About The Wetlands
The story of the Hunter Wetlands Centre Australia is nothing less than inspirational.
Until the mid 1980s this vibrant wetland refuge was a dump in every sense of the word! Over the previous century, the massive Hunter estuary wetland system known as Hexham Swamp had been progressively filled for rubbish, railways and recreation, leaving only fragmented patches of remnant wetlands across the estuary. A significant patch of wetland in Shortland was converted to football fields and a clubhouse. This one-time home ground of the Hamilton Rugby Club was to become the eventual site of the Hunter Wetlands Centre.
Today, Hunter Wetlands Centre Australia is a vibrant wetland ecosystem bursting with life. The site is regarded as a wetland of national and international importance and the centre enjoys a growing reputation for excellence in wetland conservation, education and ecotourism.
This remarkable transformation was due to the determination and persistence of the local community and some far-sighted organisations, who have joined forces to protect and restore this remarkable wetland for the benefit of all who depend on it… and those who simply enjoy it!.
Our founding partners Hunter Bird Observers Club and Australian Plants Society (Newcastle Group), have gone on to play important roles in the management of the site. A key partnership with the NSW Department of Education and Training over 20 years has supported the development of our highly regarded School Excursion program.
Local service organisation, Jesmond Lions, continue to contribute to our programs and facilities. The Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, which manages nine wetland centres in the UK, provided an international mentoring role and this partnership continues through our participation in Wetland Link International.
More recent regional partnerships:
National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) have been instrumental in leading key stakeholders through the gateway project, to position the larger destination – Hunter Wetlands, as a key nature tourism destination in the Hunter Region. The gateway project is chaired by the Regional Manager of NPWS and other stakeholders include: Hunter Central Rivers Catchment Management Authority and its Kooragang Wetlands Project; Hunter Tourism; Newcastle City Council and Port Stephens Council; University of Newcastle; Botanic Gardens and the Wetlands Environmental Education Centre, with this project funded by NSW Department of State and Regional Development and Department of Transport and Regional Services.
The NPWS Newcastle Area office has been established on site at the HWCA (adjacent to the Wetlands Education Centre) where National Parks Annual Park Passes can be purchased.
Hunter Wetlands National Park Draft Plan of Management has a website. Click Here if you are interested in checking out what NPWS are doing.
Belmont Wetlands State Park Trust Site Manager, Boyd Carney is a Trustee of the Belmont Wetlands State Park, providing important linkage between this project, Hunter Wetlands Centre, and other wetland projects in the Hunter Estuary.
Hunter Tourism and Newcastle Tourism Inustry Group play a key role in assisting HWCA with its role as an emerging nature-tourism product in Newcastle and the Hunter Region.
State, National and international partnerships have allowed HWCA to build our profile as a wetland education leader.
Participation on the National Wetland CEPA Task Force, now operating as Australian Wetlands Information Network, helped us build interstate contacts and a constructive relationship with the Australian Government through the Department of Environment and Heritage.
Hunter Wetlands Centre initiated the Australian chapter of the international wetland centres network, WLI Australia, allowing us to maintain communication with our colleagues in wetland education around the country and the world. Click here for more information about Wetland Link International (WLI).
Hunter Wetlands Centre holds a position on the Wetlands International Oceania (WIO) Council, an international scientific NGO that provides technical services to governments and to the Ramsar Convention. This partnership has provided valuable access to technical advice.
The Australian Wetlands Alliance is a network of NGO’s large and small that coordinates NGO input into national wetland policy. HWCA hosted the AWA Secretariat from 1998-2004 and continues to hold a position on the reference group.
Hunter Wetlands Centre has coordinated the development of web-based shorebird education resources East-Asian Australasian Flyway in collaboration with Wetlands International Oceania, WWF, Australasian Wader Study Group and the Migratory Waders Task Force.
