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Morpeth bicentenary celebrations 200 years in the making

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Morpeth’s bicentennial celebrations have been more than 200 years in the making.

And, Maitland City Council is keen to ensure this weekend’s commemoration is a memorable milestone for the historic Hunter Valley township.

After COVID-19 forced the original event’s postponement last year, anticipation is high throughout the community, with thousands expected to converge on the former village.

Morpeth Museum’s Alan Todd, local resident Sanjex Seratti and Maitland City mayor Philip Penfold at Illalaung Park. Photo: Rod Thompson

There are plenty of activities planned for Saturday and Sunday 19 and 20 November, too.

Classic car displays, penny-farthing races, horse and carriage rides, an Arnott’s Biscuit trail and much more are sure to keep everyone entertained along Swan Street.

The Slow Food Earth Market will also take place from 10am until 4pm on Green Street.

Morpeth Museum’s Alan Todd admitted excitement had been brewing among locals and visitors alike.

“We’re looking forward to welcoming everyone this weekend,” he said.

“We’ll be leading two heritage walks through the town, charting ‘the good, the bad and the holy’ characters that transformed Morpeth from a key trading post for early pioneers into the cherished destination it is today.

“There are so many untold stories.

“What is Morpeth’s link to the mobile telephone currently sitting in our pockets? And, what links Morpeth to the world’s largest organisation of workers?

“Join us on a heritage walk to find out.”

The treks begin at 10am on Saturday and Sunday, departing from Queens Wharf.

Tickets are free but bookings are essential.

Morpeth Museum itself will open both days this weekend, with free entry.

“Visitors can marvel at the 10:1 scale model of the Sophia Jane, the paddle steamer that steamed into town for the first time on 14 June 1831,” Mr Todd said.

Sanjex Seratti will hit the streets of Morpeth on his penny-farthing. Photo: Rod Thompson

Saturday night’s program promises to go off with a bang, as an evening of entertainment and food trucks culminates with a laser show and fireworks display at 9pm.

The centrepiece of the event, however, is the Morpeth Bridge open day on Sunday, which will see the iconic 1898 timber crossing closed to traffic and decked out in picnic tables and planter boxes.

Eventgoers can pack a picnic or purchase a grazing platter from one of the many Morpeth businesses offering special bicentenary menu items before finding a spot on the bridge and enjoying a unique vantage point of the river.

“There’s such a strong sense of community spirit between the people, businesses, clubs and institutions that make up Morpeth,” Maitland City mayor Philip Penfold said.

“This event and all that it symbolises wouldn’t have been possible without the involvement and investment of the Morpeth community.

“It’s exciting to see it all finally come together for what promises to be a great weekend filled with family-friendly festivities about Morpeth’s history, heritage and people.”

Saturday starts with an official ceremony to commemorate the bicentenary at 10am on the main stage, at the corner of Swan and Berkley streets.

Also, exclusive to that day, are dragon boat racing from Queens Wharf and a resident’s fair at Closebourne House.

For further details on the Morpeth Bicentenary program, including timings for all heritage walks, live

performances and more, head to www.morpeth200.com.au.

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