Saturday, December 26, 2009

Newcastle - 20 Years after the Earthquake

When: MONDAY 28th DECEMBER, 10.00 am

Where: National Park, Cnr. Union Street & Parkway Avenue

Everyone is welcome to attend this event.

To-morrow, on 28 December at 10 am on the 20th anniversary of the Newcastle Earthquake, some of the citizens who met 3 days after the quake will meet at National Park, on the corner of Union Street and Parkway Avenue, Cooks Hill.

The almost 200 people who turned up at the meeting 20 years ago told of homes, businesses, hospitals, hotels, schools and churches being demolished or being threatened with demolition or part demolition without proper assessment, right across the city.

As a result of this meeting, the Citizens Earthquake Action Group (CEAG) was formed to monitor and publicise what was happening across the city in the wake of the quake.

The 20th anniversary presents an opportunity to review how Newcastle has fared since the earthquake.

Immediately after the earthquake, comparatively modern buildings, like the extensions to the Newcastle Workers’ Club and Hamilton businesses, where awnings had been removed, collapsed with a tragic loss of life.

Older buildings, notably the George Hotel, Carrington Chambers, King’s Hall (former Newcastle RSL) and the Century Theatre, while damaged, were demolished immediately after the quake, without proper assessment. Many historic buildings, including the Anglican Cathedral and the Customs House were threatened with partial demolition.

The repair of homes and public buildings took years; some still await repair and restoration . While Hamilton’s commercial centre recovered and flourishes, the Newcastle CBD has never recovered. This is more the result of opportunistic developers and neglectful governments at all levels - federal, state and local. Their actions and inaction have caused further damage to the city and its economy.

Since the earthquake, three wings of Royal Newcastle Hospital have been demolished; its services and personnel relocated to difficult- to- access John Hunter Hospital. The once thriving hospital has been replaced by a partly occupied building, a private public partnership, which includes a community health centre. The effect of the loss of the city-based hospital has been immeasurable.

High-rise luxury units on the former hospital site and on the beachfront have transformed Newcastle Beach coastline into a Gold Coast look- alike. The State Government is now proposing the privatising and commercialising of coastal Crown land reserves, like Empire and Tramway Parks.

The State Government is threatening to relocate the historic Court House and its facilities from the inner city, against the wishes of the legal community and residents. The threat to cut the rail line into the city remains in spite of 20 years of community opposition. These moves would compound the damage to the economy of the city caused by the abandonment of the hospital.

The local council and the State Government’s part 3A legislation have ignored the height limits, which gave a human scale to the city. As developers pick off buildings, they are replaced by huge out -of -scale buildings.

Many iconic buildings like the Empire Palais and the Star Hotel were demolished or partially demolished years after the quake. Some, including two of the most historic theatres in Australia, the Victoria and the Royal remain derelict; some sites, notably at the Civic, are still empty 20 years after the earthquake.

The State Government's Honeysuckle (Hunter) Development Corporation has contributed to the gutting of the ailing CBD, as commercial and government enterprises have been encouraged to relocate out of the inner city on to its land. Its high-rise luxury apartments and office blocks have cut off the city from its harbour. The HDC and the development lobby campaign relentlessly to cut the rail line into the city to gain access to their properties.

The past 20 years have seen much of the remainder of the city’s unique heritage and character demolished by neglect – including the historic Post Office and the inter- war Great Northern Hotel. The fate of historic former James Fletcher Hospital, Nobbys light – house, the city’s former Museum and unique Merewether Surf House hang in the balance.

Newcastle, with the Hunter Valley, a lynch pin of the Australian economy, has been dealt a poor deal by governments and the development industry. The city still bears scars of the Newcastle Earthquake of 1989 – but the scars of greed and neglect are much more obvious 20 years later.

Margaret Henry

Bye-Bye Bogey Hole

The Herald identified the Lands Department’s real agenda for Crown Land Reserves when it stated that “authorities would be unwilling to spend money on repairs (at the Bogey Hole) with no prospect of financial return” (H, 24/12).

The Department uses spin and PR terms like “tourism, revitalise, attract investment,” but it’s all part of a strategy for a massive sell-off across the State that’s been occurring since the Carr Government days and it has accelerated since the 2007 election.

Ironically only about a week ago a Sydney newspaper magazine featured the Bogey Hole as one of the State’s iconic ocean pools and a tourist attraction.

The selloff ranges from high conservation value natural areas to playing fields and urban parks; and including Coffs Harbour, Wollongong (Killalea State park), Leichhardt, Port Macquarie and many other places. Commitments to add land to national parks have also been reneged on.

The coastal plan for Newcastle includes high rise apartments on Tramway Reserve, a pocket park and breathing space between high rise and the Ocean Baths in historic Newcastle East(what’s that got to do with tourism?); and the commercialisation of part of Empire Park. Public open space areas are soft targets.

Since the last election, Lands Minister Kelly has reneged on his commitment to consolidate Merewether Surf House’s (MSH) land tiles to offer a long term lease with a heritage agreement. Now this sensitive site is targeted for a massive commercial redevelopment.

The Bowling Club site adjacent to King Edward Park is to have a restaurant/reception centre on land Newcastle Council asked to be returned to parkland in 2002. They were ignored.

The Lands Department claims any income will be used to fund other Crown land management/improvements in the region. I’ll wager, however, that none will be used to help maintain King Edward Park or the Bogey Hole.

In essence, this State Government is flogging off to private developers, land that the community values and uses for social, cultural, recreational, environmental reasons. What a disgrace!

Monday, November 30, 2009

No new development should take place on Lot 4 at 90-88 Scott Street Nctle, and we hope that councillors consider the conservation principles embodied in the Burra Charter to guide a positive outcome that conserves the historic Convict Lumber yard. We are requesting that the above motioned DA (Lot 4) be rejected because of the impact that it will have on archaeological relics related to the convict period of Newcastle, and that the introduction of a new residence in this precinct is discordant with the generally cohesive heritage landscape, and interferes with the ability to interpret the Convict Lumber Yard. The Convict Lumber Yard has been ascribed State significance and has strong associations with early European and convict industrial workplace. Lot 4 forms an integral part of the footprint of the Convict Lumber Yard.

The Commonwealth Government invested $700,000 under the One Nation programme back in the 1980s, a similar amount went towards the restoration of the Customs House at the same time. This financial support at the time reflects the Commonwealth Governments commitment to the Convict Lumber Yard and its significance as an important cultural heritage asset. Private development on the footprint of this site would impact on the work that has already been done with the use of Commonwealth funds and seriously detract from the interpretation of the place.

The proposed scale and form of the multi storey dwelling with pool will not enhance the heritage values of the site and will visually have an immense impact on the historic landscape.

Furthermore the Convict Lumber Yard is a ‘Nominated Place’ as part of the Coal River (Mulubinba) Cultural Landscape National Nomination will be under consideration by the Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts.

