Bob "Minmi Magster" Skelton likes his lifestyle the way it is. He likes Minmi the way it is.
The semi-rural town, on the edge of Newcastle, is "a nice bit of country", he says.
"It’s undulating, with rolling hills – you’ve got the bush and open paddocks."
Plans to develop the area with more than 3000 houses have been in the pipeline for years.
"It's been the bogeyman out here for a long time," he said.
As the Newcastle Heraldreported on Wednesday, plans are getting nearer for a big housing estate that would surround the town.
The Magster has lived on a three-acre property in Minmi for decades. He also leases, from Coal & Allied, big parcels of grazing land that adjoin his property. This grazing land will eventually be developed.
"It’ll be the end of an era," he said.
"I used to breed cattle on the grazing land. I kept the lease going because if it wasn't fenced you’d have hoons on there in 4WDs and motorbikes, dumping rubbish behind our houses."
The Magster feels lucky that Minmi has remained rural for so long.
"If the mining companies hadn’t owned it, development would have happened sooner," he said.
For a long time, from its early days, the coal company owned the entire town.
"Everything was leased," he said.
He doesn't want to see Minmi developed into "Legoland", but concedes that "people have got to live somewhere".
"It’s the way of the world. The developers and builders want it. It's good for the economy. That’s how it goes," he said.
The Magster, a well-known bush poet, has written a poem about the town. It's titled "End of an Era".
Scenes like this [see photo] will soon be something to cherish, for Minmi's rural lifestyle is about to vanish;
The housing estates are coming as we all know, the paddocks and bushland are about to go;
It’s all part of progress so they say, as the urban sprawl spreads out this way;
But I will cherish and remember till the day I die, the good old days I’ve spent here in Minmi.
Such as pickin’ blackberries of a wild vine to make yummie pies or sweet red wine;
Or catching and saddling my faithful hack, to ride out through the scrub on an old bush track;
Seeing my cattle and horses grazing ‘round the place,
Enjoying a rural lifestyle at a slower pace;
I guess they're the things I will have to relent, when the developers arrive with their tar and cement;
But I guess what must be will surely be, for we’ve seen it happen in many a locality;
But for me the hardest thing to understand,
Is the transformation of native bush into Legoland.
Topics has written previously about a particularly fat goanna on the Minmi Magster's property.
Now another goanna, not quite as big-boned as its fellow lizard, has raised eyebrows.
The Magster was sitting on his verandah when he saw this goanna eat lunch.
"He swallowed a willie wagtail whole," he said.
"It reminded me of how quick a crocodile pounces. The goannas move around so slowly like a turtle, but my god they can move quick when they want to."