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Hunter River
The Hunter River, one of Australia’s ‘iconic’ rivers and the major source of water for the region, is often described as the lifeblood of the Hunter.  

The Hunter River and its tributaries have played a major part in the region and was responsible for the establishment of our largely rural-based economy, with cropping and grazing playing a significant part in establishing the region. It is one of the regions most precious resources and is under major pressures, from industries, urbanisation and agriculture. 

The first Europeans arrived in the Singleton area in 1820.  John Howe, a farmer and the chief constable at Windsor had heard of the rich country in the valley along the Hunter River and in October 1819 decided to take an expedition to find out for himself.

Eleven days into the journey, Howe looked down from the range of mountains to a vast valley extending as far as the eye could see to the east and northeast. The Aboriginal men guiding the party told him it was Kamilaroi country. The next day, the party came down the mountain into a widening valley with good grass and a stream, which was to be known as Doyle's Creek. They were able to travel downstream, marvelling at how rich the country was and collecting pieces of coal to take home (Banks et al).
In March 1820, John Howe set out on his second expedition, aiming to reach the Hunter River and travel along it. The expedition included a number of free settlers, volunteers and convicts and was accompanied by two Aboriginal guides, known as Myles and Mullaboy.  The group reached the Hunter River on 15 March 1820 and travelled downstream for five days, arriving at Wallis Plains. The route they followed is today known as the Putty Road (Banks et al).

All of the free men on the expedition received land grants in the Hunter Valley as a reward for their efforts in setting a route for travel from Windsor to the Hunter Valley. Among them was Benjamin Singleton, who was rewarded with a grant of 240 acres and established himself as a landholder and trader. He erected a residence near the ford that crossed the Hunter River.

The first one hundred years of Singleton's settled history were dominated by agriculture and today dairy farms and cereal cropping primarily occupy the rich alluvial flats of the Hunter River and its tributaries, with more than 90% of these farms relying on irrigation from the river to produce their pastures and crops for milk production (CMA, 2006).

The river
The Hunter River
The Hunter River at Singleton
The Hunter River begins in the Mount Royal Range on the western side of the Barrington Tops. It flows for around 460 kilometres from there, to enter the sea at Newcastle.
The largest tributary of the Hunter is the Goulburn River which accounts for 40 per cent of catchment area, but contributes only 23 per cent of its flow. The Goulburn River begins at Ulan near Mudgee and flows east to join the Hunter River near Denman. 
The  continued competition for water between land based industries and other industries such as power generation and agricultural industries. requires an regional approach to sustainable use of land, ground water and surface water resources. This is required to meet the demands of industries (including proposed Coal Seam Gas extraction) , residents (existing and in future urban developments) and the natural environment.

Water management issues
The volume and pattern of flows in the Hunter River system have been significantly altered by the construction and operation of Glenbawn and Glennies Creek dams. Large volumes of water are also taken and stored for power station use in Lake Liddell.  Water sharing plans have been developed to address environmental requirements downstream of the major dams, and to ensure sustainable use of water by all water users.

There has been extensive modification of the lower Hunter River's floodplain, in particular extensive construction of flood diversion works following the major floods of the 1950s and 1970s.
The Hunter region, and particularly the Lower Hunter catchment, supports a high level of urban and industrial development which has affected water quality. In the upper catchment significant land clearing has resulted in erosion and salinity problems.

Water quality
The community can be involved in maintaining the water quality and health of the Hunter through Waterwatch.

Waterwatch data can: 

Glendonbrook Community Bug Survey - by Hunter Central Rivers CMA
Glendonbrook Community Bug Survey
by Hunter Central Rivers CMA
  • Provide historical data on how waterways have changed over time
  • Demonstrate whether activities to protect and restore waterways are having the desired effect
  • Identify emerging local issues
  • Contribute to catchment planning
  • Lead to shared activities to address local waterway issues

Living and working on a riverbank
Everyone has a role to play in ensuring our waterways and estuaries continue to be healthy and productive for future generations.

To help everyone comply with the laws aimed at protecting our native fish and their habitat, the NSW DPI has released a new brochure for inland rivers, called Living and Working on a Riverbank.
The new brochure outline ways to manage important fish habitats including riverbank and in-stream vegetation and snags (large woody debris) in freshwater waterways. It also identifies the sorts of works which require approvals before they are implemented. 

To find out more and get some useful tips to help you to look after your riverbank and to comply with current laws aimed at protecting our fisheries and their habitat, download the new brochure.

Singleton Council
PO Box 314 Singleton NSW 2330
Ph: 02 6578 7290