Having spent a far bit of time in the Hunter Valley over the last 3 years, we have searched out many interesting towns & places that are just outside the main tourist areas of this popular wine producing region.
One such town is Greta, which is on the New England Highway between Maitland & Singleton, some 183 klm from Sydney & features some beautiful buildings that have survived from the late 1800s.
One being the Tattersall's Hotel which is now the only hotel in town, but in the 1870s there were four. The current brick building was designed by James Warren Scobie of Maitland for the Castlemaine Brewing Company of Newcastle and constructed around 1910.
Another is the award winning, very popular Bakery of Greta, which was the Post office building originally. We have had lunch from here many a time & can testify to the goodness of their products.
The Court House is from 1890 & features beautiful arched windows & a slate gambrel roof. Today it is used as the community hall, while the old Council Chambers c1912, houses the Greta Historical Museum that features an exhibit dedicated to the district’s coal mining heritage & the army training camp nearby, which later became a migrant camp, along with a photographic display from the 19th century.
The earliest European settlers in this traditionally owned area by the Wanaruah Aboriginal people, was around 1830 near Anvil Creek. It was formally surveyed in 1842, coal mining started 1862, the same year that the railway reached there & in its heyday the town boasted 4 hotels, 4 churches, 10 collieries, a school & School of Arts by 1907.
A great place for coffee & some beautiful gifts is the Prop That, Gifts & Homeware housed in the old Masonic Hall across the road from the park in the main street.
The 200mm high sandstone kerb & guttering in some of the streets, which many do not notice, is also a throwback from an era when cars were a lot higher than they are today.
The Greta Army Camp which was opened in 1939, was nearby on the other side of the railway line along Camp Road, with some 60,000 members of the 6th div 2AIF being trained for the WW2 effort, there.
In 1949 the camp was transferred to the Dept of Immigration & between 1949 & 1960 some 100,000 migrants from Europe, were processed through the camp.
Today all that remains, are 2 plaques on a brick wall & a few overgrown derelict buildings scattered throughout the privately owned, security monitored land.
The area is very picturesque with many other interesting little towns nearby, places like Lochinvar, that is famous for the True Café, again many a great meal has been eaten here, & Luskintyre that features a vintage plane Tiger Moth Museum & the Bridge, that was used in the 2010 movie, Tomorrow When the War Began.
All in all, a great area to visit for a drive and very close to the Hunter Valley.
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