At the heart of my electorate of Paterson lies the historic city of Maitland.
Once upon a time, when the rivers were highways, Maitland was an inland metropolis. In fact, for a time, Maitland was Australia's second largest city.
As the decades passed, Maitland evolved. It was an agricultural haven with its alluvial soils. It was the hub of early industries. It boasted grand buildings, bustling streets and a mighty river that was critical to it all.
In 1955—as it had many times before and as it has since—that river turned on our people of Maitland. Torrential rain in the upper Hunter made its way into the river system. It's estimated the flood volume of the Maitland 1955 flood was four times that of Sydney Harbour. Thousands of homes were lost. Many lives were lost. Indeed, for many years on our telegraph poles we sported, high above the eye line of a young girl, the 1955 flood level. It was a constant reminder to us all of just how mighty that event was, and it burned into the psyche of many people who lived in our area.
The flood also swept away much of our city's history.
I believe Maitland is a city that deserves to remember its history. It was once home to Caroline Chisholm, whose work with convict women afforded her a place on our
former paper $5 note. It's the birth place of legendary boxer Les Darcy. William Arnott, who brought us the famed Arnott's Biscuits, worked in Morpeth for 15 years as a baker. Thespians John Bell and Ruth Cracknell, both of whom have been given by the National Trust that wonderful title of living treasures, were born in Maitland.
I could go on, but my point is a city with such a rich and vibrant history deserves to have a place to recognise and celebrate that history now. It deserves to treasure its artefacts, and I'm delighted this soon may be a reality.
There is a massive fundraiser underway to purchase a suitable property and create a permanent home for the Maitland Regional Museum. The vision, according to the museum, is to create a cultural hub.
This initiative was launched last Friday night at the Maitland Regional Museum's fundraising dinner which was, I might add, held in beautiful Mansfield House.
I am proud to say history will note that I am among the foundation supporters of Maitland Regional Museum's push to find a permanent home, and I urge everyone to get behind that initiative.