The Hunter Valley is most well-known for two things: mines and wine. The cellar doors around Pokolbin tend to attract more visitors than the coal mines that pockmark the valley, however, the mines were what 90 people came to see when they climbed aboard a heritage train for a journey from Maitland to Gulgong on this late winter weekend.
The two carriage heritage train (pictured here alongside a coal train at Maitland Station) made its way up past the open-cut coal mines around Muswellbrook, onward past Lake Liddell and Bayswater power stations, further still through the farmland of the upper Hunter, then the scenic Bylong Valley, past the tiny village of Wollar, and the nearby Wilpinjong and Moolarben coal mines, before reaching the historic town of Gulgong.
The heritage train is pictured here at Maitland Station alongside a loaded coal train making its way to the Port of Newcastle where the coal will be loaded on to ships and exported.
The two carriage heritage train is operated by the Rail Motor Society, and staffed by volunteers.
Wendy Bowman of Camberwell fought long and hard to defeat the coal company that sought to mine her farm.
Getting a look at the mines around the Hunter is easier from a train than from the roadway where green painted vanity fences and trees have been strategically placed to obscure views of open-cut pits.
A view from inside the heritage train, of an empty coal train. The coal trains travel up from the Port of Newcastle to the mines in the Hunter as well as the mines in the north west around Gunnedah and Boggabri, and in the Central Tablelands around Wollar and Ulan.
One view of the Hunter Valley: farmland in the foreground and an open-cut coal mine the background.
Trucking overburden at an open-cut coal mine in the Hunter Valley.
Passing another empty coal train making its way up through the Hunter Valley.
The Rail Motor Society’s heritage train at Gulgong Station.
A pretty Hunter Valley sunset.
Hunter Valley coal mine infrastructure at last light.