Coal, railways and mines : the railways and collieries of the Greta and South Maitland coalfields, Volume 2

Dust jacket of Brian R. Andrews' latest book

We are delighted to report that the second volume of Brian Robert Andrews‘ latest work is now available and a copy will be housed in Cultural Collections very soon.

Mr Andrews and the Cultural Collections team have been colleagues for some time. He has made extensive use of our resources in the J & A Brown and South Maitland Railways archives during his research for this 5-volume work.  He has allowed our team to digitise thousands of his photos and provided expert advice on railway and mining history in Newcastle and the Hunter Region.

Table of Contents

  • Development of the coal lands in the vicinity of Cessnock
    • The Aberdare Collieries Syndicate
      • The Aberdare Collieries Railway Bill
  • The Newcastle Cessnock Coal Mining Company
  • Hebburn and Elrington Collieries
    • Hebblewhite’s Mine (Later Hebburn No. 1 Colliery)
    • Hebburn No. 2 Colliery
    • Hebburn No. 2 Colliery Branch Railway
    • Elrington Colliery
  • The Railway and Collieries of the Abermain Colliery Company, Limited
    Later Abermain Seaham Collieries Ltd
    Later J & A Brown & Abermain Seaham Collieries Ltd

    • Abermain Colliery (Later known as Abermain No. 1 Colliery and Abermain Tunnel)
    • Abermain No. 2 Colliery
    • Abermain No. 1 Shaft Colliery (Abermain No. 3 Colliery)
    • Formation of J & A Brown Abermain Seaham Collieries Limited
  • The Collieries and Railways of the Caledonian Coal Company, Limited
    Later Caledonian Collieries Limited

    • Development of Aberdare Colliery
    • Caledon Open Cut
    • Aberdare Tunnel Colliery (Later Aberdare North Colliery)
    • Aberdare West Tunnel (Later known as Aberdare West Colliery)
    • Aberdare Extended Colliery
    • Caldare Colliery
    • Caldare No. 2 Colliery
    • Abernethy Main Colliery (Later Aberdare South Colliery)
    • Aberdare South Colliery Branch Railway
    • Aberdare Central Colliery
    • Aberdare Extended No. 7 Colliery (Later known ad Aberdare No. 7 Colliery)
  • Wickham and Bullock Island Coal Company, Limited
    Later Cessnock Collieries Limited

    • Commencement of Neath Colliery
    • Neath Colliery Branch Railway
    • Neath Opencut Workings
    • Cessnock Colliery
    • Cessnock No. 2 Opencut Workings
    • Re-commencement of Kalingo Colliery
    • Formation of Cessnock Collieries Limited
    • Change of Names of Cessnock and Kalingo Collieries
  • The Great Northern Coal Company, Limited
  • Photo Gallery

For further information and purchase details, please contact Brian R. Andrews via email –

Memories of NUC

Opus front page

Were you a student at Newcastle University College between 1954 and 1964 (inc)? If so, you may like to read the Newcastle University College Students’ Association’s newspaper of the time – Opus. These were scanned by Davina Pellatt.

Read and/or download them from our Living Histories @ UON site.

We welcome your recollections of your time at NUC. There are some instructions for adding a recollection at

Hunter Valley Theatre Company records archived

This photograph was scanned from The Hunter Valley Theatre Company Archives (Box A9029). This collection contains images of Theatrical Productions staged by The Hunter Valley Theatre Company, Newcastle, Australia between 1976 and 1997. This box is held in archives of the University of Newcastle, Cultural Collections.  Please contact us if you are the subject of the image, or know the subject of the image, and have cultural or other reservations about the image being displayed on this website and would like to discuss this with us. If you have any information about this photograph, please contact us. More about this image: "The Summer of the Seventeenth Doll" was first performed by The Hunter Valley Theatre Company on 2 March, 1988. Cast and Crew: Sian Newey (actor) Barry Shepherd (actor) Derrick Cox  (Designer)    Brent McGregor  (Director)    Ray Lawler  (Playwright)

“The Summer of the Seventeenth Doll”, first performed by The Hunter Valley Theatre Company on 2 March, 1988. (This photograph was scanned from HVTC Archives Box A9029)

See more of the Hunter Valley Theatre Company’s Photographic Archives here:


