Further into the Valley

Date: Mon, 23 Nov 2009 07:08:13 +1100

By Bron

Next – coming into Jerry’s Plains we passed mountains of coal. A landscape, we were later told, that had been dead level country. These open cut mines surround the local properties. That night we listened to a low rumbling. These sounds are a constant background noise; the rumbles of explosions, rocks being dropped into loaders, and horns blowing on site. The rhythm of the trains taking the coal is relentless. We spent our second day passing through Muswellbrook. Christine Phelps gave as a tour around the boundaries of Mt Arthur mine. She told us about the mine companies process of dividing the community.

Miner Pete Kennedy speaking to the tour

Like Singleton, Muswellbrook feel the effects of the transient work community. They’re here for the work and can’t commit to the town the same way locals do, no pride in place. Saturday afternoon we travelled into Bickham. While Laura, Louisa and I talked with local organic farmer the rest of the JT group braved blistering heat to see the coal mine site here. The impression was that this drilling site (in the midst of the exploration phase) was more like a gorge (Bigger than 40m, maybe to the extent of 80m deep). It is the agriculture potential of the land here that is under threat. But the land needs sustainable farming. As the braver group walked into the afternoon sun, we listened to the experiences of a local farmer and shop keeper. An interesting discrepancy brought to our attention was discrepancies in water allocation. The High Security Licenses are afforded by those with the means despite unjust usage. To really appreciate the extent of the Hunter Region’s mining epidemic it’s suggested we catch a train through the region. The roads have had a ‘green’ corridor of sorts planted to hide the visually intensity of the violent mining of the Australian land.

Dust rises from a mine near Muswellbrook, power station in background

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