The Hunter River
This river is one of the main reasons for Newcastle's existence. When coal was noticed it was right at the river mouth so transport was relatively easy.
Over the years the export tonnage has increased to the point where it now exports nearly 2,000,000 tonnes per week, a large amount even by world standards, but the river is more than just a place where ships come and go. It is a tidal river and salt goes a long way inland so it serves as a fish and prawn spawning area. This is where the mangrove swamps come in. Initially thought of as a nuisance, more enlightened education now makes us realize their importance in the scheme of things, especially in the early days of fish and prawns.
The river is 467 kilometres long (how do they measure these things?) though, as the crow flies, its source is around 70 kilometres from the sea but it first heads west before taking a long curve and then returning east. When you drive west of Newcastle you go right next to and across the river. Sometimes on still nights the lights of the distant town can be seen in the sheltered waters as their orange beams lay across the surface, reflecting a serene stream.
At other times the river can be across the roadway though fortunately floods only happen about once every twenty years but are nonetheless unforgettable.
It is dammed at Glenbawn in the upper Hunter where a 5 megawatt hydroelectric turbine has recently been installed. This also helps to regulate the flow, along with Chichester dam that stems the flow of one of its major tributaries, the Williams River.
Whatever is happening, it is the lifeblood of Newcastle, capital of the Hunter.
Just a visitor
The three-masted-iron-barque James Craig is one of only four restored tall sailing ships of its kind in the world and the only one providing an ocean-going experience regularly to the general public with its day adventures
Majestic windjammers and their billowing white sails were a common sight around the world in the 1800’s, and boarding at Wharf 7 on Darling harbour, one can’t help but feel they are stepping back in time as the hand crafted timbers creak and shift gently beneath your feet.
The crew of trained and qualified volunteers busy themselves on the 20 kilometres of ropes and rigging, setting some of the 21 sails to get the ship underway. With the crew doing in all the hard work, passengers are able to explore the ship or just relax and soak it all in.
Originally known as the Clan Mcleod when it was built in 1874 in the United Kingdom, the hull of the 55m long vessel was constructed of 13mm thick iron plates.
Specifically designed to carry cargo, the deck had 3 hatches giving access to her 6m deep hold, with the lowest boom on each of the large 19m high masts used as cranes for transferring loads.
Sailing across nearly every ocean, the Clan Mcleod first traversed Australian waters in 1877 during a voyage to New Zealand, finally docking in Brisbane in 1879.
With the advent of steam she was sold to a new owner and based out of New York, delivering cargo to New Zealand via the Cape of Good Hope and returning through the treacherous seas of Cape Horn. Sailing in the southern oceans was not for the faint hearted with risks of gales, heavy seas and icebergs as she rounded Cape Horn 23 times.
Eventually sold to Mr J.J Craig of New Zealand, she arrived in her new home port of Auckland in 1901 to work the trans-Tasman routes, and was renamed the James Craig in honour of his son. The original ships bell engraved with the name Clan Mcleod was preserved by the Craig family and now hangs on the forward deck near the huge anchors. A transport shortage during World War I brought the vessel a new lease of life, but with war's end the duties were again cut back as she was unable to compete with steamers.
November 1925 saw the ship sold to a Tasmanian coal company and stripped to a barge. After a 1930 storm caused her to break anchor and run aground creating a navigational hazard, a hole was blown in the hull and she settled on the bottom in the shallow water of Recherche Bay for the next 42 years.
In 1972 volunteers from the Australian Heritage Fleet refloated the hull, transporting it to Hobart and then Sydney where restoration work began in February 1981.
Exploration of the ship reveals the treasures of the relatively luxurious saloon and Captains quarters lovingly restored with wood panelling, carvings, and period furniture.
On the deck above is the ship's huge wheel and steering system. Found in a scout den in Tasmania it was thought the wheel may have been originally from the James Craig, but research shows it is actually from her sister ship.
Amazingly the coal stored in the hold when she went down protected several sections of the hull from corrosion, with the original iron plates easily recognised around the ship by pitting patterns under the paint.
