Location, location: does it apply to history?

Ravensworth Homestead
Ravensworth Homestead

Being located in a resource rich town bestows many advantages on the community. Plenty of high paying jobs perhaps, being the most notably plus, thanks to our abundance of coal.

Our young people have been able to remain in the regional town they grew up in and then on completing their education find ready local employment.

Not something on offer in every region of Australia take a look at, for example Tasmania, where high youth unemployment is a generational curse.

So we are lucky in many ways that at a time when the world wanted coal we were located right in the middle of a massive coalfield.

But there are also plenty of headaches associated with the extraction of vast resources located near towns and villages and adjacent to the lifeblood of the Hunter Valley – its river.

One is certainly the boom and bust nature of primary industries something we have experienced firsthand  during the past couple of years.

Environmental and health impacts are well documented and we could mention climate change – something everyone has an opinion on and causes plenty of disagreements and arguments in the general populace as to how best to tackle the issue.

Another is our loss of community and loss of heritage both Indigenous and European.

Mining companies have made concerted efforts to preserve our heritage but often this has involved, especially in the case of Indigenous artefacts, removing them from their original location as the open cut mines are developed.

This saves the artefacts but does remove them from their true location and significance.

As to heritage from European settlement much has been lost or left in disrepair.

The Hunter is home to a rare collection of colonial homesteads still unchanged from their original design. This is well documented and one of the homes Ravensworth is now subject to a proposal for is relocation to allow for the extension of Glencore’s Glendell open cut.

Can we move historic homes? Perhaps we can but where to in a region almost encircled by mines.

The question must also be asked would the Opera House be the iconic building it is if it were moved to western Sydney?