Christine Prietto, manager of the School Education program, has held the role of Ramsar NGO CEPA Focal Point since November 2001. This appointment followed from Hunter Wetlands Centre’s participation on the National Task Force. Through this role we have built an on-going relationship with the Ramsar Convention Secretariat.
Hunter Wetlands Centre Australia Board Members
David Crofts, Chair
BSC (Hons), Grad Dip. Local Gov’t Management, Grad Dip Urban & Regional
Planning, Company Directors Diploma
Fellow of Aust. Institute of Company Directors, Aust. Institute of Management,
Planning Institute of Aust. (CPD).
Peter Nelson, Deputy Chair
Wetland Ecologist, PhD (Thesis: Estuarine Wetland Restoration Ecology), BSc (Hons), Dip Art (painting& drawing), Chem. Cert.
Formerly: Senior Environmental Adviser, NSW Dept. Planning; Senior Policy Officer, NSW Climate Change Office P&C; Industrial Chemist EC of NSW; Lecturer in Plant Systematics UoN; Environmental Consultant SWC Consultancy.
Chair of Lake Macquarie Catchment Management Committee; Chair of The Premiers Lake Macquarie Taskforce and Deputy Chair of Central Coast Catchment Management Board.
Foundation member (1983) of the Shortland Wetland Centre and former Council Member of Hunter Wetlands Trust.
Barry Horvath, Secretary
Hunter Water for 35 years leaving as Regional Engineer.
Extensive experience overseas in the Solomon Islands (setting up a water authority)
and Singapore (investigation of all the Singapore sewage system)
Project Engineer at Muswellbrook Council for 5 years.
Volunteer at the Hunter Wetlands Centre since 2013.
6-year volunteer with the State Emergency Service (SES)
Volunteer Meals on Wheel, Flaggy Creek Landcare group, and driver for Mercy Care.
Kenneth Bayliss, CEO
Newcastle State Dockyard Production Planner, computer apt language programmer engineering supervisor.
Newcastle Port Corporation Property Inspector, managing leases and mechanical maintenance relating to lease requirements.
Hunter Wetlands Centre Nursery Manager. Appointed CEO April 2018.
Bachelor of Economics (ANU).
Over 30 years working involvement in the research and management of Australia’s natural resources. While this was predominantly in relation to our offshore commercial fisheries it also including a period as General Manager, Natural Resource Management Strategies in the Commonwealth Department of Primary Industries and Energy. Ten years, as a volunteer, Committee Member and Activity Coordinator for the Red Hill Regenerators Parkcare Group (Canberra).
Three years the Secretary of the Canberra Indian Myna Action Group
Dip Teach; Cert Horticulture; Ass Dip Landscape Design and Management; AILDM (Fellow Retired)
Taught K – Y12 Wetland Ecology; Environmental Education; Aboriginal Studies for NSW Dept Ed and Training for 22 years at Wetlands Environmental Education Centre.
Partner in C & J Horticultural Consultants and Landscape Design for 20 years.
Life Member of Australian Plant Society NSW. Awarded in 2008.
Awarded Premiers Scholarship to study wetland education in UK in 2007.
PhD in Environmental Science (Plant Ecology) (University of Newcastle)
Qualifications in Horticulture and Landscape Design & Management
Regional Weed Strategist, The Hunter & Central Coast Regional Environmental Management Strategy
Appointed as Community Representative in 2012.
Christine Prietto has worked in wetland education for 25 years and has done extensive work with the Ramsar Convention at the local, national and international level. She has served on the HWCA Board since 1995 initially representing the NSW Dept of Education up to 2011. She chaired HWCA from 1999 to 2009.
Australian Government CEPA (NGO) Focal Point for the Ramsar Convention 2002-
Member, Ramsar Convention CEPA Oversight Panel 2006-
MB BS, DCH, MMedSc, FRACP
Retired Paediatrician, Conjoint Associate Professor University of Newcastle, member of Thursday mob (HWC volunteer), volunteer Merewether Landcare, Chair of HWC finance committee.