120 km north of sydney
The Hunter Region, also commonly known as the Hunter Valley, is a region of New South Wales, extending from approximately 120 km to 310 km north of Sydney. It contains the Hunter River and its tributaries with highland areas to the north and south. The Hunter Valley is one of the largest river valleys on the NSW coast, and is most commonly known for its wineries and coal industry. Most of the population of the Hunter Region lives within 25 km of the coast, with 55% of the entire population living in the cities of Newcastle and Lake Macquarie. There are numerous other towns and villages scattered across the region in the eleven local government areas (LGAs) that make up the region. At the 2011 census the combined population of the region was 620,530.
The main river in the region is the Hunter River, after which the region is named. Other rivers in the region include:
Allyn, Avon, Barrington, Bow, Bowman,Chichester, Gloucester, Goulburn, Isis, Karuah, Krui, Mammy Johnsons, Merriwa, Munmurra, Pages, Paterson, Wangat and Williams rivers.
Fresh water supply for the region is provided from a number of sources, which are managed by the Hunter Water and State Water Corporations. State Water Corporation's dams supply water for irrigation, industrial use at coal mines and the region's coal-fired power stations and town water to upper Hunter Region towns. Hunter Water Corporation's dams supply the large urban population of more than 500,000 living near the coast and centered on the cities of Newcastle and Lake Macquarie. State Water Corporation's Glenbawn, the largest dam in the region, Chichester and Lostock are dams on the Hunter, Chichester and Paterson rivers respectively. Hunter Water Corporation's Grahamstown Dam, the largest dam supplying the urban areas of the lower Hunter Region, is supplied with water diverted from the Williams River just north of the Seaham Weir, through a large pump station at Balickera. The dam itself has only a small natural catchment and relies mainly on the pumped water from the Williams River. A proposal to build Tillegra Dam on the Williams River existed since the 1950s, but was scrapped in 2010. In addition to the dams, fresh water for the lower Hunter Region is supplied from the Tomago Sandbeds, via a series of bores.
Towns and cities
The Hunter Region includes four cities. In order of population these are Lake Macquarie, Newcastle, Maitland and Cessnock. Newcastle, situated at the mouth of the Hunter River, is the second largest city in the region, although its immediate metropolitan area includes Lake Macquarie, though its statistical division also includes parts of the Maitland, Cessnock and Port Stephens areas. Other major centres of the Hunter Region are Dungog, Gloucester, Kurri Kurri, Muswellbrook, Raymond Terrace,Scone and Singleton.
The main industries in the Hunter Region are coal mining, manufacturing, agriculture, viticulture and wine making, tourism, horse breeding, electricity production, dairyfarming and beef cattle farming, and associated service industries. The Hunter Region is one of Australia's most famous wine-growing regions, known for both its red and white wine varieties.
The most important economic activity in the valley is coal mining (through businesses such as Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton), mostly for export. There is increasing tension between the coal mining industry and some other industries because of the environmental impacts of coal mining including dust, water usage, water contamination, and destruction of agricultural land, and the impact of coal trucks on local and regional roads. The port at Newcastle is the world's largest export facility for coal, most of which is brought to the port via railway. Coal ships are often seen off the coast of Newcastle. Climate change activists have staged direct actions at the coal port on a number of occasions.
Electricity generation at the Eraring, Bayswater, Liddell, Munmorah, Redbank and Vales Point coal-fired power stations is a major industry of the region.
The Hunter Valley is Australia's main region for the breeding and rearing of Thoroughbred horses and most of the country's best racehorses. The Upper Hunter area around Scone is one of the largest horse breeding areas in the world.
The Hunter Valley is a major tourist destination in New South Wales and is the 6th most visited place in Australia attracting more than 2.5 million people annually. There are regular events held in the Hunter for visitors, including the Hunter Valley Steam Trains running the first three Sundays of each month and regular scenic cruises on the Hunter River and Lake Macquarie.
Pokolbin is the centre of the Hunter Valley wine country, which claims to be Australia's oldest wine region. It is located between the towns of Cessnock and Branxton, about 50 km west of Newcastle. The wine country is primarily located within the Cessnock and Singleton [LGAs. Its proximity to Sydney has been an influence on the area's investments in wine production and its emergence as a tourist destination. Much of the rolling countryside around Pokolbin is under vine with the traditional varieties Shiraz andSemillon as well as extensive plantings of Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and small quantities of Pinot noir. The Pokolbin area has a large number of vineyards, restaurants, shops, golf courses and country guesthouses. Other parts of the valley including the Wollombi Valley and Broke Fordwich subregion are also well known for wine, along with theUpper Hunter Valley.
For the purposes of Australian federal elections for the House of Representatives, the Hunter Region is contained within the divisions of Charlton, Hunter, Lyne, Newcastle, Paterson, and Shortland.
For the purposes of New South Wales elections for the Legislative Assembly, the Hunter Region is contained within the electoral districts of Cessnock, Charlestown, Lake Macquarie, Maitland, Myall Lakes, Newcastle, Port Stephens, Swansea, Upper Hunter, Wallsend, and Wyong.
The Hunter Region contains the Goulburn River National Park, Myall Lakes National Park, Barrington Tops National Park, Werakata National Park, Watagans National Park, Mount Royal National Park, Polkolbin State Forest, Putty State Forest, Chichester State Forest, Running Creek Nature Reserve, The Glen Nature Reserve, Black Bulga State Conservation Area, Myall River State Forest and Karuah Nature Reserve.