Conduit: Dr Gillian Arrighi
Donated: October 2012


A9029 Photographs – Theatrical Productions circa 1980s
A9030 Photographs – Actors, Productions, Star Hotel Riot circa 1970s-1990s
A9030(i) Actor’s promotional photographs, c1970s-1980s.
A9030(ii) Photographs relating to production of The Coast Mongrels, 1989.
A9030(iii) Photographs relating to production of Educating Rita, 1987.
A9030(iv) Photographs relating to production of Master Class, 1987.
A9030(v) Photographs relating to production of Summer of the Seventeeth Doll, 1988.
A9030(vi) Photographs relating to production of Diving for Pearls, 1994.
A9030(vii) Assorted photographs c.1970s-1990s
A9030(viii) Photographs and promotional material relating to The Trust: The Elizabeth Theatre Trust’s production of Lipstick Dreams, 1989.
A9030(ix) Photographs and promotional material relating to production of Us and Them, 1985.
A9030(x) Proof sheets relating to unidentified production(s) c.1980s
A9030(xi) Photographs and promotional material relating to production of Christian Brothers, 1984.
A9030(xii) Photographs and promotional material relating to production of A Hard God by Peter Kenna, 1984.
A9030(xiii) Photographs and promotional material relating to production of Bed of Roses, 1984.
A9030(xiv) Photographs and promotional material relating to production of Same Time Next Year, 1985.
A9030(xv) Photographs and promotional material relating to production of What If You Died Tomorrow by David Williamson, 1986.
A9030(xvi) Photographs and promotional material relating to production of A Happy and Holy Occasion by John O’Donoghue, 1986.
A9030(xvii) Photographs and promotional material relating to production of Machiavelli Machiavelli by John Upton, 1986.
A9030(xviii) Photographs and promotional material relating to production of The Bastard from the Bush by Rodney Fisher and Robin Ramsay, 1984.
A9030(xix) Assorted proof sheets and colour slides of unidentified gatherings and occasions. c.1980s.
A9030(xx) Photographs of the Star Hotel Riot, 1979.
A9030(xxi) Colour Photographs and negatives of unidentified production at Fort Scratchley c.1980s or 1990s?
A9031 Photographs and Slides – Various Productions circa 1980s – 1990s
A9032 Negatives – Two Albums (to be rehoused)
A9033 Newsclipping Scrapbooks 1980-1984
A9033A (Oversize – to be rehoused) Newsclipping Scrapbooks 1984-1985 with large photographs
A9034 Newsclipping Scrapbooks 1986-1995


"A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum" was first performed by The Hunter Valley Theatre Company on 1 January - 1 February, 1981.

“A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum” was first performed by The Hunter Valley Theatre Company on 1 January – 1 February, 1981.


B17336 Minute Book No. 1 – 18 Aug 1975 to 5 May 1977
B17337 Minute Book No. 2 – 30 May 1977 to 10 May 1978
B17338 Minute Book No. 3 – 24 May 1978 to 15 Oct 1980
B17339 Minute Book No. 4 – 19 Nov 1980 to 29 Sept 1982
B17340 Minute Book No. 5 – 10 Nov 1982 to 29 April 1984
B17341 Minute Book No. 6 – 9 May 1984 to 6 Aug 1985
B17342 Minute Book No. 7 – 1 Oct 1985 to 5 Aug 1986
B17343 Minute Book No. 8 – 1 Sept 1986 to 6 Sept 1988
B17344 Minute Book No. 9 – 10 Oct 1988 to 16 July 1991
B17345 Minute Book No. 10 – 20 Aug 1991 to 27 Sept 1993
B17346 Minute Book Annual General Meetings – 9 Oct 1977 to 7 April 1991



C2004 (i) Production of ‘A Rare Jewel’, a musical dramatization of “the last rehearsal and opening night for the gala opening concert of the refurbished Civic Theatre”, 1993.
C2004 (ii) Correspondence re Civic Theatre refurbishment, 1991 – 1993.
C2004 (iii) Correspondence re Civic Theatre refurbishment, 1992.
C2004 (iv) Civic Theatre management proposals, 1993.
C2004 (v) Planning for the opening production, ie ‘A Rare Jewel’, marking the refurbishment of the Civic Theatre, 1993.
C2004 (vi) Correspondence re ongoing Civic Theatre refurbishment, 1993 – 1994.
C2004 (vii) Civic Theatre technical specifications and conditions of hire, rates and charges for use of the Civic Playhouse, 1996.
C2004 (viii) Hunter Association of Performing Arts Companies minutes, June 1992.
C2004 (ix) Correspondence re potential involvement in the proposed Honeysuckle Performing Arts Complex, 1994.
C2004 (x) The New South Wales Regional Theatre Network, 1997.
C2004 (xi) Correspondence from the Australian Centre – International Theatre Institute, 1982 – 1983.
C2004 (xii) New South Wales State Theatre Project, 1993 – 1994.
C2004 (xiii) Correspondence with Daniel Skeffington and Paul Zorzi and their Octave Above Productions, 1991 – 1992.
C2004 (xiv) Assorted HVTC productions 1982 – 1997.
C2004 (xv) Industrial relations correspondence with Actors Equity of Australia; Musicians Union of Australia; Australian Writers’ Guild; Australian Theatrical and Amusement Employees Association; and the Australian National Playwrights Conference, 1983 – 1988.
C2004 (xvi) Actors Equity pay rates, 1994 – 1997.
C2004 (xvii) Stage professionals in Newcastle – actors, directors, designers etc , 1992.
C2004 (xviii) Actors’ resumes / curriculum vitae, 1996.
C2004 (xix) Actors’ resumes / curriculum vitae, 1996.
C2005 (i) Advertising, promotion, newsletters, 1986 – 1994.
C2005 (ii) Applications for funding grants from the Australia Council for the Arts, 1986 – 1997.
C2006 (i) Corporate sponsors and sponsorship, 1989 – 1995.
C2006 (ii) Funding and fundraising, 1983 – 1995.
C2006 (iii) Applications for funding grants, 1985 – 1997.
C2007 (i) Membership and subscriptions, 1982 – 1996.
C2007 (ii) Correspondence re community consultation and sundry other matters, 1977 – 1995.
C2007 (iii) Box office summaries, 1982 – 1987.
C2008 (i) Annual Arts Ball, 1984 – 1994.
C2008 (ii) Fundraising social events, 1982 – 1993.
C2008 (iii) Play production folders for HVTC productions 1988 – 1989.
C2008 (iv) Play production folders for HVTC productions 1990 – 1997.
C2009 (i) Play production folders for HVTC productions 1982 – 1985.
C2009 (ii) Play production folders for HVTC productions 1986.
C2009 (iii) Play production folders for HVTC productions 1987 – 1989.
C2009 (iv) Play production folders for HVTC productions 1990 – 1991.
C2010 (i) Play production folders for HVTC productions 1992 – 1993.
C2010 (ii) Play production folders for HVTC productions 1994 – 1997.
C2010 (iii) Audited and unaudited financial statements, 1991 – 1997.
C2010 (iv) Insurance, 1983 – 1996.
C2011 (i) Company logo, 1993.
C2011 (ii) Newspaper articles and diagrams of the Civic Theatre collected towards 10th birthday celebrations for the Playhouse, 1916 – 1989.
C2011 (iii) Liquor license, 1996 – 1997.
C2011 (iv) Newcastle City Council Cultural Survey, 1996.
C2011 (v) Staff timesheets, 1987.
C2011 (vi) HVTC Annual Report 1991 + folders re Annual General Meetings 1992 – 1996.
C2011 (vii) Commissions of work from playwrights; proposals for commissioning of work; and contracts, 1992 – 1997.
C2011 (viii-ix) Financial records, notable for considerable agonizing over how to save HVTC from insolvency, culminating in its winding up and handover of the Playhouse to the Newcastle City Council, 1978 – 1997.
C2012 (i-ii) HVTC Board minutes, correspondence, papers, Certificate of Registration of Business Name, and official stamp, 1975 – 1997.


