This area is sublimely beautiful. We simply CANNOT let a dam be built here! How many creeks in Australia still have crystal clear running water in their creeks or rivers?
How many areas have such a diversity of native fauna and flora as at Byrrill Creek?
In addition to the extensive material found in my other article on Byrrill Creek (see http://candobetter.net/node/2256 ), here are some more reasons to oppose such a dam in this pristine, irreplaceably precious location:-
Why we should NOT dam Byrrill Creek
• Byrrill Creek is a high riparian conservation status area. Tweed Vegetation Management Strategy allocated the area High Conservation Status 2 (considered rare) comprising less than 0.7% of all bushland, with most of the best examples within Byrrill Creek. A total of 400 ha would be clear felled.
• It is unnecessary to have a dam in an area of high rainfall.
• Tweed Shire has been christened ‘The Green Cauldron.’ Our high conservation area would be lost to future generations as a place of beauty and a tourist destination if it was dammed. Residents & tourists could no longer travel in a scenic circuit around Mt Warning as there would probably be no access including the shortcut by locals from Byrrill Creek to Tyalgum.
• There has never been any public consultation. Recommendations from the Community Working Group (CWG) were ignored by Tweed councillors.
• According to Dr Steve Phillips of Biolink, this area is core koala habitat.
• A dam would inundate Aboriginal Heritage sites on Council land.
• Toxic chemicals (many now banned) from 2 abandoned dip sites in the catchment area may have leached into the surrounding soil and therefore would ultimately pollute the dam water. Additionally, Tweed council land was sprayed with 24D and 245T (active constituents of Agent Orange) for years around 1984 and may have residual effects in soil and water quality.
• A dam would be a barrier to fish, eels, platypus, turtles and other aquatic species & interrupt migration and breeding patterns. The endangered Giant Barred Frog have spread down the Tweed River from Byrrill Creek. Therefore construction of a dam would eliminate this species' breeding pool.
• Already $1,000,000 ratepayers’ funds have been wasted by Tweed council on dam studies.
• Tillegra dam cost increased by 59% in 3 years yet was still canned. While a big dam at Byrrill Creek is estimated at $67.3 million, costs could very quickly escalate as they do with other dams.
• Considerable opposition has been expressed by the Residents Associations of Tweed, Murwillumbah, Pottsville, Hastings Point, and Uki (representing 70% Tweeds population). Letters from these organisations were presented to Council strongly objecting to a dam at Byrrill Creek. Additionally, 5,000 petition signatures were collected in 3 weeks and tabled in the NSW Upper House.
Teton Dam failure 1976
Disadvantages of Dams in General
• When they fail (since all dams fail eventually, some catastrophically, most slowly), huge waste of millions of taxpayers’ dollars
• Promote algae blooms
• Interrupt breeding patterns and limit migration of species
• Destroy natural water courses
• Permanently destroy natural habitat for wildlife and contribute to species extinctions
• Destroy people’s homes and lifestyles
• Inadequate remuneration to displaced people
• Expensive to build, maintain and repair
• Risk of sudden failure leading to inundation of towns due to earthquake or extreme unpredicted rain
• Construction time can be several years with earthmoving and noisy construction 24/7
• New road alignments required
Why the demand for a dam
Tweed's population is estimated to double due to several large housing estates being constructed on the coast. For example Kings Forest is planning for 15,000 people, Cobaki Lakes about the same. Unfortunately neither of these developments have water-saving incentives in place. You have to wonder why Tweed councillors are so determined to have a dam at Byrrill Creek. We could speculate that they have friends in the construction industry or that they are thinking the Gold Coast might have a drought in the future and we could sell them our surplus water, providing more income for council. Who knows?
