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Podcast: Voice of Real Australia goes to Bylong, a ghost town abandoned for a coal mine that might never be dug

A few hours west of Newcastle is the Bylong Valley, home to some of the best soil in the whole country. Twenty years ago it was a close-knit community, with a long, proud agricultural history.

Every Friday night, locals would come together at the sports ground, taking time to catch up in what was Bylong's equivalent of the community watering-hole.

Bylong's general store has been closed for a few months, it's owned by mining giant KEPCO along side the church and the primary school. Picture by Jonathan Carroll for the Newcastle Herald.

Bylong's general store has been closed for a few months, it's owned by mining giant KEPCO along side the church and the primary school. Picture by Jonathan Carroll for the Newcastle Herald.

But Bylong these days is not much more than a ghost town -- abandoned houses, overgrown fields. Most farmers have sold up to the South Korean mining giant KEPCO which is keen to dig for coal in the area. The school is closed, so is the general store. Last drinks at the sports ground were five years ago.

You just cant go and rip the guts out of a valley and then put it back together. Its not a jigsaw puzzle - it wont fit.

Bylong Resident Tag Tanner

Despite the damage done to this small community, there's a good chance that the mine won't even go ahead. For the third time in as many years the mine has been knocked back by the authorities. KEPCO is launching a fresh appeal.

Bylong resident Tag Tanner. Picture by Jonathan Carroll for the Newcastle Herald.

Bylong resident Tag Tanner. Picture by Jonathan Carroll for the Newcastle Herald.

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This story Regenerating a valley and a community first appeared on The Canberra Times.