THEY call it the "Uluru of the east" - a sacred Aboriginal place within a world heritage area in the Hunter.
Mount Yengo is a table-top mountain and remnant of an ancient volcano that rises 300 metres above a plateau.
The mountain is a key landmark within the Yengo National Park and the nearby Wollombi Valley, on the outskirts of Cessnock local government area.
The area is within the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area.
A federal environment department report said the land must be managed and protected "as part of the future growth of the Lower Hunter", amid concern about its values being threatened.
The report pinpointed the Wollombi Valley as a "key conservation priority" to help protect and manage the world heritage area.
"These lands, the majority of which are privately owned or managed by State Forests, provide an important buffer to world heritage values in Yengo National Park," it said.
Retaining the characteristics of the area was considered crucial.
The report said more government funding was needed to increase effective management of the area.
Greater community awareness of the area's values was needed, it said.
Wollombi resident, artist Paul Selwood, said the area had "huge significance for Aboriginal culture".
"Yengo National Park has thousands of Aboriginal art sites, many of them rock carvings with views of Mount Yengo," Mr Selwood said.
"They tell the story of Baiame, the creator, stepping down from the sky to create all things."
Aboriginal people from across the state come to Mount Yengo to study traditional culture.
The Wollombi Valley Arts Council said corroborees were held at Wollombi to celebrate Aboriginal culture with traditional dance.
"Mount Yengo is to the Aborigines of NSW, as Uluru is to the Aborigines of central Australia," it said.
The area was "traditionally used for learning and ceremony" for more than 10,000 years.
The Blue Mountains Conservation Society said Mount Yengo was "deeply significant to Aboriginal people" in south-east Australia.
The mountain was "remnants of 17 million-year-old basalt lava that flooded across the land".
Mr Selwood said Wollombi meant "the meeting of the waters or meeting place".
"This is a pristine river, creek and catchment system," he said.
"A lot of creeks flow here.
"There's a lot of significance here and much to lose."
The report lists threats to the area as mismanagement of land, rural-residential development and mineral and gas exploration.
A pilot gas well had been sunk in the area and development was a major threat, Mr Selwood said.
"Gas mining would be disastrous - it would pollute the rivers. You don't want the area to become subdivided into small five-acre lots. There is a powerful lobby of businesspeople who want to exploit it for their own wealth."
Cessnock City Council group leader built and natural environment Gareth Curtis said the report was "an important reference tool if development was proposed in the area."