Bicentenary of Morpeth
Once one of the most important river ports in NSW and an instrumental part of the development of the entire Hunter Valley, the township of Morpeth, originally known by its Aboriginal name ‘Illalaung’ and traditional land of the Wonnarua people, will commemorate the bicentenary of its founding by Lieutenant Edward Charles Close, on November 20 and 21, 2021.
Maitland City Council has adopted plans to proceed with three Bicentenary infrastructure projects, which will leave legacy pieces of community infrastructure, including a riverside shared pathway (stage 1a of the Morpeth to Walka Shared path), Steamer Street shared pathway, and architectural lighting of Morpeth Bridge, and Council is also proceeding with a program of activities for the weekend of the Bicentenary such as a Corroboree and Morpeth Bridge open day.
Council is now inviting community groups, businesses, schools, and other groups to get involved in the Bicentenary by developing and registering an activity or applying for a small grant for projects that help to raise awareness, build a sense of occasion and educate the community of this important milestone
RIVERSIDE SHARED PATH
(MORPETH TO WALKA SHARED PATH STAGE 1A)
Beginning at Robert Street, near the former Morpeth Railway Station, and extending West to Illalaung Park the construction of a riverside shared path will form stage 1A of the Morpeth to Walka Water Works Shared Path project.
The path will celebrate and activate the Hunter River and also include interpretive public art and wayfinding signage as well as seating and bike racks. The Path will be a lasting piece of infrastructure that the whole community can utilise and enjoy.
STEAMER STREET SHARED PATH
The Steamer Street Shared path will connect Queens Wharf to Morpeth Road. This project will include the construction of a shared pedestrian and bicycle path between the Morpeth Road, near the sandstone culvert and Queens Wharf and create an impressive and scenic shared loop that includes Swan Street, Queens Wharf and Morpeth Road including Fig Tree Hill.
The path will be a lasting piece of community infrastructure that could also be used to highlight and celebrate the Aboriginal history of Morpeth and the importance of Queens Wharf, the former railway line, sandstone quarry and sandstone culvert through a range of interpretative installation.
LIGHTING OF MORPETH BRIDGE
The heritage listed Morpeth Bridge, which spans the Hunter River, is an iconic landmark of Morpeth. This project will include architectural lighting of the bridge to highlight its impressive 1898 Allan type timber truss construction. The lighting would be focused above deck and use methods sympathetic to the bridge and township of Morpeth.
The project would be a permanent fixture and could be used as an anchor attraction to boost the night time economy of Morpeth, with multiple vantage points across the township.
CORROBOREE – SATURDAY 20 NOVEMBER
Morpeth (Illalaung) is place of significant importance for Wonnarua people, and as part of the Bicentenary commemorations a corroboree be held on Saturday 20 November.
The corroboree will be open to the whole community and will include a number of elements including Sorry Business, Elders from on and off Country and a public smoking ceremony.
Following the ceremony, the Corroboree will feature Aboriginal Dancers, live performances and cultural activities.
The Mindaribba Local Aboriginal Land Council have confirmed they welcome the inclusion of a corroboree as part of the Morpeth Bicentenary Commemorations and explained the inclusion of a corroboree would be a positive opportunity to provide shared learnings and would contribute to the Aboriginal community feeling of safety.
MORPETH BRIDGE OPEN DAY – SUNDAY 21 NOVEMBER
Celebrating the iconic Morpeth Bridge, the Bridge Open Day will provide a unique opportunity for the community to have a rare and exciting experience on Morpeth Bridge. The Open Day will take place on Sunday 21 November and will temporarily open the bridge to pedestrians who can get a unique vantage point of the river and township from the deck of the 1898 Timber Truss Bridge. The Open Day will feature a range of experiences including picnics on the bridge, walking tours, live music and more.
To encourage community involvement in the commemoration of the Bicentenary, Council is offering funding of up to $1,000 (with a maximum pool of $10,000) to eligible organisations/ groups to support the delivery of Bicentenary projects, activities, resources and programs.