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Virtual Sourcebook for Aboriginal Studies in the Hunter Region Guide: Wallsend

Sourcebook for Aboriginal studies : 1870-1879 Sources

News clipping on Early Wallsend History

Transcription of item A6725(v) [Unsourced and undated, c.1895-1921] in the Percy Haslam Collection, Archives Rare Books & Special Collections Unit, Auchmuty Library, University of Newcastle.

The farm lands in and around the area of Wallsend – the part known as Lemongrove in the vicinity of Federal park, about Boscowen street and also the Maryland and Glendor areas – were worked by convict labor according to early day pioneers of the district.

The old road to Newcastle, passed somewhere in the vicinity of the hospital tram stop, but this was long before Wallsend was known as such. In drought seasons a track was made across the Hexham swamps, and the settlers in the vicinity of Style’s Grove, Glendor, and Maryland also travelled by road to Newcastle, via Hexham.

Barrels of Beer

The late Mr. Bedford (an old pioneer) mentioned that he could remember goods being brought across the dried-up-swamps from Hexham to the above-mentioned places, and at one time some barrels of beer were rolled across the swamps to Glendor from Hexham.

A celebration was being held at Gendor at the time. Evidently “John Barleycorn,” played a part in the early days of the area.

Style’s Grove and Glendor were the earliest settlements in the vicinity of the present Wallsend. Later, Maryland came into existence, and then Lowe Farm, according to the descendants of the earliest pioneers.

There were the Style’s, the Thomas’s, the Cocklings, the Linnegin’s, and later the Murnain’s, the Kemp’s, the Harris’s, the Hardes’ and others. The aboriginals were numerous in those days, and the inhabitants were often in danger owing to their presence in the vicinity.

Nigger With Spear

The late Mrs Styles was going to get the cows, when she noticed a spear from behind a tree. She called to the black who was aiming it, and as she know him by name (Jacky) she called to him to come and get some flour and other eatables. He followed her, and on arrival at the homestead she got a sword that was in the house, and gave Jacky a taste of it. He didn’t trouble them again.

Some of the very early residents received what schooling they had at Wayarraba, somewhere in the vicinity of Hexham Swamps, but near the river side. An English gentleman had a sort of school, and gave instructions to anyone requiring them. Bumbalong Point is another part of Hexham Swamps near Styles’ Grove. At Gendor the residents used to play cricket with teams from the opposite side of the river.

The late Judge Windeyer had played cricket at Gendor when he was a very young man. He resided in the district near Tomago in his boyhood days. “Farms” were the designation of the earliest settlements, although it wasn’t necessary for the areas to be farms. The name Barrahinebin covered a wide area according to some writers, and had Iron Bark Creek for one of its boundaries. It is an aboriginal name. It also covered all the area now known as Wallsend and perhaps went as far as Mount Sugarloaf (aboriginal name “Warrawelong”).

Other names well-known at Styles’ Grove, etc. are the Ingram’s, Fenwick’s, and Birrell’s. The late Mr. James Fletcher, M.P., had his residence at Styles’ Grove. It is now occupied by Mr. Charles Thomas.

Early Day Scenes

In the seventies and eighties it was a common sight to see pigs roaming about the place. People were allowed to have pigs and consequently they used to stray the same as cattle do at the present time.

Goats were numerous on the Pit-town area. The hill at the back of the area was crowded with goats, and they appeared to be wild ones. No doubt they became a pest, as the Council ordered their destruction many years ago.

Mr T. Griffin was the person who took the matter in hand, under the council’s direction. The designation “Goat Hill,” took its name on account of the prevalence of goats in that vicinity in the earlier days of Wallsend.

Captain James Cook noted and charted the island at the entrance to Port Hunter (Nobbys) on May 10th, 1770. He was cruising northward in the “Endeavour.” The official discovery of the harbour was made by Lieutenant John Shortland, R.N., who crossed the bar on September 9th 1797. He was in search of escaped exiles from the Sydney settlement.

He made a chart of the harbour, and a facsimile of it can be seen at the Australasian Society of Patriots’ Hall, King Street, Newcastle.

Lieutenant Shortland named the river after Governor ohn Hunter who commanded H.M.S. Sirius when convoying the first fleet to Botany Bay, and who subsequently became the second Governor of New South Wales.

Native Names

The native or aboriginal name of the Hunter River is Coquon, and the native name of Newcastle is Mulubina. The river has a number of estuaries, and one of these is Iron Bark Creek, and its tidal waters flow as far as the Co-operative Railway bridge at Wallsend. As mentioned before, the large swamp lands between Hexham and Wallsend, which came as far as Wallsend in the early days (a large area is now reclaimed) are called Barrahinebin (Well’s Gazetteer, 1848). The native name of the Paterson River is Yimmang, and the Williams River is Dooribang. (Also estuaries of the Hunter River.)

The original inhabitants of the district were the Awabakal people, who flourished in Newcastle (Mulubinba), Lake Macquarie (Awaba) and adjacent localities. No doubt the area now occupied as Wallsend was part of the hunting grounds owing to the fish, game and native vegetable being plentiful. It was responsible for a large population of natives.

Blacks’ Corroborees

Quite recently a flint axe head was found on Birmingham Gardens subdivision, Wallsend. The late Mr. Collins, of Back Creek, also mentioned that he could remember seeing the blacks meeting for the corroborees.

Mr Collins was one of the very early pioneers. He came to the area known as Lowe Farm when he was ten years of age. He lived to over ninety years of age, and his decease is of recent date.

The late Mr Kemp of Maryland (Wallsend), also mentioned that he remembered the last of the aboriginals about the vicinity of Maryland, Glendor and Style’s Grove. He also mentioned that there was an aboriginal burying ground in the vicinity, but the signs of it have long since passed away. The language of the aboriginals has been preserved in the main, and it seems a pity that there are no more native names in the district.

“Place of the Coals”

The Railway Commissioners have given native names to new stations of late years, and it is noticeable that several subdivisions have had the native names placed upon the streets and roads. For instance, Wallsend might have borne the native name of Nikkinba, the place of the coals. Young Wallsend could have been named Tulkaba, the place of the soft ti-tree; and West Wallsend could have been designated the distinctive name Pitoba, the place of the pipe-clay.

Mrs Hafey, now of Killingworth, mentioned that piles used to be taken on small barges down Iron Bark Creek into the Hunter River, and thence to Newcastle. They were used for some of the early wharves in Newcastle Harbour. It has also been mentioned that coal was also taken in small barges per medium of Iron Bark Creek to Newcastle and other places on the river in the early sixties.

The Wallsend Colliery started its first output in the year 1861, and it was this time that the first coal train ran over their lines and conveyed coal to Newcastle, where the shipment into deep sea vessels was carried out.

The first guard of these trains was named J. Wilson and the driver in charge was Robert Leish. Wilson was not in charge very long, however, for shortly after the service commenced, whilst on route to Newcastle with a load of coal, he was killed between Wallsend Junction and Waratah Railway Station.

His position as guard in charge of the train was filled by a guard of American nationality, named Jim Robertson, nicknamed Black Jim.

Transcribed March 2003