Colonel William Paterson, Grant and Barrallier explore the Coal River (lower Hunter River) on the Lady Nelson and see "the fires of the natives and many individuals" opposite Ash Island. Near the mouth of the Hunter River, Grant sees an abundance of fish that the Aborigines take “in great quantities and of various kinds, particularly mullets”. Aboriginal women are the main fishers: “The lobsters were caught by the women who, in the sea front dived down among the rocks for them”.
Paterson is the third township in the Hunter Valley to be surveyed. The Paterson River, is part of the Hunter River catchment. It rises in Barrington Tops, and reaches the Hunter River near Morpeth. Colonel Paterson surveys the area beside the river. Timbercutters follow in his footsteps. Paterson River becomes known as the Cedar Arm. (University of Newcastle timeline)
The first settlement is formed at the mouth of the Hunter River. Superintendent Mason reports hostile encounters with Aborigines on the Hunter River, and the theft of blankets by one man, thought to be under the influence of alcohol. The settlement is abandoned the following year (University of Newcastle timeline, (Arwarbukarl Cultural Resource Association, ACRA)
Anna King, wife of Governor King takes an interest in the education of surviving Aboriginal girls. She establishes a Sydney schoolhouse for them. By the time it is established at Parramatta, it is colloquially called “Mrs King’s Orphanage” and admits girls whose living parents are known. It treats them as if they are orphans. (Ford p145)
A settler from Portland Head on the Hawkesbury River presents a petition signed by many settlers to Governor King requesting permission to shoot any natives on their farms. The petition proves to be a forgery and the man responsible is gaoled for several days. King sends for several Aborigines from that district and interviews them. Aboriginal people make it clear “they did not like to be driven from the few places that were left on the banks of the river, where they could procure food”. King agrees that their claim is fair and guarantees not to settle any more grants lower down the river. The natives in return promise to be amicable. (Nichols p 5).
A new penal settlement for recalcitrant convicts is established at the mouth of the Coal River (later Hunter River) at “King’s Town” (later Newcastle). First Commandant, Charles Throsby arrives with 20 soldiers and 20 prisoners. This includes Irish convicts implicated in the Castle Hill uprising. The settlement is widely seen as a "place for the reception of desperate characters" and "choice rogues". Convicts, ticket-of-leave people and cedar getters begin to traverse the Gosford-Wyong area country on a more regular basis. (Vinnicombe, Predilection and Prediction: A Study of Aboriginal Sites in the Gosford-Wyong Region; Blair 2000, 11; University of Newcastle timeline)
When the land hungry Europeans encroach further and deeper into the Hawkesbury Valley, resistance to their presence begins. Mainly in response to the wanton killing of Aborigines, Aboriginal people pilfer crops, plunder and raze farms to the ground. A frontier war exists. Troops are sent into the valley to subdue those Aborigines who fight to defend their land and families: spears against rifles is a complete mismatch. Prior to 1800, twenty-six white people are claimed to have been killed by Aborigines on the banks of the Hawkesbury. Evidence is not available concerning the number of Aborigines killed or the ways many were destroyed. In 1816, a resident of the Hawkesbury, Prosper Tuckerman, tells his son that a company of troops sent from Sydney on a punitive expedition kill “not less than 400 blacks” in the Hawkesbury Valley .(Brooks 1st edit, 11-12).
“Branch natives” seek to recover part of the harvests from their land. They destroy cottages at Sackville Reach. This includes Yaragowhy and Yaramandy who are then recognised by settlers as “chiefs” of the Richmond Hill “tribe”. Events escalate after a spearing attack on new Hawkesbury settler Matthew Everingham, his wife, servant and neighbour John Howe at Portland Head near Sackville Reach. Yaragowhy and Yaramandy are summoned by local Magistrate, Surgeon Thomas Arndell, to stop the attacks along the Hawkesbury, and given gifts to “recall these unfortunate creatures to a state of amity”. Yaragowhy is a recognised spokesperson (“chief”) for the Richmond Hill/Grose Valley area and Yaramandy is a leader for the Portland Head Rock area downstream. (Sydney Gazette No. 70, 1 July 1804, p2, col 3; Ford p71)
Of the event, Governor King writes: they do not want “to be driven from the few places that were left on the banks of river, where alone they could procure food, as they had gone down the river as the white man took possession of the banks; if they went across the white man’s ground the settlers fired upon them and were angry, that if they could retain some places on the LOWER part of the river, they should be satisfied and not trouble the white man...”. King promises that no settlements will be made LOWER down the river but, unfortunately most of the rich land which both groups treasure, is already granted. (Karskens, The Colony 401, 482-3).
Fringe camps are established from the very moment that towns come into being. They are often located on lands reserved for purposes including town commons and water reserves. The decreasing number of women and girls in these camps are frequently employed as domestic servants by white townspeople. The rapid decline of available Aboriginal women as partners according to kinship laws is strikingly demonstrated by Aboriginal men dwelling on the fringes of settlements at new ports along the Hawkesbury River. Men in fringe camps sometimes agree to guide punitive expeditions against Aboriginal people on the basis that they will be permitted to take women after their men are killed. (Lucas, 20, Ford p137).
Chief Constable Andrew Thompson leads an assault by a large body of settlers from the Green Hills port to “pacify” Branch natives on the west side of the Nepean, who they met while climbing into the mountains towards Springwood. Yaragowhy is shot and dies in the attack. He had gone ahead of the settlers to warn his people. There was only one settler across the Nepean River. Sergeant Obadiah Ikin lived peacefully with local Aborigal people. After the massacre, he sells his land. (Sydney Gazette, 28 April 1805; Ford p72).
Governor Bligh receives instructions to educate and settle surviving Aboriginal girls and hold out “encouragement by grants of land to those who marry them, but not suffering such grants of land to be alienated during the life of the female grantee”. Instructions remain in force during Macquarie’s administration when land grants are offered to Aboriginal people who were prepared to “reform” and become farmers on the same basis as convicts. (Proclamation to the Aborigines, 4 May 1816, Historical Records of NSW vol 6: King and Bligh, Ford p145).
The colony flourishes during Governor Macquarie’s leadership (1810-1822). He arrives in 1810 and creates new positions including Andrew Thompson as the Hawkesbury’s Justice of the Peace and Magistrate. He provides government-funded boats to freight grain from the Hawkesbury to Sydney markets and he tours the Hawkesbury district. He encourages exploration. Macquarie crosses the Hawkesbury River near Windsor by ferry and writes: “Mrs M. and myself were quite delighted with the beauty of this part of the Country; its great fertility and its Picturesque appearance” (Nichols 12-13). His party explore the Hawkesbury River as far as Portland Head and are impressed with the farms and orchards.