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Black Rock Motor Resort puts Lake Macquarie in pole position for jobs

Artists impression of the 5.25km Tilke designed Black Rock circuit

A world-class new motorsport park and resort in Lake Macquarie is set to create hundreds of jobs and set benchmarks for the reuse of a former mine site.

The $95 million Black Rock Motor Resort at Wakefield will include a 5.25km driving circuit, luxury accommodation, driver training, a function centre, cafe and go-kart track.

Lake Macquarie Mayor Kay Fraser, Natural Resources Minister Courtney Houssos, Minister for the Hunter Yasmin Catley and Black Rock CEO Tony Palmer turned the sod on the 252ha site on 26 March, marking the start of a three-year construction project.

Mr Palmer said the finished resort would be a world away from the underground and open cut coal mining that operated on the site from the late 1800s until 1971.

“Unlike a normal racetrack where the focus is large-scale racing events, Black Rock is more like a golf resort, but rather than 18 holes we have a 5.25km a circuit as our centrepiece,” Mr Palmer said.

“The design of Black Rock focused on evolving the site from a former coal mine into a beautifully landscaped destination, integrating the circuit and all the facilities within the existing mine footprint and utilising previously cleared land and existing fire trails.”

Cr Fraser said the Black Rock project was one of the city’s most significant developments in her 20-plus years of local government, and the first of its type in NSW.

“This will be a very tangible demonstration of a mine site’s adaptive reuse, and it’s something we’re likely to see a lot more of as the world shifts away from fossil fuels,” she said.

“That transformation, from coal mine to adventure tourism destination reflects our city’s seismic shift over the past couple of decades, away from primary production towards hospitality, tourism and other innovative industries.”

“I’m excited about what Black Rock will deliver for Lake Mac and the wider Hunter Region, not just in terms of jobs, but the tens of millions of dollars it will inject into the local economy for many years to come.”

Construction of Black Rock will support about 450 jobs, while the completed resort is expected to employ almost 230 people.

Dantia CEO Tim Browne said he was pleased to see a project come to fruition that demonstrated what could be done on former mining land.

“As Lake Macquarie’s economy continues to evolve, we’re going to need more land available for businesses to set up and expand, bringing jobs and economic benefits to our city,” he said.

“We now have the blueprint for how we can achieve future land use that provides jobs and economic benefits across similar sites in our LGA”.  

Interest in motorsport is booming globally, with the blockbuster Netflix series Drive to Survive, covering the annual Formula One season, largely credited with the surge.

“This project will be a place where like-minded enthusiasts can come and share their passion in a safe and purpose-built environment,” Mr Palmer said.

“It’s going to attract a significant number of new interstate and international visitors and businesses to the area. There are more than 100,000 active members of car clubs in NSW alone.”

The undulating track has been designed by German-based Tilke Group – the company responsible for landmark racetracks across the globe, including the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi, Circuit of the Americas in Texas and the Red Bull Ring in Austria.

It will host corporate driving events, performance car driving experiences, public track days and driver training courses.

“Everything we do will be underpinned by education, whether it’s teaching learner and P-plate drivers to drive safely or helping young enthusiasts take their first laps on a high-speed track,” Mr Palmer said.

Black Rock is expected to be operational within two years, with construction finalised about 12 months later.

The project’s first stage will include track construction and establishment of a café in the former mine’s horse stable building.