Thursday, 1 October, 2015


We’ve been raiding archives and probing memories to share some of HRF’s amazing achievements that have contributed to the resilience of our region over six decades.

These photos are of a collaborative project, the Land Resources Research Project, which was initiated by the HRF (then Hunter Valley Research Foundation) and launched in Muswellbrook in 1959 (pictured at right: Leon Punch speaks at the launch).

NSW Premier Joe Cahill unveiled a plaque to mark the beginning of the ambitious project researching the Hunter Valley’s natural resources. Carried out jointly by the CSIRO, State government departments and the HVRF, the project studied soils, vegetation and land formations of the Valley in detail.

Dr Stewart Bastow, CEO of the fledgling CSIRO said at the launch that Sir Ian Clunies Ross had suggested the project before his death. The photo on the left shows (from left) HVRF’s first CEO, Professor Cyril Renwick briefs Ralph Basden, Leo Butler, Sir Clunies Ross and eminent scientist Sir Frederick White about HVRF’s plans.

“It is essential today that people believe in science and help the scientist,” Dr Bastow said. “It is a very great tribute to the Research Foundation that it has been able to surmount all barriers and has gained the cooperation of the people of the Hunter Valley and the government departments.”

Dr Bastow said the project would attempt to study the soil and vegetation of the Hunter Valley to give its people an idea of what resources are available to them if they wish to develop them.

“This is the first time that the CSIRO has been able to work with its Land Resources team in an active, live community,” he said.

The team of five researchers from Canberra (pictured with Prof. Renwick in the centre photo) was based at the Foundation’s Research Centre and worked with HVRF researchers for months to produce their report.

Speaking at the 1961 HVRF annual dinner, Dr Bastow said it had not only been a great privilege for the CSIRO to work with the Foundation, but a ‘scientific education’.

“Our job at the CSIRO, and yours in the Hunter Valley Research Foundation, is to carry out research for the future…”

Dr Bastow said HVRF played a very important role – to convey scientific information to the people to help them make Australia as productive as possible.

“I congratulate a city and a Valley for doing something which I believe no other city and Valley in the world has done. I wish you all the very best in the years to come and promise you all the collaboration we can give.”

CSIRO published the General Report on the Lands of the Hunter Valley as part of their Land Research Series in 1963. The reason for the survey was outlined in the introduction:

The survey was made at the request of the Hunter Valley Research Foundation, which has as its main object the conducting and fostering of research into all problems connected with the land and its use. The foundation was initiated by a group of private citizens after the heavy and destructive floods in the Hunter Valley in 1955.

Contact Kim Britton on 4041 5516 or email