Muswellbrook Shire

Muswellbrook Shire is centrally located in the Upper Hunter Valley, approximately 130km north-west of Newcastle. By road, Muswellbrook is approximately three hours from Sydney, two hours from Tamworth and around 90 minutes from Newcastle.

Today Muswellbrook Local Government Area (LGA) is the main centre for the State’s coal mining activity and power generation. Liddell and Bayswater power stations produce 11 per cent of the National Energy Market. However, the next few decades will be a period of transition for much of Shire’s existing industrial base. The ongoing transition provides vast opportunities for investments in existing and new value chains.

Muswellbrook has the natural assets, infrastructure and skills to become Australia’s ‘new energy’ powerhouse, capitalising on the global momentum behind clean energy, sustainable food and bio-innovation to create new industries and jobs. This is due to Muswellbrook’s key comparative advantages which include:

  • Transport and enabling infrastructure: Muswellbrook is connected to the rest of NSW and Australia via the New England Highway, Pacific Highway, the Sydney-Newcastle railway, Port of Newcastle as well as the Newcastle Airport.
  • Close energy system integration: comprehensive high and low voltage power system, transport infrastructure, regional networks, industrial diversity and experience.
  • Skills base: highly adapted to new industrial developments in renewables, energy storage, bio-innovation and education.

Muswellbrook LGA is well positioned to develop clean energy generation. In addition to solar and wind energy generation, the region has financially competitive sites for construction of Pumped Hydro Energy Storage. In addition to AGL’s development of the Bell’s Mountain site near Muswellbrook (250MW), there is enormous scope for much larger projects across the Upper Hunter region. Aggregated, the potential mix of clean energy generation and storage projects could comfortably deliver the energy firming requirements of both the Hunter and Sydney. The projects would be in close proximity to the transmission network – including the 500kv interconnections between the Hunter and Sydney.

Muswellbrook LGA is a region with competitive and comparative advantages for developing bio-ethanol and green chemicals production. Muswellbrook and its surrounding have suitable land, reliable and existing rail freight networks, transport links to a major exporting port and a Pilot Bio-refinery. The Hunter Pilot Bio-refinery is designed for environmentally sustainable production of ethanol from the structural sugars of lignocellulosic (non-food, woody or fibrous) materials such as sugar cane bagasse, crop stubbles and forest material.

Muswellbrook Shire is also home to the largest critical mass of thoroughbred rearing in Australia. This cluster is located in an arc from the Widden Valley through Sandy Hollow to Jerry’s Plains. Two of the largest thoroughbred horse studs in the southern hemisphere are located in the Muswellbrook Shire.

Muswellbrook has established itself as a centre of educational excellence in the Upper Hunter. Council has worked closely with Hunter TAFE, the University of Newcastle and industry to establish the Tertiary Education Centre, located in the CBD. A new independent primary school, founded in partnership with conductor and music educator Richard Gill, will open in 2020. Council is also working with local schools and industry partners on developing a STEM Makerspace – a shared-access co-working space with prototyping capability and advanced equipment which will be accessed by students, businesses and innovators.

The estimated residential population for Muswellbrook (LGA) in 2018 was 16,383 people (ABS). This is up from 15,793 in 2011. Council anticipates modest population growth in the short to medium term. This is largely associated with more affordable housing, a diversifying economy and expanding educational opportunities.

A surprising fact to many is that 1,455km – or 43 per cent - of Muswellbrook Shire’s 3,402km² land coverage is National Park. This includes the World Heritage Wollemi National Park. Muswellbrook is developing the necessary infrastructure for RV, bush walking and other tourist activities to provide a better experience for visitors who want to explore the Wollemi.

Muswellbrook Image 1

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