Maitland, New South Wales

Maitland is a city in the Lower Hunter Valley of New South Wales, Australia and the seat of Maitland City Council, situated on the Hunter River approximately 166 kilometres (103 mi) by road north of Sydney and 35 km (22 mi) north-west of Newcastle. It is on the New England Highway about 17 km (11 mi) from its start at Hexham.

New South Wales
Maitland Town Hall, High Street
Coordinates32°43′S 151°33′E
Population78,015 (2016 census)[1]
 • Density513.6/km2 (1,330/sq mi)
Elevation3 m (10 ft)
Area392 km2 (151.4 sq mi)[2]
Time zoneAEST (UTC+10)
 • Summer (DST)AEDT (UTC+11)
LGA(s)Maitland City Council
State electorate(s)Maitland
Federal Division(s)
Mean max temp[3] Mean min temp[3] Annual rainfall[3]
24.5 °C
76 °F
11.8 °C
53 °F
821.3 mm
32.3 in

At the 2016 census it had approximately 78,015 inhabitants, spread over an area of 390.2 square kilometres (151 sq mi), with most of the population located in a strip along the New England Highway between the suburbs of Rutherford and Metford respectively. The city centre is located on the right bank of the Hunter River, protected from potential flooding by a levee.

Surrounding areas include the cities of Cessnock and Singleton local government areas.


Originally Maitland was a culmination of three separate towns which arose roughly all around the same time. West Maitland, now just Maitland, was a privately founded town which grew because of its proximity to the river and which today is the commercial centre of the city. The other areas were East Maitland, which was established by the colonial New South Wales government, and Morpeth, another private town founded by Lieutenant Close, a Peninsular War veteran. Each town functioned as if they were separate municipalities.

The name, Maitland, was reported in 1885 to have had its name taken 'from Sir George Maitland, ... Under Secretary for the Colonies, and M.P. for the Borough of Whitchurch, in Hampshire, England'.[4]

The present city was proclaimed in 1945 with the amalgamation of the three local government areas. The city's boundaries have been increased by incorporating parts of other local government areas since then (most notably Kearsley Shire which from 1946 to 1949 was the only local government area in Australia's history to have a Communist majority of councillors).

West Maitland was founded in 1820 close to the tidal reach of the Hunter River where vessels with a shallow draft could navigate. Nearby Morpeth served as the head of navigation for larger ships (later, steamships), and goods would be transhipped upriver to West Maitland on barges and smaller vessels. Originally the river route between Morpeth and West Maitland was 26 kilometres (16 mi), today after various floods and river course changes this has reduced to just 9 kilometres (5.6 mi).[5]:10

Maitland was therefore the point at which goods were unloaded for, and distributed to, the prosperous riverland of the Hunter Valley. Accordingly, there were large warehouses (some of which still exist) built, which faced onto the main High Street and backed onto the Hunter River. For almost 20 years until the Victorian gold rush, Maitland was the second largest town in Australia. The arrival of the railway from Newcastle in the 1850s, coupled with the increasing silting of the river and larger ships spelt the end of the traditional river traffic.

The first electricity connected in the area was to Maitland Town Hall in 1922, to the Hall's front light.[6]

Belmore Bridge

The first bridge to link West Maitland with what is now the suburb of Lorn was opened in 1869 and named in honour of the then Governor of New South Wales, the 4th Earl of Belmore.[7] Although the bridge proved vital to the city's development, the floods of 1893, 1913 and 1930 began to heighten the need for a new bridge that could withstand periodic flooding. A second Belmore Bridge, designed to withstand the impact of debris during floods, was built adjacent to the 1869 bridge in 1964. The new bridge, which redirected traffic away from St Andrews Street to a new intersection at the Maitland Court House, is one of the city's three main river crossings.[7]


Maitland floods
Year Details
1806 Prior to settlement, but biggest on record. Reports of floodwaters being as high as 24.4 m (80 ft).
1820 Settlers report finding driftwood in trees 18.9 m (62 ft) above the normal river level.
1832 Seven killed, floodwaters peak at 8.9 m (29 ft).
1834 Floodwaters peak at 8.9 m (29 ft).
1857 Floodwaters peak at 9.2 m (30 ft).
1893 Extensive flooding destroys homes in Louth Park and Victoria Street. Nine killed.
1913 Floodwaters inundate central Maitland. Homes are lost on Mount Pleasant Street and in Horseshoe Bend.
1930 Floodwaters inundate Maitland.
1931 Floodwaters inundate Maitland.
1949 Floodwaters invade lower High Street, Maitland.
1951 Flooding in Maitland.
1952 Flooding in Maitland.
1955 Twenty five killed, 2,180 homes inundated by water.
1971 Biggest flood on record since 1955.
1998 Minor flooding in the Maitland district.
2007 Floodwaters invade suburbs of Maitland; central Maitland escapes flooding.
2015 Superstorm hits the Hunter, flash-flooding in Maitland.

