Monday , August 3 2020
Home / Environment / ‘Like throwing a grenade’: historic town braces for coal mining threat

‘Like throwing a grenade’: historic town braces for coal mining threat

Loading

“It’s like throwing in a grenade to get people angry,” said Simone Smith, president of the Wollombi Valley Progress Association, which has fought off previous threats to the town’s heritage values, from coal seam gas to a proposed army training area. “We want to stop [coal mining] before it gains any momentum.”

The region’s rich history includes hundreds of Indigenous sites, including rock paintings, carvings and ceremonial places. School children around Australia also know of the creation story of the Tiddalik boulder, a frog that kept drinking more than his fill of water until his greed turned him into stone.

Talim Kuroso, a 13-year-old working in the Wollombi General Store, who lives about 100 metres from the rock, said he worried about what mining would bring to his village.

“There’ll be dust and it’ll destroy some of the Aboriginal places,” he said. “I’d be very upset if there’s destruction.”

Wollombi General Store (centre) dates from about 1851 and is one of many historic buildings in the area.

Wollombi General Store (centre) dates from about 1851 and is one of many historic buildings in the area.Credit:Dominic Lorrimer

The village boasts other historic treasures, including a museum. Visitors can learn about some unusual bushrangers in the area, including a part-Chinese escaped convict, William “Yellow Billy” White, who conducted his thievery from a nearby cave for several years until he was caught in 1867 and deported to America.

There’s also Edward Davis, a Jewish convict, whose escapades in the area in 1839 and 1840 included capturing and flogging convict overseer John McDougall “who was noted for his cruelty”, according to a Progress Association’s booklet. Davis and his six fellow gang members were caught and executed in Sydney in 1841.

Bhret McIntyre, artist and owner of The Forge, is concerned about a new coal exploration area adjacent to Wollombi.

Bhret McIntyre, artist and owner of The Forge, is concerned about a new coal exploration area adjacent to Wollombi. Credit:Dominic Lorrimer

Bhret McIntyre, a blacksmith-cum-retailer of vintage woman’s clothes, said residents had succeeded in fighting off other threats and he was confident local residents, from farmers to artists, would rally again to preserve Wollombi.

“Tourists wouldn’t come here would they?” Mr McIntyre said, should a coal mine get built nearby.

Loading

Proof of the region’s tourism potential has been on show of late, even amidst the coronavirus restrictions.

“It’s been bloody good the last six weeks… people can’t go anywhere else,” Mr McIntyre said. “I’ve tripled my take each weekend. It’s surprising how much we’ve done.”

Most Viewed in Environment

Loading

About admin

Check Also

Irrigators pushed for NSW ‘primacy’ over basin plan, more water access

Loading The council also backed a narrowing of the definition of what constitutes so-called planned …