Cessnock is a city in the Hunter Region of New South Wales, Australia, about by road west of Newcastle. It is the administrative centre of the City of Cessnock LGA and was named after an 1826 grant of land called Cessnock Estate, which was owned by John Campbell. The local area was once known as "The Coalfields" is the gateway city to the vineyards of the Hunter Valley, which includes Pokolbin, Mount View, Broke, Rothbury, and Branxton.
The transition to wine service centre from a once prosperous mining town has been a long and at times difficult process.
Cessnock lies between Australia’s earliest European settlements - Sydney, the Hawkesbury River and Newcastle. Lying on the land route between these important settlements it provided early European contact with indigenous people who have inhabited the Cessnock area for more than 3,000 years. The Darkinjung people were the major inhabitants at the time of European contact, which subsequently proved to be disastrous for the Darkinjung tribe. Many were killed or died as a result of European diseases. Others were forced onto neighbouring tribal territory and killed. The city of Cessnock abounds in indigenous place names and names with indigenous association which is indicative of this settlement and include Congewai, Kurri Kurri, Laguna, Nulkaba and Wollombi.
Pastoralists commenced settling the land in the 1820s. Cessnock was named by Scottish settler John Campbell, after his grandfather's baronial Cessnock Castle in Ayrshire to reflect the aristocratic heritage and ambitions for this estate. The township of Cessnock developed from 1850, as a service centre at the junction of the Great North Road from Sydney to the Hunter Valley, with branches to Maitland and Singleton.
The establishment of the South Maitland coalfields generated extensive land settlement between 1903 and 1923. The current pattern of urban development, transport routes and industrial landscape was laid at this time. The surveying of the Greta coal seam by Professor Edgeworth David around 1888 became the impetus for considerable social and economic change in the area with the development of the coal mining industry.