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Wendy Bowman Passing

Ms Bowman, 89, a co-founder of Hunter Minewatch, was at the forefront of the community fight against the environmental and health impacts caused by the rampant expansion of the coal industry for more than three decades. 

A mother of three and grandmother of six, Ms Bowman passed away on 27 July 2023 following a short illness. 

She was part of a landmark court decision in 2014 against Yancoal's Ashton South East open cut mine proposal, which required the mine to buy her 182-hectare property Rosedale, near Camberwell, in order to proceed. 

"She was an absolute stalwart who stood up for what she believed in," Environmental Defenders Office lawyer Elaine Johnson, who was involved in the case, said. 

"It was a privilege to know her and to be able to work closely with her on protecting land, water, and culture and connection to Country." 

When the Department of Planning granted Yancoal a two year extension window to commence the South East open cut project in 2020, Ms Bowman took the extraordinary step of altering her Will to stop her property ever being sold for mining. 

The company announced last year that it had formally abandoned the project in the face of her unyielding opposition. 

"When the approval for the mine lapsed last year I know Wendy was so happy to be able to see that through until the end. It was such a privilege to be able to celebrate that with her," Ms Johnson said. 

Ms Bowman's extraordinary contribution to the region's environment was recognised in 2017 with the Goldman Environmental Prize. 

The prize is the world's pre-eminent environmental award for grassroots conservation, which supports individuals taking extraordinary actions to win victories against the odds. 

"The Hunter has just lost a great champion for the community and the environment," Hunter Communities Network convenor Bev Smiles said. 

"She stood up against the coal giants to protect Glennies Creek and downstream water users. 

"She was a great role model for a lot of people - her grace and openness and availability to anyone who needed help, plus her sense of humour - she will be sorely missed." 

Ms Bowman moved to Rosedale in 2005 after another Bowman family property, Granbalang, was sold to make way for the Rixs Creek open-cut mine. 

Ms Bowman said she was forced to sell the land because it contained private coal rights, which had existed since the nineteenth century. 

But it wasn't long before she was fighting a pitched battle to save her new home. 

Fellow Camberwell resident Deidre Olofsson fought alongside Ms Bowman in 2012 to save the village's historic common, which a former Labor state government illegally gifted to a mining company

"What she did was really tough, but she stood up to the pressure ," Ms Olofsson said. 

"When the common was taken off us I didn't have anywhere to put my two cows and she told me to bring them over to her place. 

"She was inspiring to work alongside. Sometimes we would just sit and talk because it was so stressful." 

George Woods, from Lock the Gate said Ms Bowman would be remembered as a fierce advocate for farming and the environment. 

"Her drawing of a line in the sand against that open-cut coal proposal really stands as a beacon for everybody who believes that one person can make a difference," she said. 

"She was a very fierce person and a very no-nonsense person, but she shared her knowledge really generously." 

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