Home' Hunter Its People : Hunter-Glory Days June 2012 Contents 48
74. Legend launched
WILLIAM THE FOURTH LAUNCHED AT
CLARENCE TOWN: OCTOBER, 1831
A transport and industrial revolution began in
Australia on October 22, 1831, when the ﬁrst
coastal steamer wholly built in Australia, William
the Fourth, was launched.
The colony of NSW was just 44 years old when
the vessel began 30 years of coastal trade that
made it a legend of Australia’s maritime history.
Built at the Deptford yards of William Lowe and
James Marshall at Clarence Town on the Williams
River, the ship operated on the Hunter until the
end of 1835, with occasional trips to Port Stephens,
Carrington and Brisbane Waters.
It went on to provide a service to Port Macquarie
in 1836 and operated on the South Coast to Jervis
Bay in the 1840s, before ending up in China in the
river trade in 1862, and then being sold to Japan.
75. Breaking a game
EDDIE CHARLTON SETS WORLD SNOOKER
Eddie Charlton was ranked number three snooker
player in the world for ﬁve consecutive years from
1976/77; was runner up three times in the world
championships; in 1972, ’73 and ’80 was the BBC
Pot Black winner and recorded the ﬁrst century
break in that competition; and in 1964 became
Australian professional champion which he held,
with one exception, for the next 20 years. But in his
opinion his most outstanding achievement came at
Kempsey/Cresent Head Country Club in 1967.
On tour for the Royal NSW Institute for Deaf and
Blind Children, he had to play two opponents a
game each. He broke in the ﬁrst frame, made a red
and cleared the table for a break of 137. The next
opponent came to the table, the referee re-racked
the balls and he potted a red and cleared the table
a second time for a break of 135, making a world-
record running break of 272. Neither opponent had
a shot. Even for a player of Charlton’s ability it was
an amazing effort.
Born in Merewether, Charlton learned to play at
his grandfather’s billiards club at Swansea. At 11 he
played an exhibition match against the legendary
Walter Lindrum to help the war effort.
Charlton wasn’t only a snooker (and billiards)
player. He played ﬁrst-grade soccer and rugby, was
sweep of the Swansea/Belmont surfboat crew that
won an Australian championship, was a boxer who
fought a three-round exhibition with Dave Sands
and played ﬁrst-grade cricket.
He turned to professional snooker in 1963,
becoming Australia’s “Mr Snooker” from his high
proﬁle derived through the BBC’s Pot Black TV
series. He formed the Australian Professional
Players Association and was made a Member of
the Order of Australia in 1980. Charlton died in
REG DATE CAPTAINS
AUSTRALIA: MAY, 1947
Probably Australia’s greatest-
ever goal-scoring footballer,
Reg Date only captained
Australia once, against South
Africa on May 31, 1947, at
Sydney Showground. Not
surprisingly, he scored two
goals. In the ﬁve matches
Australia played against
South Africa that tour, the
Wallsend wonder scored eight
Date was a big, powerful centre forward widely
accepted as Australia’s most proliﬁc striker and
one of the greatest footballers the country has
produced, with the consensus being that had
he accepted one of the many offers he had to
try his luck in England he would have been an
Between 1937 and 1953, Date scored 664 goals
in competition games, including nine in one match,
seven twice and six three times.
He played for Wallsend before three years
at Canterbury-Bankstown from 1945 to 1947,
breaking the club’s goal-scoring records for three
consecutive seasons and creating an Australian
record by scoring 73 goals in 1947. He returned to
Wallsend to ﬁnish his career.
Amazingly, he did it all with a piece of steel
ﬂoating in his knee, an injury he received as a
youngster working in a Newcastle foundry to build
himself up. Told an operation might end his career,
he kept it secret and played on.
Date began playing with Plattsburgh Primary
School and scored 94 goals for the school in 1933
alone, in one match scoring 18 goals and in another
as a junior 21 goals.
Date retired in 1953 and died in 1995, well known
throughout Newcastle as the publican of the
Albion Hotel. His freakish goalscoring ability was
recognised in 2000 when he was given the number
10 jersey in the Australian team of the century.
JIMMY JACKSON DEBUTS FOR ARSENAL:
England’s Arsenal Football Club is one of the
most famous in the world - who would believe
their captain in their inaugural ﬁrst division
season in 1903/04 would have learnt his soccer at
Hamilton Academical and Adamstown Rosebuds in
James “Jimmy” Jackson was born in Scotland
in 1875, but his family emigrated to Australia when
he was two and he grew up and learned his football
in Newcastle before returning to Scotland at 18. He
signed for Rangers in 1894, moved to Newcastle
in 1897 and then to what was Woolwich Arsenal in
1899, making his debut for the club on September
2 that year. He was a regular for the next six years,
playing 204 matches, and was captain of the club
when it won promotion to ﬁrst division.
