Heritage Research and Publications

Page hero image

Would you like to research the history of an individual, family, community, building or place in Newcastle? Here are some of our favourite local, NSW and Australian resources to visit, many of which are online.

Please find out more about the many publications and documents we have produced to help our community identify, protect, support, and promote our rich cultural heritage.

Local heritage and history research resources

Newcastle Region Library collects, preserves and provides accss to a range of materials which document the history of Newcastle and the Hunter and its people. Whether you are a family historian, a student, a heritage consultant or interested in the heritage of the local area, Newcastle Region Library has the resources to help you.

The University of Newcastle also has an extensive collection of materials which document the history of Newcastle and the Hunter Region.

Lost Newcastle on Facebook is a group dedicated to sharing the stories of Newcastle's past. 

Hunter Living Histories is a blog which presents the history and culture of the Newcastle and Hunter Region through digital and creative collaboration, encompassing the Cultural Collections and the GLAMx Living Histories Digitisation Lab of the University of Newcastle.

Newcastle Family History Society can be found in the Library collection containing nearly 6,000 books and other print resources documenting family history in Newcastle and the Hunter. Also includes growing collection of USBs, CDs, maps, microfiche and microfilms.

Australian and NSW resources

Trove - a collaboration between the National Library of Australia and hundreds of partner organisations across Australia. It provides a substantial digital catalogue of newspapers, journal articles, images and maps from Australian libraries, universities, museums, galleries and archive collections.

State Library of NSW collects and preserves materials and evidence relating to our place in the world, accessible to everyone in New South Wales and beyond.

National Archives Australia cares for and makes accessible the most significant Australian Government records to help tell our national story – past, present and future.

Heritage NSW Digital Library - a wide range of specialist heritage books and materials, accessible online including copies of conservation management plans and heritage assessment reports.

Caroline Simpson Library and Research Collection - A collection in a wide range of formats, including architectural pattern books, architectural fragments, wall and floor coveriCaroline Simpson Library and Research Collection Historic Houses Trusts, manufacturers’ trade catalogues which provide a history of house and garden design and interior furnishing in NSW. It supports Sydney Living Museums’ work of interpreting and managing places of cultural significance in NSW and provides specialist research resource for scholars, heritage and conservation practitioners, museum professionals, designers and tertiary students.

Railway Archives of the Australian Railway Historical Society NSW -  Archive of original railway documents, engineering drawings, photographs, film, sound recordings, manuals, timetables and reports managed by The Australian Railway Historical Society.

For more than 50 years, AIATSIS has developed and been the custodian of a unique collection that has contributed to building understanding and appreciation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ culture and heritage. The collection includes academic research materials and works by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge keepers, artists, film makers, storytellers and writers. It also includes important work by non indigenous people documenting the cultures, lives and experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Council Heritage Policy and Strategies

City of Newcastle is committed to ensure heritage assets under its care and control are well regulated and managed with identification, preservation, conservation, celebration and promotion of the city’s rich cultural heritage, based on the principles of the Burra Charter and best practice.

The Newcastle Heritage Policy (PDF), adopted by Council on 25 June 2013, provides a statement of commitment to the principles of best practice heritage management, and underpins the identification, preservation, conservation, celebration and promotion of the City's rich cultural heritage.

The Heritage Strategy 2020-2030 adopted by Council on 27 October, 2020 provides a strategic framework to guide Council’s management of heritage matters over the next ten years and ensures CN meets its statutory obligations and community expectations for regulating and managing heritage.

The Aboriginal Heritage Management Strategy 2018-2021 (PDF), adopted by Council on 26 June 2018, summarises previous work completed to understand Aboriginal peoples' association with the land around Newcastle, the current legislative framework that guides the management of Aboriginal sites and current initiatives underway across Council that seek to raise awareness and celebrate Aboriginal culture.  The document includes strategies and actions to ensure ongoing management of that culture in a respectful manner.

The Newcastle Archaeological Management Strategy (PDF) was adopted by Council on 20 August 2015. It provides a framework for the management and conservation of archaeological resources in the Newcastle City Centre.

Heritage Places Strategic Plan and Plans of Management 2014 (PDF) was adopted by Council in order to support the management of City of Newcastle’s heritage listed parks and open spaces.

