Newcastle, New South Wales, is Australia's 6th largest city and an important port. The city is located about 160 kilometres north of Sydney. Despite the city's coal-mining and industrial heritage it has plenty of interesting sights to offer, not the least being the convict ruins and fine Victorian architecture. The city's fine white sandy beaches are regarded as some of the finest in Australia, not to mention Hawaii to where Newcastle sends most of the sand exported each year. By-the-way the surfing is pretty good too, as Mark Richards, one of Australia's finest surfers can testify. As most coal-mining in Newcastle was underground, a legacy of the coal mining companies are the large areas of eucalyptus forested hills which provide a wonderful green backdrop to the many vistas. One of the finest is the view west as the sun sets behind Mount Sugarloaf. Newcastle's very hilly terrain also provides many people in the suburbs with fine views of the coastline and out to sea where many coal carriers await their turn for loading. The coal export capacity of the port makes it one of the larger coal ports in the world now, but with its continuing and rapid expansion will one day be the world's largest. Prior to the city's founding, the area was occupied by the local Koori tribes. The Hunter River and surrounding estuarine waters of Lake Macquarie and Fullerton Cove were rich with marine-life. These tribes apparently had a very intricate trading network with inland tribes. The mouth of the Hunter River by which the present day city of Newcastle is sited, was discovered in 1797 by Lieutenant John Shortland RN. After the discovery of coal in 1799, a settlement was founded in 1801 as a penal colony, however this was abandoned in 1802. In March 1804, Lieutenant Charles Menzies arrived at the mouth of the Hunter River to re-establish the settlement. This was named Newcastle by Governor King, but for many years until around 1830, the settlement was known as «King's Town». The convicts principally mined coal, but also cut timber and burnt lime to supply the growing Sydney Town to the south. Newcastle gained a reputation for being one of the most brutal outposts of the convict system. As more free settlers moved into the Hunter Valley from 1820 onwards, most of the convicts were removed allowing Newcastle to be declared a free town in 1824. Despite the status of Newcastle as a free town, the growth in the population remained very slow. In the years leading up to the 1850s the Australian Agricultural Company held a monopoly of the town's coal production. Convicts were the initial workforce, but due to their lack of mining skills and laziness, even under the harsh conditions, the company sought free settlers from overseas to mine the coal. Thus the new immigrants to Newcastle mainly consisted of Welsh and Cornish people. After 1847 other coal companies were allowed to mine Newcastle's coal. This was also the year that according to the Hunter Valley Research Foundation, Newcastle was proclaimed a City. It was also during 1847, that the Anglican Diocese of Newcastle was founded by Royal Letters Patent. The initial boundaries of the new See were defined: From the Hawkesbury River in the South, to the 21st Parallel of Latitude on the North, and from the Pacific on the East, to the boundary of South Australia - the 141st degree of Longitude - on the West. This area has subsequently been diminished through the creation of new Dioceses. On the 29th June, St. Peter's Day, of 1847, the Reverend William Tyrrell was consecrated in Westminster Abbey as the first Bishop of Newcastle and on the 30th January of the following year (Dr. Tyrrell's 41st birthday) he was installed in the Cathedral at Newcastle. For more information about the Anglican Diocese of Newcastle and its history, visit here. There were apparently still many Koori people living in the area until the 1850s. Disease, famine and marginalisation by the new settlers brought about their ultimate demise and therefore disappearance from the area. Before the monopoly of the Australian Agricultural Company was curtailed, the town's growth was very slow. By 1856 there were still only 1,534 people. With the influx of the new coal companies and the migrants to work for them, Newcastle's population began to rapidly grow so that by 1880 it was larger than Hobart, the Capital of Tasmania. Like many other areas in Australia the city suffered greatly in the depression of the 1890s. It was not until the advent of World War I, and the establishment of the BHP Steelworks in 1915, did Newcastle recover. Newcastle was a major industrial city of Australia during the 1930s through to the 1980s. Many smaller allied industries to the Steelworks were swallowed by the growing giant of BHP, which has since become a transnational company, as the steelmaking process was streamlined throughout the 1930s to the 1950s. The 1960s saw the zenith of the plant, with its capacity being the highest in the world. Rationalisation of industry in Australia in the 1980s saw the loss of many manufacturing jobs, particularly those allied with steelmaking. The city has increasingly become a service centre with the majority of jobs now in the tertiary sector. Newcastle now has a population of over 300,000 people and overall services a population of 500,000 people who reside in the Hunter Valley Region of New South Wales. The major employment areas for the population now lie in the health and education areas. Still with a heavy emphasis on its manufacturing institutions however, Newcastle was dealt a massive blow on 29th April, 1997. It was announced on that day that BHP would close the Steelworks. This resulted in the loss of 2,500 workers over the next three years, and the potential loss of 8,000 more jobs in allied industries. Was this the death blow though? Well as the tertiary sector now employs most working people, this did not have as great an impact as first thought. Newcastle is now reinventing itself, finding new ways to employ people. One up side of the closure of the BHP Steelworks has been the increased cleanliness of the city, drawing in many people to visit and also to move permanently to Newcastle. The city has many fine institutions, the largest being the University of Newcastle. Newcastle has many other sights and events worth a visit. There are Jazz festivals, Show week and the Mattara festival which form just a few of the important events in the cultural life of Newcastle. The city has a vibrant nightlife: fine restaurants, theatres for movies and plays, concert halls, and nightclubs. The city's citizens (called Novocastrians) are also very proud of their sporting deeds. Every weekend you can see Mums and Dads urging their children to play faster and harder. With their strong working-class ethic and fierce loyalty, Novocastrians always provide good support for their sporting teams, no matter what the game. And no matter what the game, all visiting teams fear playing Newcastle on its home turf. This though is only the surface of a typical Novocastrian. If you are lost or waylaid there are plenty of kind hearted citizens to help you out. In many ways Newcastle is really just a big country town. In 1997, Novocastrians celebrated the bicentenary of the European discovery of Newcastle and its harbour.