Welcome To Our Valley [1969]

Title: Welcome To Our Valley [1969]

Script: Glen Burrows

Director: Peter Scott

Production: John Bushelle Production Pty Ltd Sydney Australia.

Produced for The Hunter Valley Co-operative Dairy Company Ltd.

Description: 1 film reel (29 min.) : sd., col. ; 16 mm.

Summary: Opening scene depicts arrival of Endeavour to the shores of Australia followed by scenes (possibly) inside Glenbawn Dam’s Museum of Rural History (?) and a survey of the Hunter Valley’s natural features including Glenbawn dam, and water’s importance to primary producers including agriculture (Maitland district), horse studs, wine and vineyards, beef cattle, historic homesteads, wool and sheep, dairy cattle, milk and butter production, Oak vehicles and factory, showtime, rodeo, woodchopping, Sydney’s Royal Easter Show, Newcastle, Port, Coal, Power Stations, B.H.P. Steelworks, Milk and butter production and distribution, homes, civic pride, Oak milk bars, beaches, Lake Macquarie, Sailing Clubs, Aerial fly over to Port Stephens, conclusion.

Subject: Hunter Valley (N.S.W.)

This is a 16mm film colour film reel that forms part of the collection of Archives of the Hunter Valley Co-Operative Diary Company Limited.

It was digitised in April 2014 for the University of Newcastle’s Cultural Collections (Auchmuty Library) Australia.

Climate archive to help predict extreme weather events

Algernon Belfield’s 1882 Meteorological Observing Book for the year 1882


The DOI for the transcribed Eversleigh dataset is :

Belfield, Algernon (2018) Meteorological observations for Eversleigh Station, near Armidale, New South Wales, Australia 1877-1922 (transcribed). The University of Newcastle.

Click Here to View Images from the Belfield Ceremony 9th March 2011 on Flickr

Historic climate data never before used by researchers may provide the key to helping communities better prepare for extreme weather events, such as the recent Queensland floods.

The data, collected between 1877 and 1907, by a New England pastoralist, will be used by University of Newcastle researchers to map the future climate of the region.

“The Bureau of Meteorology did not start collecting detailed, official climate data in the New England area until 1961,” University meteorologist Martin Babakhan said.

Sample page from the 1882 Meteorological Observing Book

“This data could be applied to create an early warning system to help climatologists and meteorologists better predict the extreme weather events that we have seen across Australia in the last six to 12 months.

“The information is extremely detailed and will help fill significant gaps in knowledge, and when applied to computerised climate modelling, will help us better predict climate and weather events in that region.”

The research will help predict adverse and beneficial climate events for the agriculture industry, as well as for planning, development and business investment in rural and regional areas.

“Climate management is all about knowledge. With this information we can understand why and how our climate is changing and the likely impacts, which are vital to better understand the climate of tomorrow,” Mr Babakhan said.

Sample page from Belfield’s 1877 Meteorological Observing Book

Sample page from Belfield’s 1877 Meteorological Observation Book

The climate data, collected by astronomer and meteorologist Algernon Henry Belfield at his Eversleigh Station in the New England region, has been donated to the University of Newcastle Cultural Collections and it is also being archived by the University of New England Heritage Centre.

Mr Richad Belfield, grandson of Algernon Belfield, examining his grandfather’s records

“Most families on the land have detailed historic data about weather and climate that can be used by scientists to answer important questions about our climate,” Mr Babakhan said.

“It is important that they come forward with this information to help fill the gaps in knowledge and answer these vital questions about our nation’s future.”