This house would be inundated
Benefits of Sustainable Options to Dams
Since the pros are far outweighed by the cons, dams could be replaced by sustainable options (large rainwater tanks, grey water recycling, dual reticulation, stormwater harvesting, wise water use etc). All new developments such as Cobaki Lakes, Kings Forest, Terranora E, Bilambel Heights and so on) should be self-sufficient water-wise. Dams are just not the best option to meet long-term water supply needs of the shire. While initial setup costs may be high, still the long-term cost is far less than a dam that has a lifespan of approximately 50-100 years. In this way, our natural environment, habitat for threatened species, would be protected, averting localised extinctions and preserving our natural heritage for future generations.
• Precautionary principle – Uncertain if threats of serious or irreversible environmental damage could be minimised to acceptable level.
• Best professional advice from Tweed Council Water Staff, Community Working Group, NSW Dept of Environment, Climate Change & Water (DECCW) and National Parks recommended against a dam at Byrrill Creek.
• Probably won’t be approved under the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 and the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act (not adequately considering input from the community).
For more info go to http://www.savebyrrillcreek.com
Truly, Byrrill Creek is a National Treasure. We must not allow greed, ignorance and human stupidity to destroy it.
Controversial Tweed Shire Council has a history of making poor environmental decisions that are hugely unpopular with the largely Green-oriented residents. It is the second most complained about council in New South Wales. However in November 2010 the councillors voted for the worst possible blunder which will be recorded as a major crime against Nature.
Byrrill Creek, NSW
In October 2010 the residents in Tweed Shire did something that had never been done before in the history of World Rally Championships – they succeeded in ridding Tweed and neighbouring Kyogle Shire of the rally. There were many reason for this, not the least of which was the threat to already threatened and endangered species living en route.
One of the routes, pristine and idyllic Byrrill Creek - home to platypus, diminishing koalas and 45 threatened and endangered fauna, 26 threatened and endangered flora and adjacent to two World Heritage National Parks – had such fierce opposition from locals that the race had to be stopped after only 3 cars went through. News travelled as far as New York Times that rocks had been thrown at the cars – which was 6 months later denied by local police.
Short Lived Euphoria
The residents only had a few weeks to bask in the glory of success when a far worse environmental travesty was foisted on them by the local council – the building of a 36,000 ML dam in Byrrill Creek, against advice of their staff planners and the community working group. Such a dam would flood 400 hectares of this high conservation value, riparian area.
Sustainable water recommendations such as mandatory water tanks for new houses, dual reticulation, stormwater harvesting, grey-water recycling, wise water use were not even considered as an option.
The raising of Clarrie Hall dam nearby, recommended as the #1 option by council staff and the CWG, was rejected in favour of building a controversial dam at Byrrill Creek. The councillors voting in favour of Byrrill Creek dam must have influential friends living at Clarrie Hall dam is all I can say because that would be by far the cheaper, simpler and less controversial option.
While the shire already has almost enough water to support the existing population until 2036, the given reason for the building of a new dam is the addition of two new mega housing developments on the coast which would double the population effectively. It would seem sensible for the new housing developments to meet their own water needs with sustainable water management such as in the U.K. and Singapore.
(Cr Skinner, Cr Polglase and Cr Youngblutt)On November 1st, Mayor Kevin ‘Green’ Skinner (who declared on his election his commitment to 'preserving this lovely pristine environment'(see http://www.tweednews.com.au/story/2010/09/21/skinner-tweeds-new-mayor/ ) used his casting vote to push the motion for a dam through, contrary to convention to vote with staff recommendations. The ‘Three Stooges’ pro-development councillors who voted for the dam, also dogged a motion for an independent review of water demand management for the shire.
Councillor van Lieshout was unable to vote due to her husband's ownership of land that would be part of the area at Mebbin that would be inundated. The other three councillors Cr Milne, Cr Holdom and Cr Longland lodged a recission motion and the following week an extraordinary meeting was held which which resulted in the same outcome - 3-3 tied with the Mayor once again using his casting vote to push the dam through in spite of receiving hundreds of requests from residents not to. The council also received letters from 5 District Ratepayers Associations representing 70% of the shire's population. They all strongly condemned the dam proposal.