The Hunter Regional Committee of the National Trust strongly recommends that open space is retained at Lot 4.
Photograph: Proposed new development will be in Bond Street, alongside Convict Lumber Yard.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


Sunday 29 November at 4pm- HERITAGE WALK-CHURCH STREET, Maitland.
Meet at Grossmann House and join Wayne Cambell for a look around the immediate precinct of Church Street, asid to be one the best remaining Victorian streetscapes left in NSW. Return to Brough House for refreshments at approximately 6pm.
Cost $20 or $15 National Trust members, this includes the usual "all you can eat" supper.
Enquiries/bookings on 49 336452 or 49 344314

Sunday 13 December at 2pm- "Carols at Brough"
Joind Graham Aubrey and the Maitland Celtic Singers for what has now become an annual event. Community singing features in this traditional afternoon of Christmas carols. The roof of Brough is usually raised by the capacity audience so book early and polish up your tonsils!
Cost includes a delicious Christmas afternoon tea.
Bookings on 49 336452 or 49 337758

Tomago House- Evening of Song with Quartet "Waxing Lyrical"

Tomago House are hosting a an Evening of Song with Quartet "Waxing Lyrical" on Sunday 29 November 2009 at 4.30pm. Bookings are essential, for tickets please contact 49301471.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Coliseum - 27 November 2009


118 Maitland Road, Mayfield

Friday 27 November 6-8 pm

The Hunter Regional Committee of the National Trust invites you to join us for a browse through Mayfield’s historic Coliseum, magnificently restored; a haven for collectors of antique and collectable glass, china, furniture, books etc. Lots of ideas for Christmas gifts with a difference. Delicious finger foods provided by Vincent’s Café at the Coliseum.

Cost: National Trust members & concession $30 Non members $35
Wine, Beer and soft drinks available

For bookings please ring Anne Creevey 0416285376 or email:

Monday, November 9, 2009

SITESOUNDMIN(e)D - James Fletcher Hospital site, 27 November 2009‏

SITESOUNDMIN(e)D Friday 27th November, 8.00 pm Conservatorium of Music, cnr Laman Street and Auckland Street $15 or free entry with a copy of The Night Road. This is an exciting collaboration between local poets including; Judy Johnson, Ray Kelly, Kylie Rose, Ivy Ireland, Keri Glastonbury Clarke Gormley, Brian Joyce and Rod Smith, and composers; Solange Kershaw, Stephen Wye and Justin Wolthers. It is a new visionary work of contemporary music theatre exploring site, history and the pluralistic voice, about the James Fletcher Hospital site in Newcastle. From ballads to new opera aria, from multi character libretto to spoken text accompanied by a range of music including; brass band, string quartet contemporary rock and avant sound scape this promises to be one of Newcastle's most innovative performance events for some time.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Tavantinsuyu “four corners of the earth” Violin, clarinet, viola & keyboard.

Wed., 11 November, 7.30pm Brough House,Church St, Maitland
Tavantinsuyu not only performs music by the great classical composers (Mozart, Vanhal
etc and a medley of the most famous Strauss waltzes), but the programme is spiced with
the flavours of folk and jazz-influenced music of other cultures (Spain, Russia, etc).
A variety of quartets, trios & duos.
Admission $25 & $20 (NT members)(includes refreshments) Bookings/ Enquiries
(for reserved seats)Grossmann House 49 336452 or Lynn 49 320518

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


The Hunter Regional Committee has had another busy year. Our committee is relatively small in size but well endowed with enthusiasm, energy and experience.
The year has been one of change in the organisation of the trust state-wide with a new CEO, John Neish, and a new executive team and structure, charting a sustainable way forward with the new 20 year Strategic Plan, “Charting the future”.
A number of members attended the Committees Conference last July in Wagga Wagga, where the draft Strategic plan was debated. While we believe there are still issues to be finetuned and we hope committees have the opportunity for meaningful input with this, we support the Trust’s new way forward.
A welcome initiative has been the appointment of a regional manager, Louise Gee, to act as a link between our local committees and Sydney HQ, now to be known as the Service Centre.
The Plan has some potentially profound consequences for the Committee, given its very large nominal sphere of influence (the Hunter Region). These could include refocussing on a smaller area of interest (say, Newcastle/ Lake Macquarie), a name change to branch, re-formation of the Maitland Branch (active in the 1980s), an Upper Hunter branch or branches, a smaller membership base, the future of our regional newsletter in its current form, etc. Some changes may in reality reflect what has been a de facto situation for some time, for example the Newcastle-centric role of the Committee, given the lack of members from outside this area.
The Committee has supported the nomination by the Coal River Working Party of the Coal River precinct for the National Heritage List While the initial nomination has not been successful, we will be supporting the subsequent nomination.
Members would be aware that the Minister last year rejected the Nobbys development proposal on heritage grounds after receiving independent advice from Lucas Stapleton Partners, arguably Australia’s most distinguished conservation architects. As a result the proponent produced a second much improved proposal, which we believed was probably satisfactory in terms of State level heritage values, although may still have negatively impacted on its national level values. Recently the proponent withdrew his application and he has levelled unreasonable public criticism at “the usual suspects”, which we presume includes us.
Newcastle Port Corporation should now look at more realistic low-key proposals that protect the significance of this heritage icon and allow for meaningful public access. They could look to the many other lighthouses under the control of the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, as a model.
An application authored by Ann Hardy to have James Fletcher Hospital site added to the State Heritage Register, resulting from a resolution at the last AGM, has also been submitted. The submission is largely based on the high level significance related to the convict era, in accordance with SHR guidelines.
The site may potentially be of national significance and any new development there, since the transfer of most of its mental health facilities, must respect the high cultural, aesthetic, historic and social significance of the precinct.
There are great possibilities for sensitive new uses, such as university or justice related. We cannot allow it to become yet another site for speculative commercial/residential high raise use. Already we have seen the unjustifiable demolition of a very significant building within the site, Kirkwood House, which contained much fabric from the original parsonage, dating from 1819 .All the later mid to late 19th century fabric has recently been destroyed, along with the 1880s deanery; and the 1904 reception centre, which represented state-of-the-art mental health practice when it was built. The final demolition work occurred soon after completion of the archaeological dig, but ironically, before completion and publication of the report.
Only some token fabric, a section of the original wall and cellars remain, to be conserved within a new mental health facility. As a result one of the oldest remnants of, and few tangible links with the convict era and mental health history has been destroyed.
Heritage Festival was a great success this year. We had a less ambitious program in terms of the number of events. However, the events that were held were of a high standard and well received by the community.
The 2009 National Trust Heritage Festival had as its theme ‘Our Place in Space,’ celebrating The International Year of Astronomy. We had a full program including several events organised by the Newcastle Astronomical Society and exhibitions and workshops at the Maritime Centre.

The Newcastle Festival opened with a highly successful exhibition at the Lockup by local artists interpreting the Festival theme. This was followed by a wine and heritage night at Monet’s Cottage in James Fletcher hospital, with Dr Troy Duncan as guest speaker. Newcastle University Coal River Working Party and Committee members led a walk around the precinct of the hospital and Deputy Chair Keith Parsons led several walks focussing on the Mall and railway heritage.

The annual Forum with the theme, ‘My Country, My Place’ was a moving experience. Distinguished Aboriginal speakers, Professor John Maynard, and Ray Kelly from Wollotuka, University of Newcastle, Joyce Dixon Director of the Awabakal Day Care Centre, and teacher, Sue Hodges, told of their experiences leaving their country and living in the Hunter. A memorable night!

The National Trust’s historic house museums all held impressive events and displays. Miss Porter’s House celebrated its centenary this year with special events. Other Hunter events included a bus tour of the coalfields by historian Ed Tonks. Community organisations, Friends of the Regal, the Family History Society and the Newcastle Historical Society once again organised successful events.

Our planning for next year’s festival is under way, as are several fund raisers.