Researchers, climate change believers and sceptics will attend a launch of the Mapping our Climate collection at the University of Newcastle, Cultural Collections, Level 2 Auchmuty Library, Callaghan, at 10am on Wednesday 9 March.

Meteorological Observing Book(s) for the Years 1877 – 1907

Compiled by Algernon Henry Belfield (1838-1922)
Eversleigh Station New England District

Linked from this page are optimised PDFs for the 27 extant Observing Books compiled by Algernon Henry Belfield on his Eversleigh Station in the New England District.

The original books were deposited in the Heritage Centre of the University of New England by Algernon Belfield’s grandson Mr Richard Belfield.

The original booklets were digitised for Cultural Collections, University of Newcastle by William Oates, University Archivist at the Heritage Centre University of New England.

NB: Meteorological Observing Books for 1879, 1880 and 1881 are missing.
NB: Each PDF file is around 14-16MB in size. So you might wish to right mouse click on the link and select ‘save link as’ to download the file to your computer.

Highlights of the Ceremony


One farmer’s observations to help others – Newcastle Herald 10 March 2011 p.14

The University News: The University of Newcastle, Australia

The University News


This blog item first appeared in 2009. Since then, we have finished the digitisation of the University News and its successors. Please see the full listing of these very interesting newsletters on our website.

The University News was a newsletter produced by the University of Newcastle, Australia from 1970. As time and resources permit, we are digitising it and making the issues available from our website in PDF format. At time of writing, we have digitised issues from No 1 (10 September, 1970) through to No 104 (4 September, 1975). Like its near-contemporary, the Gazette, The University News is a valuable source of history of the University, and former staff and students from the ’70s should find some memories flooding back! You will find many of the photos featured in The University News on our Flickr site.

The digitised issues are:







Windows to another time – Ralph Snowball’s Glass Negatives

Top men, Raspberry Gully, NSW, 24 June 1898

Day Shift – 19/05/2009 – 02:10 PM
Presenter: Carol Duncan
Interviewee: Gionni Di Gravio, Archivist University of Newcastle

Newcastle University Archivist Gionni Di Gravio discusses the work to date on the Norm Barney Photographic Collection that was donated to the University’s Cultural Collections in June 2008. The Collection consists of around 990 glass negatives from Newcastle Photographer Ralph Snowball, and thousands more regular negatives from the Collections of Norm Barney and his friend and colleague Bert Lovett.

Broadcast Notes:

There are a number of collections of Ralph Snowball’s images throughout the region in private collections as well as public, most notable is the collection in Local Studies in Newcastle Public Library and available through Hunter Photobank.

This particular Collection of around 990 extraordinary glass slides forms part of Norm Barney’s Photographic Collection that was deposited with the University’s Cultural Collections in June 2008.

To view our progress to date and see the larger images please visit our flickr site (make sure to click the ‘all sizes’ tab:

These are the largest images of this kind available online anywhere, we are proud to present these photographic masterpieces to the wider community. They are so big you can pick the the breadcrumbs out of the beards!

Wallsend Number 1 tunnel, Wallsend, NSW, 11 June 1897

Wallsend Number 1 tunnel, Wallsend, NSW, 11 June 1897

Originally more than 8,000 glass negatives were stored in the cellar of Ralph Snowball’s Clarence Rd house. Most had not seen the light of day since Snowball’s death in 1925 right up until the beginning of 1989 when around the 800 or so boxes were rediscovered by Norm Barney and Bert Lovett.

Most were of two sizes: whole plate, approximately 8 1/2 x 6 1/2 in (21.6 x 16.5cm) and half plate, approximately 6 1/2mx 4 1/2 in (16.5 x 12.7 cm).

All were examined and around 2000 were subsequently dumped due to being destroyed by a combination of age and dampness. We estimate that around 5000 were donated to Newcastle City Council’s local history library.

A total of around 990 glass plates remained with Norm Barney in 44 boxes, the ‘cream of the crop’ that was kept with the family to prepare Norm Barney’s publications. Included are also some archival registers and notebooks belonging to Ralph Snowball.

”]Municipal Baths, Newcomen Street, Newcastle, NSW, [n.d.]Over the years these were cleaned, listed, wrapped in acid-free paper, reboxed and placed in metal cupboards and eventually deposited with the University in June 2008 by the widow of the late Norm Barney, Mrs Daphne Barney.


Norm Barney and Bert Lovett were able to identify most of the names, dates and places with the help of the surviving notebooks, details on some of the old boxes, and Ralph Snowball’s habit of writing on some of the negatives.

In addition to the Snowball Glass Negatives (990 images), inscribed box lids (3 boxes) and notebooks (1 box) the collection also includes negatives from the private collections of Norm Barney and Bert Lovett (approx 7000 items).

John Scholey's house, Mayfield, NSW, 7 November 1900

John Scholey's house, Mayfield, NSW, 7 November 1900

We currently have employed a qualified conservator to document the condition of the glass negatives, clean and re-house them. A digitiser to scan the glass negatives at a minimum of 300-600 dpi and import the jpgs (or optimised image files) in to our online Flickr site, and a cataloguer to create library catalogue entries for them in the University Library’s Newcat catalogue. After this process the glass negatives will be retired into the safety and preservation of archive boxes for long term storage.

