Today the abandoned line west of Minmi includes the neglected and dangerous timber bridges at Surveyor's Creek and Wallis Creek and the three still impressive, now disused brick tunnels. The oldest grave we found was that of Eliza Chapman who died 21st January , Aged 6 months. Due to the private owner ship of the coal mines Minmi had no form of local government until The condition of the cemetery is reasonable and it has been recently fenced and more trees have been planted surrounding the grounds. This long hidden historic rail route snaking into the Mount Sugarloaf range was the brainchild of the autocratic coal baron John Brown. Members of the Newcastle cycleway fraternity have applauded the idea as a tourism venture, comparing it to the highly successful Adamstown-to-Belmont Fernleigh Track.
This now defunct steam-era railway line is part of an abandoned, once great rail line pushing Minmi is a small ex-coal mining town 17 km west of Newcastle NSW. Whatever the case Minmi cemetery has a very strong feeling of something otherworldly about it. Allan McCann and I recorded this cemetery in March of from all existing and legible headstones in the cemetery. Someone was safeguarding a future transport corridor for coal freight trains should the idea ever be needed. The population has fluctuated over time. The outer residential suburb of Minmi, of course, is nowhere near the sea, although the tiny hamlet of Hexham close by is beside the Hunter River. An innovative method, consisting of high-strength polyester geosynthetic reinforcement, was used to make sure the national highway or anything else, like a tunnel did not sink into Leneghans Swamp. The oldest grave we found was that of Eliza Chapman who died 21st January , Aged 6 months. For almost years there's been a solid earth embankment cutting across the wetlands from the old coal mining township of Minmi towards the main Maitland-Newcastle railway at distant Hexham. There's only intriguing hints about Chinese labourers helping build the line in , but having to sleep on the unfinished track as they weren't allowed into Minmi itself. So, what might future cyclists and bush walkers expect meandering through bush on the old Richmond Vale line, Australia's last commercial steam railway? The original, short line from Hexham to Minmi across the swamp probably opened in early and was conceived by famous Hunter pioneer John Eales and his partner John Christian who had opened coalmines at Minmi. John Brown later took over, ambitiously pushing his private line westwards, towards Kurri, around In style, all resemble the once unwanted brick rail tunnel at what is now the popular Fernleigh Track at Adamstown Heights. The Brown brothers sustained their dominance of the coal industry, opening a mine at the Burwood estate near Newcastle in and acquiring the Minmi mine in , which had commenced operations in Minmi cemetery like the town itself was also a private burial ground. Also reports of a phantom motorbike rider have been reported along Minmi road. Vandals seem to be in every place of the world and the cemeteries are no exception and do get angry when I see the headstones pushed over and smashed it is a pointless and senseless act to desecrate a grave. Never used, it was constructed 11 years after the last coal train ran on the RVR steam railway. This long hidden historic rail route snaking into the Mount Sugarloaf range was the brainchild of the autocratic coal baron John Brown. That's when, especially during winter fogs, it resembled Stockton breakwater, isolated and spearing into the sea. Cyclists pedal through the modern, but unused, concrete rail tunnel on the former Richmond Vale Railway line, now proposed for reuse. With money from grants, anything is possible. Due to the private owner ship of the coal mines Minmi had no form of local government until There are a lot of unmarked and forgotten graves. Two of them are often flooded, but considering there's been no maintenance, all tunnels appear to be in good condition.
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