When these three councillors, who only received 25% of the vote at the council elections in 2008, use their power to force a decision that is unwanted by the majority of the residents and ratepayers, it makes you wonder what is their motivation.
Even the General Manager (who was on the Board of the Repco Rally) is not in favour of a dam at Byrrill Creek. Nor is Max Boyd (former Administrator) and Nationals MP for Tweed Geoff Provest. They realise that the NSW Weirs policy is opposed to new dams. The Federal EPBC Act stopped the Traveston Dam on Mary River Qld due to its nationally endangered species but there are more federally threatened and endangered species at Byrrill Creek. Forging ahead for a dam is fraught with legal difficulties and may well be rejected by the government after many years and much money wasted. Who pays for all the costs involved in planning the dam, legal costs, amounting to millions of dollars? Why ratepayers of course! Not the Three Stooges, that’s for sure.
If they were wise they would raise Clarrie Hall dam (which needs repairs anyway) to ensure the shire’s water needs are met by 2036. However, while the raising of Clarrie Hall dam is less environmentally destructive, nevertheless it will negatively impact on the threatened species there. By far the best option is sustainable water options.
Environmental Reasons to Oppose a Dam
1. It threatens two adjacent World Heritage areas. Byrrill Creek is an identified and important wildlife corridor between three National Parks, two of which are World Heritage listed (Border Ranges NP and Mount Warning NP) and the third (Mebbin NP) is currently under consideration for inclusion of World Heritage status. Since 11 hectares of Mebbin NP would be inundated, that part of Mebbin NP would not be eligible for WH status.
Byrrill Creek is geologically part of the inner ring dyke system of the extinct volcanic complex of Mt Warning. This shield volcano is one of the best preserved in the world.
2. Byrrill Creek and surrounding National Parks provides habitat for a high level of flora and fauna, threatened, vulnerable or endangered within the TSC (State) and EPBC (Federal) listings. An assessment of priority fauna species identified 42 priority flora species, 37 priority fauna species and 6 amphibians, 7 reptiles, 13 birds and 11 mammals.
According to Dr S. Phillips of Biolink Ecological Consultants, there are 45 threatened fauna species in a 5km radius of Byrrill Creek and 26 threatened flora, some of which are found nowhere else in the world, including:
Some of the species impacted by a dam at Byrrill Creek
Byrrill Creek Koala, Brush Tailed Phascogale, Eastern Pygmy Possum, Spotted Tailed Quoll, Squirrel Glider, Red Legged Pademelon, Stephens Banded Snake, Byrrill Creek Planigale, Yellow Bellied Glider, Large Footed Myotis, Giant Barred Frog, Green Thighed Frog, Pouched Frog, Loveridge’s Frog, Stuttering Frog, Barking Owl, Marbled Frogmouth, Masked Owl, Sooty Owl, Glossy Black Cockatoo, Barred Cuckoo Shrike, Powerful Owl, Red-Tailed Black Cockatoo, Square Tailed Kite, Wompoo Fruit Dove, Albert’s Lyrebird, Black Breasted Buttom Quail, Rose-Crowned Fruit Dove, Rufous Scrub Bird, Bush Hen.
The pouched frog is found only in Tweed shire. This remarkable frog leaves its eggs under leaves, not in the water. When they hatch the hatchlings crawl on the back of the male frog where it has two pouches. It is there that they live till big enough to leave.
Ironically enough, the Albert's Lyrebird is on the Tweed Shire council's crest. In NSW, this species occurs in the Northern Rivers Area only, occurring west to the Acacia Plateau in the Border Ranges and reaching its eastern and southern limits in the coastal range south-west of Ballina. It is found nowhere else in the world. Will they have to change their crest when it becomes locally extinct due to the dam going ahead?
The Giant Barred Frog (mixophyes iterates) is endangered under the EPBC Act. It is one of the largest frogs in Australia. A three month study was conducted on this frog in Mebbin National Park.