City of Newcastle has a number of assets listed in the State Heritage Register which are under its care and control. Conservation Management Plans (CMP) are the main guiding document for the conservation and management of State listed heritage places under the Heritage Act 1977. It is a document which sets out what is significant about a place and consequently what policies are appropriate which enable that significance to be retained in its future use and development. For most places it deals with the management of change and provides site specific exemptions from Heritage Act approval. CMPs for CN owned or managed sites include:

Heritage Studies: Aboriginal Cultural Heritage

The City of Newcastle engaged Australian Museum Business Services (AMBS) in 2003 to undertake a city-wide study of Aboriginal heritage across the Newcastle LGA. A final report was produced in December 2005. In conjunction with the Guraki committee, this Study reveals a rich Aboriginal landscape and very realistic prospects that in many parts of the Newcastle LGA, including the Newcastle city centre, Aboriginal cultural material is likely to be present under the modern ground surface.  The study aimed to develop a management framework for the identification, consideration and management of Aboriginal cultural heritage, providing CN with a set of guiding principles for understanding and valuing Aboriginal cultural heritage.

Heritage Studies: Archaeology

The Newcastle Archaeological Management Plan Review 2013, and the original Newcastle Archaeological Management Plan 1997, are the parent documents that support the Newcastle Archaeological Management Strategy 2015. They were prepared to give an indication of the nature and extent of historical archaeological resources in central Newcastle and to provide a framework to ensure historical archaeological resources are recognised and integrated into the urban planning framework.

While the Newcastle Archaeological Management Plan has no legal status, it is a planning tool that provides an overview of areas that require the consideration of archaeological issues in conjunction with any development applications. Both of these documents are available for viewing in the Local Studies Section of Newcastle Region Library and are also listed below.

Newcastle Archaeological Management Plan 1997, prepared by Suters Architects

The Newcastle Archaeological Management Plan 1996/1997 map shows locations of indicative archaeological sites (PDF)

Newcastle Archaeological Management Plan Review 2013, prepared by Edward Higginbotham & Associates

Heritage Studies: Built Heritage

Our city has a long and proud history of recognising our heritage places. Since the 1980s we have actively engaged with our community to support, identify and protect our heritage, publishing heritage studies and reports to assist in caring for our heritage.

‘Built heritage’ generally relates to items of heritage significance that are above-ground, and can include buildings, elements, moveable items, groups of items, distinct areas or landscapes (such as a heritage conservation area). It is distinct from archaeology in that built heritage elements are generally immediately visible and able to be inspected and assessed.

In March 1984, we published the Newcastle Inner Areas Conservation Planning Study, prepared on behalf of Council by Suters Busteed Lester Firth Architects. You can source this in the Local History Library in  the Newcastle Region Library.

The City's comprehensive heritage study was prepared on behalf of Council by Suters Architects in association with Dr John Turner, Meredith Walker, Gardner Browne, Dr Damaris Bairstow and Geoffrey Britton. The City Wide Heritage Study was adopted by Council in 1997 and resulted in an additional 350 heritage items being recognised by their inclusion in the Newcastle LEP heritage schedule, and created a management framework for decision makers. 

Please note - Volume 2 is not available on line as it has been converted into the Newcastle Heritage Register. Hard copies are available from Local Studies at City Library.

In 2001, Ecotecture Pty Ltd were engaged to review objections and nominations (heritage listings) to the Newcastle LEP 2003. The final Ecotecture 2001 Heritage Assessment Report (PDF) also contains a review of regionally significant heritage items and new Heritage Conservation Areas. The recommendations were adopted by Council as part of the finalisation of the LEP exhibition process.

Ecocenture Heritage Assessment Report 2005

In 2005, Ecotecture Pty Ltd were engaged to begin an assessment of the potential heritage items nominated by the community and contained in Volume 4 of the City Wide Heritage Study. The recommendations were adopted by Council and numerous heritage items were gazetted into the Newcastle LEP 2003 in April 2009. View the Ecotecture 2005 Heritage Assessment Report (PDF) - Assessment of potential heritage items stage 1.

Council adopted the Heritage Conservation Areas Review Report (PDF) at its meeting of 28 June 2016. The recommendations were adopted by Council and new heritage conservation areas in the Junction and Hamilton, boundary adjustments to the existing Cooks Hill, The Hill and Hamilton South Heritage Conservation Areas and a new heritage item for Parkway Avenue were gazetted into the Newcastle Local Environmental Plan 2012 between November 2018 and August 2020.