Since the first commercial shipment was recorded in 1799, Port of Newcastle has grown to become Australia’s third-largest port by volume.
However, it was the Awabakal clan of Muloobinba (Newcastle) that were the very first inhabitants of the area, living around the harbour and foreshores where there was an abundance of fish and wildlife. Shellfish was harvested by the local clans for thousands of years and their discarded shells were piled into enormous middens which were later burned by Europeans to produce lime for building purposes.
From the early years of the 19th century, the estuary of the Hunter River has been transformed from a series of mudflats and shallow channels to a major deepwater trading port.
Encouraged initially by the area’s large coal deposits and then by the establishment of BHP’s iron and steelworks in 1911, the Government invested significant amounts of money in reshaping the harbour through dredging, which commenced in 1859. Rock blasting and reclamation work continued to form the extensive Port land of the Dyke at Carrington, Kooragang Island and Walsh Point.
The fortunes of the City of Newcastle and the Hunter region have remain linked to its working harbour, which has provided trading opportunities, the creation of industries and employment and a place to establish a community.