According to Dr Steve Phillips of Biolink Ecological Services there are also two endangered ecological communities that would be at risk. There are 15-17 species at risk of local extinction in the lowland rainforest if it were be inundated in the case of a dam built in Mebbin National Park.
3. Under the Border Ranges Biodiversity Management Plan, the Tweed Caldera (of which Byrrill Creek is an important part) is a recognised priority area for biodiversity management. So why is this area even being considered for a dam? It is an area of high conservation value with no less than six ecological assessments classifying Byrrill Creek catchment as a site of the highest conservation value riparian status in the Tweed Shire.
Stressed Rivers Assessment Report 1999 (NSW Land & Water Conservation)
Tweed Riparian Restoration Prioritisation Report 2003 (Ecosure, Burleigh Heads)
Tweed Shire Vegetation Management Strategy 2004
NRCMA Byrrill Creek Riparian Rehabilitation Project 2006
PAS Key Corridor Connections Project 2009 and 2010
A local Byrrill Creek Fauna & Flora Survey by J. Gardner 2009
Currently there has been no complete fauna & flora assessment of the proposed dam site. There needs to be a comprehensive new assessment of the true ecological significance of Byrrill Creek catchment.
If a dam went ahead, irreplaceable rainforest would be flooded at Mebbin NP. Lance Tarvey of NPWS, Murwillumbah, considers these the most valuable in diversity of species and irreplaceable.
4. The Stressed Rivers report DLWC 1999 classed the mid Tweed River as already stressed due to water extraction at Clarrie Hall Dam and it has been identified by NPWS for conservation. Another dam would exacerbate this problem.
Financial Reasons to Oppose a Dam
Over the last three years a total of $546,000 has been allocated in grants to the Byrrill Creek area for restoration, landcare and conservation projects. All of this would have been for nought.
The cost to build a dam at Byrrill Creek would be $67 million compared to $35 million to raise the wall at Clarrie Hall dam.
Furthermore to proceed with a dam when there is a high possibility it will be rejected is wasting millions of ratepayers' money when it didn't need to be. Traveston Dam was rejected on the grounds of endangered species and the Qld government wasted $100 million of taxpayers' money in the process - for nothing.
Dams only have an average lifespan of 50-100 years before they fail. What a waste of time, money and irreplaceable biodiversity for old-school mentality!
Sustainability Issues Ignored
Social and government trends are towards low impact water management and harvesting strategies (stormwater and rainwater harvesting, dual reticulation, greywater use and reduced demand through efficient water use. The Tweed community overwhelmingly called for the latter practices to be enforced and identified a dam at Byrrill Creek as the last of possible options.
Indigenous Sites Under Threat
Mt Warning is a sacred site to the local aboriginal population and contains numerous cultural heritage sites within the Byrrill Creek area. There was a 3-day indigenous study showing 26 registered sites confined to the original aboriginal inhabitants (camp sites etc). In 2009 4 new sites were found. A dam would cut highly significant pathways. These sites are significant and important to the indigenous people living here.
Indigenous leaders chose of the four options the following:
2. pipeline to SE Qld
3. Clarrie Hall dam
4. Byrrill Creek dam
Legal Reasons to Oppose a New Dam
Rainforest like this would be inundated.
A dam at Byrrill Creek is currently prohibited. Section 9, Clause 6, In-River Dams of the Tweed River area Unregulated and Alluvial Draft Water Sharing Plan states that a dam at Byrrill Creek is prohibited because of its high conservation value. Should the council plan to transfer water interstate, this same plan within Part 13, Clause 36 says ‘Interstate transference of water allocations to or from these (Tweed’s) water sources are prohibited.’
Yet Tweed Council submitted amendments to both of these clauses in October 2009 allowing a dam at Byrrill Creek and allowing the transfer of water to and from the adjoining shires of South East Queensland and Rous.
Additionally, inundating areas of Mebbin National Park which are part of the Federal and NSW government and State Forestry North East Forest Agreement (NEFA) would necessitate the same levels of legislation.