Maitland's proximity to the Hunter River has resulted in a succession of floods since European settlement. Over 200 floods have occurred on the Hunter River since settlement, 13 of those higher than the river's normal peak limit of 10.7 metres (35.1 ft). Of these 13, all have had a direct effect on the city of Maitland.[8]

Between 1830 and 1834 Maitland experienced five floods. The 1832 flood was severe with water reaching about 8.84 m (29 ft) and killing seven people. The 1834 flood water reached the same height. In the winter of 1857 the Hunter River rose again to record heights, reaching 9.2 m (30 ft). Flooding continued for the next 30 years with the floods of the 1890s being the most disastrous. Much of the riverbank collapsed and many people were left without homes or personal possessions.[8]

However, the 1940s and 1950s saw an increase in rainfall and the river rose again and again.[8] In February 1955, Maitland and the Hunter Valley experienced its most severe flood in recorded history. The 1955 Hunter Valley floods, also commonly known as "The Maitland Flood", was the first Australian natural disaster to be broadcast by the media on an international scale.[8] This flood is considered to be one of Australia’s worst floods.[9] The waters reached 12.5 m (41 ft) and caused catastrophic damage. The volume of flood water was approximately 3,750,000 megalitres (8.2×1011 imp gal) and the cost of damage, in today’s currency, would have been over A$2 billion. Seven thousand buildings and homes were damaged and the flood claimed the lives of 14 people.

In early June 2007 an intense low pressure system which caused devastating storms to hit the city of Newcastle and the Central Coast also caused major flooding throughout the lower Hunter Region including the Maitland area. During the flooding on 11 June 2007 the Hunter River was expected to reach a peak of 11.3 m (37.1 ft) at Maitland's Belmore Bridge and break levee banks. Some 4000 residents of the suburb of Lorn were evacuated before the floodwaters became stable at 10.7 m (35.1 ft) and did not invade central Matiland.[10] Other areas did not escape with waters inundating homes in Branxton, Louth Park and Raymond Terrace. The flood has been compared to the devastating 1955 Hunter Valley floods.

From 20 to 22 April 2015, heavy rainfall in the Hunter, Central Coast and Sydney regions of New South Wales resulted in flash flooding and extended power outages to over 200,000 homes. Maitland was badly affected and the flood gates at Maitland railway station reinforced with sandbags to prevent flooding in central Maitland.[11] Four people died as a result of the storms and a further four died in traffic related incidents.[12] The towns of Dungog and Gillieston Heights, the homes of the four flood victims, were also badly affected, becoming isolated from other communities.

Flooding at Maitland
A deserted farmhouse on the outskirts of Maitland during the 1955 flood
Signs on Maitland's power poles indicate the depth of the 1955 floods
Flooding along the Maitland riverfront during the 2007 flood

Jewish community

The Maitland Jewish Cemetery in Louth Park, one of only two provincial Jewish cemeteries in New South Wales, is testament to the Jewish community that was active in Maitland up until the 1930s.[13] Between about 1846 and 1934, 53 Jews were buried in the low-lying cemetery. Burials ceased after this time due to dissipation of the community and the cemetery being full. One exception was Lea Abadee in 2010.[14] The former Maitland Synagogue, located on Church Street, was the place of worship for about 70 families between 1879 and 1898.[15]

Heritage listings

Maitland has a number of heritage-listed sites, including:


According to the 2016 census, there were 78,015 people in Maitland.

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people made up 5.4% of the population.
  • 86.5% of people were born in Australia. The next most common countries of birth were England 1.8%, New Zealand 1.0%, India 0.5%, Philippines 0.5% and South Africa 0.4%.
  • 90.9% of people spoke only English at home. Other languages spoken at home included Mandarin 0.4%, Cantonese 0.2%, Tagalog 0.2%, Afrikaans 0.2% and Malayalam 0.2%.
  • The most common responses for religion were Catholic 26.2%, Anglican 24.3% and No Religion 24.2%.[1]


Maitland has an assault rate of 1110.4 per 100,000 population,[29] which is significantly higher than the NSW state average of 823.4 per 100,000 population.


Maitland has a humid subtropical climate (Cfa) with hot summers and cool winters. It gets 90.3 clear days, annually.

