Cessnock Local Government Area (Cessnock City) covers approximately 1,950 square kilometres within the Hunter Valley of New South Wales, approximately 120 kilometres north of Sydney and 40 kilometres west of Newcastle.
Whilst mining was the principal industrial base and source of employment in the Cessnock area for the first half of this century, changes to the mining industry, including automation and the introduction of sophisticated computerised equipment, led to the closure of the vast majority of mines in the area.
The decline of mining has been paralleled by growth in the wine industry. The Hunter Valley wine-growing area in the Cessnock LGA is Australia’s oldest wine region and one of the most famous, with around 4,500 acres under vine. The vineyards of Pokolbin, Mount View and Allandale, with their rich volcanic soils tended by entrepreneurial vignerons, are also the focus of a thriving tourism industry.
As well as vineyards and wineries there are fine restaurants, motels, cabins, guest houses and galleries. Wine-related tourism has also created opportunities for other attractions, such as the historic Marthaville Arts and Crafts Centre, Wollombi Village, the Richmond Main Mining Museum and the Richmond Vale Railway. Other primary industries in Cessnock City include beef and poultry.
Light and secondary industry have also been a feature of the City’s recent economic development, with the production of aluminium, the processing of explosive equipment and mining support services now a significant source of employment in the area.
Support infrastructure across the City now includes two hospitals, two TAFE campuses, community health services, a range of childcare options, and aged care as well as numerous other community support services. Each of the City’s towns and villages (which are linked by large expanses of natural vegetation) provide high quality sporting facilities and parks.