There are twelve pieces of legislation that would need to approve this dam and it is highly likely that the Threatened Species Conservation (TSC) Act and the Environmental Protection & Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act 1999 would not approve it due to all the state and federally threatened and endangered species.
The NSW Weirs Policy is for environmentally sustainable development. It gives fifteen reasons why no new dams should be built and has as a goal to halt, reduce and remediate the environmental impacts of dams. Furthermore, it disallows the construction of dams or even augmentation of a dam for the purpose of an increase in town population. It also disallows construction of a dam if it breaks connectivity for species. Both of these apply in the case of Byrrill Creek.
Why Biodiversity Protection is Critical at this Time
* According to http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/hotspots/index.html
“Australia is one of 17 countries described as being ‘megadiverse’. This group of countries has less than 10% of the global surface, but support more than 70% of the biological diversity on earth. These countries represent more than two-thirds of all (known) life forms and the majority of tropical rainforests, coral reefs and other priority systems. The results of the assessment were published in Megadiversity: Earth's biologically wealthiest nations."
* Australia has the most (non-fish) vertebrate species of all the 17 mega-diverse countries.
* We only had around 2% of Australia covered in rainforest when we first arrived we now have less than .25% left and in that resides over 60 % of our biodiversity.
* The Australian Government listed the Border Rangers, including the Tweed Caldera, as one of the 15 biodiversity hotspots around Australia. “These hotspots were identified to increase public awareness of the cost effectiveness of strategic and timely action to conserve biodiversity. In hotspot areas, timely intervention may prevent long-term and irreversible loss of their values, and provide high return on our conservation dollar”. (Aust Govt website: Biodiversity Hotspots).
* Of countries containing large endowments of biodiversity, Australia is unique in another very significant way. Of all the countries classified as megadiverse, Australia is one of only two countries in the high income category. This position carries a special responsibility and implies that a high standard of biodiversity protection can be expected in Australia. It also carries with it an opportunity too for world leadership”. (Aust Govt website: State of Environment report 2001)
* The Earth is experiencing the 6th mass extinction event – the 5th was 65 million years ago. The conservation status of Australia's biodiversity reflects the global situation. Close to 50% of all mammal extinctions that occurred globally in the last 200 years were in Australia - http://www.greateasternranges.org.au/nature/wildlife/global-extinction-crisis
* Approximately 13% of all Australia's known vertebrate species are listed in Australia's Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 as either 'threatened' or 'vulnerable'. The number of terrestrial birds and mammals assessed as extinct, endangered or vulnerable on this list rose by 41% in the last decade.
* Known species extinctions Australia has experienced since non-Indigenous settlement have been primarily in arid/semi-arid climatic areas, however, significant loss of biodiversity has occurred in the forests and woodlands. The extinction of local populations and community assemblages continues with the degradation of ecosystem functionality. This local loss of biodiversity is partly recognised by the species and ecosystems formally regarded by each Australian state as threatened, as distinct from those listed nationally as threatened with global extinction.
* Tweed has the largest number of threatened flora in Australia. 80% of bush land in Tweed has high (or very high) conservation status” (State of the Environment Tweed 2009).
Clearly, this World Class environment deserves world class planning practices.
No wonder we have such a high percentage of biodiversity loss when we have people in power like the three Tweed Shire councillors who voted for this dam. Time for unenlightened councillors to get with the program – this is 2010, the Year of Biodiversity. Why do they think they are not responsible for intelligent governance of the environment for the people and future generations? Perhaps they should review #5 of council’s charter where it says to properly manage environment in a sustainable way?
BYRRILL CREEK ROAD (Friday September 4th,
After driving for 7 hours along most of the Kyogle stages today, it became very apparent to me that the most idyllic of all the Repco rally routes is indeed Byrrill Creek. According to an independent survey done by a local resident Joanna Gardner, comprising accounts of sightings of threatened species by 18 neighbours on the road, some going back 15 years, this is core koala habitat which was not picked up by Repco's ecology report. (See youtube footage of a digitally sped up drive along Byrrill Creek Road including koala and platypus footage at www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Sw18zvU5yU and embedded on this page below)
The most distressing thing about this setting is the proximity of extremely pure water to the road. For example, Cabbage Tree Creek flows right over the water.
