :
Millions of new genealogy records are now online. Online data for genealogy seems to be booming … the big online companies have been releasing new records at a phenomenal rate over the past few weeks. For a round-up of the major new records during August and September, refer to the Gould Genealogy blog posting.

RAHS Conference in Maitland

The next Royal Australian Historical Society Conference will be held on the weekend of 29-30 October 2011 at East Maitland Bowling Club, Maitland, NSW.

The theme will be: Of Droughts and Flooding Rains - Australian Disasters: Research, Recording, Recovery
Papers on the main conference topic, as well as papers on the Hunter Valley, heritage, and practical matters will be presented.
More information and registration at the RAHS website.

Maitland Courthouse trees on death row

From the Maitland Mercury report:
A delay in treating Maitland’s iconic courthouse trees has possibly caused their death.

The Department of Justice and Attorney-General has failed to act on a commitment to save the rapidly deteriorating trees and, according to Maitland arborist Steve Watson, the trees could already be dead.

Full report by Emma Swain available at Maitland Mercury, 29 Sep, 2011.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Sawmillers and sawmills

National Trust event at Brough House:
Come along to Brough House, 71 Church Street, Maitland, and celebrate the rich legacy of the timbergetters and sawmillers from the early 1800s to the present. There will be talks from sawmillers, descendants of pioneeing families, displays and phtos. A book detailing the local sawmilling history will be launched and available for purchase.
Sunday, 16 October 2011, 10.00am - 3.00pm.
Bookings essential. Phone 49336452, 49334450.

Maitland & District Genealogical Society Fair

Maitland & District Genealogical Society Fair is being held on 9 Oct 2011 10:00am - 3:00pm
Venue: Maitland City Bowls, Sports and Recreation Club, Arthur Street, Rutherford.

Gail Davis will be hosting a stall at the Maitland & District Genealogical Society Family History Fair. She will also be presenting a talk on researching the NSW State archives.

Maitland’s bushland future

From the Maitland Mercury report:
The dual threat of rapid development and a lack of community concern will change the face of Maitland’s bushland if action is not taken soon. An initiative of the National Trust, the Bush Week campaign follows news that an estimated five million birds are being killed through land clearing, and 200 regional cities nationwide have their water threatened by salinity.

“The biggest problem we’ve got at the moment here in Maitland is the amount of clearing that is taking place to make way for more developments,” Mr Huber said.

Full article by Emma Swain available at Maitland Mercury, 20 Sep, 2011.

Greta and Branxton schools, 125 years

From the Maitland Mercury report:
On July 5, 1886, a group of nuns travelled from Singleton to open two Catholic schools to educate the children of Greta and Branxton.

Now, 125 years later, the schools have closed to make way for the biggest Catholic school in the history of the district.
Named Rosary Park Catholic School at Branxton, the school will be an amalgamation of St Mary’s School, Greta, and St Brigid’s School, Branxton.

Full article by Emma Swain available at Maitland Mercury, 19 Sep, 2011.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Royal Australian Historical Society Event

The history of Timber as a Structural Material in Australia
This is the first joint meeting of ASHET and the RAHS with Materials Australia, a society that specialises in the technology of materials used in engineering, including metals, plastics and timber.
Amie Nicholas will talk about some of the engineers and innovations, and illustrate the talk with examples of the bridges that are part of the state’s engineering heritage.

In the companion talk Chris Gerber will describe some of the more recent history of developments in fields such as laminated timber beams and plywoods and in the treatment of timbers to improve their durability. A joint activity of ASHET, the RAHS and Materials Australia.
Royal Australian Historical Society.

Date: Tuesday 27 September, 2011
Time: 5.30 for 6pm at History House
Cost: $8.00 Includes light refreshments on arrival.

National Library of Australia News September 2011

Lecture launch: a Flutter of Butterflies
Join authors Michael Braby and Penny Olsen as they discuss their latest book. A Flutter of Butterflies is a beautifully illustrated account of the history of collecting, identifying and recording Australian butterflies and moths. Fascinating biographies of some of Australia's most-loved artists are accompanied by stunning works from the Library's collections.