We had welcome media coverage in the Sydney Morning Herald when regional and heritage correspondent Debra Jopson visited Newcastle and interviewed members for a major news story on June 8, “Out with the old: despair over city’s vanishing heritage “ highlighting the enormous threats to the heritage of the CBD, including demolition by neglect of buildings like the Post Office and Victoria Theatre, the diminished role of the NSW Heritage Council and the decision by the majority of the new Newcastle City Council last December to reject adding 13 buildings, such as the Lyric Cinema to Council’s City Centre LEP heritage schedule. This would have given the buildings legal protection. They had previously been independently assessed and recommended for addition. The previous Council had supported the listings.
The good news is that Council recently (in September) reconsidered the buildings and without debate overturned their previous decision.
A recent fundraising bus trip to Cockatoo Island, organised by Pat Turnbull with assistance from Anne Creevey was a resounding success and thoroughly enjoyed by those who attended. The island is a truly remarkable place and repository of our convict, maritime and industrial history. It also made a profit of $1060.00 for Trust funds. Many thanks to Pat and John Turnbull and Anne Creevey for their hard work.
The Trust is celebrating the recent decisions that overturned the illegal planning approval for the gross overdevelopment at the Trust Classified Catherine Hill Bay and also at Huntlee near the historic village of Branxton (a Trust classified urban conservation area). The Trust played a major part in the “Save Catho” campaign, particularly from Graham Quint. It’s a major victory for heritage, proper planning principles and people power; and a blow for the infamous part 3 A of the EP and A Act.
However, the recent approval, under part 3A of the massive development including a marina at the southern end of Lake Macquarie at Trinity Point, an environmentally significant and sensitive area is not supported.
A third major conservation issue which the Trust supports, but to date have not played an active role is the “No Tillegra Dam, Save the Williams Valley” Campaign. This will be a major project for us after the AGM. We are currently preparing a submission.
We prepared a submission on the Newcastle City Centre Renewal Report to the NSW Government, produced by the Hunter (formerly Honeysuckle) Development Corporation. The new Newcastle City Council endorsed this without waiting for production of a report and recommendations from Council Planning staff – a disturbing abuse of due process.
We strongly supported the Report’s recommendation that a large sector of the University be relocated into the City (CBD). There should be opportunities to adaptively reuse unused or underutilised heritage buildings in the city for University purposes. The University has been gradually doing this for many years: for example University (former Nesca) House and the former Peoples Palace and Northumberland County Council buildings, now the Conservatorium of Music.
However, we strongly oppose the recommended removal of rail services to Newcastle Station and the termination of the rail at Wickham. The 1858 railway line and its heritage –listed Newcastle Station (Trust classified) are essential to the present and future needs of transport in the CBD and form an integral part of the historic city. Newcastle Station is a working complex of structures built from 1878 and one of the State’s great stations. Its significance does not lie merely in the main building adjacent to Scott Street. The Trust would like to see the interior (former overnight accommodation and restaurant) sensitively restored and reused for an appropriate purpose, even though some of the significant l heritage fabric has already been removed.
The Trust is currently considering a listing proposal to classify parts of the Great Northern Railway and other threatened historic lines across the State.
We are also critical of the proposed abandonment of the existing Newcastle Courthouse (built in 1890 and classified by the Trust). The Court House and its precinct have a logical and distinctive presence, capable of expansion where they are, rather than being relocated to Honeysuckle or Civic. We also suggest that the 1981 David Madison (or Newmed) Building, an RAIA award-winning, culturally significant late 20th century building, which is listed in the Royal Australian Institute of Architects Register of Significant 20C Buildings, could be adaptively reused for court or justice-related purposes. It is currently planned for demolition in 2012 after in-principle endorsement was given by former Minister Sartor.
The new local government term has resulted in some mixed blessings tor heritage outcomes:
• Newcastle Council in particular has made some disturbing decisions. For example the approval of demolition of the art deco heritage icon, Merewether Surf House erected in 1937) and approval of a massive and intrusive reception centre/restaurant complex for this environmentally sensitive publicly owned site
• the approval of a high rise development on the former Hunter Village arcade site, which grossly exceeds Council’s 2008 LEP development standards for height and floor space ratio, setbacks, etc against their planners’ recommendation. The site lies within the CBD heritage conservation area.
• the de facto disbandment of Newcastle Strategic Heritage Committee (SHC) in October 2008, and its proposed replacement by an omnibus committee in 2010 in which heritage interests will have to compete with other unrelated ones.
• the lack of any funding for heritage initiatives in the 2009-10 Council management plan (budget). We have written to the General Manager requesting the support equivalent to that offered to the Trust for Heritage Festival before this year.
• the shameful treatment of the Palais Royale building, which was demolished after the initial condition of approval to retain the 1920s façade, was overturned on the ground of structural instability. Had the original approval required retention of the entire foyer, as we suggested, the façade could have been retained.The outcome was a heritage tragedy. For a building with high historic, aesthetic and social significance. Ironically the building with its 8 storey approval was subsequently sold and a subsequent approval given for a 2 storey KFC outlet. A recent archaeological dig on the site has revealed important Aboriginal and early European relics including footings of the 1810-12 “Government cottage”, identifiable on early Lycett paintings. The Trust is awaiting the publication of the archaeologist’s report, and given that Council gave deferred commencement consent, the opportunity exists for the relics to be retained in situ. It's a very exciting find. Let’s hope for a better outcome than for Kirkwood.
• Legacy House (Bolton St), the Menkens designed 1890s former Dangar Chambers and Water Board headquarters, which was approved for demolition despite its high cultural significance and particular its largely intact interior, is now yet another CBD vacant site.
• The 1882 Coutts Sailors Home (88 Scott St) site was the subject of a completely inappropriate, out of scale 8 storey development proposal in 2008, involving retention of only a small proportion of its heritage fabric. It was subsequently withdrawn and replaced by a very supportable proposal for 2-3 storey buildings with retention of most of the original fabric. However at the rear of the adjacent 90 Scott St site, approval has been given by the Heritage Council for a building, which will destroy important sub-surface archaeological relics of the adjacent Convict Lumber Yard.
• The Trust had a recent partial victory when we opposed facadist proposal for the former City Bank site (Hunter& Bolton Sts). A second application, while arguably in excess of LEP standards, at least retains the whole building including its original, highly decorative 1908-banking chamber.
• Lake Macquarie Council declined to add a precinct of rare post World War II Nissen Hut residences to its LEP Heritage schedule, in opposition to the planners’ recommendation, preferring instead to pass responsibility onto the heritage Branch and the Minister for Planning. Last year I reported that the Historic Houses Trust purchased one of the Nissen huts for preservation.
• On a positive side, Lake Macquarie did call for a report on ways to financially support owners of heritage-listed properties, including rate relief. We are as yet, unaware of any outcome.
The State Government’s negative attitude to heritage protection impacted adversely on other local decisions this year.
• Lack of State Government support for an appropriate scheme to retain the 1870s heritage-listed Raymond Terrace Police Station, which has resulted in the approval to demolish the building.
• The ultimatum given to Newcastle Council by Planning Minister Keneally to rescind its earlier (2007) opposition to the demolition of a highly (State) significant train drivers’ barracks constructed in a rare concrete drop slab style, in a probably unique “Federation” architectural style. The Trust has requested that the building be dismantled and stored on the Loco yard site pending future re-erection there.
• The Newcastle Post Office and former Empire (former 1850s Railway) Hotel (Hunter St West) illustrate the impact that speculative non-resident developers have on the decline of the CBD. In particular, the Post Office purchased in 2002 and vacant since then has received development approvals in 2006 and 2008.Recently the owners (yet again) promised to begin work next year. Despite submissions from the community, the Minister has not intervened to purchase or require the owner to protect this State Heritage Register building.
• The Empire site received two Council approvals -2006 for a 12-storey complex with some heritage retention, and a 2008 15-storey approval. There was also a 2008 Court order to demolish all non-heritage fabric (the roofs of the heritage buildings were subsequently demolished allowing water ingress). The buildings still lie derelict and vandalised and are again for sale (the owners are now bankrupt).
Who should be blamed for this disgraceful situation tin Newcastle’s historic heart? I suggest the State Government and many in the property development industry.
Probably the most disturbing governance problem that has a risen in Newcastle since the last round of State and local government elections is the willingness of the Government and Newcastle City Council to hand over the proper planning assessment processes to the property development industry, such as the HDC (public sector) and GPT (private sector), whereby private planning and other consultants, acting as agents for their developer clients (and therefore neither objective or independent) prepare plans , often very flawed, which are then sent directly to be assessed by cabinet or councillors. Public consultation is absent, or token. Ultimatums have been made, such as GPT’s threat not to go ahead with its Mall revitalisation in 2012 (will it ever happen?) if the railway is not removed and vehicles are not returned to the pedestrian mall.
GPT and HDC have commissioned community surveys, which are again biased in their choice of questions, but appear to be accepted as accurate by local elected representatives. Is it little wonder that HDC wants the legal precinct transferred to Honeysuckle and new university buildings sited there? It’s their land after all.
Add to all that the threats posed by the Heritage Act review in 2007, new Heritage Council and Branch structures, the EP & A Act reforms, with new definitions of complying development and greater roles for private certifiers, a new Department housing code, heritage “integrated” with planning at a State level and Part 3A.Heritage protection is under threat at an unprecedented level.
Next year’s Heritage Festival’s theme, “The making of our nation” coincides with the bicentenary of the arrival in Australia of Governor Lachlan Macquarie, in 1810.He visited Newcastle 3 times (1812, 1818, 1821) and we will focus on his links with us, which include:
• The 1816 Morisset’s Bath (the Bogey Hole) now under threat of having public access removed.
• The Government cottage footings (1810) on the Palais site.
• The surviving remains of the 1819 parsonage on the vandalised Kirkwood site.
• The foundation stone for Christ Church, in the Cathedral.
• The magnificent Macquarie Chest, the holy grail of Australiana, at the State Library and its close relative, the Dickson Chest.
• The Llewellyn Chest built by Professor Ann Llewellyn at Newcastle University, a modern collector’s chest which pays homage to the Macquarie and Dickson Chests.
• A major public forum with expert speakers is proposed.