The nationally endangered Giant Barred Frog and the Fleays Barred Frog live in these creeks. Repco plans to erect barriers to protect the creeks from the massive amount of dust generated by the speeding cars - but how on earth can you stop dust flying over the top of these barriers? Massive amounts of dust deposited in the water during breeding season would kill the eggs and larvae of these endangered frogs. See how clean the water is on the right?
The wildlife in this most diverse habitat was similarly amazing. I saw animals I have never seen in my life and could not even identify - beautiful birds that live and forage by the side of the road. How would these birds fare with 100 rally cars screaming by at 200+ kph? How many would abandon their nests and/or fledglings or be hit themselves as many (particularly the Albert's Lyrebird and Bush Turkey run along the road for hundreds of metres).
Then further along the road was a council-owned house in the worst possible position considering cars tear around corners at 160kph sidewise and out of control. I could just imagine them ploughing right into that house, destroying the renters' life forever. I heard that Repco had no intention of erecting any barriers in this incredibly vulnerable location.
Byrrill Creek is core koala habitat and locals have been watching and documenting the local population for decades.
(This video was made by a local who drove down the road and speeded the footage up digitally. However, this was ridiculed by an ex-rally driver who said that in reality it should have been way faster and a rally driver would have the car airborne and taken corners sideways with the foot on the brake hard.)
MOOBALL NATIONAL PARK ROUTE (Friday September 4th, 9.30am – 6pm)
From there I checked out other routes such as Mooball National Park which is 1100 ha in size. I called Parks and Wildlife ask some questions. The ranger told me that Cooradilla Rd is Ministerial Road and Minister can do whatever he wants even though there is an abundance of threatened species either side. Mooball National park is a lowland area and a rare subtropical rainforest making it a threatened ecological community. To preserve plants and animals camping is not allowed but some bushwalking is. As a Nature Conservation area it has a lower level of protection than a Nature Reserve.
I asked why on earth a rally race could go through a national park where even horses and camping is not allowed. He said Parks and Wildlife had no say as to what goes on but has the power only to make conditions such as fences and conditions (i.e. devices to scare away the animals that Repco is already using). However this would not be as good as a proper exclusion fence and overpasses and discounts the effect of stress on native animals of the scare devices.
At the entrance I noticed a sign saying "FINE; LITTERING $330". Can you imagine how much littering will be happening during a rally? I noticed this road was very rough and has not yet been graded like other rally routes.
CUDGERA CREEK RD (Friday Sept 4th, 9.30am - 6.30pm)
Next I went to Cudgera Creek Road where extensive grading has been done by Tweed Shire Council. Koalas have also been seen on this road. Some of the locals are very angry about this rally and are campaigning to try to stop it by hanging banners in their yards. A bush turkey ran into the bush by the roadside.
URLIUP RD (Saturday September 5th, 8am - 1.30pm)
Even though this road had been graded, I noticed an extreme amount of dust covering foliage in all directions, much worse than Cudgera Creek Road which made me wonder if there were hoons practising on this road illegally late at night. I stopped and spoke to a man who lived close to the beginning of the route. He was extremely aggressive and pro-rally so I was eager to exit. He asserted that the road graders were privately contracted and not council staff (even though this was not correct). He said that there were no koalas on Urliup (also wrong) and no animals would get killed and I should just get used to it because it was going to happen whether I liked it or not. There would be a lot of money coming to the area etc. blah blah. He told me that the snakes cause more damage to animals than a rally - in fact his neighbour lost 4 sheep from snake bites. They get Taipan, Tiger, Roughscale and Brown snakes.
On the way between these routes I saw horrifically mangled possum and bird on the main road.
