Like the smell of Sulphur? Head to the Hunter Region’s Burning Mountian.
Considered the world’s oldest coal fire, Burning Mountain in the Upper Hunter Region is Australia’s only example of a naturally burning coal seam (one of only three in the world). Believed to have been naturally ignited about 6000 years ago, it’s slowly burning through a thick coal seam about 30m deep.
The first non-Aboriginal observation of it occurred in 1828 when a local farmhand named Smart claimed to have found an active volcano.
Poor old Smart’s fame was shortlived, though, and he completely failed to have a volcano named after him since it turned out not to be one; faster than you could poke it with a burnt stick, eminent geologist CPN Wilton correctly identified the phenomenon as a burning coal seam the following year.
Smell the acrid sulphur. Feel the heat from the roasting 350-degree surface. Watch the pale grey smoke waft into the air. Look for wedge-tailed eagles soaring on the thermal currents above. Imagine you’re at the beginning of time. Or perhaps the end.
WHERE // Just off the New England Hwy near Wingen in the Upper Hunter Valley area, about 320km north of Sydney and 17km north of Scone.
DID YOU KNOW? // The burning site moves about 1m south each year. Since it’s already moved 6km it’s estimated that it’s been burning for about 6000.