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.
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
Mary Greenwood, Community Representative
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
Carolyn Gillard, Community Representative
Dip Teach, Ass Dip Applied Science (Landscape), Cert Horticulture.
Teacher at Wetlands Environmental Education Centre since 1993
Australian Association of Environmental Education (Regional delegate)
Australian Institute Landscape Designers and Managers (Fellow)
Australian Plants Society (NSW delegate)
Christine Prietto, Community Representative
BA, Teachers Certificate, MEdStud
Member Environment Institute of Aust. and New Zealand
Barry Horvath, Community Representative
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.
John Stuart, Community Representative
MB BS, FRACP, DCH, MMedSc
Jake Relf, Community Representative