Excerpt from Australia, Vol. 2 of 2
Before the years of the present century had commenced, a cast-away boat's crew found masses of coal lying strewn upon the beach away north of the debouchment of the waters of the river. This discovery induced prospecting. Seams of coal were soon discovered. Coal River was the name given to the stream, and that of Newcastle to the settlement made upon its banks. The river had, however, been called the Hunter on the occasion of its dis covery in 1797, and that name it retains to the present. It rises in the Liverpool ranges, and is fed by several heads, all of them ﬂowing through picturesque valleys. It has a length of two hundred miles, chieﬂy in a south-easterly direction towards the sea. Its lower course is through a rich agricultural country, for the most part low-lying and subject to inundation.
Newcastle is pleasantly situate on a gently-rising hill, and on the ridge by which it is capped, on the south bank of the Hunter. Below the town, and at the mouth of the river, there used to be an island (nobby's Island, it was called, and strange stories of a convict who resided there are told), now connected with the mainland by means of a breakwater, of considerable use and value to the shipping visiting the harbour. Some idea of the importance of the shipping interest of Newcastle may be gathered from the fact, that nearly eight hundred thousand tons of coal are annually shipped from the port. In a very few years there is little doubt but European exports will be made direct to Newcastle, instead of having to undergo all the charges and cost consequent upon re-shipment at Melbourne or Sydney.
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