Newcastle's Mattara festival goes west to Wallsend in 2017

NEWCASTLE’S Mattara festival will move to Wallsend this year, ending more than half a century of the event running in the inner city. 

The spring festival’s organisers confirmed the event will be held in Wallsend Park this year, citing the incoming Newcastle 500 and accompanying works as the reason for leaving Camp Shortland.

Volunteer and committee member Annika Osborne said organisers had gone on the hunt for a new venue once Supercars was scheduled. She said they considered Wickham and Islington parks before settling on Wallsend. 

The festival has previously moved, shifting from Civic Park to the waterfront Camp Shortland site, but Ms Osborne said heading into the city’s west was one of the biggest changes in its history.

“Mattara’s been around for 56 years so it’s a bit hard to leave the inner city,” Ms Osborne said. 

“Since we’ve been within the Newcastle CBD for about 50 years, obviously we are all a bit apprehensive about the move but the business chamber at Wallsend has been really supportive.

“Wallsend offered a larger footprint to accommodate a full program of entertainment and exhibits that was supported by better connectivity to large population centres in Newcastle, Lake Macquarie, Maitland and Port Stephens,” the committee said in a statement. 

Wallsend town co-ordinator Rhonda Campbell said the move west was welcome and logical. “Wallsend Park is a central and convenient place for the people of the Hunter,” she said. 

Mattara was first held in 1961 to mark the beginning of spring. It will run from September 30 to October 8 this year. Ms Osborne said a decision on its future location would follow the event.