Refreshments and book signing to follow.
Monday 26 September, 4 pm
National Library of Australia, Canberra
Bookings: 02 6262 1424 or email

Lochinvar memorial garden to honour diggers

From the Maitland Mercury report:
They were the 55 Lochinvar men who set off to fight for their country at the start of World War I.

By the time the conflict had ended, eight of those men had been killed.
Today the names of the men appear on two aged pillars guarding the Lochinvar School of Arts Hall.
But the people of the village believe the WWI diggers deserve more.
The Lochinvar community is working with Maitland City Council to move the two pillars into Porter Place, near the hall, and create a memorial garden in honour of the soldiers

Full article by Emma Swain available at Maitland Mercury, 15 Sep, 2011.

Remember the taste of creamy Oak milkshakes

From the Maitland Mercury report:
Almost everyone remembers enjoying a thick and creamy Oak milkshake at the Hexham milk bar opened in 1955. But most people are probably not aware that the original Oak creamery and butter factory opened at Morpeth in 1917 at the site of the former Australasian Steamship Company.

Morpeth Courthouse Museum is paying tribute to the factory’s former workers and the importance of the milk and cream industry with an exhibition called Remembering the Oak.
Much of the exhibition has come from the extensive collection of former Oak employee for more than 25 years, Pete Smith of Metford.

Full article by Rebecca Berry available at Maitland Mercury, 14 Sep, 2011.

Fears over redevelopment plans near historic property

From the Maitland Mercury report:
A man whose ancestors settled in Morpeth in 1838 has raised fears over plans for the redevelopment of historic Morpeth House to provide facilities for seniors.

Kevin Lord, who lives near the planned development in St Albans Place, has called for Morpeth House to be restored to its original condition.
Mr Lord also wants the chapel at Morpeth House to be restored and used as a place of worship, as it was originally.
In a letter to Maitland City Council’s general manager, Mr Lord said he was objecting to the planned redevelopment of Morpeth House to provide community facilities for seniors.

Full article by Alan Hardie available at Maitland Mercury, 13 Sep, 2011.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Uvon Dawn Crittenden remembered

From the Maitland Mercury report:
The swimming fraternity of Maitland – and indeed throughout Australia – is fondly remembering Uvon Dawn Crittenden, one-time star from this city, who died on Monday. In the 1940s Uvon was swimming internationally and has been honoured with her pictures on display at the Maitland Swimming Pool Hall of Fame.

Full article by Alan Hardie available at Maitland Mercury, 09 Sep, 2011.

Volunteer Initiated Museum (VIM) Grant Program

Museums & Galleries NSW is pleased to announce that the second round of the Volunteer Initiated Museum (VIM) Grant Program is now open for 2011. Applications are now invited for VIM Small Grants (funding up to $1,500) and Development Project Grants (funding up to $5,000), closing: Friday 21st October 2011.

The Guidelines for all VIM Grants can be downloaded from Museums & Galleries NSW’s website (
Closes: Friday 21st October 2011.
Contact: Phoebe Arthur, Sector Development Coordinator on ph: (02) 9339 9913, free call 1800 114 311 or to discuss your project and obtain an application form.

A lecture in memory of Harry Boyle, OAM

From the Maitland Mercury report:
The legacy of former Maitland historian Harry Boyle is to be celebrated in a lecture dedicated to his memory.

University of Newcastle archivist Gionni Di Gravio will present the Reinvigorating the Community Memory lecture at Brough House, Maitland, on Friday, September 23.
This will be the sixth in a series of lectures held annually to commemorate the life of Mr Boyle OAM.

Full article by Emma Swain available at Maitland Mercury, 02 Sep, 2011.

Treasure trove of World War I data

From the Maitland Mercury report:
Military historian David Dial is compiling a “treasure trove” of information on World War I as he combs eight Hunter Valley newspapers for every entry made from August 1914 until the end of 1918.