To view more of these amazing images of Newcastle and the Hunter Region please visit our flickr site (make sure to click the ‘all sizes’ tab:

Gionni Di Gravio
University Archivist

Media Stories

'Glimpse of an era long gone' Newcastle Herald 11 September 2010 pp 22-23


'Found: the lost photos' Herald Feature by Mike Scanlon 18 September 2010 p.10

'Pictures for posterity' by Jill Stowell Newcastle Herald 18 September 2010 p.18

Anglican Diocese of Newcastle Archives

Sample Page from 1837 Christ Church Cathedral Register

ABC Newcastle (Newcastle) – Day Shift -15/04/2008 – 02:10 PM
Presenter: John Clarke
Producer: Jeannette McMahon
Interviewee: Gionni Di Gravio, Archivist, Newcastle University

Newcastle University Archivist Gionni Di Gravio discusses the 1871 Census of the Parish of St John’s Parish Newcastle, the wider archives of the Anglican Diocese of Newcastle and the recent digitisation of the parish registers of Christ Church Cathedral.

Web link: The Archives of the Anglican Diocese of Newcastle

Broadcast Notes:

The vast Archive of the Anglican Diocese of Newcastle and Christ Church Cathedral includes the records of St. John’s College, Morpeth, runs to over 120 shelf metres and dates from the year 1826. We have 4 volumes of finding aids relating to the Collection, including the Morpeth Collection of rare works previously housed in St John’s College Morpeth.

The Diocese of Newcastle was founded by Royal Letters Patent in 1847. The boundaries up until 1860 covered a territory encompassing the whole of northern New South Wales and Queensland to Cape York.

On the 29th June 1847, the Reverend William Tyrrell was consecrated in Westminster Abbey as the first Bishop. He arrived in Newcastle on the 30th January 1848 and on the following day (his birthday) was installed in the Christ Church Cathedral.

Christ Church Cathedral Registers Digitisation Project

We have We have recently found some project funds to invest in a digitisation project of original archives.

We selected the early Christ Church Cathedral Parish Registers to begin with, given the immense interest generated by the recent genealogical TV shows in the UK and Australia featuring celebrities accessing original parish registers and documents.

Over the last week we have had a Project Officer photographing the original registers dating from 1826.

Once the registers have been digitised we hope to begin placing them online through our flickr image repository website.

Treasures: Bishop Tyrrell’s Personal Diary and Accounts Book

The Archives of the Anglican Diocese also includes the first Bishop of Newcastle Bishop Tyrrell’s personal diaries and papers and is of such significance that the National Preservation Office at the National Library of Australia provided a generous grant for conservation treatment. Records restored under this program included the diary of pioneer Bishop William Tyrrell and an early watercolour of his church at Morpeth. Morpeth at the time was the seat of Tyrrell’s Diocese, and the jumping off point for settlers going into the interior.

Bishop Tyrrell’s leather-bound ‘Private Diary 1831’ at B6558 contains his personal, parish and Diocesan accounts spanning his life from 1829 – 1879. There are personal accounts including receipts and detailed lists of expenditure from his student days at St. John’s College, Cambridge, as well as lists of birthdays, servants wages and even the contents of the ‘outer’ and ‘inner’ wine cellars.

Bishop Tyrrell\'s Private Diary page

Two further diaries accessioned at B6556 and B6557 respectively are leather-bound diaries covering the period from September 1850 – September 1868. They consist of meditations and devotional reflections upon the Gospels and Epistles of the day. The references are given at the head of each page. The diary entries are divided into ‘Agenda’ i.e. a list of things to do, and ‘Acta’, i.e. an account of what was actually achieved. His sample timetables provide at least 2 hours for private devotions, 4 hours for study of religious works and 6 hours or more for Diocesan work.

Bishop Tyrrell\'s Diary

The 1871 Census of St John’s Parish Newcastle

B16117 Minute Book labeled ‘Sunday School’, of which a major portion contains the Minute Book and Income and Expenditure Books, combined, of the Teachers of the Sunday School, 1882-1892 (41v-168r), with the first 38 leaves (1v-38r) consisting of a Survey of the Parish of St John’s conducted between January and March of 1871 and encompassing the areas of The Glebe, Wickham Railway Village, Honeysuckle Point, The Pottery and Junction, Mosquito Island, Dempsey Island, and the following streets and roads, Lake Macquarie Road, Darby, Blane, Lower Church, Dawson, Railway, Bull, Bruce, Melville, Polly and Corlette.

We present the complete digital version of this remarkable 1871 census manuscript:

Page 000
Page 001
Page 002
Page 003
Page 004
Page 005
Page 006
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Page 010
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Lost Threlkeld Manuscript Online

Sample page from Reverend Lancelot Edward Threlkeld’s Journal, December 1828 - 1846. entitled A Journal Kept By Lancelot Edward Threlkeld.

An original manuscript Journal belonging to the late Reverend Lancelot Threlkeld, missionary to the Aborigines in the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie areas in the 1820s onward has been digitised and uploaded to the University of Newcastle’s Virtual Sourcebook for Aboriginal Studies in the Hunter Region.

We sincerely thank Mrs Marjorie Raven, great grand daughter of the late Reverend Threlkeld for her permission to publish this important Journal. We also thank her son Lindsay and grandson Blake for preparing the digital files on CDrom for us.