Unfortunately advocacy to identify and protect heritage and combating powerful vested interests, the main role of this committee, can be distressing, depressing and sheer hard work. Negative outcomes too often outweigh positive ones.
The Trust is often one of a small minority of active local community advocates; but we have much behind the scenes support. We are arguably the largest community organisation; certainly the largest conservation body in NSW and our membership comfortably exceeds that of the major political parties. We speak for many.
The broad community looks to the Trust and its committees to play a leadership role. I’m sure we will continue in this role, despite setbacks and vested opposition.
For their support, sage advice and hard work during the 5 years I have been Chair, I thank my committee colleagues. The energy and enthusiasm of Ann Hardy and Mark Metrikas (both of whom have post-graduate heritage conservation qualifications) and the long experience and expertise of Keith Parsons, Doug Lithgow and John Carr stretching back over many decades, have been invaluable to me as Chair and the work of the Trust. So have the enthusiasm of the new treasurer Anne Creevey and the support and organising skills of Pat Turnbull. Indeed all members have made a valuable contribution. I appreciate David Griffin’s role as an early warning system for heritage disasters.
Thanks also to the members who produce and distribute the Newsletter and to Ann Hardy who developed a very useful blog: Ann’s organisational skills and dedication in spite of the many demands on her time are phenomenal! .
For their skilful management and fund raising for our 3 house museums, I thank the three local “Friends of”” house committees.
I believe it’s time for a change and so I will not be renominating for the position of Chair, although I would still like to remain a Committee member, if elected.
To all Trust members assembled here this morning, and for the splendid hosts, Friends of Grossmann House, thanks for supporting the Hunter Regional Committee.
I commend my report to the meeting.
Margaret Henry

Monday, November 2, 2009

Newcastle Governmet House & Barracks (1804)

Why are there so many buildings on the James Fletcher Hospital site that are not being used? The former military barracks is a case in point, as well as the Thwaites building (a former in-patient unit) constructed after the 1989 earthquake, it also sits idle. The Thwaites building could be adaptively reused instead of constructing the new in-patient facility that is currently underway at the old parsonage site just a few metres away. With the former Shortland Clinic in the process of being demolished this week, the community needs to be asking what the site is being prepared for, has it been earmarked for development just as the Royal Newcastle Hospital site was? This historic area must continue to remain in public ownership.
The hospital site was first known as the “Newcastle Asylum for Imbeciles & Idiots” and was the only hospital of its type in NSW, established to alleviate overcrowded asylums in Sydney. Although treatments have changed since 1871, what have remained are the beautiful grounds, open space and colonial architecture of the hospital. The ‘oval’, formerly a military parade ground is an historic feature and this with the built heritage have served patients and staff well;- the institution was one of the oldest of its type in continuous use in Australia (until June 2009).
During the 1870s a program to beautify the grounds was undertaken by the hospital superintendant, Mr Frederick Cane, reflecting the philosophy of moral therapy or open air treatment to restore mental health through work, exercise and recreation. There was community pride in the hospital grounds. Later, with the increase of drugs to treat mental illness, the use of the outdoors changed and therapy moved indoors.
The area has been in continuous governmental ownership since 1804 and is an exemplar of the Macquarie period and the convict system, older than the better known sites such as Hyde Park Barracks, Great North Road and Port Arthur. Government House was located on upper Watt Street where the Commandant could oversee the settlement. During Governor Macquarie’s administration two coal shafts were sunk (1814-16), worked by convicts, located on the hospital grounds. One shaft was named after Commandant Wallis; however these were later renamed the ‘Asylum’ Shafts and are the first vertical, working coal mines in Australia and possibly the Southern Hemisphere. The hillside was levelled for the military barracks to be erected, with quarrying completed using convict prisoner labour in the 1830s, changing the landform and providing a wonderful secluded place from the activity of the city.
Relics of the parsonage have recently been uncovered, making this the oldest visible built heritage in Newcastle (corner Church & Newcomen Streets). This was a great example of adaptive reuse (1819-2008) and demonstrates the continuous recycling of buildings from one use to another. Similarly, the past and present use of the military barracks and military hospital circa 1843, represent the exceptionally long life of some of the buildings on the site. Because the Health Department has provided consistent management and maintenance many of the early colonial buildings have successfully outlived modern buildings, such as the nearby former Shortland Clinic built in 1964.
Most of the old parsonage (circa 1819) on the hospital site was demolished in June 2009. Although an archaeological investigation was undertaken, there is a need for meaningful interpretation of the relics that remain. Unfortunately the parsonage (also known as Reception House) was not on the State Heritage Register. The former Minister for Planning gave consent for demolition in 2007 using Part 3 of the EP&A Act, after Newcastle Council had refused consent.
It is essential that the heritage significance of this convict, mining and military site be fully acknowledged, and for this reason the Hunter Regional Committee of the National Trust has submitted a nomination to have the area placed on the State Heritage Register. The area has also been nominated to the National Trust Heritage at Risk Program.
We can learn from the past how to reuse and adapt existing built assets. The James Fletcher Hospital, with its exceptional significance as a government site since 1804, was the site of the Newcastle Military Barracks and for 138 years an evolving psychiatric hospital, representing significant change and adaptability. We should not lose sight of our history, or of the ‘stories’ written in the landscape and in the buildings that continue to exist. History, heritage, transition and change must go hand in hand in a considered and caring way.
(Published Newcastle Herald 15 Oct, 2009. Author Ann Hardy)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