Climate data for Maitland Visitors Centre (1997–2016)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 44.5
Average high °C (°F) 30.2
Average low °C (°F) 18.2
Record low °C (°F) 8.4
Average precipitation mm (inches) 78.0
Average precipitation days 10.8 11.3 11.2 12.0 10.2 12.8 9.8 8.3 8.8 8.9 12.0 10.5 126.6
Source: [3]



Maitland has many shopping precincts including Stockland Green Hills (East Maitland), (Centro Maitland Hunter Mall) High Street Mall (City Centre), Rutherford, Melbourne Street (East Maitland) and Lawes Street (East Maitland). Morpeth, a suburb of Maitland, is also popular for its fashion boutiques, cafes and speciality shops.



Opening of the Maitland tramway in 1909
Maitland railway station is the city's main transport hub

Maitland railway station lies on the Hunter line and is the branch point for the Main North Line and the North Coast Line. Other railway stations in Maitland include:

A passenger tram system ran from East to West Maitland between 1909 and 1926 after which it was replaced by buses which continue to service the route today.


Maitland Airport is a general aviation airfield located beside the New England Highway in Rutherford. Construction was started in 1948 by the now-defunct Maitland Aero Club. In 1957, operation of the airfield transferred to the Royal Newcastle Aero Club (RNAC), which moved from Broadmeadow Aerodrome, its original base of operations, in 1963.


Maitland is serviced by a number of regional newspapers, radio stations and television stations.


The Maitland Mercury and The Newcastle Herald are the foremost newspapers in the city. The Mercury, established in 1843, operates out of offices on High Street and is Australia's oldest regional newspaper.[30] "The Lower Hunter Star" is an adjunct to the "Mercury" and is published every Thursday.[31] With a circulation of almost 20,000, The Lower Hunter Star is delivered to most residents within the City of Maitland.


Radio stations include:

AM stations

FM stations

Government broadcasters


Maitland is part of the Newcastle-Hunter Region television market, which is served by 5 television networks, three commercial and two national services (which include new sub-channels that started in 2009 for the commercial networks and in recent years from the national services). These new channels are available on digital TV only. These networks are listed as follows:

NBN produces an evening news bulletin combining local, state, national and international news screening nightly at 6.00PM on Channel 9, while Prime7 and WIN Television produce short local updates to fulfil local content quotas. Subscription television service Foxtel is also available via satellite.


The famous Scottish entertainer Sir Harry Lauder performed to a packed audience in Maitland Town Hall on Saturday 15 August 1925.[33]

Annual events

  • Hunter Valley Steamfest is an annual festival celebrating the history of steam power and industry in the Maitland area. It was established in 1986 in response to the closure of the last coal operated steam hauled freight service on the South Maitland Railway network in 1983.[34]
  • Bitter & Twisted Beer Festival is an annual international boutique beer festival held at the historic Maitland Gaol in East Maitland.[35]
  • ChapelJazz (formerly Morpeth Jazz Festival) is an annual music festival held at the popular historic riverside port of Morpeth. It is a celebration of music, wine and food.[36]
  • Groovin' the Moo is an annual music festival held at the Maitland Showground since 2006.
  • Maitland Show is an annual agricultural show held at the Maitland Showground.[37]


Maitland has many training facilities including short course vocational training schools to international standard Phd studies. The Hunter Institute of Technology has a campus in Maitland, as does the privately owned Hunter Valley Training Company (Australia's largest group trainer). These facilities provide excellent training in all fields, especially building and construction, engineering, mining, tourism and business administration. A new technical college is being developed within the city.

Maitland has twenty primary schools and seven high schools. The high schools are:

There are also numerous pre-school and day care facilities and a campus of Hunter Institute of TAFE.

Sport and recreation

Maitland is generally accepted to be the birthplace of Motorcycle speedway when New Zealand born promoter Johnny S. Hoskins organised a series of motorcycle races at the West Maitland Showground on Saturday, 15 December 1923.[38]

