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Paterson River history

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Paterson River History

This website covers the early history of the Paterson district in the Hunter Valley of New South Wales, Australia. Use the site indexes to look for particular people or places.

Acknowledgement of Country

The Paterson area is the ancestral home of the Wonnarua and Worimi Aboriginal people.

The Paterson River possibly formed the boundary between the Worimi to the east and the Wonnarua to the west ... more more

Exploration & timber cutting

In 1801 a party led by Lieutenant-Colonel William Paterson explored the lower Hunter Valley.

In 1804 a permanent convict settlement was established at Newcastle and convict gangs began cutting timber on the Paterson River.

Convict settlers

In 1812 Governor Macquarie permitted five men to settle on small farms on the Paterson River as a reward for procuring a special order of cedar logs.

Four were convicts, the fifth was born in the colony. They were the first settlers outside the Sydney basin ... more more

Wealthy settlers

In 1822 the Hunter Valley was opened to wide-scale settlement for those who had money.

To obtain land, settlers had to agree to feed, clothe and house one convict for every 100 acres granted ... more more

Paterson village

In 1833 the Governor approved the plan for the town of Paterson and invited applications for blocks of land.

By 1835 a court house and lockup had been built there.

In 1840 James Phillips subdivided 100 lots from his 'Bona Vista' property to form the southern part of the village ... more more

Things to see and do

Paterson Museum is open 11.00am to 3.00pm on Sundays ... details.

Town walk: a self-guided walk around Paterson ... details.

Tocal Homestead is open at weekends from March to November ... details.

Dungog Museum is open Wednesdays and Saturdays ... details.


Looking for a person or place in Paterson's history? Use the site indexes:

Facebook group for Paterson history

There is a Facebook group for people interested in the history of the Paterson and Allyn River valleys. It's called 'Lost Paterson' and it is a great way to share photos and stories of the area's past ... go to Lost Paterson.

Paterson wharf

Above: an early postcard featuring Paterson wharf.

Book on convicts in the Hunter Valley

Toil and Trouble from Maitland to Moreton Bay - John Eales' Convicts

My book 'Toil and Trouble from Maitland to Moreton Bay - John Eales' Convicts' details the lives, deeds, misdeeds and adventures of 141 convict men and women who worked for John Eales of Berry Park and Duckenfield at some stage during their sentences or while holding a ticket-of-leave.

Workplaces included the lower Hunter Valley, the Liverpool Plains and Wide Bay (in what is now the Maryborough region of Queensland). The book includes chapters on the Newcastle Female Factory, escapes and punishments, and convict life on Eales' squatting runs in the remote interior.

In 2016 Toil and Trouble was one of only three books short-listed for the Kay Daniels Award made by the Australian Historical Association to recognise outstanding original research on Australian convict history.

Price is $25, available from McDonalds Bookstore in Maitland and from Paterson Historical Society. Details of the individual convicts are available here.