Newcastle through the Years......
Hunter River Expedition
Following an expedition to Jervis Bay and Bass Strait in March 1801 the Lady Nelson accompanied by the colonial vessel Francis proceeded to the Hunter River in June - July 1801 to take various civil officers on a fact-finding and survey mission.
Included on the expedition to the Hunter River was Lieut-Colonel Paterson, Lieutenant James Grant, J. Murray, Ensign Barralier, George Cayley and Dr. John Harris. After the Francis returned to Sydney with a small cargo of coal, artist John William Lewin joined the expedition.
Lieutenant Paterson was under orders from Governor King to collect useful information about the area.......
Memorandum by Governor King ( King papers)
9th June 1801
The nature of the soil in general.
Whether the grounds are overflowed, either by high tides or by land floods
Whether the place may be thought healthy or unhealthy on account of the mud banks which I am told surround the sides of the river.
If the water is sweet and good
The size of the trees and whether there is plenty of timber for building, stone, limestone, or shells
How far it may be practicable for vessels to frequent that port with safety, the quantity of coals that may be procured there, the facility of procuring them, and what proportion of labour would be necessary to keep a supply ready for vessels going thither for that article. To assist the gentlemen in forming an idea on this head, a miner who has been there before will accompany them.
To examine where the most eligible place would be to form a settlement, both with respect to procuring coals and/or agricultural purposes (1)
On 14th June 1801 Lieutenant Grant and Dr. Harris disembarked at Coal Island (Nobbys) and raised the new Union on top of the island.....
15th June 1801 - The Lady Nelson was taken round Pirate Point to the small bay with fresh water named by Colonel Paterson Freshwater Bay
17th June 1801 - James Grant and Colonel Paterson examined Ash Island
19th June 1801 - Colonel Paterson sighted natives in the distance at Hunter River
30th June 1801 - They proceeded about 14 miles up Hunter river
1st July 1801 - Colonel Paterson, Mr. Harris and Mr. Lewin arrived at Schank's Plains
Following is an extract from Memoirs of Hydrography outlining the movements of the Lady Nelson in 1801.....
Jervis bay was examined, and many interesting observations recorded as to the natives, their habits &c. Continuing to the southward, the northern coast of Bass's strait was explored, from Wilson's promontory to Western point, a distance of 70 miles; after which, Botany Bay, to the southward of Sydney, was returned to.
Having taken on board Lieut-Colonel Patterson (after whom the river Paterson was called), in company with the schooner Francis, the Hunter river was explored, and coal being found in considerable quantity, the Francis shortly afterwards sailed for Sydney with forty tons of that commodity on board. Mr. Lewin a draughtsman now joined the party, and proved of material assistance, in illustrating the surveys made, of the Hunter River and Port Stephens. The Lady Nelson returned to Sydney July 25th, 1801, and Lieutenant Grant sailed November 9th, of the same year in the brig Anna Josepha, laden with coal and timber, by way of Cape Horn and Falkland islands, for the Cape of Good Hope. After a wild passage, during which, the crazy vessel was becalmed for six weeks in the vicinity of Tristan d' Acunha, Table bay was arrived at April 1st, 1802, and shortly afterwards Lieutenant Grant embarked for England in H.M.S. Imperieuse. The first coal brought from Australia in the Anna Josepha, realised 36 rix dollars a ton, at the Cape.....Memoirs of Hydrography.
Nobbys c. 1807 painted by John William Lewin....Click on the image to go the the University of Newcastle's photo stream at Flickr.
A similar work entitled The Lady Nelson and Francis Schooner entering Hunter's River or Coal River, published January 10 1804 by T. Egerton, Whithall can be seen at Lewin Wild Art Exhibition, State Library of NSW
(1) Philip Gidley King...Historical Records of New South Wales. Vol. IV. Hunter and King. 1800, 1801, 1802. Edited by F. M. Bladen. p. 391