Maitland and Morpeth
Convicts were allowed to establish farms here before 1820. Many emancipated convicts obtained small land grants as the towns of Maitland and Morpeth were being developed in the late 1820s. Both towns contain many buildings which date back to the convict era. Situated at the head of navigation on the Hunter River, these towns became the commercial hub of the fertile valley. Convict stockades in East and West Maitland housed the many convicts who formed an important labour force in the development of the Hunter Valley. In 1824 they built the first road between Newcastle and Wallis Plains, and in the 1830s a convict iron gang quarried stone at Morpeth for the walls of the Maitland Gaol. Convict gangs also built sections of the gaol.