Around the gasworks

I can’t imagine Styx Creek without the gasworks, or the gasworks without Styx Creek.

I got an email from wrenasmir who had taken it upon himself to noodle around there and take a few snaps. The results are up on his Tumblr site, with quotes from the book. Great stuff, I have to say (the photos, not the words!). I never cease to be surprised at how the tower – such a one-dimensional object against the horizon – can manage to look different every time someone captures it on film.

I called this post “Around the gasworks” because I have lots of photos of round things, and so it seemed like an hilarious pun that would have the blogosphere rocking with appreciative chuckles. (Round = around. Geddit? Yeah! Me too!)

ELGAS have put quite a bit of work into refurbishing their wee excision thing and have got lots of new bottles. I was going round at dusk the other day and in the moody half-light these things looked to me like half-build cybermen.


A loooong time ago I came across an ancient golf caddy hidden in some overgrown lantana. There were no clubs but in the cross bar was an old wooden box filled with tees and pencilled score cards. I wondered at the time whether the gasworks people played golf during their lunchtimes; probably not great OH&S to have people slugging balls around but maybe they had a bit of a pitch-and-putt deal going with a seven iron and a putter. Anyway, this golf ball sprouted from the earth the other day, like some dimpled fungus.


People often make (potentially fatal) mistakes when gathering mushrooms and fungi to eat. For the purposes of comparison, this is a mushroom. It is edible, unlike the golfball.

I saw these coloured things sticking up, near Chatham Road. As I got closer I realised that they belonged to a child’s table, with a Pooh Bear motif. If I wished to dispose of such a piece of furniture would I really go to the effort of taking it to the gasworks and slinging over the fence?


Back on plants, the cotton balls are back. They attract clouds of wanderer butterflies as the larva (or caterpillars, or both, I can’t remember the fine details) eat the gooey white secretion that comes out of them. Bet you didn’t know that.


I came across this old photo of the Newcastle Gas and Coke gasometers, on the National Library of Australia website. I think they’re probably from the gasworks down by the foreshore or the one where the new Marketown plaza thing is now, near King Street Maccas. But it does provide a concept of the scale of the things. They really must have towered over Hamilton North.

The only tower that’s left now has “Naphtha” painted on the side; this was a byproduct of coal gas production and was used for everything from shoe polish to lighter fuel to feedstock in petrochemical steam crackers. I didn’t know that last bit either, I just found it on Wikipedia.


That concludes our gasworks tour. See you … ahem … around.

4 Responses to Around the gasworks

  1. g2-6f9f69d09d9d5a34163088b903a00d69 says:

    You should run tours for sightseers – I would love to do one 🙂

    • Mark MacLean says:

      You’re right, there’s definitely a market for drain tours, with excursions into the gasworks. The only problem is the minor difficulty of Australia’s trespass laws: the drain has its own lot number and so walking there is effectively the same as walking in someone’s backyard, and Jemena Pty Ltd hold a similarly dim view about the gasworks. But I’m working on it!

  2. russell says:

    there are some more photos of the Clyde St gas works in the Newcastle City collections:

    Round objects
    Gas holders on Clyde Street in 1976

    panorama of the Gasworks site in the 1920s

    • Mark MacLean says:

      Fantastic shot of the gas holders, Russell, thanks for that! I’d seen the tiny one before but never tried to zoom in.

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