Voice of Real Australia: The big mining woes of a small town | The temperature

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Ethan Hamilton talks to the people of Bylong.

We’ve all heard the story of the Bylong Valley – a small regional community opposed to a wealthy international mining company.

There are the all too familiar pitfalls of a divided community; the economy against the environment, jobs against homes, mines or agriculture.

KEPCO, a South Korean energy company has purchased more than 13,000 hectares of prime farmland in the town of NSW – which is sandwiched between the Hunter Valley and the mid-west of the state – including the primary school, church and general store, with plans to build an open pit / underground coal mine.

The company has so far been rejected three times by three separate bodies.

Beyond charity mouse races and Friday night social gatherings, the valley is home to some of the state’s best farmland, a unique hydraulic system of underground rivers and aquifers, heritage-listed landscapes and, most importantly, Tarwyn Park.

Growing up in the bush, I have known conventional farming the way things have been done for generations.

It was only recently, spurred on by this story, that I began to take a greater interest in what many call “regenerative agriculture”. A way of managing the land that moves away from a “mechanical” worldview and towards the “organic” state of mind. It is, after all, the United Nations Decade for Ecosystem Restoration.

Tarwyn Park is home to one such practice, Natural Sequence Farming, which in the words of Stuart Andrews (son of founder Peter Andrews) involves:

“By looking at how water and fertility moved in the landscape before any interference and how you can make this function work again in the landscape.”

In this week’s Voice of Real Australia podcast episode, I explore the demise of a community, the destructive impact of a decade of land purchases and court battles. But I’m also examining the potential for Bylong’s future as a hub for regenerative agriculture and once again a thriving rural community.

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