2009 The John Turner Memorial Lecture

The University of Newcastle and WEA – are inviting the public to the 2009 John Turner Memorial Lecture, an annual event exploring the regional history of Newcastle and the Hunter Valley.
GUEST SPEAKER: Dr Nancy Cushing, Cultural Historian from The University of Newcastle
Dr Cushing will examine Newcastle’s battle to control air pollution in the 20th century, focusing on the role of Novocastrians in bringing techniques used successfully overseas to the local struggle for clean air.
This FREE Public Lecture is proudly presented by WEA – Hunter and the University of Newcastle through the Office of Corporate Development and Community Partnerships.
VENUE Hunter Room, Newcastle City Hall
290 King Street, Newcastle
DATE Wednesday 28 October 2009
TIME 5:45pm for 6pm START to 7:30pm
COST FREE (RSVP essential as seats limited)
Ph: (02) 4925 4200

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Hunter Regional Committee Annual General Meeting Sunday 25 October, 2009

The Annual General Meeting of the Hunter Regional Committee of the National Trust will be held at Grossmann House, Church Street, Maitland on Sunday 25 October, 11am. The guest speaker will be John Neish, Executive Director of the National Trust. We welcome nominations to all positions on the committee. The positions are chair, deputy chair, secretary, treasurer and committee members. The meeting will be followed by morning tea. Bookings: Margaret Henry. P: (02) 4961 1063.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Building the First Public Rail Systems in NSW - The Sydney to Parramatta Railway (1855) & Newcastle to West Maitland Railway (1858)

Newcastle Engineering Heritage Talks Program

Don Hagarty, former railway engineer and well known railway historian, will be presenting an Engineer's history of the first two public railways constructed in NSW with particular reference to the Newcastle to West Maitland railway.
He frequently lectures on railway subjects and has written articles and books. Most notably, in 2005 Don wrote the book “Sydney Railway 1848-1857” which was launched on the 150th anniversary of the NSWGR. As a follow-up to this, he has been researching and is writing a similar book for the Hunter River Railway from Newcastle to West Maitland which opened in 1858. The early history of the engineering & construction of these two railways will be the subject of his talk.
Date of talk: Thursday 8th October 2009
Time: Refreshments at 5:30 pm. Presentation at 6:00 pm
Location: Engineers Australia Auditorium: 122 Parry Street, Newcastle West
RSVP: to Katrina Baker at the Newcastle Division Office on 02 4926 4440 or by Tuesday 6th October 2009

Monday, September 7, 2009

A Twilight Musicale "WAXING LYRICAL"

Friends of Tomago House Present - A Twilight Musicale “WAXING LYRICAL”
Paul Bevan, Jennifer Barnes, Rose Saunders and Chris Allen
4.30 pm Sunday 15th November 2009
At Tomago House Road Tomago, Refreshments at Interval, Tickets $25
Bookings essential Ph: 49301471. Proceeds to National Trust (NSW)

FREE Workshop- The Standard Local Environmental Plan (LEP)

The Hunter Regional Committee of the National Trust wishes to promote the Environmental Defenders Office workshop to be held at the Newcastle Panthers (Skylights room) in Newcastle.
Saturday Morning 12 September 09.
Time: 9.00am to 12.00noon + Lunch to 1:00pm
The workshop will focus on opportunities for public participation in the new process for making LEPs and also consider the content of the Standard Instrument and what the community should look out for when commenting on new planning proposals.
For more information or to RSVP, email or call (02)92626989

Thursday, August 27, 2009

2009 HARRY BOYLE OAM- history & heritage lecture

The 2009 Harry Boyle OAM Heritage and History Lecture will be presented by Dr Janis Wilton OAM, Associate Professor of History at the University of Armidale. The title of her lecture is "A Night at the Museum", with a subtitle of "How local museums and local history, collections and research can bring the past alive." The Lecture will be held on Friday, 25th September, 2009 at Brough House, Church St, Maitland at 6pm. Drinks and savouries will be served prior to the lecture. The cost is $20 for National Trust members and $25 for non-members. Bookings are essential as numbers will be limited and may be made to Ian on 49320518 or Grossmann House on 49336452 or Email :

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Newcastle Government House & Domain- nomination to State Heritage Register

PHOTOGRAPHS: Newcastle Parsonage circa 1819- before & after demolition

Last year our annual meeting strongly supported further heritage protection of historic James Fletcher Hospital in Newcastle. We are pleased that a nomination has been submitted to the National Trust’s Heritage at Risk Program. The Newcastle Government House and Domain is significant to the colonial history of NSW and is a cultural landscape that is closely linked with convictism and the Macquarie period. The site has been in Governmental management from 1804 to the current day and is also closely associated with the history of Australian coal mining (the first commercial vertical coal shafts worked, using convict labour - 1814-17).
Convict labour was used to quarry this area for the construction of the military barracks and parade ground in the 1830s. These military buildings (circa 1842) remain on the hospital grounds and have been used as a mental health facility since 1871 until recently. However, in June 2009 most mental health services were relocated and there is now an urgent need to ensure that the military buildings continue to be maintained and occupied.
Most of the old parsonage (circa 1819) also on the site were demolished in June 2009 (see photographs above, before & after). Although an archaeological investigation was undertaken, the committee would like to see a meaningful interpretation of the relics that remain. Unfortunately the parsonage (also known as Reception House) was not on the State Heritage Register. The former Minister for Planning gave consent for demolition in 2007 using Part 3 of the EP&A Act, after Newcastle Council had refused consent. There was nothing conservation groups could do to halt demolition.
It is essential that the heritage significance of this convict, mining and military site be fully acknowledged. The Committee has recently submitted a State Heritage Register nomination for this special cultural landscape.
*Currently many buildings are empty- although gates have been erected there are threats of vandalism
*Maintenance tradesman have moved off site
*No publicly reported future plans have been announced for the hospital
*No Archaeological report has been publicly available-re Interpretation of Parsonage
*Why is there a need for a new 20 bed facility on the old parsonage site when the Thwaites building (circa 1990) sits empty.
*Is puzzling why the Shortland Clinic is going to be demolished, what is the site being prepared for?

The Committee cares about the future of Newcastle.
How can we bring our caring attitude into the decision making that is shaping our future?
The only political machinery available is to identify through the State and National listing process the essential values and knowledge that we want to hand on to the people of tomorrow.
It is important that the Community supports the nomination for State and National Heritage Listing of the existing James Fletcher Hospital and Newcastle’s former Government House site and its historic surroundings.
This area is quintessential to understanding the beginnings and development of our city of Newcastle.
The James Fletcher Hospital site and the former Government House site in Newcastle should continue to remain in public ownership for the education and use of the People of New South Wales and Australia

History Week- Public Lecture 'Solitude of Sighs'

12 September, 3pm – 5pm at the 'Lock Up' Hunter Street
Public Lecture Solitude of Sighs, Laila Ellmoos.
“We were a miscellaneous lot: murderesses and pickpockets, abortionists and shop-lifters, thieves and robbers, drunks and vags.” Rebecca Ross 1908.
This lecture expands on scholarly and popular understandings of the NSW prison system from the perspective of those who spent time ‘doing time.’
Laila Ellmoos is a professional historian based in Sydney and currently historian for the NSW Government Architect’s Office.
Off the Beaten Track is an initiative of the History Council of NSW for History Week 2009.
Bookings essential 4925 2265.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Heritage Walk, High St (eastern end) Maitland 2.00 pm Sunday 26 July.

Heritage Walk, High St (eastern end) Maitland 2.00 pm Sunday 26 July.

