TasRail set for bridge re­pairs

Sunday Tasmanian - - News - HE­LEN KEMPTON

A WEST Aus­tralian cou­ple who found their slice of par­adise in ru­ral Tas­ma­nia is now will­ing to do­nate some of that land to help the state’s threat­ened wom­bat pop­u­la­tion.

While the state’s army of wildlife car­ers con­tin­ues to find and treat dis­eased wom­bats, Rob­bie Banks and his wife Karen have reached out with an of­fer of land near Ulver­stone on which to house and quar­an­tine wom­bats healed of mange.

The cou­ple moved from Western Aus­tralia to their stun­ning acreage out­side Gawler, in the state’s North­West, six months ago.

They plan to es­tab­lish a bed and break­fast farm stay and, Mr Banks hopes, also pro­vide a place to home and iso­late healthy wom­bats.

“I was look­ing out over our prop­erty and mus­ing over plans when I read about the wom­bats’ sit­u­a­tion with mange,” Mr Banks said.

“I wanted to get in­volved and re­alised I had about 10 hectares, com­plete with elec­tric fenc­ing, I could spare.

“Other than a few goats and sheep, there are no other an­i­mals on the prop­erty. Peo­ple can see live­stock any­where but I thought a na­tive wildlife ed­u­ca­tion and con­ser­va­tion project would fit nicely with our other plans.

“Aus­tralia has the worst track record in the world for na­tive wildlife con­ser­va­tion and per­haps Tas­ma­nia could end up buck­ing that trend.

“An iso­lated pop­u­la­tion of healthy wom­bats would not get shot at or con­tract mange.

“If I could of­fer some­where for treated wom­bats to be re­leased, that would be won­der­ful.”

Wom­bat Res­cue Tas­ma­nia is cur­rently work­ing to­wards es­tab­lish­ing wom­bat sanc­tu­ar­ies in the state’s North as the fight to help the species in­ten­si­fies.

“That is such an awe­some of­fer,” WRT pres­i­dent Kim Ret­tig said of Mr Banks’ propo­si­tion.

“We have had re­ports of in­fected wom­bats in that area.

“I will def­i­nitely touch base with Mr Banks.”

Wom­bat res­cue vol­un­teers are work­ing on the ground as far afield as the Tas­man Penin­sula, Cir­cu­lar Head and the Mid­lands.

They are also work­ing be­hind key­boards to raise aware­ness of how se­ri­ous the wom­bats’ plight is and put pres­sure on the State Govern­ment to ban the shoot­ing of healthy an­i­mals in light of the sar­cop­tic mange cri­sis.

The group also plans to present a pe­ti­tion to the State Govern­ment — which has more than 30,000 sig­na­tures — to stop the is­su­ing of wom­bat culling per­mits to landown­ers. TASRAIL is call­ing for ten­ders for ma­jor bridge re­pairs across its net­work as part the fed­eral and state govern­ment’s Tas­ma­nian Freight Rail Re­vi­tal­i­sa­tion Pro­gram.

The rail com­pany will also call for ten­ders to de­liver cul­vert re­pairs across the state un­der the $119 mil­lion pro­gram, which fo­cuses on up­grad­ing pri­or­ity sec­tions of the net­work un­til June 2019.

The bridge work is ex­pected to start in Jan­uary and will fo­cus on strength­en­ing and ex­tend­ing the life of some of TasRail’s most crit­i­cal bridges.

The project will also in­clude the re­con­struc­tion of the Elizabeth Bridge at Camp­bell Town, which is sched­uled for the Easter hol­i­days.

Re­pair and re­place­ment of key cul­verts is sched­uled to start in Novem­ber and will in­volve re­assess­ing their wa­ter- flow ca­pac­ity.

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