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 Partnerships

Over the years the Hunter Wetlands Centre Australia has built important partnerships with a range of organisations that have contributed to our work. Partnerships provided an important cornerstone in 1984.

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.


Australian Plants Society – Newcastle Group


HWCA International Award – Star Wetland Award

During the 2022 Ramsar Conference of Parties, COP14, held in Geneva Switzerland, recipients of the first Star Wetlands Centre Awards were announced. At a special event held on 9 November 2022, Chris Rostron, Head of Wetland Link International named twenty-three Star Wetland Centres selected for their work in wetland communication, education participation and awareness.

World Wetlands Day 2023-Star Award
World Wetlands Day 2023-Star Award Chris,Peter&Carol

Hunter Wetlands Centre Australia is honoured to announce that our centre is one of the twenty-three Star Wetland Centres named at this event, representing wetland centres from every region around the world. Across the Oceania Region the award winners include Hunter Wetlands Centre, Sydney Wetlands Institute at Sydney Olympic Park and the NZ National Trust Wetland Centre.

This Star Wetland Award is an award for every member of the HWCA family. Everyone who contributes in any way to our work in managing our wetlands and welcoming our visitors can feel proud of this achievement.

Hunter Wetlands Centre Board of Directors


Dr Peter Nelson, 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.

Gayle Partridge

Mary Greenwood, Deputy Chair

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

Scott Redman

GradDip Strategic Leadership; ADDip Community Services (Disability);MAICD

 Founder and Director of Clear Sky Australia PTY Limited – a Disability Service Provider (DSP) specialist NDIS accommodation provider, respite services, and capacity building community participation programs.

Founder and Director of BGR Retail group PTY Limited. A retail group with a difference providing employment pathways and opportunities for people living with a disability. 

Director HP Red PTY LTD

Advanced manufacturer providing specialty engraved, laser cut, laser etched products to the mining, construction, architectural and electrical industries.

Carolyn Gillard

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.

Brigette Michel