Following the success of artist Holly McNamee's Re-gain exhibition, which focused on streetscapes of the artist's childhood, Friends of Grossmann House will hold a Heritage Walk around this area of Maitland. The walk will be led by Wayne Campbell and will not only focus on the properties in Holly's drawings, but many other heritage buildings in this part of town.
The walk is approximately 2 hours and will be followed by refreshments at Brough House. Please assemble at the Town Hall carpark at 2.00 pm. Cost $20 and $15 National Trust members. Bookings please to Grossmann House (49336452) or Holly (49344314).

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Public Lecture:The Extant Remains of Hydraulic Power in Sydney and Newcastle Hosted by the Engineering Heritage Committee

Member of Engineering Heritage Australia (Sydney Division)

The reticulation of a form of easily applied power for use by commerce and industry was really unknown in the mid-nineteenth century. By 1849 Sir Wm Armstrong proposed the use of hydraulic power at the Grimsby docks (UK), and by 1876 the first public system was inaugurated at Hull. At Newcastle (NSW) the Bullock Is. system commenced in 1877 to serve the cranes and windlasses on the wharves. The fifth public system in the world was operating in Sydney by 1891 serving the needs of lifts, cranes (whips), machinery and presses. By 1894 the Sydney system had 200 customers, and by 1922 some 80km of mains. The Sydney system was converted to electricity in 1952 and ceased operation in 1975. Many other independent systems were in use across the city as well. The re- development of the city in the period between 1975 and the present has seen much of the original hydraulic plant removed, or replaced with more modern equipment. In many cases buildings have been replaced totally with new structures for commerce and residential occupation thus removing any trace of the use of hydraulics. The author’s work on the conservation of the hydraulic whip in the Argyle Stores building led to a search for those remains of hydraulic powered equipment that had survived the city changes, or had been protected by heritage legislation in the intervening years. The lecture will cover the well known remains of some hydraulic power systems, and bring to light a number of examples that remain hidden in the depths of a few prominent places.
Thursday 9th July 2009
Time 5:30 pm Refreshments then 6:00 pm Presentation
Location Engineers Australia 122 Parry Street, Newcastle West
RSVP to Katrina Baker at the Newcastle Division Office on 02 4926 4440 or by Monday 6th July 2009

(PHOTO-Ann Hardy 'Newcastle Hydralic Pump Station' 2007.

Tomago House, Tomago: Camellias and Celtic Celebrations

Tomago House, Tomago: Camellias and Celtic Celebrations
Saturday 4 and Sunday 5 July, 10am – 4pm

Visit Tomago House during this annual celebration featuring display blooms, superb floral arrangements by local garden clubs, camellia shrubs for sale, highland dancers, botanical watercolour artist, craft and collectible stalls, raffle, light refreshments and more. Organised by the Friends of Tomago House.
Cost: $5 adults, National Trust members and concession $4, children free. P: (02) 4964 8123.
Photograph: Allan Eastham

Sunday, June 21, 2009

COCKATOO ISLAND COACH TOUR Sunday 27th September, 2009

Absorb the convict and maritime history of Sydney Harbour’s largest island. Once a convict prison and a dockyard for shipbuilding, today Cockatoo Island features immense industrial workshops, prison barracks, underground silos, tunnels and two magnificent docks. Our hour and a half tour offers an overview of the island’s history and features some of the best examples of early colonial history in Sydney. A must for anyone interested in the history of Sydney and its maritime past.
Details: Leave Nctle 7.45 am return approx 6pm. Cost: $80 $70 National Trust members and concession holders. Ferry fare $5.20 each way or $2.50concession. Lunch available at the Muster Station Café or bring your own picnic. Tour involves a lot of walking and will go ahead in wet weather. Enquiries:Pat Turnbull 49275135 or email Cockatoo website

Monday, June 8, 2009


The National Trust NSW has recently nominated three site in NSW to the national "Heritage at Risk Program". One of the nominations includes the Newcastle Government House and Domain, incorporating the James Fletcher Hospital that dates from the early 1800s and is threatened with unsympathetic redevelopment. The recent demolition of Kirkwood House by a Government authority without prior warning confirms the urgency in protecting this historic site.Only two buildings on the site are on the State Heritage Register. This Nationally significant area has links with convictism and colonialism, growth and development of Australian industry and economy. It is important that the cultural landscape of this area are fully acknowledged and placed on the State Heritage Register.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

BOOK LAUNCH- Huntington's History of Newcastle and the Northern District The Story of Lambton - a Newcastle Suburb

Two new important works of local history, Huntington’s History of Newcastle and the Northern District. Compiled by Ken Shilling with additional biographical material written by Cynthia Hunter. Published by the Newcastle Family History Society Inc 2009, and The Story of Lambton –a Newcastle Suburb. Compiled by Maree Shilling with contributions by Newcastle Family History Society Inc. and Residents of Lambton Past and Present, will be launched at a ceremony to be held at Lambton High School Hall tomorrow morning (Saturday 30th May 2009) beginning at10.30am. Both works will be launched by University of Newcastle Archivist and Chair of the Coal River Working Party, Mr Gionni Di Gravio, who originally suggested the idea to the Society of reproducing Huntington’sHistory, which is arguably the finest history of Newcastle and district that has ever been published. Info is also on the Coal River blog located here:


Come along to the Friends of Miss Porter's Centenary Fair this Saturday 30 May: 10am to 5pm at Nctle Grammar School-Park Campus.There will be some exciting stalls of Art and Craft, Bric-brac, Photographs and many hand made items for sale. A Jewellery valuer will also be available on the day ($5 per 2 items).
Enjoy Lunch and Teas served by the Friends of Tomago House.
Location- Cnr Union street and Parkway Avenue, Cooks Hill.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

INVITATION to Brough House, Maitland: Presentation by Claire Philp, Estate Cartographer

All are welcome to Brough House, Maitland: Presentation by Claire Philp, Estate Cartographer - Friday 22 May, 7pm
This unique and painstaking work combines the accuracy of map making with the beauty of a work of art. Claire is the only known estate cartographer in Australia and one of only a very few in the world. She has fulfilled commissions throughout England, Europe, South Africa and Australia. She sees her maps as a way of preserving for posterity the work of the original pioneering families before the properties are sold out of the family. Claire will tell us how she came to this rare profession and explain and illustrate the methods she employs to produce each individual work. Organised by the Friends of Grossman House. Refreshments from 6.30pm before the presentaion. Admission: National Trust members $15 or non-members $20. Brough House, Church St, Maitland.

Monday, April 6, 2009

'My Country, My Place'- FORUM

The forum, My Country, My Place, held on 8 April at Newcastle City Hall as part of the National Trust Heritage Festival, and attended by approximately sixty people, was a moving and inspirational experience for all who attended.
The Awabakal and Worimi people of this region were displaced when a convict outpost was imposed on their land, followed by the relentless spread of settlement and the growth of towns and cities of the Hunter Valley. Since that time, many Aboriginal people, from all over NSW and beyond, have come to live and work here.

The forum was a wonderful n opportunity to hear the stories of some of the Aboriginal people who have left their country to live in the Hunter Valley and surrounds, about what their country means to them, what has brought them here to this place - and their experiences living and working here.

All the speakers have studied and now work in the region in a variety of positions, which bring great benefits to their own community and the community at large. All spoke warmly of Newcastle as a welcoming community, which has helped them to reach their goals

Donna Meehan spoke with deep affection of her country in the north west of NSW on the Castlereagh River and her family from whom she was taken, aged 5, with six of her eleven siblings. Donna lived with her loving adoptive parents in and around Newcastle and received her school and University education here before embarking on a career, initially in childcare, now in community services helping Aboriginal people. She spoke of her gradual recognition of her Aboriginality and her strong feeling for the sacred rock art sites in the Hunter Valley and special places like Glenrock Reserve and Mt Sugarloaf. Her book, Its No Secret, published by Random House in 2000 is a moving account of her experiences.