Mr Dial began compiling the index 10 years ago and he has already unearthed 28,500 entries.
He believes the work may take three more years and he hopes to finish the index in August 2014 – the 100th anniversary of the start of the “war to end all wars.”
Full article by Alan Hardie available at Maitland Mercury, 02 Sep, 2011.

Society of Australian Genealogists

SAG Webinars

The Society is delighted to announce a new member-only service – webinars! These online presentations will last about an hour and allow members who live away from Sydney and also those that are ‘time poor’ to participate in our education activities. You’ll find more information about webinars on our site here (

Webinar - NSW Shipping Arrivals Online

Thursday 22 September (8.00pm - 9.00pm)

The days of your ancestors swimming to NSW seem to be over, with the bulk of 19th century shipping arrivals now searchable online, thanks largely to the work of State Records NSW and its commercial partner Ancestry. This session will look at why it is now easier than ever before to find an arrival into NSW up to 1922, but will also remind us of the problems that haven't been solved by mass digitisation and indexing. Presenter - Heather Garnsey. Bookings essential and limited to SAG members only. Price $10.00.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

National Trust Magazine, NSW

National Trust NSW, August-October Spring issue:

Pomp and ceremony colonial style
From the Hon. Robyn Parker MP, Minister for the environment and Minister for Heritage
Trust action: Barangaroo in review
Conservation: interiors of important churches
Enhancing the unique stories of evergaldes
Managing Miss Porter's collection, Newcastle
Heraldic panels at Miss Porter's House, Newcastle

Inside History Magazine

Inside History is for people passionate about Australian and New Zealand genealogy, history and heritage. In our September-October edition (issue 6):

•Read the remarkable discovery of a WWI soldier after 93 years, and how his belongings are being shown for the first time in Australia
•Learn why some Aussie soldiers rebelled during the Boer War
•We look at why more of us are trekking Kokoda
•A family historian in Queensland makes a fascinating find
•The history of coffee in Sydney

Hunter Lifestyle Magazine

Edition 51 of Hunter Lifestyle Magazine includes: 
Celebration of 'My Country', One Hundred Years On

Paterson Court House Museum will celebrated the centenary of the publishing of Dorothea Mackellar’s poem "My Country" and its Paterson Valley connection every Sunday next month - September 4th, 11th, 18th and 25th.
Memorabilia belonging to the poet and donated to the Museum will be on display for the first time and visitors can listen to the only recording of "My Country" made by Dorothea herself in 1958, at the age of 72 years.

History Magazine - RAHS

Royal Australian Historical Society History Magazine, September 2011 issue now available.
The Norfolk Island issue:
Industrial sites of Norfolk Island, Ian Jack
Interpretation of Norfolk Island's heritage, Sharon Veale
Kingston - an early colonial town, Bruce Baskerville
Confessions of a tour leader, Linda Emery
Inside Norfolk Island's government house, Bruce Baskerville

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Maitland personalities back in town to talk local history

Explore the trials and tribulations of well ‐ known Australians born and bred in Maitland when Maitland City Council presents Whatever happened to…? at Maitland Gaol on September 8.
At this Australian Story style event, participants will discover the stories behind iconic national cultural and political identities who have their roots in Maitland.

The evening will consist of lively discussion facilitated by Artist and former Mayor of Maitland, John Martin, Cultural Director for Maitland City Council, Joe Eisenberg and Associate Professor for Politics at the University of Newcastle, Dr Jim Jose.
Come with an open mind and walk away with a dynamic insight into the city which has been the centre for some of the most landmark events in Australia’s history as a colourful history of Maitland is presented to you at the historic Maitland Gaol.

Written and visual material, including images and recollections of Maitland with a national and international perspective, will form the basis for an insightful look back through the lives of some of Maitland’s best known identities and in doing so explore the City’s, and Australia’s rich cultural and political history.