He played and managed other clubs after
leaving Arsenal in 1905, among them his old club
Rangers, before retiring to become a blacksmith.
His son, James Jnr, became club captain of
Liverpool, while his nephew, Archie Jackson,
became a Test cricketer for Australia.
78. The little boat
LAKE YACHT WINS FIRST SYDNEY –
HOBART: JANUARY, 1945
When a group of sailors decided to have a little
boat race from Sydney to Hobart in 1945, nine
yachts lined up to face the starter’s gun. One of
the babies of the ﬁeld was a double-ended 35-foot
cutter called Rani, designed by Arthur Barber and
built by Les Steel at Speers Point.
A few days later the little boat, skippered by the
Royal Navy’s John Illingworth, was lost. With a gale
blowing in Bass Strait, Rani went missing and the
decision to let it race was labelled a blunder. Then,
suddenly, after being given up by race organisers,
Rani appeared in the Derwent River. It went on to
take the ﬁrst of what has become one of the most gruelling yacht
races in the world, the 630-nautical mile Sydney to Hobart.
Rani won both line honours and handicap that year, but her
race record – it was the ﬁrst, after all – of six days, 14 hours and 22
minutes, has since been lowered to one day, 18 hours, 40 minutes
and 10 seconds.
Rani Close at Lake Macquarie is named in honour of the yacht.
After Rani’s success Steel also built the Struen Marie, the handicap
winner in 1951, and Rival, the 37-foot sloop that was handicap
winner in 1961. Another Lake Macquarie yacht, Picollo, took the
blue water classic’s handicap honours in 1976.
HEATH FRANCIS SPRINTS TO PARALYMPIC GOLD:
Heath Francis describes his 400-metre, gold-medal winning
performance at the 2008 Beijing Games as the greatest race he’s
ever had. It was probably something he wouldn’t have dreamed of
when he lost his arm at the age of seven, caught in a meat grinder
on his family farm at Booral.
Francis never let his accident hold him back, going on to race at
three paralympics - Sydney 2000, Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008,
as well as taking gold at world championships and Commonwealth
In Sydney 2000 he won gold in the 400 metres and two relays,
adding silver for the 200 metres. In Athens he added three silver
and two bronze medals, before striking gold again in Beijing in the
100, 200 and 400 metres and taking a bronze in the 4x100 metre
relay. Along the way he broke two world records, one of which had
stood for 16 years.
Francis is just one of the Hunter’s golden paralympians,
including Joseph Walker who competed in nine swimming events
at the 1992 games in Spain to win nine gold medals and set two
world records. He went on to represent Australia in basketball.
Wheelchair racer Kurt Fearnley has three paralympic golds from
Athens and Beijing, plus ﬁve silver and a bronze, and has achieved
amazing success in marathons around the world including multiple
successes in New York, Chicago, Seoul, Paris, London and Sydney,
as well as crawling the Kokoda Trail in New Guinea in 2009.
All three athletes have been awarded the OAM.
80. A small clump
ofanisland. . .
CAPTAIN COOK SIGHTS THE HUNTER: MAY, 1770
“Thursday, 10 May, 1770: Gentle breezes and clear weather,” says
the private log of Lt James Cook on board the Endeavour. “A small
clump of an island lying close inshore S. 82 deg. West”.
That is how Captain Cook recorded the ﬁrst European sighting
of what is now Newcastle and the Hunter Valley, that “small clump
of an island” now known as Nobbys.
Cook sailed on that day more than 200 years ago, not venturing
closer to ﬁnd the harbour that lay beyond, leaving the “honour”
of being the ﬁrst Europeans to set foot in the Hunter almost
certainly to convicts escaping from Port Jackson in the early
1790s. However, as history now decrees, credit for the European
discovery of the Hunter River falls to Lt John Shortland, of the
In September, 1797, Shortland set off from Port Jackson chasing
a group of convicts who had stolen the grain boat Cumberland
from Pittwater and headed north. He reached Port Stephens
before giving up and heading home, and on the way back on
September 9, he pulled in around that “small clump of island”
and found the harbour. Shortland had a quick look around, but
reported “we had rain which prevented my doing so much as I
otherwise should”. He sent a letter to his father a year later saying
his discovery would “in a little time . . . be a great acquisition to the
When he arrived back in Sydney on September 19 and told of his
discovery, traders quickly followed his footsteps north seeking coal
and cedar. The glorious days of the Hunter Valley had begun.
Eddie Charlton, 1900s
Heath Francis, Beijing 2008
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