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When the traditional land of the Darkinjung Aboriginal people was settled in the 1820s, it was primarily to take advantage of the regions rosewood and cedar forests, with secondary agricultural farms being set up with tobacco and grain crops. Free settler John Campbell, a son of a Scottish laird, was granted 2560 acres of land west of Wollombi in 1826 and named it Cessnock after a castle from his home town.
Already a popular camping stop-off point for travellers going between the main trading centres of Wollombi and Maitland, the land was subdivided into smaller farms and a village in 1853 with the town distinguished by the popular Cessnock Inn built in 1856. Although most farmers set up traditional grain and wheat farms, it would be significant that several farmers would set up fledgling vineyards, starting a tradition of quality winemaking in the Hunter region. The region would go through a boom period following the discovery of coal in the 1890s and by the 1940s the collieries surrounding Cessnock were breaking the State's production records, and the population had swelled to 12000.
After the close of the nearby collieries in the 1960s and its main industry extinguished, Cessnock was drained of population and the town was forced to reinvent its profile and local economy. Now a service centre for the Hunter, this bustling city acts as a gateway between the coastal towns and the Greater Hunter winemaking regions beyond it.
SSC16703: Cessnock - Bal