Whitehaven has committed to preserving the historical homestead of Dorothea Mackellar on its land northwest of Gunnedah.
A Whitehaven spokesperson said chief executive officer Paul Flynn had “publicly committed to preserving the Kurrumbede homestead” at Monday’s Independent Planning Commission hearing in Boggabri.
The spokesperson said the company had also made “a significant financial commitment towards this objective”.
Dorothea Mackellar Memorial Society vice-president Juliana McArthur said the group looked forward to seeing the results of “a significant financial contribution to the repair, preservation and enhancement” of the homestead and grounds.
“We are cautiously optimistic about welcoming Whitehaven’s commitment and the proof is in the pudding, the proof is in the presentation and enhancement of the site, and we look forward to working with Whitehaven,” Ms McArthur said.
“Kurrumbede is a significant site, and it needs to be preserved and needs to be opened up to the public.
“The Dorothea Mackellar Memorial Society is charged with preserving Dorothea Mackellar’s contribution to Australian heritage, which is an honour we take seriously and is something that contributes to the current national art scene.”
In late 2018, the society submitted a nomination for it to be included on the state heritage register, making it eligible for government grants for maintenance.
Member Philippa Murray said the society met with Whitehaven in December to inform it of the nomination, but “they were less than enthusiastic in their response”.
“We found that hard to reconcile with their stated aim to preserve Kurrumbede if they weren’t willing to back the application,” Ms Murray said.
“It’s a prime candidate for listing.”
In a statement to the NVI, a spokesperson said Whitehaven had received a copy of the application on Tuesday, but the society “did not engage us on the preparation of this document”.
“We are now in a position to consider its contents alongside our stated commitment to preserve the homestead and any other factors relevant to our status as the property owner,” the spokesperson said.
In August 2018, Whitehaven said it had “committed to the preparation of a heritage management plan” for the homestead complex, before the Vickery extension construction started, but no plan has been made available yet.