The site from the arrival of the Europeans

Entrance of Coal River

Entrance of Coal River, Newcastle

Type : Hunter Photo Bank
Registration Number : 345 000214
Creator : Lewin, John William
Date Created : 11/12/1807
Medium : Art original (watercolour)
Notes : A small expedition led by Lieutenant Governor, Colonel William Paterson in 1801 explored the lower Hunter River. They sailed in the 'Lady Nelson' and 'Francis' pictured here rounding Nobbys Island.

In 1801 the Government brig "Lady Nelson" under the command of Lieut. Grant R.N. made an exploration of Newcastle harbour (Kingstown) and Hunter's River, (Coal River).

John Platt an experienced miner was also on board, with a gang of workmen having been instructed by Governor King to report on the prospects for coal mining in Newcastle. Mr. Platt became the first free "selector", of land in Kingstown (Newcastle). The term "selector" in those days was used for a person who chooses and then squats on Crown land with the approval of the Government. In those days Newcastle boasted of 7 streets with 84 houses - 13 Government houses and 71 Convict huts which had their external walls white washed so that they could easily be identified as convict huts. By 1823 600,000 acres of Land had been purchased under the liberal land laws of the time.

In 1821 John Platt owned land from a small creek running behind St. Joseph's Old Peoples Home to Tighes Hill, including all of Waratah and a great portion of Wallsend. It was then known as Platts Estate. He built his home on the banks of the creek and named the home "Iron Bark" - the immediate area where the home was built became known as Plattsburg. (Marylands to-day). His intention was to mine the entire area for coal.

He grew about 40 acres of wheat at Platts Folly (Mayfield) but the ground was not suitable for wheat growing and the crop failed. John Platt then decided to sell off portions of his land and Charles Bolton bought the greater portion of Platts Folly. Bolton was an alderman of the City Council 
from 1859 to 1870.

Peter Crebert who was born of the Catholic faith in Kuderich in 1824, came to the Colony in 1849 and worked for a time as a gardener at the Tweed Factory Stockton, after which he went into the employ of the A.A. Company repairing their ships at a place along the Hunter River known as Platts Channel.

During 1853 he purchased 5 acres where San Clemente High School now stands for £3.5.0. ($6.50) per acre and settled there. The whole of the area was heavily timbered and the Crebert family had to clear it by hand. The terrain along the Hunter where B.H.P. now stands was swampy and the forests above the swamps on the higher ground were trees of Cedar, Ash and Blackbutt.

Two years afterwards Crebert bought two more acres this time paying £50 [$100 per acre.] In 1856 he commenced the cultivation of the Vine for wine making the first ever produced in Newcastle. This venture was so successful he purchased seven more blocks for an unknown cost.

His vineyard was producing 500 gallons of wine, also was growing peaches, plums and all summer fruits. One of his orange trees was at least 30 ft. (9 metres) high and gave 120 ripe oranges on a single day's picking. In one year he had 3,000 gallons of wine stored in sheds on the property. Everything for producing wine was made on the estate including two 300 gallon barrels and one 600 gallon barrel. Crebert sold the wine for 3/- (30c), per gallon or 1/6 (15c) per bottle. Grapes were sold at 3/- (2c) per lb. On the estate Crebert had bee hives, selling the honey and also making waxen candles. Crebert invented a machine that could make six candles at a time.

The stone used for building his home and his sheds was quarried on the site of the official residence of the B.H.P next to San Clemente High School. Creberts Folly Garden as it was now known became a show place and eople came from all over the place to buy fruit and wine. He died on the property from heart failure in 1895 aged 75 and was buried at the Folly Park Cemetery which now is in the grounds of St Andrew's Anglican Church behind the school. He was the last person to be buried there, his wife was buried at the Sandgate Cemetery.

Where the B.H.P. now stands a copper smelter works was erected known as the Great Northern Copper Refining Company and the fumes from the plant plus a plague of white grubs finally destroyed the Vineyard and the property was sold off in blocks by the family. One block behind the school was bought by Kitchen and Sons and the well known brand of Sunlight soap was manufactured on the property. The company today is called Sunlight Lever and Kitchen Pty. Ltd. with its factory relocated in Sydney. During 1913 while the river was being dredged alongside the area now known as B.H.P. a joint of the backbone of a very ancient whale was found 20ft (6 metres) below the surface of the river.

John Wark (1980?)