TasRail set for bridge repairs
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.