The original Journal which covers the period from December 1828 to around February 1846 is now lost, and presumably formed part of a series of Journal diaries. It originally was in the possession of an owner in Cattai. Prior to his death, the manuscript was lent to Mrs Raven, who then lent it to the Mitchell Library who digitised the full manuscript including additional papers belonging to Mrs Raven.

The Journal was then returned to the owner, and following his death, subsequently lost. Every avenue of locating it pursued by Mrs Raven has come to no avail causing great concern for the fate of such an important historical document to Hunter Region and the Australian nation.

Its importance to local indigenous and non indigenous researchers at the University and wider regional community is inestimable.

It is vitally important and urgent that we track down the original and ensure that it is preserved and stored in a proper archival temperature and humidity controlled environment. It therefore greatly appreciated if anyone knowing the present whereabouts of the original could contact us on or 02 49215819.

The full digitised copy of this Australian regional treasure can be downloaded below:

Threlkeld, L.E. (Lancelot Edward), 1788-1859. [Manuscript] A Journal Kept By Lancelot Edward Threlkeld. [65MB PDF]

Note: The original was a huge 450MB digital file which we have managed to optimise to 65MB which is still large for most people. We recommend firstly downloading the document to your computer by right mouse-clicking on the link and then choosing ‘Save Target As’. Then, pick a location on your computer and click ‘OK’. The file will be downloaded to your computer and you can track its progress. Please bear in mind that it is a large file, and so may take some time to download depending upon your connection.

Virtual Sourcebook for Aboriginal Studies in the Hunter Region

Corrobborree, or Dance of the Natives of New Sout Wales, New Holland by W. Preston (1820)

ABC Newcastle (Newcastle)
Day Shift -19/02/2008 – 01:30 PM
Presenter: Carol Duncan
Producer: Jeannette McMahon
Interviewee: Gionni Di Gravio, Archivist, Newcastle University

With the recent Apology to the Stolen Generations delivered by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd last Wednesday (13 February 2008) Newcastle University Archivist Gionni Di Gravio discusses the Virtual Sourcebook for Aboriginal Studies in the Hunter Region: an online digital resource containing thousands of scanned documents and manuscripts relating to local Aboriginal Culture.

Broadcast Notes:

Today I wish to promote our University’s Virtual Sourcebook for Aboriginal Studies in the Hunter Region located here:

It contains thousands of scanned documents and images relating to the Region and I want to encourage local people to learn more about the Aboriginal Dreaming and culture right here, underneath their feet.

The problem we now face post Apology with many Australians is an education issue. I recently wrote to the Prime Minister to thank him for what he did last Wednesday, it was a magnificent day. It changed the country.

But, if you read the newspapers, or listened to talk back radio you would see that many people in the wider community either didn’t get it, or wondered why it was necessary.

So I suggested to the Prime Minister that he sponsor an advertising campaign. We have had millions in the past spent teaching us why we need a GST, an air force, army and navy, how to vote, the dangers of AIDS, etc and yet, not a cent educating us about our history with the Aboriginal people, and what has happened since colonisation.

A number of years ago I was fortunate enough to enrol at the University and study an Australian history course that blew my mind especially about Aboriginal people, learning much that was was not taught at school. From what I can gather listening to people, many are still in that boat, making up assumptions on Aboriginal people based upon childhood impressions. There’s always so much to learn.

It’s really important to be informed about the Aboriginal world, as it’s fundamental to understanding the land. Once we get over this hurdle I believe we will be much better able to look after this land and its people. Locally I think we should do our bit, and the Sourcebook has been our modest contribution towards bridging the divide.

This site was originally created to assist the Awaba project, a collaborative venture by the University of Newcastle’ s School of Liberal Arts and the Wollotuka School of Aboriginal Studies.

Prior to this, I had become fascinated with the ancient Aboriginal landscape, tracking down hundred year old obscure accounts by surveyors in the field relating to what they came upon in their travels in the Hunter Region. I found myself running down to the stacks in my lunch breaks to comb over old volumes and copy them. It got quite fanatical, until one day I collided into this researcher called Bobby from engineering who was doing the same thing, only over a later period. We decided to exchange articles and I can still remember bringing this massive stack of copies 1 foot together for the first time. Once we started scanning Threlkeld’s material for the Awaba Project, I went berserk scanning all the articles we had collected during those lunchtime sojourns. I remember my poor scanner at the time was like my mother’s pasta machine, I was churning out articles and putting them online like an Italian chef rolling out fettuccine.

The original brief with the Awaba Project was to digitise the works of Reverend Lancelot Threlkeld, but we continued to identify materials from the collections relating to Aboriginal people throughout Newcastle and the wider Hunter Region. Due to the assistance of scholars and members of the local indigenous and non indigenous community the site grew rapidly to include many hundreds of sources. It was all very exciting for us, and I felt like we were creating an online Black encyclopedia for the local Regions.

We hope that all this work will inspire people to a better understanding and respect of the richness and beauty of the Aboriginal view.

Percy Haslam examining the only known site of a yellow ochre painted hand. All others are of the familiar stencil type. Circa 1980.
(A7771_i) Percy Haslam examining the only known site of a yellow ochre painted hand.
All others are of the familiar stencil type. Circa 1980.

