Seaham is a suburb of the Port Stephens local government area in the Hunter Region of New South Wales, Australia.
- Area:38.638 km2
- Elevation:16 m
- Local Government Area:Port Stephens Council
Seaham is a suburb of the Port Stephens local government area in the Hunter Region of New South Wales, Australia. It is located on the Williams River which flows into the Hunter River 14.6 km (9.1 mi) downstream from Seaham village at Raymond Terrace.
It is a rural community supporting a small but expanding population. While the actual village of Seaham, which is located in the north-eastern corner of the suburb, is relatively compact and composed of only a handful of streets, the suburb itself covers an area of approximately 42.8 km2 (16.5 sq mi). At the 2011 census, Seaham had a population of 1,025. Greater Seaham covers an even larger area and incorporates East Seaham, Brandy Hill, Eagleton and Eskdale Estate.
## First inhabitants
In 1938, Walter John Enright wrote of the district's traditional owners:
"When the first settlers arrived in Seaham, the land was occupied by the Garewagal, a clan or sept of the Worimi. The territory of the Worimi was bounded by the Hawkesbury and Manning Rivers respectively on the south and north, the ocean on the east, and extended as far west as the junction of Glendon Brook and the Hunter River. The language was called Kattang. It was not as complex as that of the people further north on the coast. The name of the sept is derived from 'gal' or 'kal' meaning a division or clan, and 'Garewa,' the sea. The Hunter was the southern boundary, Port Stephens the north, the ocean the east, and they roamed inland as far as Glendon Junction. They were food gatherers, that is to say, they did not cultivate but gathered whatever was found in a state of nature, whether of vegetable or animal life, except such as were poisonous and in the latter class they did not consider snakes... Totemism was one of the most important features of his (sic) life. Each individual had a totem and there was also a totem for the female clan and another for the male clan, and the Karaji had also a totem. No individul would kill or gather what was his totem...For carrying food, bags of excellent quality were made of native twine as was also the scoop net used for fishing. Water was carried in a hollowed piece of wood or bark. Fishing hooks were made of shell."
On the impacts of colonisation in the Seaham district, Enright says:
"Within the space of this article it is only possible to touch, and that lightly, on certain aspects of the native life. The newcomers who dispossessed the native of his hunting grounds without compensating him did not understand his language nor did they know his culture. The native was cowed by the power and culture of the white. He was crushed and humiliated when he saw the grounds that were sacred to him profaned and his people despised."
On the subject of massacres of Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islander people by settlers following colonisation, Enright writes:
"History does not tell us of any direct violence offered to the whites in the district of Seaham. It is, fortunately, free of records of those brutal and cowardly massacres, not only of men, but women and children, that are such frightful blots on the history of other parts of our State. Notwithstanding that, not a single full-blooded native of the Williams River is now existing."
The Seaham district and environs, however, may not have been entirely without such "frightful blots" on its history. In 1877, a massacre at nearby Wallalong was recounted in correspondance published by the Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser:
"[Traditional owners] suffered a good deal of injustice at the hands of some of the first settlers, and there is now living a man who was present, as he admits, when a party had formed for the purpose of punishing the blacks for pulling the cobs of maize in the field, and carrying it off in their nets to their camps. Observing some smoke rising from the midst of the Wallalong bush, they armed themselves with muskets, and reached unobserved the camp, where a considerable number of men, women, and children were. They fired at once upon them, killing some and wounding others. The rest fled through the bush, pursued by the whites, and the whole of the natives took to the water intervening between the brush and the high land, towards which it gradually deepened, and some of the poor creatures were drowned. My informant, now a very old man, while expressing regret as to occurrence, said the worst part of the whole affray was, they afterwards discovered, that not one of those who were "wanted" was among them."
Reflecting on the massacre, the correspondant goes on to remark that:
"The haymakers in the Wallalong fields have little suspected the occurrence of these tragical scenes on the exact spots where they have stood when engaged in their peaceful occupation."
While the exact location of the massacre is not provided, an account of floods in 1857 describes how "the first breach it made was at Wallalong, whence the water gradually found its way over a considerable portion of Bowthorne, Hopewell, Barty's Swamps (sic), and all the low lands in that direction". To the east, Wallalong is separated from the "high land" of Brandy Hill, previously known as Ahalton and Warren's Station Paddock, by Barties Swamp. It is possible that the shootings and drownings described as occurring "between the brush and the high land" took place on or about Barties Swamp, below present-day Brandy Hill.
## Beginnings through the 19th century
In 1822, Henry Dangar began surveying the Hunter Valley for settlement. Dangar divided the land into counties and parishes, reserving land for a township where the village of Seaham is now situated. About this time, a military station existed at Seaham in the vicinity of what is now Wighton Street. The village at Seaham was proclaimed in the Government Gazette on 26 July 1838. In the ensuing years, the village became a crossroads between neighbouring centres such as Raymond Terrace and Maitland.
In 1838 Dr Henry Carmichael established a vineyard at "Porphyry Point", north of the village. In the ensuing decades the vineyard proved prosperous, winning numerous awards in Australia and Europe. The last vintage at Porphyry was in 1915, after which the name and trade mark was sold to Lindemans.By 1854 the village comprised a post office, National School, Wesleyan Chapel, and an English Church. Classified advertising from the time suggests the town was low-lying and scattered between the river and swampland.
In 1893 homes near the Williams River were inundated during a disastrous flood that caused considerable damage and loss of livestock.
## 20th century
Prior to the establishment of the railway line between Maitland and Paterson in 1911, a line through Seaham was one of three alternative routes for the North Coast Railway. The proposed line would have connected Morpeth and Clarence Town, via Seaham. The surveyed line is visible on an 1887 map of Seaham, indicating a railway crossing over the Williams River between the township and Brandon House. At a public meeting in Clarence Town during October 1882 it was argued that the line through Seaham would present "more facilities and less engineering difficulties [than the proposed Maitland to Paterson route]". In 1903, the Seaham Hotel opened at the intersection of Dixon and Vine Streets. Thomas McDonald was publican until 1920, at which point Alfred Moore acquired the licence. A decrease in traffic and population forced a later licensee, Jack Laurie, to close the hotel in December 1932 and leave the district. In September 1935, the two-storey brick building was completely destroyed by fire.In 1913 a flood caused similar damage to the 1893 flood, destroying crops and drowning livestock. The impact of the 1955 Hunter Valley floods on Seaham was not documented.
## 21st century
In 2002 celebrations were held in Seaham to commemorate the sesquicentenary of Seaham Public School, the centenary of the Seaham School of Arts and the centenary of the consecration of St. Andrew's Anglican Church. These celebrations were unified as "Seaham Celebrates" and included events that were similar to those held at the 1938 Seaham centenary celebrations.
# Things to do