Local history

Maitland has a proud and interesting heritage. It has long been regarded as a special place, from Aboriginal habitation many thousands of years ago to the comparably recent European settlement.

Maitland and the surrounding area has a long history and significance in Australia. The area's original inhabitants are the people of the Wonnarua Nation, ‘people of the mountains and the plains’. Bordering nations and clans include Worimi, Darkinjung, Kamilaroi, Geawegal, Gringai, Awabakal and Wiradjuri.

It is said through dreamtime story that the great spirit Baiame opened eyes that were steeped in chasms of eternity and created the hills, valleys, forests and living things in and around Maitland, including the Hunter, Williams and Paterson Rivers.

Today, the Wonnarua people are a member of the Mindaribba Local Aboriginal Land Council (Mindaribba LALC) that covers the traditional lands of more than 2,000ha and encompasses parts of the local government areas of Maitland, Cessnock, Singleton, Dungog and Port Stephens.

European settlement

Maitland, first settled by Europeans in approximately 1818, was central to trade and the growth of the Hunter Region. Its long history is reflected in the many historic buildings built in the mid 1800s, using local sandstone and cedar.

Over time the town grew steadily and quickly became an important regional centre in the colony, and a number of government services were established in the area, with many of the original buildings still standing.

Local studies

The Maitland Local Studies collection housed at Maitland City Library provides a major repository of historical resources for Maitland. This collection plays a key role in collecting and preserving our social and documentary heritage for current and future generations. The Local Studies collection facilitates the description, storage, dissemination and sharing of local history information.

Exploring the city

Maitland's rich history and heritage can be explored through a number of walks and self driving experiences. For more information please see the My Maitland website.