(A7771) Percy Haslam with a group of students examining a cave
(A7771) Percy Haslam with a group of students examining a cave

In addition the Aboriginal Collections held in the University’s Cultural Collections Unit are vast and of strong research interest, being records of local Koori culture and traditions, rock and cave art in the Hunter Valley, as well as a unique collection of weapons from the estate of the late Percy Haslam, renowned scholar and lover of Aboriginal culture. For further information on the University’s archival holdings relating to Aboriginal Dreaming and Culture:

See the website finding aid:
Aboriginal Dream Time of the Hunter Region

and guide:
Guide to the Collections relating to Aboriginal History and Culture. University of Newcastle Archives Rare Books & Special Collections, Auchmuty Library, 1996

Featured Digital Gallery:
Early Newcastle in the Newcastle Region Art Gallery: A Selection of Digitised Works

For further information on studying Aboriginal Dreaming and Culture at the University of Newcastle visit:
Wollotuka School of Aboriginal Studies

John Skinner Prout (1806 - 1876) - Near Newcastle on the Hunter, New South Wales. (c.1874-76)
John Skinner Prout (1806 – 1876)
Near Newcastle on the Hunter, New South Wales. (c.1874-76)
Courtesy of the Newcastle Region Art Gallery

Notes on Threlkeld’s First Year in Newcastle 1825 – By Gionni Di Gravio

Joseph Lycett (c1774/75 - 1828) - Newcastle, New South Wales, looking towards Prospect Hill.

Joseph Lycett (c1774/75 – 1828) – Newcastle, New South Wales, looking towards Prospect Hill
(Courtesy of Newcastle Region Library)

The item above is a painting that is located in the Newcastle Regional Gallery. All photographic reproductions of this painting cut off the right hand side showing a dob of white paint, which we understand is the Government cottage that the Rev. Lancelot Threlkeld occupied upon his arrival in Newcastle in 1825.

This was the Government cottage we believe was located on the current site of the ruins of the Palais Royale. It was our foundation University Archivist who drew my attention to it back in 2003. No published version of the painting showed the white dab. I rang their curator Donna Robson for permission to bring in a photographer to the Gallery to photograph the whole thing including the extra inch. We were so excited to be able to get the thing photographed and up online.

Soon afterwards I was contacted for information relating to the Newcastle’s West End, especially the Aboriginal connections. I prepared the following notes mostly from the Diaries of Threlkeld published by Niel Gunson in 1974.

Threlkeld sailed from Sydney aboard the Eclipse with his family on the 7th May 1825 and arrived in Newcastle the following day on the 8th May 1825.

On Monday 9th May he made a journal entry that the Commandant had informed him that his cottage was ready. He moved into his cottage which was located “in a very lonely situation a mile and a half from the town” on the Tuesday evening. We believe this was adjacent to Cottage Creek and the site of the present ruins of the Palais Royale.

During the period, besides his preparations for his new abode at Bahtabah, he recorded a number of occurrences at Newcastle in the vicinity of his cottage. (This cottage was painted by Lycett entitled “Newcastle, New South Wales, looking towards Prospect Hill. ”

Look for the little dab of white paint on the right hand side of the painting:

Detail from Lycett's painting

Detail from Lycett's painting

White Robbers
Firstly, on his arrival he said that his greatest fear was from robbers that had burgled him on three occasions, and that he was in fear of being burgled every night. Newcastle having just emerged from being a penal settlement.

A Native Welcome Dance
On the Wednesday evening, 11 May 1825, Threlkeld records that natives had assembled around his house cooking a kangaroo. After they had eaten, they came to invite him and his family to see their dance “which was on account of our arrival among them.” He noted that they were naked and that when “they had concluded they thanked us for our visit and wished us good night.”

Jemmy tells Threlkeld a creation story
Threlkeld on Sunday 15th May 1825 [Gunson p.88] recorded a local creation story in his public journal that he:

“Had some conversation with 4 or 5 Natives who could speak a little broken English, questioned them concerning who made the Sun, moon, stars &c. One of them replied that long while ago one Black fellow threw the vermin from his head into the fire and they jumped up (for became) these things. When they were informed God made them, Me don’t see was the reply for I do not know. Endeavoured to make them understand the object of my mission. They appeared pleased and asked where we should reside in the interiour.” In a retelling of this story in an installment of his Reminiscences published in the Christian Herald 8th July 1854 pp174 – 175 [Gunson p.46] he reveals the name of the Aboriginal who related the story:

“Conversing with an interesting Black, named Jemmy, I endeavoured to ascertain their ideas respecting the creation of the Sun, Moon and Stars. The answer was that a black fellow, a long time ago, made them by throwing vermin from his head into the fire which became a black fellow who made them!”

Native Healing
On the 22nd May 1825 he witnessed a healing ritual performed upon a young girl.

Natives Camped Nearby
On the 29th May 1825 he said that the natives had encamped around their dwelling in Newcastle and had moved around three times previously due to the infestation of fleas that had been attracted to them on account of their dogs.

A Native Burial
On the 3rd June 1825 [Gunson, p.89-90] Threlkeld was invited to witness the burial of a young girl. The location was at a spot in the bushes on a barren sand hill covered with bushy scrub. “After the ceremony of interment was over one came to me and in broken english begged I would not disclose where the body was laid. On enquiring for the reason of this injunction they told me that they were afraid the white fellow come and take her head away.”

