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County Durham, bounded to the west and south by the Hunter River, takes in the rich agricultural land of the Paterson and Allyn River valleys in New South Wales.
In the 19th century, the area was well suited for homesteads, dairying, raising livestock and the cultivation of crops including wheat, maize, barley, oats, fruit orchards and vineyards.
This 1843 map of Durham County shows the various land grants and purchases in the area at the time. It was compiled for Baker's Australian county atlas: dedicated by the publisher to Sir T.L. Mitchell ... showing the various parishes, townships, grants, purchases and unlocated lands, 1843.
The map shows the land originally settled by Welshmen George Townshend (1798-1872) and Charles Boydell (1808-1869), who took up land grants Trevallyn and Camyr Allyn, near Gresford in County Durham. Alexander Park (1808-1873) owned a large neighbouring grant on the left bank of the Allyn River. In 1840, Charles Boydell transferred land at Allynbrook to his younger brother, William Barker Boydell (1818-1878), which he named Caergwrle. By 1843, much of the land was settled, taken up by homesteads and farms and grazing land.
The areas around Gresford, Allynbrook, Paterson and the Hunter River district in New South Wales, have long been famous for their rich farming and grazing land. In the 19th century, large estates were owned and worked by early settlers such as George Townsend (Trevallyn), Charles Boydell (Camyr Allyn), William Barker Boydell (Caergwrle), John Phillips Webber (Guygallen), Alexander Park (Lewinsbrook) and John Cory (Vacy Estate).
However, by the early 20th century, many of these large estates and farms in the area were subdivided into smaller allotments and sold at public auction. With many of the properties bounded by the Paterson or Allyn Rivers and their tributaries, buyers could purchase rich agricultural land, perfect for small dairy farms, crop growing, orchards and grape vines.
"Many of the lots, containing areas of rich alluvial flats, will make splendid dairies, while every block is sweet and quick fattening, with an abundance of herbage and fattening grasses."
(Bingleburra estate, Gresford, land sale poster, 1938)
Land sales and auctions were advertised using colourful posters and subdivsion plans which showed the various allotments being offered for sale. Many featured local sketches and descriptions of the surrounding area to attract the attention and interest of local buyers.
The Library has a wonderful collection of over 40,000 subdivision plans, including hundreds relating to the Hunter River district and surrounding region. Dating from as early as the 1800s to the 1950s, these plans reveal the history of urban development in the area. Visually stiking, they range in format from hand-drawn surveyors’ plans to decorative colour-lithographed posters. They now provide a valuable resource for genealogists, local historians and art lovers alike.
> View another Durham County map in the Atlas of the settled counties of New South Wales, 1872, via tha Library's catalogue
> Find Durham County subdivision plans, 1800-1900, via the Library's catalogue
> Find more maps relating to Durham County, via the Library's catalogue
“The Paterson, a famous summer holiday resort” (land sale poster, 1907)
During the mid 20th century, the Hunter Valley region became a popular tourist attraction, particularly in summer. Always known for its rich farming and grazing land, it began to attract vistors to its scenic landscape, rivers and abundance of outdoor activities. Holiday recreations included fishing, swimming, golf, cycling and of course wine-tasting. Access was made easier with a regular rail service and scenic motor routes.
"In the Northern Lakes and Hunter Valley districts tourists find a diversity of scenery and holiday occupations…The Hunter Valley…is one of the richest alluvial tracts in the world…In summer the area is a delightful holiday ground" (Tourist pamphlet, 1938)
This colourful tourist guide from the 1930s features a pictorial map of holiday activities and description of the local area attractions.