Maitland and the surrounding area has a long history and significance in Australia. The areas 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.
The city of today
Maitland, first settled by Europeans in approximately 1818, is the focus of a diversity of economic activities including agriculture, tourism, mining, manufacturing, transport and construction industries. Its long history is reflected in the many historic buildings built in the mid 1800s, using local sandstone and cedar.
The town was first settled by eleven former convicts in what was then known as ‘Wallis Plains’. Among the earliest settlers were John Eckford and Molly Morgan, now widely recognised as major influencers of the establishment of what is now one of the fastest growing regional cities in New South Wales.
Over time the 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.
Today, Maitland is a busy and thriving community, with a prosperous local economy, diversified across a range of industries. While once transportation in Maitland was dominated by punts along the river, development of rail and road corridors has created an abundance of transport options. All routes lead to Maitland and this grants access to employment opportunities, recreational experiences and lifestyle choices within our city.
Maitland’s people are an important part of what makes to city such a desirable place to live. There are community, sporting, multicultural and special interest groups catering to a wide range of people ready to welcome you. Residents are keen to get out and about, supporting vibrant arts and cultural scene, a diverse calendar of events and a range of fundraising opportunities.
Whether you are here for a visit, a short time or a lifetime, the one thing you can be sure of is that you’re welcome in Maitland.