Paterson River history


Books I have written in recent years and where you can buy them (I do not profit from their sale).

book cover

Before and After 1822—Aboriginal and European People in the Paterson Valley

Available from Paterson Historical Society in mid April 2022.

2022 marks 200 years since the Hunter Valley was thrown open for land grants to Europeans. This caused the large-scale dispossession of Aboriginal people from their land and widespread colonisation of the Valley. The year 2022 therefore provides the opportunity to pause and acknowledge Aboriginal lifestyle and culture that has largely been lost to the Paterson Valley.

This short book describes Aboriginal people in the Paterson Valley during the last Ice Age and then early contact between Aboriginal and European people in the Valley from about 1800. Later chapters reveal the pace and scale of dispossession of Aboriginal people from their land as European colonisation of the Valley gained momentum from 1822. This is followed by an account of the impact on Aboriginal people and relations between the two cultures as they collided. The final chapter covers the decline, survival and resilience of Aboriginal people of the Paterson Valley into the early 1900s.

The book traverses difficult ground that may be confronting for some. Uncomfortable as it may be, it is a history that deserves to be told. 44 pages.

book cover

Woodville Uncovered

Buy at Paterson Historical Society.

My new book "Woodville Uncovered" is now available (released November 2021). It reveals new insights into the history of the Woodville district, beginning with locally known details of Aboriginal land use and life style, followed by the early days of European occupation when convict gangs cut cedar along the Paterson River and then the large land grants in the 1820s that established estates such as "Woodville", "Wallalong" and "Clifden".

Because owners of the large estates leased out much of their land, a large number of families battled to make a living on small leased blocks. These families fuelled the establishment of Woodville's schools, churches, store, post office and school of arts. Up to 1856 there were even three hotels in the district. All of these are documented in the book.

The book explains the link to Woodville House in Belfast, Ireland; to the McPhies on the Island of Iona in Scotland; and to the ex-convict who established the Woodville Store.

The price of the book is $25 (plus postage if applicable). It is available at Woodville Store, and at MacDonalds book store in Maitland. You can also buy online through Paterson Historical Society.

book cover

William and Elizabeth Paterson — the Edge of Empire

Buy at Paterson Historical Society.

The first two decades of Australia's European history through the lives of William and Elizabeth Paterson. They stood at the centre of the achievements and misdeeds of the NSW Corps. William became its colonel and acted as governor of NSW for two separate terms. He participated in the trading activities of the Corps that earned the nickname "the Rum Corps", and he supported his officers when they deposed William Bligh and formed a rebel government.

Elizabeth Paterson was an independent, talented woman. She and her friend Anna King established the Sydney Female Orphan School, the first welfare institution on mainland Australia. They became the first women in Australia to serve on a government committee and to manage a pubic institution.

William and Elizabeth Paterson founded what is now the city of Launceston in northern Tasmania. The book challenges populist views of the Rum Corps and the Rum Rebellion and offers a critical alternative to this extraordinary period in Australia's European history.

Reviews of the Paterson book

Also available from McDonalds Bookstore in Maitland.

book cover

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

This book 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 short-listed for the Kay Daniels Award made by the Australian Historical Association to recognise outstanding original research on Australian convict history.

Revised in 2020, second edition now available free online via Paterson Historical Society [download]. 105 pages, ISBN second edition 9780958650113.

Details of the individual convicts are available here.

book cover

Convict Tools — Working at Camden Park and Tocal

This book records the day to day working lives of convicts on Belgenny Farm at Camden Park near Sydney, and the Tocal estate in the lower Hunter Valley. Large numbers of convicts were assigned to both estates.

It includes chapters on working in timber, stone, brick and iron, tilling the soil, harvesting crops, working with animals, haulage and cartage.

Price is $30, available from Tocal College. [92 pages, 2013, ISBN 978-0-9874184-2-5].

book cover

Milk and the Macarthurs — the Dairy History of Camden Park

Chronicles the dairy history of Camden Park under the Macarthurs, including the early days of the Cowpastures, production of Laurel butter, Camden Vale Special Milk, model dairies and the famous rotolactor at Menangle.

Available from Belgenny Farm. [128 pages, 2016, ISBN 978-0-9946250-0-7].

book cover

European Settlement at Paterson River 1812 to 1822

A fascinating account of the first Europeans to settle outside the Sydney basin. Reveals the operation of the Newcastle penal settlement, the benevolence of Governor Macquarie, life on the Paterson River, the remarkable local economy and the struggles of the early convict settlers to keep their land. 48 pages.

Available from McDonalds Bookstore in Maitland and from Paterson Historical Society. [48 pages, 2012, ISBN 978-0-9871744-3-7].

book cover

Voices from Tocal — Convict Life on a Rural Estate

Reveals the lives of the 140 men and boys who were convicts at Tocal between 1822 and 1840. Includes working conditions and lifestyle, rewards and punishments, their struggle for freedome and what became of them.

This ground-breaking book provides important insights into convict life on rural estates.

Available from McDonalds Bookstore in Maitland and from Tocal College. [142 pages, 2008, ISBN 978-0-73130610-7].