Home' Hunter Its People : Hunter Our Backyard June 2011 Contents Q: What do you think is special about Muswellbrook?
A: ''I lived there for the first 20 years of my life and it's
a great place to grow up - the freedom, lots of sport . . .
it's a very good sporting town. And it's central to most
things. I got into the riding side of it there. It's close to the
studs and it's a horsey area.''
-- Wayne Harris, the man who put Muswellbrook on the
sporting map after setting Australian records as an
apprentice and senior jockey, winning the Golden Slipper
on Century Miss in 1979 and the Melbourne Cup on Jeune
in 1994, as well a dozens of feature races and success in
Ireland, Singapore and Hong Kong.
THE LAST WORD ...
MY HUNTER ADVANTAGE
Q: ''What advantages in life do you feel you have had in coming
A: ''I was born in Muswellbrook but only lived there for the
first three years before we moved to Gunnedah. It was a coal
mining town then, that's what my father was doing. It was very
undeveloped as far as tourism goes.
''I really couldn't say if it was an advantage or not, it's hard to
''I have actually never played a show in Muswellbrook.''
- Tommy Emmanuel, a two-time Grammy nominee and probably
Australia's most respected guitarist. He received his first guitar at four
and by six was playing in a family band, and in the '70s and '80s he
played on records for Air Supply, Men at Work and dozens of other bands
before joining Dragon. Songs he has co-written have been recorded by
artists such as Olivia Newton-John, Sheena Easton and Al Jarreau. His
recordings have set sales records in Australia and he has played around
the world, including the closing ceremony of the Sydney Olympics with
his brother Phil. He has won numerous honours and awards in the US
and plays more than 300 concerts a year.
Q: What advantages in life do you feel you have had in coming
A: ''It was in Murrurundi I learned a sense of community. I lived
with my gran, mother and aunt in a small, cream, weatherboard
cottage on Mayne St. They knew everyone and everyone knew us.
Our friends from farms visited with eggs, cream or milk and there
was always something home-made in the oven to offer them.
''I was taught that what matters most is not money, but the
dignity and wellbeing of people.
''My love of learning began at Murrurundi Central School and
the Bushmen's Carnival happened right across the road. You
couldn't get anything better than that.
''My grandfather, Ashley Needham Pountney,
was the first editor of the Quirindi Advocate,
The Murrurundi Times and the Werris Creek
Express, so I was bred 'with ink in my veins'.
''With vivid memories of Harvest Festival
at St Paul's Church across the Pages River, I
always think of Murrurundi as my spiritual
home, and the landscape of the Hunter was
imprinted on imagination as a child.''
-- Caroline Jones, the presenter of Australian Story
on the ABC, where she has worked for more
than 40 years. Jones is an Australian author,
broadcaster and film, radio and television
personality. She was the first woman
reporter on This Day Tonight, the first
woman to anchor Four Corners and for eight
years presented The Search For Meaning on
ABC Radio National. In 1988 she was made
an Officer of the Order of Australia, in 1997
voted one of Australia's living treasures
and in 1998 appointed an Ambassador for
Reconciliation by the Aboriginal Council
for Reconciliation. In 2007 she became
an Honorary Doctor of Letters of the
University of the Sunshine Coast. She has
won numerous awards for journalistic work.
Upper Hunter and Muswellbrook are encircled
by nature with rivers, magnificent national
parks, nature reserves, wilderness areas and
state forests. There's the World Heritage-listed
Barrington Tops; the never-ending burning coal
seam of Burning Mountain; the picturesque
landscape of Goulburn River National Park;
the endandgered species of Mt Royal National
Park; the cedar brush and washpools of Towarri
National Park; and the largest wilderness area
in NSW, Wollemi National Park.
Wilderness, walking tracks, rainforest, wild
rivers, lookouts and steep ridges are all part of
the Barrington Tops between Scone, Dungog
and Gloucester, while adjoining its south-west
edge is Mount Royal National Park.
Towarri National Park and Wingen Maid
Nature Reserve cover part of the Liverpool
Range between Muswellbrook, Scone and
Murrurundi, and contain an incredible variety
of plants, with Middle Brook lined by river oak
and containing the natural rock formations of
the Washpools. The Wingen Maid is visible from
the park road, a rock formation that Wonnarua
legend says is a woman turned to stone by
Baiami, who she asked to take her life after her
warrior husband failed to return from battle.
As she turned to stone, her tears rolled down
the hillside and burst into flames, igniting the
famous Burning Mountain.
Just over 20 km north of Scone, Burning
Mountain is actually one of only three
underground naturally burning coal seams
in the world. It is believed to be 30 metres
under the surface and moving south, with
exhaust vents and rocks changed by extreme
temperature seen from an observation platform
at the end of a walking track. It is thought
the fire began about six kilometres north of
its present site about 5500 years ago and is
moving just over one metre a year. There are
shell fossils in the area as more than 200 million
years ago it was covered by the sea. Surface
temperatures at the fire's chimney reach more
than 350 degrees celsius and the temperature at
the seam is thought to be 1700 degrees.
Meandering between rugged sandstone cliffs
honeycombed with caves or by flat, sandy banks,
the river is the main feature of Goulburn River
Wollemi is NSW's largest wilderness area
covering 492,220 hectares south of Denman -- a
maze of canyons, cliffs and forest where wildlife
Wonders: Above, clouds shrouding the Wollemi
National Park and left, Caroline Jones.
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