In the lead up to History Week (7 – 15 September), Australia's second oldest city gets ready to celebrate its rich history with a calendar of exciting events – and shares ten of its best kept secrets.
For those keen to uncover the tales and tribulations of the past there's no better place to indulge your interest than Newcastle, Australia's second oldest city and the birthplace of much of our history – and there is no better time to visit than during History Week.
To whet your historical appetite – see below 10 facts you may not know about Newcastle:
1. Newcastle was founded by one of Australia's most important colonial artists – Captain James Wallis, and the city continues its strong connection to the arts to this day, boasting one of Australia's best regional galleries.
2. Newcastle convict James Hardy Vaux wrote Australia's first full length autobiography, and our first dictionary (a vocabulary of -Flash Language', or convict slang) during the 1800s under the reign of Commandant Thomas Skottowe.
3. Newcastle was home to the first -lighthouse' on the east coast – a coal-fired beacon at Colliers Point which opened in 1804. The famous Nobbys Lighthouse was turned on in January of 1858.
4. The Reverend L.E. Threlkeld began the first systematic study of Aboriginal language in Newcastle in 1824.
5. Newcastle was the birthplace of Australian railway – with the Australian Agricultural Company officially opening Australia's first railway in 1831. A plaque on Wharf Rd commemorates the occasion.
6. Iconic Australian biscuit manufacturer Arnott's traces its humble beginnings back to Newcastle when a small bakery was opened by William Arnott in 1865.
7. Australia's first Prime Minister, Sir Edmund Barton, was married in Newcastle to Novocastrian Jane (Jean) Mason Ross in 1877 at the Presbyterian manse on Newcastle's oldest street - Watt Street.
8. Newcastle is home to Australia's first European-style swimming baths – the Bogey Hole, which was hand-carved by local convicts in 1819 under the commandment of Major James Morriset.
9. On June 7th, 1942, Fort Scratchley became the only Australian fort to fire at an enemy ship during war time when the Battery's six inch guns fired two salvoes at a Japanese submarine that bombarded the city with two dozen shells.
10. Newcastle was the first Australian city to elect a female lord mayor, Joy Cummings, in 1974.