Maitland and East Maitland

May 30, 2022 | 2 Comments

My base for the last 5 days of my trip was East Maitland and nearby Maitland (originally called West Maitland). Both of these towns were formed in the 1830s – East Maitland was planned and spaciously laid out while Maitland was a private town initially and developed in a haphazard way with shops lining a narrow street parallel with the Hunter River. Before arriving in this area, a number of people mentioned (or implied) that East Maitland had a lot of nice historic buildings and Maitland wasn’t as worthwhile visiting.

And yes, East Maitland is a lovely town (now a suburb of Maitland) with some grand historic buildings and a grid of elegant wide streets but Maitland, and particularly its main street, was much more interesting to me!

As I was in a relaxed mood I didn’t document these towns as well as I did last year during my big road trip, but I did manage to sketch a courthouse, post office and gaol (jail).


First up was the historic gaol in East Maitland designed by colonial architect Mortimer Lewis. You can do a guided tour of the gaol but as it was a sunny day I wanted to spend as much time outside as I can!

I love Lewis’ buildings  (eg. Hartley and Berrima Courthouse) and so I’ve finally created a tag for him! I definitely want to track down some more of his buildings and  sketch them. In fact, in writing this article I discovered that the week before, when I was in Newcastle, I walked past a church he had designed (St John’s Cook Hill) every day. Ah, what a pity I didn’t realise it at the time, but it gives me something to sketch on my next visit!

Breakfast at a nice cafe in East Maitland…

… and the courthouse (designed by Alexander Dawson). It’s often easy to spot a country town courthouse with a strong temple-front portico of some kind.

I did this sketch on the last morning of my trip on a cold and wet morning, sketching from my car.


As mentioned earlier, I found Maitland, and particularly the main street more interesting. Last year I realised how much I love a good curved and narrow main street!

How’s this for a beautiful building? I didn’t manage to sketch it this trip, but it will definitely be on my must-sketch list for my next visit.


My first stop (and therefore sketch) in Maitland was for a coffee booth in the middle of the main street which has been turned into a plaza.

There was a huge variety of different styles of buildings on this main street – here is the more striking modern example with a ‘big archway’ to the riverside walk that was a great spot to sit and sketch the Hunter River (see below).

 I was on a mission… to find the Post Office designed by – you guessed it – James Barnet.

I found a bench in the sun that was perfect for a dramatic view of the building. I really enjoyed sketching this!

It’s hard to capture the richness of the coloured pencil under the watercolour in scans and the wow factor you get in the original A4 sketchbook… but here are two closeups to show the yumminess of the Deep Yellow Bruynzeel Design CP under the watercolour washes. Ah! this pencil is becoming another favourite!

And another view. So much fun!

There are lots of grand decorative buildings in Maitland!

And I couldn’t resist sketching this classic 3 x 2 grid building – a hall associated with a nearby Roman Catholic Church.

A lovely breakfast at The Orange Tree and the first time during this trip I was spotted: “Is that Liz Steel?”

So nice to catch up with James Mee who I haven’t seen in years and swap sketching stories with him,

Sketching the back of the shops from the carpark before dinner and then a quick line drawing while waiting for my food.

And just to include all my Maitland sketches – here is my first Hunter River sketch looking south along the Riverside Walk (with a little creative cropping)…

… and my second river sketch looking the other way.

My last day in Maitland was wet, so I drove around looking for something to sketch. I wasn’t successful finding anything that I could easily sketch from my car but I did have a good cup of Earl Grey tea in a china cup at a nice cafe in Lorn.

And later in the day got a coffee at a bike shop that had big umbrellas over its outdoor tables. So I ended up doing another view of the Post Office!

This line drawing took me 30 minutes to do and, by that stage, I was ready to move on ! As I didn’t feel like painting at the time I didn’t bother adding colour to it when I got back to my apartment. The simple line drawing is a nice contrast to all the other richly colourful sketches in my book.

The Maitland area is a great spot for a sketching trip and I absolutely loved exploring the region. I hope to return soon!

This article completes my sketches from my two-week Hunter trip, but I still have my traditional ‘Reflections’ article to share with you. Look out for that later in the week.



  • Jen Charlton says:

    I’ve just had a trip to Maitland and saw the post office from the same angle as you’ve sketched it. Great job! ?
    I didn’t have time for sketching though but will have to visit again for that as there’s so much to see. After dropping off my paintings to a new gallery Raven Art Gallery just a few doors down from the PO, I visited the Maitland Regional Art Gallery and caught a couple of wonderful exhibitions on there. Oct 2023

Leave a Reply