A large piece of the Hunter's history has gone under the hammer with the sale of the 404 hectare Greta Migrant Camp site to Sydney-based developers the Medich family.
Belford Land director Anthony Medich, bought the property from previous owner Uri Windt, in December.
While Belford Land would not disclose the sale price, The Maitland Mercury understands the site fetched between $38 million and $40 million.
Greta Migrant Camp was initially owned by the Commonwealth Defence Department. During World War II it was the site of one of the Australian Army's largest training camps.
From 1949 to 1960 the camp was transformed into a "Reception and Processing Camp for Displaced Persons and Migrants" leaving a Europe after the war. It was one of the largest camps in Australia. An estimated 100,000 people passed through the camp.
Years ago development approval was granted for a potential $1.4 billion mixed-use project on the site, known as Anvil Creek, which was tipped to include a golf course, vineyard, low-rise residential, an aged-care facility and a hotel or tourism business.
When the site went on the market about four years ago, The Sydney Morning Herald reported it had approval for 1364 residential dwellings, 85 tourist villages, a 150-room dual key hotel, an 18-hole Graham Marsh-designed international-standard golf course and clubhouse, an 8700-square-metre commercial and retail precinct, a 16,000sq/m education precinct and a 20-hectare working vineyard.
Belford Land spokesman Andrew Williams said the owners have no immediate plans to develop the site.
"The central Hunter has a very bright future in the medium to long term," Mr Williams said.
"It is connected to the Hunter Expressway and is a central location which works well for anyone working in the Hunter Valley and it's only 40 minutes from Newcastle," he said.
"We are working on revitalising Branxton and ultimately we are trying to stick to the area's roots rather than develop a standard sub-division model. We want to create a destination with a much longer term view."
Maitland man Alek Schulha, who was born at the camp 70 years ago and wrote a book based on life there, hopes buildings there will be preserved now the sale has settled.
Mr Schulha showed a company representative around the site and was told Belford Land would not be developing the area for at least five years.
The new vice-president of Hunter Multi Cultural Communities, Mr Schulha said at this stage the new owners planned to preserve the rifle range and are thinking of turning it into an art gallery/museum.
"I hope in any of their future plans the army and the migrant camps are recognised with something on site," he said.
"With the help of Greta Tidy Towns and Cessnock Council we have built the small monument out the front of the camp, but would like to see the new owners have something that recognises the lives that started in Australia in that camp."
The Medich website states that the company started acquiring land in the Hunter in 2006.
"Our holdings are located in the Singleton, Cessnock and Maitland LGAs in the suburbs of Pokolbin, Lochinvar, Lovedale, Greta, Branxton, Lower Belford and Belford," the website read.
"Our residential activities currently include Radford Park where stage 3 has recently been released along with Murray's Rise Estate where construction has commenced with the first stage to be released in mid 2021.
"In addition to our land holdings we also have a number of commercial properties in the township of Branxton where we are working on long term revitalisation plans for the historic town."