SARGENTS RD (Saturday September 5th, 5.30am – 4.30pm)
This Road has been officially changed to 'Armor All Rd' in honour of the rally sponsor. I approached this road from the Homeleigh Rd end which is very flat, deforested and basically cattle ranches. Half way along Homeleigh Rd is the beginning of the route. Even though there is little habitat for wildlife, the cows on the road looked perilously close to the road to me. If a car went ploughing into the field out of control it would easily break the very weak fence and possibly kill the animals.
I noticed a calf had escaped from its enclosure as the mother looked on from inside. It ran right on the road in front of my car which made me worry. Will the dairy farmer be able to get all his cattle in on the rally day so none of them get struck? What an horrific experience for a young animal that would be.
At the end of Homeleigh Rd is a sharp turn which crosses a creek and the road becomes Sargents Rd. Take a look at the picture. Can you imagine a car going so fast around this bend that it loses control and smashes into the metal fence and falls into the creek below? It would destroy the creek. Or what if it ploughed into the field on the other side of the bridge on the left where a bunch of very frightened looking cows stared at me as I drove by. This road was not graded yet either.
Further along the terrain changed as the elevation rose higher into more koala tree habitat. Tried as I did I could not see any koalas. This is where Kathryn Kermode lives who documents on a daily basis her koala sightings then plots them on google maps. She has been trying to get Kyogle to take this route off the map because it is core koala habitat. Repco have approached her and asked her to help spot koalas so they don't run onto the road and get struck. The audacity of them, invading the koalas' homes then expecting the protectors to work for the enemy for free while they make millions on television rights!
Just today she found a mother and baby, which is not common. And will become even less common as stress interferes with breeding of koalas and causes local extinction. Some of her neighbours are pro-rally and have never even seen a koala. The koala-friendly neighbours who have been participating in her community-based koala project, documenting koala sightings and their movements, regard the first 5 km of Sargeants Rd as ‘koala real estate’ with certain sections regarded as ‘Sam’s territory’ and so on. To them, koalas are neighbours too, not just animals living in the bush.
Besides koalas, other species found on Sargeants Rd are Common Quail, Coucal Pheasant (cuckoo-like) (which are at risk during rally as they fly right into your car), Wallaby, Echidna, Glossy Black Cockatoo (not in the repco report), Powerful Owl, Brushdale Fascagale, Squirrel Glider and Sugar Glider.
She plans to go to the council after the rally and show them how they can make money other ways than the rally by building a lookout for tourists on the ridge with fabulous views to Mt. Lindsay, Mt Barker and Mt Warning etc. So far Kyogle Council have said they would erect koala warning signs on her road but they still don't have a Koala Management Plan which they need under SEPP 44.
Kathryn's koala video can be seen here - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n_ot_-GUgVs or http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yJiUW37KLOQ&NR=1 and photo album here - http://picasaweb.google.com/k.komodo
I also saw a kid goat that was somehow tied up outside the fence and quite freaked out. Was it also being terrorised by hoon drivers on that road at night? Why were all the animals on this street looking so frightened?
LYNCHES CREEK (Saturday September 5th, 5.30am – 6.00pm)
This is a very long stretch of road, mainly pastoral, flat land, cows, houses, not a lot of habitat for wildlife. I did see a purplish snake crossing the bridge at Lynches Creek Road.
ETTRICK - OLD COB O CORN RD (no sign) (Friday September 4th, 5.30am – 12 noon)
One house near the Ettrick end had big 'No Rally' sign and big 'No Rally' banner and on the adjoining property with hummers parked in front was a sign saying 'WRC BRING IT ON.' I can imagine emotions running very high in that neighbourhood!
AFTERLEE - UPPER CLARENCE (Sunday September 6th, 6am – 3.30pm
I saw a small dead goanna + 2 wallabies + 3 quail at the entrance of this route. This is Toonumbar State Forest! Hardly a place for an international car crash rally.
