Maitland and District Historical Society will host an event on Saturday to mark the publication of the book 'A Remarkably Fine Place' by Jim Sparke.
Jim will take part in a conversation with agriculturalist and keen historian Cameron Archer about his book.
Maitland has a number of families who can trace their time in the area back to the early days of European settlement in the Hunter Valley and the Sparke family is one.
Their Hunter Valley story began when seven male members, led by patriarch Edward Sparke Snr, arrived from Devon in 1824. Family members were granted land in the area of Hexham, Upper Hexham (now known as Tarro) as well as elsewhere in the Hunter Valley.
They became a successful pastoral family and part of the colonial establishment. They donated land to the Anglican Church, built the once very popular Wheat Sheaf Inn at Hexham as well as the Hexham wharf. This wharf played a major role in early transport on the Hunter River.
Like much of the landed colonial establishment in the lower Hunter, they became caught up in the severe depression of the 1840s. This ruined many, but their entrepreneurial talents and hard work helped them to survive. They had to sell much of their land to pay debts, but one of them - Edward William - established a stock and station agency which became one of the largest and most enduring in the Hunter Valley and beyond.
Other members of the family owned Stradbroke, on the Paterson River, and land near the Maitland saleyards which was used for the holding of livestock. The family made a major contribution to the development of the Hunter Valley.
Jim Sparke, who grew up on Stradbroke and lives in Maitland, studied Rural Science at the University of New England and had a long career in the Australian beef and related industries.
The talk will be held on Saturday at (March 7) at the Maitland and District Historical Society, 3 Cathedral St, Maitland (enter carpark through Preschool Lane off High Street).
Light refreshments will be available.