One of the most picturesque parts of our local government area is Chinamans Hollow and Maybury Peace Park.
Right now the Liquidambar trees lining Cessnock Road, which cuts the parklands in half, are ablaze with colour. The site is not just a natural green hollow connecting Weston with Abermain; it also holds a deep and rich history.
At the Abermain end of Chinamans Hollow is a large cricket oval built over 110 years ago. It was home to the Weston Cricket Club and two local vigoro teams. The first cricket game was held there in December 1907 when Weston played Kurri Kurri, drawing a large and enthusiastic crowd.
In 1923 vigoro arrived in the Lower Hunter and was an immediate hit. The Weston Magpies vigoro team formed, with their distinctive black and white uniforms. Seven years later a second local team, Weston Shamrocks, arrived. Both teams played regularly on the cricket oval and claimed the space so much that it was known as 'the Shamrock's ground, Chinamans Hollow'.
READ MORE: Vigoro craze hits town in 1923
By 1926 the oval was fenced and had a locked gate to prevent unauthorised use. This did not faze one local, who regularly snuck their dairy cow onto the oval to use it as a handy field. The cricketers were mightily annoyed at the cow's presence on their pitch, along with its droppings. An additional problem was that the errant cow refused to move, leading to a human-bovine standoff. Unfortunately, the historical record does not tell us who won!
The whole of Chinamans Hollow is a flood zone. It was this flooding that forced Chinese market gardener, George Ah Wah, real name Mock Kim Wah, to leave. Born in China in 1848, he immigrated to Australia where he first had successful market gardens in Victoria.
In the late 19th century George came to the Hunter Valley and established a market garden supplying fresh vegetables in the then unnamed Hollow. After multiple floods continuously washed away his vegetable gardens, obliterating all his hard work he left, moving to the Riverina and eventually to the outskirts of Bathurst. He continued to be a successful market gardener right up until his death in 1934.
Would you like to know more about Chinamans Hollow and its fascinating history? Join us on a free local history walk on Friday, May 27 to uncover what lies behind this pretty part of our local government area.
To book, call Cessnock Library on 4993 4399, or visit www.cessnock.nsw.gov.au/libraries.
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