Joyce Dixon’s country is Warren, on the Macquarie River where her grandmother, mother and Joyce were born. Joyce’s father is from the Wokamarra tribe, in Charleville, Queensland. His mother was taken by truck to Brewarrina. Her father still goes to care for the sacred sites of his people in Charleville. So for Joyce, her country is where both her grandmothers, her mother and Joyce herself were born, Joyce lives in Maitland, and Newcastle has become part of her place as her two children were born here. Joyce has worked in special education and childcare, completing a Bachelor of Teaching in Early Childhood. She has recently been appointed Director of the Awabakal Child Care Centre.

Sue Hodges, whose family lived in Wellington, shared her moving story of triumph over the tragedies in her life. She spoke of her early life on “ the Mission, “ 10 kilometres out of town, the segregation and isolation and the loss of close family members. Her account of her determination to gain an education, her success in gaining a degree and her love for her work as a teacher in secondary school was inspirational.

Ray Kelly, from the Wollotuka School of Aboriginal Studies at the University of Newcastle spoke of the groundbreaking research he is conducting into Aboriginal language. He spoke of the rich linguistic tradition and the urgent need to record and conserve language. He shared some of the findings of his research into the similarities and connections between Indigenous languages. Ray, whose country is Armidale, is well known for his contribution to Aboriginal arts, especially in dance and theatre.

John Maynard’s roots are with the Worimi people of Port Stephens. He spoke of the role of his grandfather, Fred Maynard, in the first organised Aboriginal political protest movement, the Australian Aboriginal Progressive Association (AAPA), in the mid 1920’s, He also spoke of the part his family and many other Aboriginal people have played in the racing industry as jockeys. John is Director of the Wollotuka School of Aboriginal Studies and Chair of Indigenous Studies at the University of Newcastle. John is the author of Fight for Liberty and Freedom, The Origins of Australian Aboriginal Activism, published in 2007.

The forum concluded with discussion and questions arising from these inspiring stories of love for country and achievement in the place where the speakers now live, study and work.

Convicts Under the Southern Cross Heritage Walk

Convicts Under the Southern Cross Heritage Walk took place on Sunday 5 April and explored the former main street of Newcastle, Watt Street,formally known as George Street. A group of about 40 people accompanied by members of the Newcastle University’s Coal River Working Party & National Trust members walked from the Obelisk, down Newcomen Street to the archeological excavation currently underway at the old parsonage site on the cnrs of Church & Newcomen Sts. The group then entered the James Fletcher Hospital grounds and from the former military parade ground discussed the history of the site, its architecture and the historic coal mines located there circa 1814. The walk finished at the Former Council Chambers at 55 Watt Street.

HISTORY LECTURE-James Fletcher Hopsital

A Cocktail party and History Lecture was held on Saturday 4 April at the historic Monet’s Cottage in the grounds of the James Fletcher Hospital. Dr Troy Duncan spoke about the history of this mental health institution that first opened in 1871, many thanks to those who attended, it was quite an interesting and fun night.

Coal River Working Party blog site


Friday 3 – 19 April
The INTERPRETATIONS: Art Exhibition opening on Friday April 3 launched a fortnight of National Trust festival events. Local artists were invited to interpret ‘Our Place in Space-Under the Southern Cross’.

John Paynter Gallery, the lockup, 90 Hunter Street Newcastle

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

National Trust Heritage Festival 2009- ‘OUR PLACE IN SPACE -Under the Southern Cross’

Friday 3 – 19 April
Friday 3 – 19 April
INTERPRETATIONS: Art Exhibition Local artists were invited to interpret ‘Our Place in Space-Under the Southern Cross’.
Exhibition opening will be on
Friday 3 April at 7pm.
John Paynter Gallery, the lockup, 90 Hunter Street Newcastle

Saturday 4 April 5- 8pm
Cocktail party at Monet’s Cottage in the grounds of the historic James Fletcher Hospital. Dr Troy Duncan will be speaking about the history of this mental health institution that first opened in 1871.
$30(members NT) $35(non-members)
Bookings on 0438509139

Saturday 4 April 9am-4pm
Newcastle Family History Open Day
Newcastle Family History Society Mechanics Institute, 68 Elder St,
Lambton. Enquiries: 49578296

Saturday 4 to 19 April 10am - 4pm
Navigation by the Stars
The Maritime Centre
Special display of heritage navigational equipment. Workshops on Saturdays 2pm: on 4,11,18 April. Navigation workshop 7.30pm, Wed 15 April. $10 Adult / $7 Concession / $5 Children / $25 Family. Enquiries 4929 2588

Sunday 5 April 9am-4pm
‘Pits and Pubs’ tour
Friends of Grossmann House
Join historian Ed Tonks for a tour of the coalfields. Morning tea & pub lunch included. $40(members NT) $45(non-members) Bookings 4933 6452

Sunday 5 April 2 – 4 pm
Convicts Under the Southern Cross Heritage Walk
Accompany Newcastle University’s Coal River Working Party & National Trust members for a walk from the Obelisk through the James Fletcher Hospital grounds & Watt Street to explore this early area of the settlement of Newcastle. Meet at the Obelisk, Newcastle. Donation welcome. Bookings 0438509139

Sunday 19 April 11am – 12 The Newcastle Mall, Rail & Heritage Walk
Join former Newcastle councillor & National Trust executive member, Keith Parsons, for a walk around the CBD with a particular focus on Nctle Mall and railway heritage. Meet at Newcastle Railway Station

Friday 17 April 7.30pm
Friends of the Regal- Film
‘The Overlanders’: this classic 1946 film is a factual of fictional twists about a cattle drive across northern Australia. Cost $12. Newcastle Theatre Company.
90 De Vitre Street, Lambton. Bookings 4967 42 73

Friday 17 April 6 30pm
Friends of Tomago House The Southern Cross: Our Place in Space Candle-lit talk and demonstration by Col Maybury, President of Astronomical Society of the Hunter. Drinks & finger food provided.
21 Tomago Rd, Tomago $20/$15 concession. Bookings 4929 2117

11 – 12 April 10am – 4pm
Friends of Miss Porter’s House
Special Centenary Open House Exhibition. The house has stood under the Southern Cross for 100 years. Walk through the house and experience it as Miss Porter left it. 434 King St Newcastle, Enquiries 49 270202

27 March- 12 April Fri- Sun 10am-3pm
Friends of Grossmann House
Art Exhibition-drawings by Holly McNamee recreating streetscapes of Maitland, to be opened by historian Cynthia Hunter.
Enquiries 4934 4314


Wednesday 8 April 7- 9 pm
‘My Country, My Place’ Newcastle City Hall, Hunter Room
Speakers: Professor John Maynard and Ray Kelly from the School of Wollotuka, University of Newcastle and Aboriginal people, who have come to live in the Hunter Valley, and who will tell their stories about their country and their experiences living in this place.
Donation Welcome


Sunday 5 & 18 April 5.30pm
Telescope viewing of the night sky Newcastle Astronomical Society Public viewing. Members will answer your questions. Cook Park Macarthur St, Shortland. Enquiries 4951 2506

Sunday 12 April 7pm
Yuri’s Night
Newcastle Space Frontier Society
Silver Dolphin Family Restaurant, Panthers Cardiff, cnr Munibing & Pendleburry Rds
An international commemoration of the launch of Russian Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, the first man in
space. Guests will receive information about Yuri, and related items.
$30 for an all you can eat smorgasbord
Bookings Essential 4963 5037

March to 28 April Astrophotography Display, Newcastle Astronomical Society. Newcastle Regional Library (second floor), Laman St Newcastle.

