A visitor to his homestead in 1834, after crossing by boat found a pretty
house with a fine black swan, newly shot by the overseer, hanging above the
entrance to the house. The house was surrounded by dense bush and tropical
vegetation. Scott was visited here by explorer Ludwig Leichhardt in
1842 and offered to clear 10 acres in the district, construct a cottage and
establish a vineyard for Leichhardt.
Scotthad a keen interest in natural sciences and was a supporter of the Australian Museum. Later his daughters Harriett and Helena, would prepare outstanding drawings of the flora and fauna on Ash Island.
Their life on Ash
Island was not without excitement. In 1834
Lieutenant Zouch from Newcastle township was required to visit the
area to quell natives who had gathered after one of
their tribe had been shot by a constable.
In 1842 settlers in the vicinity of Newcastle were
warned to be prepared for a nocturnal attack after
four prisoners and a soldier absconded from Newcastle,
stealing a boat belonging to Mr. Scott at Ash Island.
The men were said to be desperate and a 'strong party of
gentlemen with some soldiery' were in pursuit of them.
Select here to find
out more about these bushrangers
In 1842 settlers in the vicinity of Newcastle were warned to be prepared for a nocturnal attack after four prisoners and a soldier absconded from Newcastle, stealing a boat belonging to Mr. Scott at Ash Island. The men were said to be desperate and a 'strong party of gentlemen with some soldiery' were in pursuit of them. Select here to find out more about these bushrangers
In 1834 Scott purchased 50 acres on Stockton Peninsular. It was very sandy and unable to be used for agricultural purposes. In partnership with his brother in law, James Mitchell, he began a salt making industry on the peninsular and later an iron foundry which in 1842 provided castings for the Australian Agricultural Company's pit engine. Pots were made for the boiling down of sheep and a boiler for the Hunter Brewery was being made by 1843. However this was a time of great economic downturn and Scott's iron foundry business did not survive. He continued his salt making venture and was advertising 70 tons of Stockton Salt for sale in 1847. In 1848 James Mitchell bought out Scott for £8320.
Alexander Scott was instrumental in establishing a copper smelter, firebrick works and textile factory in the area. Early in 1843 artisans and labourers had arrived at Stockton to begin constructing the textile works. He canvassed to represent in the Legislative Council in 1843 and stated then that he was 'an employer to a large extent of free labour - and had a constant desire for the advancement of the district and discouragement of foreign imports. At his own expense a line had been already surveyed and accurate levels taken for a railroad between Newcastle and Maitland'.He had foreseen the advantages of steam and attempted to purchase a steam vessel for the Hunter before the first steamer 'Sophia Jane' arrived. This did not eventuate although later he was to contribute to the building of the steamer 'Ceres'.
In 1847 he was offering for sale from Ash Island 100 tons of prime Lucerne hay (hydraulic pressed and bound with iron or lashing), as well as 8000 large well flavoured oranges and 10 tons of pumpkins. During these years Scott played an active part in Newcastle life. In 1836 he was treasurer of the newly formed Mechanics institute. In the 1840's he attended meetings at Christ Church and, raced his boat at the Newcastle Regatta
In 1848 he advertised 'Deega Estate' and his Pacific Street, Newcastle property for sale. Deega estate was 2560 acres within two miles of Lake Macquarie. Abundantly watered with several flats of rich land suitable for agricultural purposes with an unlimited back run; The city property consisted of almost a quarter of an acre with a five roomed cottage.
By the 1860's he was again experiencing financial difficulties and was declared bankrupt in 1866.
narrated by entomologist Dave Britton (Australian Museum)
The Botany of Ash Island 1862.......
The natural history review, Volume 12 By Belfast Natural History and Philosophical Society, Cork Cuvierian Society, Natural History Society of Dublin.......
Gatherings of a Naturalist in Australasia, George Bennett 1860.......
The Ibis - Quarterly Journal of Ornithology.........
Ash Island [cartographic material] : for sale in farms by Messrs Mort & Co. at ... Newcastle ... 12th January, 1864 / F. H. Reuss, architect & surveyor. [Album view]
Ash Island - Images State Library of NSW