An artist's impression of Black Rock Motor Park, Wakefield

A disused mine in New South Wales’ Hunter Valley region is set to be transformed into Australia’s first dedicated recreation resort park for motoring enthusiasts.

 The AU$95 million Black Rock Motor Park at Wakefield will include a 5.25km driving circuit, designed by global F1 track design leader, Tilke Group, luxury accommodation, a function centre, cafe and go-kart track.

The three-year construction project is now underway following a sod turning ceremony on the 252ha site on Tuesday March 26, led by Lake Macquarie Mayor Kay Fraser, Natural Resources Minister Courtney Houssos, Minister for the Hunter Yasmin Catley and Black Rock CEO Tony Palmer.

The park is expected to be operational within two years, with construction finalised about 12 months later. The first stage will include track construction and establishment of a café.

“Unlike a normal racetrack where the focus is large-scale racing events, Black Rock is more like a golf resort, but rather than 18 holes we have a 5.25km a circuit as our centrepiece,” Palmer said.

“The design of Black Rock focused on evolving the site from a former coal mine into a beautifully landscaped destination, integrating the circuit and all the facilities within the existing mine footprint and utilising previously cleared land and existing fire trails.”

Interest in motorsport is booming globally, largely to due to the success of Netflix series Drive to Survive, which covers the annual Formula One season.

The Black Rock park will host corporate driving events, performance car driving experiences, public track days and driver training courses.

“This project will be a place where like-minded enthusiasts can come and share their passion in a safe and purpose-built environment,” Palmer said.

“It’s going to attract a significant number of new interstate and international visitors and businesses to the area. There are more than 100,000 active members of car clubs in NSW alone.”

The project is expected to add more than 450 jobs during construction, with the completed resort set to employ 229 people.

Fraser said the project is one of the Lake Macquarie’s most significant developments in her 20-plus years of local government, and the first of its type in NSW.

“This will be a very tangible demonstration of a mine site’s adaptive reuse, and it’s something we’re likely to see a lot more of as the world shifts away from fossil fuels,” she said.

“That transformation, from coal mine to adventure tourism destination reflects our city’s seismic shift over the past couple of decades, away from primary production towards hospitality, tourism and other innovative industries.

“I’m excited about what Black Rock will deliver for Lake Mac and the wider Hunter Region, not just in terms of jobs, but the tens of millions of dollars it will inject into the local economy for many years to come.”

Tim Browne, CEO of Lake Macquarie economic development company, Dantia, said the project shows what can be done on former mining land.

“As Lake Macquarie’s economy continues to evolve, we’re going to need more land available for businesses to set up and expand, bringing jobs and economic benefits to our city,” Browne said.

“We now have the blueprint for how we can achieve future land use that provides jobs and economic benefits across similar sites in our LGA.”