Notable people

See also


  1. Australian Bureau of Statistics (27 June 2017). "Maitland (NSW)(Urban Centre/Locality)". 2016 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 29 April 2019.
  2. Australian Bureau of Statistics (31 October 2012). "2011 Community Profiles: Maitland (Local Government Area)". 2011 Census of Population and Housing. Retrieved 6 October 2012.
  3. "Maitland Visitors Centre". Climate statistics for Australian locations. Bureau of Meteorology. 2016. Retrieved 7 September 2018.
  4. "The Hunter Fifty Years Ago". The Maitland Mercury. 12 February 1885. p. 7. Retrieved 12 November 2013 via Trove: National Library of Australia.
  5. Walsh, Brian; Archer, Cameron (2007). Maitland on the Hunter (2nd ed.). Tocal, NSW: CB Alexander Foundation. ISBN 0-7313-0596-5.
  6. George, Peter. The Walka Power Station 1953–1977. Bolwarra, NSW. 1997. P.1.
  7. "BridgePanel" (PDF). Retrieved 9 December 2010.
  8. "Maitland Area History". Maitland City Council. Archived from the original on 18 April 2008. Retrieved 2 May 2008.
  9. "Maitland Flood Fiftieth Anniversary". Parliament of New South Wales. 23 February 2005. Retrieved 28 April 2008.
  10. "Central Maitland escapes peak of Hunter flood". News Online. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 11 June 2007.
  11. "Super storm: 4000 sandbags – and SES comes to the rescue". The Maitland Mercury. 23 April 2015.
  12. "Mike Baird surveys storm-ravaged Hunter regions still isolated by floodwaters". Nine News. 23 April 2015.
  13. "Maitland City Council – Maitland Jewish Cemetery". Retrieved 9 December 2010.
  14. Benjamin, Henry (9 July 2010). "First burial in Jewish cemetery in 76 years!". J-Wire. Retrieved 9 December 2010.
  15. "Historical Sites". Jewish History Australia. Retrieved 9 December 2010.
  16. "Brough House". New South Wales State Heritage Register. Office of Environment and Heritage. H01495. Retrieved 18 May 2018.
  17. "Maitland Synagogue (former)". New South Wales State Heritage Register. Office of Environment and Heritage. H00376. Retrieved 18 May 2018.
  18. "St. Mary's the Virgin Anglican Church & Rectory". New South Wales State Heritage Register. Office of Environment and Heritage. H00403. Retrieved 18 May 2018.
  19. "Grossman House". New South Wales State Heritage Register. Office of Environment and Heritage. H01499. Retrieved 18 May 2018.
  20. "Presbyterian High School/Manse (former)". New South Wales State Heritage Register. Office of Environment and Heritage. H00577. Retrieved 18 May 2018.
  21. "Maitland Court House". New South Wales State Heritage Register. Office of Environment and Heritage. H00794. Retrieved 18 May 2018.
  22. "Maitland Town Hall & adj Office Building & Supper Room". New South Wales State Heritage Register. Office of Environment and Heritage. H00183. Retrieved 18 May 2018.
  23. "Maitland Post Office". New South Wales State Heritage Register. Office of Environment and Heritage. H01313. Retrieved 18 May 2018.
  24. "Barden & Ribee Saddlery". New South Wales State Heritage Register. Office of Environment and Heritage. H00089. Retrieved 18 May 2018.
  25. "Historic Photographs Collection, Department of Mineral Resources". New South Wales State Heritage Register. Office of Environment and Heritage. H00972. Retrieved 18 May 2018.
  26. "Maitland Railway Station and yard group". New South Wales State Heritage Register. Office of Environment and Heritage. H01185. Retrieved 18 May 2018.
  27. "Cintra – House, Garden and Stables". New South Wales State Heritage Register. Office of Environment and Heritage. H01892. Retrieved 18 May 2018.
  28. "Maitland Lodge of Unity Masonic Hall and Lodge". New South Wales State Heritage Register. Office of Environment and Heritage. H01937. Retrieved 18 May 2018.
  29. "NSW Crime Map". BOCSAR. 29 April 2019.
  30. "Maitland Mercury". Discover Collections. State Library of New South Wales. Archived from the original on 27 February 2011. Retrieved 9 December 2010.
  31. "The Lower Hunter Star". Rural Press Sales. Archived from the original on 6 July 2011. Retrieved 9 December 2010.
  32. "2CHR Central Hunter Community Radio". Retrieved 12 November 2012.
  33. Maitland Daily Mercury, 15 August 1925, p.4.
  34. "Home". Hunter Valley Steamfest. Maitland City Council. Retrieved 5 June 2016. Steamfest was established in 1986 following the closure of the last coal operated steam hauled freight service in Australia on the South Maitland Railway Line in 1983, Steamfest pays homage to the end of an industrial era and the men and women involved in its operation.
  35. "Bitter and Twisted". Retrieved 30 April 2019.
  36. "Morpeth Chapel Jazz". My Maitland. 8 February 2017. Retrieved 30 April 2019.
  37. "Maitland Showground". Retrieved 30 April 2019.
  38. "History of Track Racing". Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme. Archived from the original on 11 November 2014.
  39. Gregory, Helen (29 July 2011). "Margaret Olley – a treasured original". The Newcastle Herald. Retrieved 12 November 2012.
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