I spend a lot of my time as the Member for Paterson explaining the boundaries of my electorate.
From the west, the electorate of Paterson takes in Neath and Lochinvar, then covers Kurri Kurri and Maitland along the Maitland River in the north, and extends to include Port Stephens in the east.
A common follow up question is why the township of Paterson isn't in the electorate that bears the same name, assuming that's why it was called Paterson in the first place.
While some federal electorates across Australia are named after the area they represent, most are in honour of an important figure in Australia's history.
And so it is with the Paterson electorate.
The town of Paterson and the Paterson River were named in honour of Colonel William Paterson, a soldier and botanist who served as Lieutenant-Governor of the Colony of New South Wales.
When it was established in 1949, the electorate of Paterson included these areas, leading many people to believe this is also how the electorate got its name.
However, in 1988 the electorate was dissolved and when it was re-introduced in 1992, the boundary moved further south.
This led many others to believe the name was actually in honour of Banjo Paterson, a journalist, war correspondent and poet.
In truth, both theories are correct.
William Paterson (1755 - 1810) was from a humble Scottish background.
He was a soldier, an explorer and a botanist, collecting specimens of unknown plants, insects and rocks to send back to England.
He explored the lower Hunter and Blue Mountains, and eventually rose to be Lieutenant Governor of the colony.
In that role, he came into conflict with James Macarthur (one of the founders of the wool industry) and fought a dual with him.
In his later life, William Paterson was sent to secure northern Tasmania to commence settlements for the British Government to prevent the French claiming any of the island, but died on his way back to England.
Andrew 'Banjo' Paterson (1864 - 1941) grew up in country New South Wales on his prosperous squatter family's property.
He was educated at Sydney Grammar School, became a solicitor, played polo and rode to hounds.
Although he belonged to Sydney society clubs, it was his portrayal of country life - the battlers and their struggle with the environment - for which he is best remembered.
Banjo Paterson was a prolific writer for the Bulletin Magazine, but he is best known for poetry like 'The Man from Snowy River' and the song 'Waltzing Matilda'.
Both William Paterson and Banjo Paterson contributed significantly to Australia's history as a colony and then a nation.
It's an honour to serve as the Member that honours their memory and contribution to our nation.
Special thank you to Barb Heaton for her knowledge and wisdom in all things history in the Hunter
How to contact Meryl Swanson's office:
- The office is located at 35 Sturgeon Street, Raymond Terrace, NSW, 2324.
- The postal address is PO Box 156 Raymond Terrace, NSW, 2324. The phone number is 02 4983 2401.
- If you need to contact me in Canberra, the postal address there is:
- PO Box 6022, House of Representatives, Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2600. Phone 02 6277 4248.