Bookings for Whatever happened to…? can be made at any of the Maitland City Library branches.
For further information and to book phone Maitland City Library on (02) 4933 6952 or visit
Thursday 8 September 2011
6.00 pm – 8.00 pm
Maitland Gaol
$15.00, including canap├ęs and wine

Historic poem’s tie to Paterson Valley

From the Maitland Mecury report:
Harry Boyle never met the famed Australian poet Dorothea Mackellar.
But the late Maitland historian was determined to ensure that Australia knew the origins of her iconic poem My Country.
Mr Boyle embarked on a mission in 1996 to prove that the inspiration for Mackellar’s poem was in the Paterson Valley. What followed were years of research, which will be displayed throughout September to mark the 150th anniversary of the Australian publication of My Country.
The Paterson Historical Society has dedicated its month-long celebration to Mr Boyle.

Full article by Emma Swain available at Maitland Mercury, 31 Aug, 2011.

Hunter’s stories a river of gold

From the Maitland Mercury report:
Maitland historian Dr Janis Wilton will explore this issue in a series of oral history workshops, held in conjunction with the 1233 ABC Newcastle’s River Stories project.

“It’s all about living with the river and appreciating it and that’s fascinating,” Dr Wilton said. “So I’d really like us to try and give the river back its history. There’s a story that belongs to the river.”

Full report by Emma Swain available at Maitland Mercury, 31 Aug, 2011.

NSW Premier’s History Awards

The finalists for the NSW Premier’s History Awards have been announced and include works documenting colonial Australian manners, a murder plague in Sydney and the life and legacy of Mahatma Ghandi. The 16 finalists represent varied perspectives on a variety of topics, from the darker side of Australia’s past to the lighter side of life in the past, such as Playing the Numbers: Gambling in Harlem Between the Wars.
The Awards recognise distinction in the fields of historical research, writing and presentation and celebrate the commitment of historians to bring the many stories of the past to light.

More information at the Arts NSW web page.

Lloyd Gregory funeral at Maitland Uniting Church

From the Maitland Mercury report:
From New Guinea in World War II to the streets of Maitland in the 1990s, Lloyd Ernest George Gregory has been a stalwart.
He’s fought for his country, instilled pride in the people of Maitland and dedicated his time to those in need. Today the former Maitland town crier will be remembered in a service at the Maitland Uniting Church.
Mr Gregory, of Rutherford, died on Saturday, aged 93 years.

Full report by Emma Swain available at Maitland Mercury, 01 Sep, 2011.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

History Week is here!

History Week 2011: 3-11 September – EAT History
The theme for History Week 2011 is EAT History - the Edible, Appetising and Tasty history of food. Who ate what and where in the past? How did we cook and where did our food come from? History Week 2011 will be a smorgasbord of delectable delights!
Programme of events available on the History Council web site.

Hunter River Stories

The Hunter River is the lifeblood of the Hunter Valley. RIVER Stories is a series of radio interviews, videos and photos about the Hunter River. 1233 ABC Newcastle’s Phil Ashley-Brown first travelled down the river ten years ago and in 2011 he is tracking down the river again to see what has changed. The series is being broadcast on 1233 every week and it features the people who live along the river and the unique challenges they face.

Hunter Councils Environment Division (HCED) and Maitland Regional Art Gallery (MRAG) have combined resources and expertise to develop the RIVER Stories Partners Program in support of the 1233 ABC Radio series: River Stories. The workshops and events presented are part of a series of complementary and exciting artistic and environmental events that will engage with locals living alongside the Hunter River and share the life passion that they have had with this wonderful river system over the years. Come and join your story with theirs…

The program will culminate in an innovative multimedia exhibition between February – April 2012 at MRAG and will be featured at Hunter Council’s Regional Sustainability Conference in March 2012.

When: RIVER stories workshops beginning September 4, 2011 - see program for full details

Where: Workshops are to be held at various venues around The Hunter.

Annual Colonial Ball at Maitland

From the Maitland Mercury report:
You’d be hard-pressed to find a local resident that hasn’t experienced the beauty and buoyancy of the Maitland Town Hall floor. The floor is a feature of the city’s major meeting place and, as it happens, the main reason for the location of the annual Colonial Ball.

Full article by Emma Swain available at Maitland Mercury, 27 Aug, 2011.

