Port Stephens Drive, Salamander Bay
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This project was delivered by Port Stephens Council in partnership with and 100% funded by the NSW Koala Program.
We're submitting a nomination to the 2024 Local Government NSW Excellence Awards under the 'Environmental Leadership' category.
The Port Stephens Drive Koala Vehicle Strike Project was delivered in partnership with the NSW Koala Program, and aims to reduce Koala fatalities along one of the worst Koala road-strike locations in NSW. During a 10 year period between 2010-2020 a total of 89 Koalas fatalities were reported along Port Stephens Drive
This area was identified as a blackspot under the NSW Koala Program. The project is designed to reduce the number of Koala deaths and injuries in this area.
The works involved the installation of the following key components:
- 3.7km of Koala-proof fencing along both sides of Port Stephens Drive
- 850m of retrofitted Koala-proof fencing to the existing Horizons Golf Course fence
- 1 x 20 m long box culvert fauna underpass
- Koala grids (similar to cattle grids) across two road intersections
- Koala connectivity structures (fence crossing poles and escape structures).
Koala-proof fencing helps direct Koalas away from threats and funnel them towards safe crossing points such as underpasses. The specifically-constructed Koala underpass provides a safe connectivity point for Koalas to move through habitats at Salamander Bay without having to cross Port Stephens Drive. Koala grids (similar to cattle grids) are impassable to Koalas as their legs can slip through the gaps made by the grids. Koala grids were installed where the fencing crosses roads to help maintain Koala exclusion from Port Stephens Drive. A number of one-way Koala escape poles were installed along the fence line to allow Koalas that accidentally enter the roadside to escape.
This project has resulted in many benefits for the environment and community:
- Improved safety for non-target native species, with a total of eight other native species already recorded using the culvert by Council’s Koala Cam
- Identified opportunities for Council and other land managers to improve wildlife monitoring data management by harnessing Artificial Intelligence
- Education of the community about koala road safety and increased Koala awareness at an incident hotspot
- Increased pedestrian safety at intersections and access to bus stops
- Improved maintenance access to existing assets
- Follow-on Council koala projects such as the Koala Landholders Partnership Program, which encourages landholders to partner with Council to participate in other koala projects such as habitat rehabilitation, mapping and surveys.
The project brought together a range of stakeholders and specialists from Port Stephens Council, the Port Stephens Koala Hospital, Koala Koalition, Transport for NSW and the NSW Koala Program team to deliver an important project for conserving our local Port Stephens Koala population.
- Port Stephens Drive Koala Vehicle Strike Project factsheet (PDF 1.9 MB)
- How to keep Koalas off roads factsheet (PDF 1.0 MB)
- MidCoast and Port Stephens - Regional Koala Conservation Partnership (YouTube Video)
Would you like to know why we’ve designed the project this way? Click here to read the Department of Planning, Industry & Environment best practice document.
Pedestrian fencing has been retained along the Horizons Golf Course boundary to maintain security requirements.
Koala proof flashing has been attached to the security fencing to ensure koalas cannot climb the security fencing. The remainder of the Koala fencing is built to the Transport for NSW standards, which offers minimal maintenance costs and is most effective for koala control.
The galvanised fencing materials used offer the best value for money and the longest lifespan in our coastal conditions.
Please do not touch or approach a koala, please call Port Stephens Koala Hospital for Assistance, 1800 PS KOALAS (1800 775 625) a member of their team is available 24/7.
Security style fencing has been retained along the Horizons Golf Course boundary to ensure security requirements are maintained.
In some sections, we are retrofitting the existing golf course fence with metal sheeting to provide koala exclusion, and in some sections, we need to install new fencing.
Where we are installing new fencing along the golf course there will temporarily be a “double fence” until the old fence is removed.
The newly constructed fence will also have metal sheeting installed to provide koala exclusion as well as security to the golf course.
Council is required to follow processes to undertake work and these processes have taken a little longer than expected. This area is highly sensitive and environmental due diligence activities have taken some time to complete satisfactorily.
Koala grids (similar to cattle grids) are specifically designed metal grids installed on a roadway which are impassable to Koalas. Grids are utilised in conjunction with Koala exclusion fencing to discourage Koalas from entering a hazardous roadway, or walking through a gap in the fence where a fence crosses a road or driveway. The project’s Koala grids are complaint with design standards provided by Transport for NSW, which have been developed based on best available data and monitoring.
Council, in conjunction with the Department of Planning & Environment, and specialist consultants, undertook a feasibility study in 2020 to determine the most appropriate Koala control options and locations for reducing Koala road strikes along Port Stephens Drive. Key considerations included: impacts on traffic movements, landowners, maintenance costs, effectiveness and environmental impacts. The Koala Grids have been located on Taylors Beach Road and Trades Circuit to minimise impacts to traffic, allow for safe pedestrian and cyclist access and also ensure Koala exclusion is maintained to Port Stephens Drive.
A self-closing gate and concrete ramp are located next to each koala grid for safe pedestrian and cyclist access around the grid. All pedestrians and cyclists are requested to utilise the gates to ensure safe access across the grids. Grid warning signage has been installed at each grid. It's important that gates are not propped open, and that they remain closed when not in use to minimise risk of koalas entering the roadway.