Motorway 23 – Newcastle
    And Blackbutt Nature Reserve

    The Builders’ Labourers Federation were consistent in their stance against relentless motorway construction (North-West Expressway and Eastern Freeway). In May 1973, focus shifted north of Sydney to Newcastle, when Newcastle City Council gave approval for a motorway which would run through Blackbutt Nature Reserve. The decision was met with much opposition and various civic, conservation and progress associations throughout the region expressed discontent due to the lack of environmental impact studies and the failure to propose alternate routes. In consideration of the intense public opposition to the routing of the expressway. He Builders’ Labourers imposed a ban was imposed on an highway that would run through Blackbutt. (The ban still existed in June 1974.) The opponents argued the case for the location for the expressway is west of Lake Macquarie and Newcastle. The Blackbutt Action Group Case Against Highway 23 Violating Blackbutt Reserve regarded their victory as one of the most important historic Conservation victories in Newcastle. Note that Peter Morris MHR was at the picnic. Peter was the Federal Minister for Transport at the time when it was decided to construct the National Highway to the west of Lake Macquarie making it unnecessary to construct Highway 23 through Blackbutt Reserve.
    Birdwood Park - public meeting flyer for 2/5/1971. Collection University of Newcastle Archives.
    Joe Richley, Courtesy of Newcastle Region Library, Newcastle Herald Collection
    Preserve and Progress pamphlet relating to the Motorway 23 proposol, pages 1 & 2. (Front) Date unknown. Collection University of Newcastle Archives.
    Preserve and Progress pamphlet relating to the Motorway 23 proposol, pages 1 & 2. (Back) Date unknown. Collection University of Newcastle Archives.
    Newcastle University Archive, Hunter Living History, Save Blackbutt: The Case Against Highway 23 Violating Blackbutt Reserve.
    Blackbutt Reserve - public meeting flyer for 23/6/1971. Collection University of Newcastle Archives.
    References
    Builders Labourers’ Federation’s ‘official list’ compiled by Joe Owens of over 50 Green Bans in 1974. (Note repeats on Joe Owens’ list as Green Ban #54.
    Verity and Meredith Burgmann, Green bans, red union: the saving of a city, 1998.
    Radical Newcastle, Edited by James Bennett, Nancy Cushing & Erik Eklund, New South Publishers, 2015. Also exhibition, Radicals, Renegades and Revolutionaries, part of the ‘RAD Newcastle Exhibition – Newcastle & the Hunter through a radical lens’. The exhibition was held at Newcastle Museum, June-August 2017.
    University of Newcastle, Hunter Living History, PDF: Save Blackbutt: The Case Against State Highway 23 Violating Blackbutt Reserve

    Research by Isabella Maher and Jo Holder

    About

    On the 50th anniversary of the Green Bans, the ideals of their struggle to protect heritage and environmental amenity for all to enjoy are more urgent than ever. In 2011 the Green Bans Art Walk and Exhibition (in two parts at The Cross Art Projects and The Firstdraft Depot Project Space), told the story of an inspired period, its charismatic leaders and grass-roots heroes. The project comprised a series of public guided walks between the exhibition venues functioned as a living instruction manual and moral compass charting stories of good and evil, creativity and conflict. Read more

    Now

    The Powerhouse Museum Alliance is a group of concerned citizens working to save the Powerhouse Museum in Ultimo. The Alliance includes longstanding benefactors of the museum, former trustees, design and heritage experts and senior museum professionals. Read more