Six panelists were invited to participate in the ‘Reuse of Mined Landscapes’ session of the Mine Rehab Conference 2015 held in Singleton on 26 March 2015, were asked to offer up a one minute vision of the future of the Hunter Mined Landscape.
The following outlines my ‘vision’:
Proposed Hunter Valley (Wonnarua) National Mining Park
– embracing the mining and mining purposes lands from the Port of Newcastle, through the Lower Hunter, Cessnock through to the Upper Hunter.
A regional, collaborative, multi-land use strategy which will provide for development within rehabilitated mined areas with the following uses,
- native flora and fauna habitat conservation – all connected through existing and proposed corridors;
- ‘soft adventure’ recreation (e.g. mountain bikes, horse riding, water sports etc);
- coal mining heritage (museum type) sites, geosites and geotrails;
- sites set aside for renewable energy generation (solar arrays, wind farms, biomass production) with associated light industrial sites for industry services and ‘value adding’ manufacturing;
- innovative, food production and ‘value add’ manufacturing; and
- engagement with indigenous Australians – the Wonnarua peoples of the Hunter Valley.
As one key outcome, delivering a major geotourism product of national and global significance, recognising that geotourism is ” tourism which focuses on geology and landscape as the basis for providing visitor engagement, learning and enjoyment’, and understanding that visitors can also enjoy the wonderful cuisine and wines of the Hunter Valley!
It should be noted that with tourism destinations in mind for both domestic and overseas visitors, China has established 72 national mining parks, Taiwan has developed the Jinguashi Gold Ecological Park located close to Taipei, and Italy hosts the Tuscan Mining Global Geopark
Surely, the unique selling proposition for the development of the proposed ‘Wonnarua National Mining Park’ is that it could be the largest national mining park in the world – a fitting celebration of the significant role that mining has played for Australia’s development – first undertaken by Europeans with coal mining in Australia commencing near Nobbys Head in Newcastle in the 1790s, with the first coal shipment leaving Newcastle in 1799!
Angus M Robinson, Chair of the Geotourism Standing Committee, Geological Society of Australia