Sunday, March 28, 2010

Governor Macquarie Visits Newcastle

Governor Macquarie made three visitis to Newcastle during his term of office.

On 5 th August 1818, he laid the foundation stone for the construction of a breakwater to be built from the mainland to Nobbys Headland. This was to be known as the Macquarie Pier. It was to be built using convict labour and rock quarried from the Fort Scratchley area (then Signal Hill). The Pier was not completed till 1846 but was very strategic in making the Port of Newcastle what is it today.

On the previous Sunday, 2nd August 1818, Governor Macquarie officially named the newly completed "Christ-Church". He has commissioned this to be built in 1817 and it was designed by the convict artist, Joseph Lycett. Today the present church stands as the magnificent Christchurch Cathedral at the seat of the Anglican Diocese of Newcastle.

We visited Nobbys recently and did some exploring. Nobbys was previously known as Hackings Point and Coal Island. But from the earliest days of the Colony of New South Wales, it was always known that there was coal at Newcastle.

On the seaward side of Nobbys Headland, I found what appears to be the brickwork of an entrance to an old coal mine. Another interesting discovery was that of part of the old railway line out to the headland.

History Services NSW has extensive records of convicts who were assigned to the Newcastle area, including those who laboured at Nobbys. It is recorded that two convicts, viz, John Reddish (per Earl Grey 1838) and John Atkins (per Dick 1821) "absconded from Nobby's island off Newcastle, in a boat on 12/5/1842" . The latter "was in irons".

If you are researching a convict ancestor who was assigned to the Newcastle area, you should go to our website at:

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