Home' Hunter Its People : Hunter Our Backyard June 2011 Contents 9
A lucky country
Avibrant rural community where some mighty fortunes have been made and built on
and where newcomers are given a warm welcome is certainly a wonderful place to
The Upper Hunter and Muswellbrook areas have developed their own unique characters
with several high-profile industries providing not just the area with an economic shot
in the arm, but also the nation. Proudly described as the ''horse capital of Australia'', the
areas are also important for coal mining and agriculture.
The Upper Hunter Shire is world renowned for breeding thoroughbred horses and
is also the location for the Stock Horse Society of Australia. The title ''horse capital of
Australia'' is well deserved as it is the largest horse-rearing and breeding region in the
nation. The industry, centred around Scone, has an important flow-on affect for tourism
with major equine-related events held regularly.
It is the lucrative coal-mining industry, however, through corporations such as Rio Tinto
and BHP Billiton, that creates the area's most important economic activity. Thousands are
employed, many travelling from outside the area to work at open cut and underground
It is where a young Nathan Tinkler rose from being a Muswellbrook mine electrician
to being named last month in BRW magazine's rich list with a $1.01 billion fortune, with
mining millions, at least $200 million invested in a racing empire and owning both the
Newcastle Jets and Newcastle Knights, and where Australia's one-time richest man, the
late Kerry Packer, is buried at the family home at Ellerston Pastoral.
Electricity generation with coal-fired power stations at Bayswater and Liddell is another
big industry and the region is also a major producer of beef and wool, along with many
The wine industry, with its close association with tourism, is also an integral part of
the community. The Upper Hunter makes some of the country's finest wines and its
picturesque locations ensure the overall winery ''experience'', including tastings and the
local produce of cheeses and olives, is enhanced.
The economic growth of the area has led to the expansion of local towns with new
residential areas being developed to accommodate those attracted by employment
opportunities, the family-friendly environment and affordable housing.
The Upper Hunter Shire Council was formed in May, 2004, from Scone shire and
parts of Murrurundi and Merriwa shires. It is at the northern end of the Hunter and
encompasses an area of 8060 square kilometres.
''We are known as an important Australian equine centre and aptly hold the title of
horse capital of Australia, but there is more to it than this,'' Upper Hunter Mayor Lee
Watts says of her hometown. ''We are nestled among the picturesque hills and productive
pastures and we take pride in retaining our rural charm while providing modern facilities
''The area is well known as hospitable and welcoming to newcomers, making it
increasingly attractive as a place to live and work. Our community is vibrant and
diverse with a strong sense of pride. Old families with a connection to the area go back
Power, coal, horses, wine, tourism, rural industries
. . . Muswellbrook and the Upper Hunter have more
strings to their bow than some entire nations.
Choice walks a path at
Arrowfield Stud near Scone.
Photo Kate Geraghty
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