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Hunter Valley bus crash memorial garden opens

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A memorial garden to honour the victims of the Hunter Valley bus crash is now open… just days before the one-year anniversary of the tragedy.

Situated less than 1km from the accident site, part-way along the Branxton to Greta Memorial Shared Pathway on the New England Highway, the space aims to provide a tranquil setting for remembrance and reflection.

On 11 June 2023, the lives of Nadene and Kyah McBride, Andrew and Lynan Scott, Kane Symons, Rebecca Mullen, Darcy Bulman, Zach Bray, Tori Cowburn and Angus Craig were lost when Brett Button failed to control the vehicle he was driving.

A further 25 people suffered injuries.

Mr Button has since pleaded guilty to 10 counts of dangerous driving occasioning death, among other offences.

The memorial garden features 10 deciduous ornamental Pyrus Calleryana trees, each representing a life lost in the disaster, along with individual plaques displaying wording provided by the families.

Low-planted mounds and locally occurring native grasses, groundcovers and woodland trees will also screen the plot from the road and create a quiet, safe area for those wanting to pay their respects, along with users of the shared pathway.

A sandstone wall will formalise the edge of the lawn, with seating offered beneath the shade of the commemorative trees.

Cessnock City mayor Jay Suvaal said the project team expedited works to ensure the memorial garden was ready ahead of the long weekend.

“Anyone wishing to visit it, from Saturday, can utilise the informal, off-street parking available at the site, or find a park safely down the road toward Branxton and use the new shared pathway to access the area,” he added.

“Members of the public are advised to expect additional traffic at both the crash site and the memorial garden over coming days and are asked to exercise patience.”

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