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Byron Shire
July 23, 2024

Film to document devastation of Ballina koala habitat

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A film is being produced that will focus on the impact on wildlife and humans as the Pacific Highway upgrade rolls on. (supplied)
A film is being produced that will focus on the impact on wildlife and humans as the Pacific Highway upgrade rolls on. (supplied)

A series of workshops will be held in November for anyone wanting to be involved in a film showing the devastation to Ballina’s koala habitat as part of the Pacific Highway upgrade.

Organiser Sue Whiteman said the local community had lost faith that the Roads and Maritime Service, and its contractors, could deliver a dust, vibration and noise-free environment for local residents, livestock and wildlife as the highway work progresses.

Trees collared, set to be cleared for the highway. (supplied)
Trees collared, set to be cleared for the highway. (supplied)

Just one of the koalas photographed last Sunday. (supplied)
Just one of the koalas photographed last Sunday. (supplied)

‘We are inviting the local and broader community to be part of the film through their participation in information and evidence gathering, taking photos of dust, observing responses of koalas to blasting, and assisting with koala surveys and monitoring. ,’ Ms Whiteman said.

The film, being produced by Andy Bambach and directed by Ms Whiteman, will document the impact the highway upgrade is having on endangered species in the area, as well as the residents who are watching the once pristine area being bulldozed.

Ms Whiteman, whose own property has lost its access as a result of the upgrade, said residents were concerned about the wildlife and koalas now suffering during their breeding season.

She said the animals had lost significant sections of habitat due to the fire which destroyed 330 hectares in late September, along with the highway clearing which involved tree collaring, ringbarking and blasting

“The massive trucks, heavy duty machinery, utilities, cars, bringing workers back and forth are drowning the koalas and the remaining trees in thick clouds of dust which travels long distances,’ she said.,

Heavy machinery hard at work on the Pacific Highway upgrade. (supplied)
Heavy machinery hard at work on the Pacific Highway upgrade. (supplied)

She said she had contacted Ballina Shire Council requesting water trucks to control the dust ‘to be told again by the mayor David Wright there is nothing he can do’.

‘The dust coats the leaves of eucalypts which are the koalas source of food,’ she said.

‘Any koalas in low hanging branches are drenched in dust and grime and are likely to develop conjunctivitis as there’s no way they can wash their eyes as there’s no water.’

The community workshops will be held on the Sundays, 5, 12 and 19 November, from 1pm to 4pm.

The workshops will be led by Ms Whiteman and Jay McKenzie, another resident of the Meerschaum Vale area, and will involve choreography, poetry and writing.

For those not interested in the creative process, groups of koala monitors will be set up under the direction of experienced ecologists and scientists.

‘There are many options as the group is now forced to do its own community science and monitoring and wildlife rescuing,’ Ms Whiteman said.


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  1. This is so wrong!!!

    How could the State and Federal Governments approve a highway deviation right through the middle of this nationally significant Koala population and in the process add over 2km to the overall highway length?

    Despite a concerted campaign highlighting the many flaws in the decision making process the Governments have listened to the voices of a few cane farmers along the existing highway route between Broadwater and Wardell and ignored the environmental and cultural significance of the area to the west of the current highway alignment.

    Shame on you RMS and all the politicians involved with this decision, and shame on the Ballina Shire Councillors who supported this process and the destruction of this area.

  2. This is certainly a tragedy, however, this amazingly passionate crew could be directing their sights on fundraising to purchase unnecessary, government-subsidised cane farms that destroyed thousands of hectares of koala habitat, and re-vegetating them. Could have grown a forest in the time that’s been spent protesting.


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