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Paterson River history

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Settlers' Road

Tocal Road is the current road north from Maitland to Paterson but it takes a different route to the original road. The original was named Settlers Road and it was used by settlers, convicts and free workers in the 1820s and 1830s.

From Old Banks, Settlers Road headed north west through James Webber's Tocal property where it crossed Pumby Creek (now Webbers Creek) above its tidal reach before turning eastward through James Phillips' Bona Vista property towards the village of Paterson.

Until the mid 1830s Old Banks was the hub of the Patersons Plains district. The focus changed when the new village of Paterson was gazetted in 1833 and the new line of road (the current road) was surveyed by George Boyle White in 1835.[1] Construction of the new road depended on building a bridge over Webbers Creek at Tocal where the creek is deep and tidal. The Tocal bridge was opened in September 1849 (Maitland Mercury 26 September 1849 page 2).

Remnants of Settlers Road are faintly discernable on the Tocal property today, and the spot where it crossed Webbers Creek has been identified. The map below is based on GB White's 1835 plan of the proposed new line of road which also recorded the route taken by Settlers Road.

We have superimposed Settlers Road on a topographic map and fine-tuned or 'ground-truthed' its path to geographic features in a practical way to obtain our best estimate of the precise route.[2]

Settlers Road in black, on a modern topo map

Above: Settlers Road, shown in black, superimposed on a modern topographic map. Settlers Road runs north to Paterson to the west of the current Tocal Road which is shown in red. The north coast railway line runs between the old and the new roads.

Settlers Road is shown in the context of early properties and local features on the c1830 map of Patersons Plains. It is also shown, but without any degree of precision, on Dangar's 1828 map.


1. 'Plan of a proposed line of road between Maitland and the Village of Paterson' by GB White, 1835. Item 5139, Map R.902, SRNSW.

2. My thanks to Cameron Archer for his practical insight in ground-truthing the route, and to Dean Morris for digital expertise in superimposing and adjusting the 1835 map.