Threlkeld reports the atrocities of Whites against Blacks
On 5th Decemeber 1825 he writes to the Attorney General that he had “heard at night the shrieks of Girls, about 8 or 9 years of age, taken by force by the vile men of Newcastle.” He had also seen a man with his head beaten with the butt-end of a musket for not handing over his wife. And also that there are now “two government stockmen, that are every night annoying the Blacks, by taking their little Girls, and I am now waiting to be informed, when they are in the native camp to get them apprehended, but then, as was the case once before, the evidence of the Black cannot be admitted, and indeed they are really terrified to speak. My wonder is, that more Whites are not speared than there are considering the gross provocation given. At this time we resided at the Government Farm Cottage about a mile, or so, from Newcastle.”

On the 12th December 1825 Threlkeld reports that he witnessed an Englishman beating the blacks. Upon inquiring, the Englishman said that they had insulted him, but that he learned that a girl of 10 years old was hiding in the bushes away from the Englishman’s “violence”, and that the person being beaten was the father of the girl who refused to allow her to be taken away by him.

Threlkeld came to Newcastle in 1825 to set up a mission for the Aborigines of the region. Where did the powers at be locate him upon his arrival, but on the outskirts of town, customarily the place where the Aborigines were.

Also generally located on the outskirts of towns are cemeteries, and general white rabble. Nearby was the Honeysuckle corroboree grounds as well as burial grounds.

The official burial ground for whites at that time was Christ Church, but it is a possibility that since Threlkeld records witnessing an Aboriginal burial in the vicinity of his cottage in Newcastle, that it was also an informal burial site for whites as well, especially those who had been executed or for some reason could not be buried at Christ Church.

Honeysuckle Point (or Cottage Creek) cemetery was officially dedicated on the 25th October 1841, with the first recorded Catholic burial being on the 11th May 1842.

It is also possible that ‘Cottage Creek’ got its name from the Government cottages that were located there, and occupied by Threlkeld on his arrival. His record of what he witnessed while living in Newcastle is what I have aimed to present.

It is also interesting that late last year we discovered the actual date of Biraban’s (M’Gill) death, which has remained a mystery until now. Biraban was the famous Awabakal chief who assisted the Rev Threlkeld compile the first grammar of an Aboriginal language in Australia. Scholars have estimated his death as occurring between c.1842-1850. He actually died on the 14th April 1846.

This was made possible by chance clue found in the Rev Wilton’s reply (dated the 1st May 1846) to the Circular ( i.e. Aborigines. Replies to a Circular Letter, addressed to the Clergy, of all Denominations, By Order of The Select Committee on the Condition of the Aborigines. Ordered, By the Council, To be Printed 31st October 1846. Sydney: Printed by W.W. Davies, At the Government Printing Office.). He said that:

“McGill, the Aboriginal Chief of this tribe, by whose assistance the Rev. L.E. Threlkeld compiled his grammar of its dialect, on my speaking to him lately, but a few days before his death, upon this subject, remarked “they died off like sheep.””

Could it be possible that Biraban, who was speaking with Wilton (who incidently was stationed at Christ Church Newcastle) at the time, just days prior to his death, was also buried at the Aboriginal burial grounds in the Newcastle foreshore area. It could be the burial place of one of this region’s most important and influential Aboriginal figures.

Where were the Aboriginal Burial Grounds?
From the Article entitled “Early Burial Place – Borough Market Site” from the Newcastle Morning Herald & Miners Advocate, 13th November 1915 p.3. Mr Peter Streit (who arrived in Newcastle in 1857) said that the location of the School of Arts in Newcastle was a burying ground for the Blacks.

“Mr Streit avowed that the site of the Newcastle School of Arts was a burying ground for the blacks, but he could not say whether the old market site was similarly used, although it was quite probable, especially as bodies had been found there. Mr Streit said that when he arrived in 1857 the West End Cemetery had just been opened. He remembered at the time old pioneers of thirty and forty years living in the place who referred to the new cemeteries in such a phrase as “What a fuss people make of burying nowadays. Why we used to nail a box together, and put them in the ground.”

Another informant in the same article, Mrs J.S. Rodgers (born in 1843) said that a paddock existed on the present site of the Newcastle School of Arts and that: “The tide came up to that point, and a sandy beach ran along the harbour front to the Queen’s Wharf, which was a squared mound made of ballast.” And also:

“In those days there were many blacks, and they numbered nearly, or quite, as many as the white population. She always understood that the Aborigines were buried in the paddocks in the vicinity of Hunter Street, but they were very reticent as to the actual places where they buried their dead. Mrs Rodgers had no recollection of any white person having been buried in the paddocks, and had never heard of any such internments.”

Then later in the article it says, and I am not sure if this is Mrs Rodgers’ opinion or the author of the article, but:

“It was quite possible that in the very early days, prior to the existence of any actual cemetery grounds, that white people had been buried in the paddocks, where the aborigines had found their last resting place.”

There’s so much in a little dab of paint, isn’t there.

Gionni Di Gravio
18 February 2008

See the story by Mike Scanlon in the Newcastle Herald:
Fear and Loathing – Mike Scanlon Newcastle Herald 21 July 2007 pp.12-13