Wednesday 15 April 7pm - 8pm
Celestial Navigation and Exploring the Hunter. Newcastle Astronomical Society George Barnes will talk on celestial navigation, with a focus on the early exploration of the Hunter region using the stars. Newcastle University Lecture Theatre GP1. Enquiries 4951 2506
See for map of venue

21 April 7.30pm
Space Law Lecture. Newcastle Space Frontier Society. Law in Space Lecture, by National Space Society of Australia, director and lawyer, Anthony Wicht. Joy Cummings Community Centre. Cnr Pacific & Scott Streets. Donation welcome. Bookings Essential 4963 5037

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Miles Jackson at Maitland

Friends of Grossmann House present Miles Jackson, guitarist from New Zealand, on Friday 6th March, 7.30, at Brough House. Miles will present a program on the music of Spain, featuring Flamenco and Classical guitar. Cost is $25 and $20 for National Trust members and includes refreshments. Bookings are essential on 49336452 (Grossmann House) or Lynn (49320518).

Monday, February 23, 2009

Selling Newcastle Streets

NCC is exhibiting for public comment (due this Friday) a road closure plan (nothing more than a map) for the closure and sale of Morgan, Thorn and Laing Streets to GPT, and closure (up to 18 months) of King and lower end of Wolfe, with the sale of their 'stratum' to GPT. It has been kept pretty quiet The concept of closure and sale prematurely endorses the GPT development without even seeing a DA.
Newcastle City Council's CBD road closure plan poses a number of problems. The plan requires the permanent closure and sale to GPT of Thorn, Laing and Morgan Street, and the closure, for over a year, of King Street and lower Wolfe Street. The stratum below King and Wolfe Streets would be sold to GPT to enable excavation for retail and carparking space. The plan, currently exhibited on the NCC website, is not supported by any documentation such as environmental, economic, traffic and heritage assessments. The CBDs 'fine grain' intimate character will be damaged with the loss of the 1823 'market square' street grid. The closure of King Street for over a year will cause traffic access nightmares. Regardless of any arrangements made between GPT and Council, the costs and consequences of selling public land to a private developer have not been articulated. Our council owes the public an explanation.

Submissions can be sent to the General Manager, Nctle City Council, King Street Nctle by Friday the 27th Feb 2009.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

CENTENARY FAIR- Bric-c-Brac, Collectables & Arts and Crafts

The National Trusts 'Friends of Miss Porter's House' are having a 'CENTENARY FAIR' on Saturday 30 May 2009, 10am to 5pm at Newcastle Grammar School-Park Campus, Cnr Union Street and Parkway Avenue, Cooks Hill.
There will be a Jewellery Valuer in site: $5 per item.
Admission is $5 FOR Adults and $4 concession.
TRADERS: The Friends of Miss Porter's House invite you to book a table or some floor space from which to sell or trade our wares.Doors open at 7.30am for setting up. Parking available.
Conditions of entry and booking form is available from Fair organiser Patti Graham on 49539034.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


(Image: Oil painting by John Edge 2007)

Minister for the Environment, Peter Garrett has indicated that he will exercise no further oversight of the revised plans for Nobbys Headland.
The intervention of the Commonwealth has been essential to achieve the present improved design. At some point in the future it is likely that the Commonwealth will again be involved when the National Nomination for Coal River (Mulunbinda) Precinct is considered.
The Trust believes that this revised plan should be submitted to the State Government and Newcastle City Council as a private development and not under ‘Crown privilege’ as it was previously. It is clearly not a port related activity and therefore should not be considered as such. We believe there should be a low key adaptive reuse of the site. Although the revised proposal will have lesser impact on the iconic lighthouse there will still be a significant physical impact on the headland and the adjacent Macquarie Pier with increased vehicular traffic and from water and sewage infrastructure needed to support the new use.
Now that the Newcastle Port Corporation no longer has a use for the site, we would still prefer that Nobbys should be brought under the care of the NSW National Parks Service to be managed as a historic site to ensure that heritage conservation principles can be applied that promote education, research and recreation that benefit the public.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Miss Porter’s House celebrates its centenary in 2009

When newly weds Herbert Porter and his bride Florence Jolly moved into their new home at 434 King Street Newcastle, in 1909, their thoughts would probably have focused on the here and now, the need to cultivate their general store and carrier business in nearby Bland (now Hunter) Street. They would have pondered too the prospect of starting a family, because Ella was born in 1911 and Hazel in 1914. Sadly, Herbert, and his mother Eliza (neé Lintott), fell victims to the influenza epidemic in 1919, and Florence was left to raise the two girls.
Little would the Porters have imagined then that their house would, one hundred years letter, be a National Trust House. But as they aged, the daughters, who never married and lived in the house all of their lives, entertained an ambition to bequeath the house to the National Trust. This ambition was realised following the death of Hazel in 1997. Ella had died two years earlier. Miss Porter’s House now stands as Newcastle’s only National Trust property.
The Friends of Miss Porter’s House plan a number of events to mark the centenary of the House. In particular there’ll be a Centenary Fair on 30 May 2009. NTA members with Antiques, Arts and Crafts and Collectables to sell at the Fair are invited to contact Patti Graham (4953 9034).
Other Miss Porter’s Centenary events will be publicised from time to time in the National Trust NSW eNews.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Nobbys-Whibayganba Headland development proposal must remain a ‘Controlled Action’

The Nobbys-Whibayganba Headland development proposal must remain a ‘Controlled Action’ by the Commonwealth, as the new development and use proposed on the headland will impact on the heritage values of the historic Nobbys Lighthouse.
The National Trust of New South Wales has been advocating for the conservation of this area since 1969 when we proposed the statutory recognition of Nobbys, the convict breakwater and mines, Fort Scratchley and Shortland’s camp location as a historic site. The area is now known as the Coal River Precinct and registered on the State Heritage Register. It is essential that the Commonwealth considers this current proposal a ‘Controlled Action’ because of the lack of heritage protection that the precinct currently has, especially in regard to the Nobbys Headland and the area directly around the Nobbys lighthouse. The heritage values of the lighthouse remain under threat from private development.
Now that the Newcastle Port Corporation has exited the site, it should be transferred to the National Parks and Wildlife Service, which would ensure permanent heritage conservation management. NEW DEVELOPMENT is planned for the headland and this is contrary to the Newcastle Port Corporations officially published invitation for expressions of interest (Port Corp. May 2003).
Reasons why the current proposal needs to be reconsidered:
• The proposed plan dominates Nobbys for private benefit with limited access by the public.
• The proposed plan would physically impact on the headland and the adjacent Macquarie Pier with increased vehicular traffic and waste and sewage management.
• There is no adaptive reuse to improve heritage values for the benefit of the public.
• Ongoing control of hazards and access by private and service vehicles is not adequately considered.
• Archaeological examinations have not been undertaken.
• Newcastle Port Corporation previously acted contrary to Commonwealth Law s26 EPBC act, and also carried out action without consent on the roadway to the headland.
• Because the Proponents have previously been in breach of s 26 of the EPBC Act, this proposal should remain a ‘Controlled Action’.
There must now be developed an overall vision and plan for Nobbys headland that is in the public good that ensures permanent heritage conservation management.
Please write to:
Hon Peter Garrett AM MP Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts, PO Box 6022
House of Representatives Parliament House Canberra ACT 2600
The Hon. Nathan Rees MP Premier of NSW, Parliament House, Sydney 2000