Branxton students bid St Brigid's farewell

From the Maitland Mercury report:
The 115 students at St Brigid’s, Branxton, will farewell their 125-year-old school site today to move into a new $5.1 million school next term.
The symbolic closing of the old primary school’s doors will be held at 11.30am and will include guests such as Bishop William Wright, former principals and students and nuns from the Sisters of Mercy. The order established the Catholic school in 1886.

Full article available at Maitland Mercury, 27 Aug, 2011.

Family mystery to Kurri Kurri

From the Maitland Mercury report:
A search for clues in a family mystery that started on the other side of the world has found its way to Kurri Kurri. In a small hamlet, right on the border between England and Wales, Jennifer Montague uncovered a puzzle when she received the family’s papers following the death of her brother.
Among them was a letter sent from Kurri Kurri, seemingly from a naval officer who died in World War I, but the letter was dated April, 1931.
The letter was signed “your loving son John” but the only John that Mrs Montague thinks it could possibly be is her uncle, John Kerr, who was born in 1881 and died in 1918.

Full article by Frances Sacco available at Maitland Mercury, 26 Aug, 2011.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

A stunning garden in all its glory

From the Maitland Mercury report:
Helen Moyle’s rambling and rustic garden is a testament to her talents to reuse and recycle.
Mrs Moyle began creating the garden three years ago when she and her husband moved into their 1835-built Maitland Vale homestead. It is a scene Mrs Moyle is happy to share with other garden lovers as part of the Maitland Black and White Committee’s annual Garden Ramble on September 17 and 18 to raise money for Vision Australia.

Full article by Briony Snedden available at Maitland Mercury, 25 Aug, 2011.

PGH site passes into history

From the Maitland Mercury report:
All evidence of brick making could be erased from the former PGH works at Metford under $1 million plans to demolish the buildings on the site.

The works could make way for new developments, including the potential for residential housing.
An application lodged with Maitland City Council on behalf of CSR Building Products said the proposed demolition was the first step in the rehabilitation of the site to allow future land uses to be considered.
The land on both sides of Metford Road is owned by the Crown, and identified by the council as the Metford Preliminary Investigation Area.
Full article by Briony Snedden available at Maitland Mercury, 24 Aug, 2011.

Dixson map collection digitisation project

Over the past 18 months the State Library of New South Wales has been digitising a collection of maps donated to the Library by Sir William Dixson in 1952. With the completion of the project an online collection is now available on the State Library website.
The online collection showcases 80 maps from this wonderful collection which reflects Dixson’s interest in early navigation, geography and the European exploration and settlement of the Pacific, in particular Australia.


Riverstories - art workshops : Maitland Regional Art Gallery in partnership with Hunter Councils, 1233 ABC Newcastle and ABC Open. Come to a workshop - Explore the river - Share your stories.
Further information contact the gallery on 02 4934 9859.

Greta's wall of remembrance

From the Maitland Mercury report:
The first names on the Greta RSL Sub-Branch’s Wall of Remembrance were unveiled at a ceremony at the Greta Cenotaph on Thursday to mark the Vietnam Veterans and Ex-Services Day, which coincided with the 45th anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan.

Full article by Briony Snedden available at Maitland Mercury, 19 Aug, 2011.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Maitland and District Historical Society Inc. Bulletin

The August Bulletin of the Maitland and District Historical Society Inc. is now available via the Society's web site.  The Bulletin includes articles on the Historical Society's activities, St. Peter's Anglican Church at East Maitland, St. John's and the Bishop's house at Maitland, Alexander Dodds and diary dates for upcoming events.

Call to keep heavy traffic off Morpeth Bridge

From the Maitland Mercury report:
Morpeth businessman Trevor Richards fears that while heavy vehicles continue to use the historic town’s heritage timber bridge its future is at risk. Mr Richards said he was concerned ongoing maintenance costs would one day see the RTA close the Morpeth Bridge, leaving it open to only pedestrian traffic. “They can’t pull it down because it is state-significant and on the heritage
register, but they could close it.”

Full article by Kate Morris available at Maitland Mercury, 10 Aug, 2011.