The vessel is now fully operational after 30 years and $18 million of restoration work. It can be visited dockside daily, and sails to sea regularly on day trips with its crew of Heritage Fleet volunteers sailing the ship, while passengers relax and are plied with food and drink.
In March 2003 the James Craig received the Maritime Heritage Award from the World Ship Trust in recognition of the “outstanding restoration and preservation of this historic ship”, going on to say “James Craig is an inspiration to all who seek to restore and preserve the maritime heritage of the world”.
For this info I acknowledge Carl Cahpman who also has some excellent photos at his site.
Shock of the new
Newcastle is rebuilding. Parts are being built on for the first time ever, others are being revitalized, still more have nothing happening at the moment, but that will change.
The shots here are of the new developements down at Honeysuckle by the harbour.
The Forum at the University of Newcastle has the 2nd highest climbing wall in Australia. At an awesome height of 18 metres, the artificial wall is a magnificent centre piece of The Forum where members and guests can experience the extreme world of climbing.
The colour coded routes range from an easy 10 for the beginner to the more advanced climbing routes of 20+. In addition, The Forum can offer climbing tuition, specialised climbing classes, group sessions and personal training for persons of most ages.
Newcastle is one of the oldest...
Newcastle is one of the oldest European settled areas in Australia, the site having been discovered on 9 September 1797, only nine and a half years after the First Fleet arrived in Sydney Cove on 26 January 1788. Newcastle is the sixth most populated city in Australia and the second largest in New South Wales. It has a population of around 140,000.
When you get to Newcastle you really can't miss the beaches, which are beautiful - especially Nobby's Beach! Newcastle is an historical place too, with places like Fort Scratchley, which has been around since 1804 and was used to defend Newcastle during the Second World War. The old buildings of Newcastle (which took a battering in the Newcastle earthquake on 28 December 1989!) blend well with the more modern ones. Queen's Wharf and The Foreshore are must-see's, for lovely parks and expansive views of Newcastle Harbour. 'Newcastle is a river port with a main channel depth of 15.2 metres. The main export is coal and the port is the largest coal port in the World...' (see: http://users.hunterlink.net.au/~ddrge/city/ncle.html) 'The Port of Newcastle is the world's largest coal export port and fourth biggest bulk terminal.' (see: http://www.business.nsw.gov.au/regions.asp?cid=207&subCid=236)
There are many other points of interest in and around the Newcastle area...you just need to check them ALL out! Of course, don't miss a trip to the Hunter Valley, with it's beautiful vineyards...Australia's oldest (many of them over a century old), rolling countryside and mountain vistas... A visit south of Newcastle, to Australia's largest coastal saltwater lake, Lake Macquarie, is DEFINITELY a must...the area around the Lake is a city in it's own right, with views from the mountains to the sea. (This is the area that we actually live in...about halfway down the western side of the Lake.) Once you are in the Lake Macquarie area take a cruise on the Lake - it really gives you a totally different perspective on things. Of course sailing and other water sports are very popular as well.
'The Growth City of Lake Macquarie with a population of 185,000, is the largest City in the Hunter and the fifth largest City in New South Wales. Flanked by beautiful beaches, mountains and the ocean, the City is strategically positioned one and half hours north of central Sydney, 20 minutes from the regional capital of Newcastle and 40 minutes from Hunter Wine Country and the Central Coast.' (see: http://www.lakemac.com.au/business/cityfront.asp)
The Greater Newcastle area is called the Lower Hunter, and the combined populations of the cities of Newcastle, Lake Macquarie, Cessnock, Maitland and Port Stephens is around 480,000. 'Newcastle is home to one of the world's most dynamic regional growth centres. The city and the surrounding Hunter Valley is one of Australia's most progressive economic centres.' (see: http://www.newcastle.edu.au/study/international/study-abroad/regions.html) Tourism is also one of the major growth industries in the area, and the Hunter region is a popular destination for both Australian and overseas visitors.
Newcastle/Hunter Tourism url:
Fort Scratchley url:
Lake Macquarie urls: