Signs in the landscape – the Common


At the start of the Gundy Common.

The concept of ‘the common’, of land held by a whole community, is a venerable and ancient one no longer current. A concept of the invading forces of white settlement that has a tiny resonance with one aspect of the Indigenous concept of relationship to Country. No, I am too romantic. This concept set up no common ground between white and black, it figured in no one’s imagination, nor in praxis, neither then nor now…

Three hundred acres at the edge of the village, with a set of yards, three dams, a bore and a well. The common was originally a place where villagers would keep a milking cow and a horse or pony. The general rule became that Gundy households could keep two head of cattle on the common. The common was also the site of the local rubbish tip, until its closure in the not too distant past.

A little further down the Hunter Valley at Camberwell, the state government of NSW has taken Camberwell Common from the people and given it to Ashton coal mine. Ashton is owned by Yancoal Australia (owned by Yanzhou Coal Mining Company Limited, in turn owned by the People’s Republic of China).

On 14 April 2010, the government revoked the community trust management of the 90 hectare, two-part, village common, granted to the community in the 1880s as a grazing and recreation area.

The government passed to Ashton Coal a licence for access and grazing rights to the Camberwell Common. White Mining, a subsidiary of Felix Resources which is wholly owned by Yancoal, then applied for a mining lease over the common.

In April 2011 the Wonnarua people protested that many of their sacred sites and artefacts will be destroyed if Ashton Coal is allowed to mine near Camberwell.

The residents have not given up the fight for Camberwell Common. Their latest appeal goes to court on 26 August 2013.

These things are precious.

This entry was posted in Australian Bush Life, Signs and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Signs in the landscape – the Common

  1. sophie says:

    we have a common here in our little village in the southern tablelands. unused, unfenced, not sure if it has water even. perfect native grasses for spring when lots of local horses are foundering in their improved square paddocks. perfect for the poor guy who has too many cows on his ever diminishing holdings. at least so far, gold mine investigators haven’t laid claim! nice blog good work.

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