Free Settler or Felon?

Collier's Point 1801


Home Early Coal Mines | Colonial Events 1801Hunter River Expedition | Lieut. James Grant

Lieutenant-Colonel Paterson to Governor King
25 June 1801  

The northern point of land, which I have call’d “Colliers’ Point,” is composed of two stratas in sight and one which is bare at low water mark only. This is by much the best coal, which you will see by the specimen I desired might be kept apart from the other, which is the middle strata, about 16in. deep; that below is 22 in; the distance between them is about 20ft.

The upper strata is too near the surface to be worth working. Upon the island, which I have named “Coal Island”, the stratas are the same as on the mainland. The bed of coal at low water mark is rather better than at Collier’s Point, and might be got very quick, as the anchoring place is close to the coal; but, if the coal work is to be permanent, I should sujest the mines to be on the main which might be sunk with very little trouble, and I have no doubt but that in a very short time Government would find their advantage in it. ...............................Platt, the collier, and his party have done wonders in getting the coals for the schooner so soon. I shall keep them going on, and get the coals laid in a situation where the tide cannot reach them.
If they are to continue here they will want more picks and baskets

John Platt had been tried in Lancaster on 18 August 1798 and transported on the Royal Admiral in 1800.

Governor King later wrote to Sir Joseph Banks:

Unfortunately we have only one miner in the country, who is a convict for life. He is very clever, and is now boring over a seam of coal at the head of George's River, which is on the south-west side of Botany Bay. I send a small sample of the coal procured there in the box, which appears to be much superior to that found to the northward. As the miner is intelligent and master of his business, I hope we shall get at that article.

Early in 1801 King again wrote regarding Platt - If he should in the end fail here (at George's River) I shall remove him and his men to the northward of the rivers' (i.e., to the Coal River).

With the threat of Irish insurgents, the Governor decided to establish an outpost to send the rebels. A settlement at Newcastle (Coal River) was formed and John Platt was employed as miner.

 Select Early Newcastle Coal Mines to find out more about John Platt's employment at Newcastle.

John Platt applied for a mitigation of his sentence in 1810...I am a miner by profession who has been the conductor of the coal works at Newcastle.

Ensign Barralier's Map of Coal Harbour and Rivers

Collier's Point can be seen on the map above situated bottom left near Sheep Pasture Hills (The Hill)

 Barralier's Map of the Coal Harbour


(1)Historical Records of New South Wales. Vol IV. Hunter and King. 1800, 1801, 1802. Edited by F. M. Bladen. p. 414 - 415., Lieutenant-Colonel Paterson to Governor King (King Papers) 25 June 1801



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