The Hunter River
The first glimpse of the Hunter River for Maitland is as it winds into the historic town of Morpeth, which was once one of the busiest trade ports in NSW. Visitors can relive this voyage into Morpeth from Newcastle with tours scheduled regularly by local tour company Nova Cruises.
The river then meanders from Morpeth and into Central Maitland providing a perfect backdrop to the city. The link from the city to the river makes for an ideal stroll that captures the historic architecture dotted along the city’s High Street before looping back along the river bank.
Maitland’s relationship with the Hunter River has been one of give and take. On one hand the river and surrounds have provided a rich natural resource and a significant passage of transport and trade as the city was established. But it has also shown its devastating worst with major flooding occurring throughout Maitland’s history, none more confronting than in 1955 which is etched in the folklore of the city.
Want to know more? Have a listen to the podcast on Maitland’s Floods. The podcast project was lead by Associate Professor Susan Kerrigan, who was funded through the Centre for 21st Century Humanities as a start-up project.
Events by the River
The city’s connection to the river also provides a great place for the community to come together. Each year in early October the community’s diversity is celebrated as part of the Riverlights Multicultural Festival which culminates on the banks of the Hunter River with a floating lantern display. Then on New Year’s Eve families from across Maitland again flock to the banks of the river to welcome in the New Year with food, fun and fireworks.
The river and city is steeped in history and to ensure it firmly remains a part of life in Maitland a series of plans are in progress that will reconnect the city to its former lifeblood. Improvements are being made to the wharves, access points and surrounding facilities, bringing visitors back to its side. If you are looking to take advantage and spend a day on the water then head to Lorn or Queens Wharf in Morpeth for easy access points to the river.
Maitland is also home to the Hunter River Dragons a local Dragon Boat club and the Endeavour Rowing Club that both meet regularly and are always looking for new members. With canoes, kayaks and dragonboats adding to the scene, the river’s popularity speaks for itself.