Muswellbrook Shire covers 3,402km2, of which 1,455km (43%) is national parks. The Shire is centrally located in the upper Hunter Valley, and is located approximately 130km north-west of Newcastle. Lake Liddell delineates the Muswellbrook Shire boundary to the east, Wollemi National Park to the west, Aberdeeen to the north and Coricudgy State Forest to the south.
With a population of approximately 17,209 people, Muswellbrook Shire is a welcoming community offering a range of facilities. The Shire consists of two larger towns, Muswellbrook and Denman, the small township of Sandy Hollow, and several small outlying rural communities.
To support this information and assist in future strategic planning, locality maps have been prepared to better understand community needs, activities and assets across the Muswellbrook Shire. They consider the existing built and natural environment; what residents regard as special or unique about their area; and the sorts of activities that occur in that area. They were developed especially to provide a snapshot of Muswellbrook Shire’s smaller communities.
The locality maps generally align with the Australian Bureau of Statistics Statistical Area Level 1 (SA1). SA1 are the smallest area of output for the Census of Population and Housing. Most SA1 are designed to have a population of 200-800 people. It is important to note that they do not always align with Local Government Area boundaries, so some locality maps may cover small portions of other Local Government Areas, such as Singleton Shire, and that some of the locality maps cover covers more than one SA1 (such as the Muswellbrook map).
For the purpose of this mapping exercise, the localities are:
- Muswellbrook (and surrounds)
- Denman (and surrounds)
- Sandy Hollow
- Martindale (including Baerami/Baerami Creek; Kerrabee; Widden Valley and Yarrawa)
- Castle Rock (including Hollydeen; Manobalai; Kayuga and Wybong)
- Muscle Creek (including McCully’s Gap and Hebden)
- Giant’s Creek
- Jerry’s Plains (including Bureen; Dalswinton and Edderton. This area also includes part of Singleton Shire)
The demographic data presented in this profile has been sourced from REMPLAN and the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), Censuses of Population and Housing 2011.
Supplementary data has been sourced from an unpublished survey commissioned by Muswellbrook Shire Council and undertaken by Jetty Research.
Independent phone surveys were conducted, with a sample from each location. Due to the low populations of some of these areas, the survey results are indicative only and not a statistically valid representation. There were three categories of question:
- Those asked only of residents living in the town of Muswellbrook;
- Those asked only of residents living outside the town of Muswellbrook; and
- Those asked of all respondents.
Muswellbrook Specific questions
- Council owned public facilities are well patronized by Muswellbrook residents
- Over 60% of people surveyed participate in fundraisers, markets/fetes/open days and community sporting events.
- Public transport is seldom or rarely used (84% for public buses and 58% for trains)
- 55% of Muswellbrook residents surveyed would use public transport more if there was greater frequency of services.
Non-Muswellbrook specific questions
People generally responded to the questions as they related to their immediate locality; however the responses made it apparent that Muswellbrook Shire residents often consider their locality to be much broader than defined here, particularly when considering significant sites and activities.
- The most commonly identified local facilities were RFS sheds, community halls and churches. Community halls were the facility most frequently used in all areas followed by churches.
- Unsurprisingly, given the rural nature of the Shire, all areas noted that they have rural views, waterways, bush and native animals.
- All areas observed that they have some historic or heritage sites in their location, although it was not always in the immediate locality.
- Residents reported participating in a diverse range of activities, such as, but not limited to, social and sporting groups, children’s play groups, art and craft classes, and fundraising groups.
- Mobile phone, internet and television reception varies significantly across the region, with more remote localities having virtually no reception for all these utilities.
- For those surveyed with school aged children, there was generally a bus stop within 1.5km.
For all respondents
- Almost 50% of respondents were members of a local club and 38% a member of a sporting group. 17% of respondents did not belong to any organization, club or group. A high number of Martindale and Muscle Creek respondents were Rural Fire Service (RFS) members.
- Muswellbrook is, unsurprisingly, the primary source of most goods and services in the area. Almost 90% of respondents purchase their groceries, 59% had their GP (29% in Denman) and 68% of respondents source other goods in Muswellbrook.
- 73% of respondents had primary or secondary school age children, with 42% of these attending school in Muswellbrook, 27% in Aberdeen and 18% in Denman. Three quarters of schoolchildren used school buses.
- Two thirds of respondents had lived in their local region for 20 or more years, and most had seen changes in that time. The most commonly identified changes included increased infrastructure/improvements in services and facilities (46%) and expansion/growth (44%). An impact of mining was noticed by 26% of respondents.
- People like the peace and quiet (64%), scenery/nature (52%) and local community (49%) most.
- Most respondents felt that improved roads/bridges would make the region better (32%), as well as improved services, including retail (26%).
The following Locality Maps provide detailed information for each region.