About

Outside the convict coal mine entrance, under Fort Scratchley, Open Day 2004
Outside one of the convict coal mine entrances under Fort Scratchley, Open Day 31 March 2004

Who are we?

The University of Newcastle’s Coal River Working Party is a historical research group formed in 2003 by then Dr (now Professor) Erik Eklund in the Dept of History. Mr. Doug Lithgow, President of the Parks and Playgrounds Movement Inc. approached the University with the proposal to form a team of academic researchers dedicated to the investigation of the early history of Newcastle, with a view to safeguarding the heritage fabric of Newcastle’s birthplace, the Coal River Heritage Precinct.

Doug Lithgow and Emeritus Professor John Fryer - Members of the CRWP since 2003, photographed in 2015 (Photo Credit: Charlie Hardy)
Doug Lithgow and Emeritus Professor John Fryer – Members of the CRWP since 2003, photographed in 2015 (Photo Credit: Charlie Hardy)

 

General Orders. (1807, March 22). The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 - 1842), p. 1.
General Orders. (1807, March 22). The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), p. 1.

Why ‘Coal River’?

The name ‘Coal River’ was the first European name describing the fledgling settlement that would later become known as the city of Newcastle.

 

What do we do?

We are deep time researchers exploring the history of Newcastle and the Hunter Region from its geological origins millions of years ago (see video from 1:50 min point), to the arrival of Aboriginal people thousands of years ago, right up until European migrant arrivals from around 200 years ago to the present.

The Macquarie Pier Commemorative Plaque unveiled by Her Excellency Professor Marie Bashir AC CVO, Governor of New South Wales at a ceremony at the Nobbys Surf Life Saving Club on the 4 August 2010 at 4 pm.
The Macquarie Pier Commemorative Plaque unveiled by Her Excellency Professor Marie Bashir AC CVO, Governor of New South Wales at a ceremony at the Nobbys Surf Life Saving Club on the 4 August 2010 at 4 pm.

How do we work?

The Coal River Working Party functions under a multi-disciplinary model with volunteers coming from a variety of academic and community research backgrounds including history, engineering, geology, surveying, archaeology, creative arts and education and share a special interest in research and conservation of Newcastle. There are also representatives from the local Aboriginal community and various corporations and government departments.

Originally the group focused research on conservation of the Coal River Precinct, but has broadened its focus to look at other places in Newcastle such as the Newcastle Government Domain, as well as the wider Hunter Region.  Collaborations are encouraged between academic staff, students and organisations to interpret the array of historical material relating to early Newcastle and the Hunter Region.

Some of the projects have involved developing new ways of presenting history using contemporary technology and media.  For example see the extraordinary 3D Virtual Time Machine work of Charles Martin. This wide disciplinary approach lets other narratives be explored so that further research can be undertaken to generate new knowledge and ideas.

Convict Lumber Yard rendered by Charles Martin 2013
3D Convict Lumber Yard rendered by Charles Martin 2013 (click for a larger view)

What are our aims?

The aim of the Coal River Working Party (CRWP) is to help restore Newcastle and the Hunter Region’s significant historic achievements back into the Australian story.

The aim of the group is to achieve positive outcomes for history and heritage in the Hunter region.

The CRWP aims to protect Newcastle’s culturally important landmarks in the Coal River Precinct that were only placed on the NSW Heritage Register since 2004. The overall vision is to create an Interpretive Centre and Heritage Park to express Newcastle’s unique Aboriginal, convict and industrial heritage and a management plan for the entire site.

We also seek to inspire a renaissance in new and symbiotic approaches to energy and cultural innovation across the regional, national and global community.

 

OUR MISSION:

To achieve recognition for Newcastle and the Hunter Region’s contribution
in the making of the Australian nation.

GOAL 1.
To have Newcastle and the Hunter Region’s important historic sites nationally recognised


GOAL 2.
To ensure our legislative frameworks are working effectively for our heritage

GOAL 3.

To locate, and physically (or digitally) repatriate archival records
of historical research importance to the Hunter Region

GOAL 4.

To research, investigate and verify historical evidence

GOAL 5.

To inspire, and share knowledge and expertise to promote
the importance of heritage to communities

 

How do we do all this?

We meet once a month, on Monday afternoons, we have an Administrative Officer, who is employed 2 days per month to organise and document the meetings. from if you are interested in taking part, check out our meeting dates page, where you can find where they are held, and also see our achievements to date.

I’m still confused!

Don’t worry, have a look at these series of panels created by Mr Keith Davey as a ‘Beginners Guide to the Work of the Coal River Working Party to 2005’

Coal River Working Party Poster No. 1 - What is Coal River? Coal River Working Party Poster No. 2 - What is Coal River?  - What we are trying to do. Coal River Working Party Poster No. 3 - Layers of History  - Aboriginal Coal River Working Party Poster No. 4 - Layers of History  - Cook (1770) and Shortland (1797) Coal River Working Party Poster No. 5 - Layers of History  - First White Settlement 1801 Coal River Working Party Poster No. 6 - Layers of History - Coal Mining Coal River Working Party Poster No. 7 - Milestones  - Refshauge and Beamer Announcements (2003) Coal River Working Party Poster No. 8 - Milestones  - Search for the Ancient Mines Coal River Working Party Poster No. 10 - Milestones  - Historic Drill 26th September 2005

Poster No. 9 – Milestones – Monteath & Powys Overlay

One thought on “About

  1. I have a map of the “Coal Harbour and Rivers on the coast of New South Wales – Surveyed by Ensign Barrallieg – In His Majesty’s Armed Surveying Vessel – “Lady Nelson” – By order of Governor King 1801″ If this map is of any use and can be copied please let me know. Ken

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