HISTORY IN THE WILDERNESS
How Blackbutt Reserve became the green heart of Newcastle
The swathe of bush skirting Kotara and New Lambton would not exist in its current form had it not been for tireless campaigning by Newcastle's first female Lord Mayor Joy Cummings and many others in the community.
Land purchased in the 1930s for a reserve was placed into Newcastle City Council's trusteeship in 1938, with an adjoining 124 hectares acquired from the Scottish Australian Mining Company in 1956.
The initial plan was to subdivide this new land to build 500 new homes, but concerted community campaigning finally led to its preservation.
Conservation groups fought again in the 1960s and 70s to defeat plans for a motorway to be built through the heart of the reserve, while the closure of an adjoining colliery in 1979 prompted Council to establish what is now known as Richley Reserve.
Wildlife exhibits built in the 60s and 70s at the top of the reserve, off the Lookout Road entrance, were moved to their current location in 1995. The exhibits were severely damaged by the infamous "Pasha Bulker" storm of 2007 and required extensive repairs.