The S.S. Maitland was a paddle steamer brought to Australia from Glasgow, Scotland, to transport people and cargo between the Hunter and the Hawkesbury Rivers. There was no rail line from Newcastle to Sydney in the 1800's. The Maitland was on its route out of the Barrenjoey Headlands when it was overwhelmed by the aptly-named 'Maitland Gale'. The storm which wrecked the Maitland also took numerous other ships on May 6, 1898. Of the 36 passengers aboard the Maitland, 24 lost their lives. Many of the survivors were commended for their heroism.
Wreckage of the Maitland can still be seen today, with parts of the boiler and a section of the iron hull strewn across the rock flats of the point. The bay was previously known as Boat Harbour, then renamed Maitland Bay after the disaster in 1898.