Between Eden Creek Rd to Upper Clarence saw another 2 wallabies at 4pm grazing by the roadside.
TOONUMBAR (Friday 4th September, 5.30am - 11.30am and Sunday 6th September, 9am - 4.30pm)
Driving through this scenic area I saw many small birds flying low across the road into roadside lantana and bushes. Their beautiful song enchanted my ears and it made me terribly sad to think that a single bird could be killed by this rally.
On Ghinni Ghi Rd a small dog tore out of the property and tried to chase my car on this stage. I hope they keep this dog indoors on both days or he will be beserk and/or dead!
In this area a Wedgetail eaglea flew right in front of my car very low into a tree. Had I been going fast I would have hit it.
Many of these roads have been specially graded for the rally. In just one day I saw independent contractors in hired vehicles working on various sections of road either grading, making the white lines even whiter and shinier, putting new posts in. Where is all the money for roadworks coming from? Of course, Events NSW gave Repco $6 million of taxpayers' money for this rally, that we don't want, how could I forget? Just when we have over $1 million shortfall in our local hospital budget and are suffering from the global economic crisis. And Tweed Shire recently raised the rates by 9%. No I didn't forget that Tweed Shire council gave $120,000 to Repco for this rally - along with free office space, free mechanical workshop facilities and other undisclosed perks. The list goes on.
On the highway many signs had 'No Rally' spray painted on them. Rally enthusiasts quickly changed it to just 'Rally' or 'Go Rally'. The division in the community is palpable.
Then on Iron Pot Rd (part of the Toonumbar route) two kangaroos ran into bush. Another wedgetail flew low in front of car. Another two kangaroos ran into bush. This area is alive with unusual native animals. In fact, This area is the Richmond Range which is of international conservation value with the highest diversity of marsupials in the world. It also has World Heritage values and contains numerous endemic Gondwanan relict plant species listed on the EPBC Act.
The rally will generate a major impact upon ecosystem function and processes essential to the viability of these areas. This is a biodiversity hotspot and one of 17 iconic landscapes in the world.
In fact, we have close to the most biodiversity than anywhere in Australia, even more than Kakadu! In Tweed Shire 2/3rds of our plant and animal species are threatened. Is having an international car crash rally going through State Forests, National Parks, Koala colonies and core habitats, World Heritage areas, areas where over 12 nationally-listed threatened species of animals and more plants live, in breeding season for the next 10-20 years going to do anything to lessen Australia's reputation as having the world's worst record of mammal extinctions? We are in the period of the 6th Mass Extinction Event and this is how we behave? I think there is something fundamentally wrong with the human race. Either we are collectively deluded, stupid or criminally insane.
People in this town are saying 'Give it a go, let's run the race once and see how we like it' but they forget that in Western Australia they decided after 2 years they didn't like it and it took them 17 years to get rid of it. Once Repco is in, they are in for their contract. People are saying 'It will make a lot of money' and I ask how? Most of the accommodation will go to the Gold Coast. In fact on checking with the Chamber of Commerce, bookings with local hotels is about the same as this time last year. Kyogle has enough space for 6000 campers but only 6 bookings. No economic proof of how this money will be made has been forthcoming from Repco. They are also saying 'The animals will be all right, none will die' but that is another lie. Many will die from stress alone and the young will be abandoned as families are fractured as they flee in terror from the assault of 100 speeding cars and low-flying helicopters, sirens, air horns, and tens of thousands of spectators.
Why are we allowing this to happen? People, WAKE UP!!! Don't believe the fairy tale Repco has woven! Wake up from the Repco Dream and realise it is a Repco NIGHTMARE.
WHAT YOU CAN DO: CONTACT PETER GARRETT'S OFFICE AND DEMAND HE STOP THE RALLY BEFORE THEY ARE LOCKED IN FOR 10-20 YEARS. IT IS HIS DUTY AND HIS MINISTERIAL OBLIGATION TO PROTECT OUR ENDANGERED SPECIES!