The Hunter catchment at this point starts to flatten out and the pace of the river slows somewhat. Because the river, through this part of the catchment, is not confined by mountains and gullies, which are typical in the upper reaches of the river, the channel is more vulnerable to change, particularly in large flood events, when erosion and channel avulsions can occur.
Early European investigations of the Upper Hunter were led by Government Surveyor Henry Dangar in 1824, and resulted in the settlement of sites now known as Muswellbrook, Aberdeen and Scone. Dangar is also credited for locating the confluence of the Hunter and Goulburn Rivers and naming the tributaries Kingdon Ponds and Dartbrook (Gray, 1966 as in ANU).
Dangar's reports caused an immediate rush of applicants for land grants in these desirable new districts, among them were Peter McIntyre, superintendent for Thomas Potter Macqueen. In 1828 Macqueen was granted 10 000 acres between Scone and Muswellbrook and named the area Aberdeen after his friend George Gordon, 4th Earl of Aberdeen (Gray, 1966 as in ANU).
Meat processing became the staple of the town when the Australian Meat Cutting and Freezing Company set up shop in 1892, with exportation of frozen mutton commencing that year via the port of Newcastle. The Aberdeen Meatworks was the town's main employer for over a century, however changes within the industry, led to the closure of the Aberdeen Meatworks in 1999, putting 400 locals out of a job.
Just north of Aberdeen is Blairmore Lane. This road takes you past what was once Peter McIntyre's Blairmore estate. The original property was 2000 acres in size but was subdivided over time into smaller plots. The homestead at Blairmore dates back to 1836 and Peter and Anne Daunton lived there for 44 years. They spoke to ABC reporter Phil Ashley-Brown in 2003 about their experience of living beside the Hunter River. (interview)