New life for former hostel

From the Maitland Mercury report:
A building that has weathered the changing face of Maitland for more than 150 years is about to be restored to its former glory.

Once a hotel for those visiting Maitland in the 1840s and, later, the Matthew Talbot Hostel for homeless men, the two-storey dwelling – in Banks Street, East Maitland – is almost ready for its latest reincarnation.
“The building has been approved to be converted into an 18-room guest house and it will be completely refurbished and restored to its original state,” heritage conservationist Chris Richards said. “This will be a magnificent project but it will also be a real challenge.”
Mr Richards helped save the house from demolition almost three years ago when an engineer claimed the building was condemned.

Full article by Emma Swain available at Maitland Mercury, 10 Aug, 2011.

The Enemy At Home Seminar

Rethinking Australia’s WWI home front story- The Museum of Sydney. While the Anzacs were fighting in Gallipoli and Europe, thousands of Australians of German and Austrian descent were interned in camps on our home soil.

Join guest speakers Nadine Helmi, Professor Gerhard Fischer and Professor Marilyn Lake, with chair Professor Ann Curthoys, as they examine the hitherto neglected history of the internment of so-called ‘enemy aliens’ during WWI and its impact on Australian society.
When: Saturday 27 August from 2pm-4pm
Cost: General $30 Conc/Member $25. Includes refreshments & museum entry. Bookings essential
Where: Museum of Sydney. Cnr Bridge and Phillip St, Circular Quay
Further information:

Les Darcy spirit ‘alive’ in the city

From the Maitland Mercury report:
The Tidy Towns judge was in Maitland yesterday, looking at projects that add value to the city. Entered into the Bush Spirit Award category, that recognises tenacity in the face of adversity, visiting judge Andrew Scott said Les Darcy epitomised the fighting spirit. “I think its important that Maitland is making efforts to see the Les Darcy spirit live on in the city,” he said. “He is not just important here in Maitland but he was a working class hero known all around Australia and all around the world.”

Full article by Kate Morris available at Maitland Mercury, 16 Aug, 2011.

Green light for Darcy gravesite

From the Maitland Mercury report:
A long-standing plan to restore the gravesite of Australian boxing legend Les Darcy is one step closer to fruition. Maitland City Council is in the process of looking at tenders for the $60,000 project with a selection expected to be made next month. The news heralds the continuation of the project, which began four years ago when council started investigating the deterioration of the boxing champion’s gravesite at East Maitland cemetery.
Full article by Emma Swain available at Maitland Mercury, 11 Aug, 2011.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Steam train lovers

From the Maitland Mercury report:
Almost 200 people took an historic steam train ride to mark three significant occasions in the region’s history.
On Friday, two restored locomotives that hauled Hunter Valley coal for much of the last century chugged their way along the South Maitland Railway as part of the 30th anniversary celebrations for the Hunter Valley Training Company.
The ride also commemorated the 125th anniversary of the discovery of the Greta Coal Seam and 100th anniversary of the arrival of one of the restored locomotives.

Full article by Frances Sacco available at Maitland Mercury, 08 Aug, 2011.

New Newcastle Museum

The new Newcastle Museum opened on Thursday 4 August 2011. The $23.5 million development is the most significant project the City of Newcastle has undertaken in recent years. The new museum will be showcase a wide range of cultural, educational and entertainment programs for the Newcastle community and will draw many visitors to the region.

The new museum will house both permanent and temporary exhibitions, with over 1000m2 dedicated to the interactive science centre, Supernova, in the Locomotive Boilershop. There is also a range of significant individual display items such as a 19th century steam locomotive and a fossilised tree.

Powerhouse Museum’s Regional Outreach Program

The Powerhouse Museum’s Regional Outreach Program is supporting cultural heritage organisations across New South Wales to record, preserve and display their collections for the benefit of regional communities. Professional Advice and Project Assistance is available across all the collection areas and other areas of museum practice such as developing exhibitions, museum learning, publishing, security and marketing.
Applications due: 2 September 2011.
Contact: Regional Services Coordinator on ph: 1800 882 092