Once an agricultural hub, Dungog is now also a hot destination for those seeking more space - especially in the face of COVID restrictions - but that can mean not just change but new pressures for this historic Hunter town.
Scott Bevan is a senior writer for The Newcastle Herald. He has also worked in radio and television and is the author of six books.
In just a matter of months, the state-of-the-art wildlife hospital at One Mile has treated dozens of koalas - and a lizard - as teams work tirelessly to save injured native animals.
As with so many aspects of daily life, COVID-19 has impacted on the Hunter's grape harvest, so this year, instead of backpackers and "grey nomads", the teams of pickers at Tyrrell's Wines are mostly made up of locals.
As the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service continues planning what it says will be an "iconic" 20-kilometre walking track along the coast, Port locals debate whether the pursuit of tourism with this project comes at a cost to the environment and little communities.
The official opening of the Port Stephens Koala Sanctuary has put a spotlight on the future of the iconic marsupial, including a controversial tract of habitat at nearby Brandy Hill, with NSW Environment Minister Matt Kean saying "we should be doing everything we can to protect koala habitat".