Singleton is the largest town in the Hunter Valley of New South Wales. Hunter Valley is one of the most well-known wine regions in Australia, and is an important coal production area (77% of Australia’s electrical power comes from coal-powered plants and coal is one of Australia’s largest exports).
Singleton has preserved and continues to utilize it’s historic buildings, some of which date to the 1840s. The town contains many historic homes, public buildings, Aussie pubs, and castle-like churches.
The Hunter Valley contains over 150 wineries and is most known for certain white wine varieties.
The largest public land or recreational area in close proximity to Singleton is the city parks adjacent to the Hunter River. Most of the park land is developed; very little remains in a natural state.
Mines, Wines, and Bats?
While people visit Singleton largely for work in the mines or leisure travel to the vineyards, the stars of the town are the flying foxes of Burdekin Park. The “flying foxes” are actually large fruit bats, some of which are an Australian endangered species, with wing-spans up to 1 meter. Thousands of these bats roost in the trees, practically taking over the entire park and limiting other park activities. Efforts to remove the bats have obviously been unsuccessful.
Each night, just after sunset, the bats leave the park and fly off to find food. Their evening flight is a spectacular event, and safely viewed from beneath the park’s covered amphitheater.
Bats Update 2016
The bats have been a destructive force to the local city park by killing trees, covering the park in guano, and impacting the historic markers. In order to encourage the bats to seek an alternative colony home the city has begun cleaning up the park by removing some large trees and severely trimming back other trees. The memorials, museum, and playground have been cleaned and are open to visitors. One area of the park still contains a few bats, and has been closed off for safety due to many falling limbs and dead branches.
Park memorials are once again accessible by the public.
The single-most negative aspect of the area is the traffic. Two primary Hunter Valley highways transect Singleton, bringing round-the-clock vehicle traffic through the center of town, including commercial/industrial trucks and diesel work utes. As a regular visitor to Singleton, I had hoped that the new Hunter Expressway would bypass town and alleviate some of the noise and congestion. Instead, the new “M” highway stops just short of Singleton, perhaps funneling even more heavy traffic through the center of town.
If something bad happens in Singleton, you can’t say you weren’t warned.