Re-Shaping the Hunter

Reshaping the Hunter

The Hunter Region is barely recognisable. Over the past three decades the changes in its industrial base, significant developments in infrastructure, and move to a more sophisticated workforce has seen a region previously reliant on its steel and coal emerge as a hub of innovation, collaboration, and structural change.

With the Port of Newcastle at its heart and a thriving network of industrial, technological, and service-based sectors, the Hunter has reinvented itself. Underpinning this revitalisation has been the innovation and dedication of the engineering sector. What was once traditionally focused on traditional engineering sectors such as civil, mechanical, structural, and electrical, the engineering discipline now has even greater depth and contribution as it broadened its scope to work alongside the needs of a changing economy with a renewed focus on innovation.

In recognition of the engineering sector's contribution to the region, members of the Newcastle Division of Engineers Australia, Engineering Heritage Branch have published Reshaping The Hunter.

It is a follow-up to the Institution’s 1982 release Shaping the Hunterwhich can be read on our website. This new book is a celebration of the work undertaken by the engineering profession in the development of the Hunter Region and also serves as a historical reference of this challenging period of the region’s history.

The content is an engaging narrative focusing on the re-emergence of the Hunter Region following the eventual full closure of the BHP Steelworks in

It illustrates the re-focus and emergence of new skills and capabilities in the engineering sector and reference other economic contributors such as mining, the Port of Newcastle, manufacturing, education, and health and will include reference to the 1989 Newcastle earthquake and its effects on the engineering and construction sectors.

The book explores how globalisation, technological change, environmental concerns, and other factors have driven change. Ultimately, the book demonstrates how the engineers of today have been able to adapt, survive and thrive, just as their forebears have done.

Its purpose is to:

  • Illustrate the engineering sector’s vital contribution to the Hunter Region
  • Demonstrate the diversity and flexibility of the engineering profession
  • Present a case study of how a region can re-invent itself
  • Demonstrate the pathway the engineering profession can provide
  • Be used for continuous professional development within Engineers Australia membership and University of Newcastle student-faculty
  • Give an insightful read and valuable contribution to the recording of the region’s history

It is written by award-winning author Evan McHugh with graphic design by Michelle Havenstein.

Copies are available for purchase at the Newcastle Museum, Harry Harthog at Westfield Kotara and Engineers Australia Newcastle.



This project is supported by Create NSW’s Cultural Grants Program, a devoted funding program administered by
the Royal Australian Historical Society on behalf of the NSW Government

Learn more about our Publication Partners


University of Newcastle

Learn more about our Publication Supporters

I S Systems

Port Waratah Coal Services


Lindsay Dynan


Douglas Partners




Learn more about our Cultural Grant Supporters

Royal Australian Historical Society