One year has passed since the Safe and Scenic Toodyay Roads (SASTR) campaign began. This is the perfect time to reflect on what we have achieved and to see what the future holds for Toodyay Road and its environment.
To recap, with massive cuts into hills and clearing of 57ha of vegetation, the Main Roads WA’s (MRWA) approach to the Wheatbelt section of Toodyay Road is extreme, costing taxpayers $100million (expect to see more of what you see at Jingaling Brook running from Dryandra Road to Toodyay).
SASTR was founded by a group of outraged Toodyay citizens who attended the MRWA Community Reference Group (CRG) meeting in early 2021. They were there to protest the destructive clearing in the Jingaling Brook area which was the beginning of the Toodyay Road improvements. However, they were not allowed to participate in the meeting, adding further insult to an already injured community.
In light of this alone, one might assume that MRWA would recognize that relying on the CRG process to inform the community is ineffective, as some of its members have admitted, but MRWA continues to use the flawed process.
What have we been doing?
Partly, SASTR was established to provide clear and unambiguous information about what MRWA road engineering means for the environment along Toodyay Road.
To educate and inform the community, SASTR has had stalls at the Toodyay Hall, Toodyay show, the Christmas street party, Farmers Markets and outside IGA. Our stalls have featured large, clear maps of the proposed roadworks as talking points, something that was missing at the initial CRG meetings.
We have also provided information via a variety of channels including our website, social media (Facebook and Instagram), radio and newsletter. A monthly article in the Toodyay Herald plus other occasional front-page coverage has also helped inform the public. With our first educational brochure, we highlighted the value of the Powderbark wandoo, featuring our grand 420-yr-old that can be found online and at the visitors’ centre.
Throughout all our discussions with residents and visitors to Toodyay, online and in-person, it is very clear that we have overwhelming support. This support is also indicated by close to 4000 signatures across our online and hard-copy petitions for which we are very appreciative. We hope to present the petition to the State government’s Legislative Council soon.
Our mission is to also work with MRWA to change their plans for Toodyay Road from a heavy haulage route to a road that is safe as well as scenic, maintaining its environmental value.
Local MPs have been supportive and have facilitated meetings with MRWA and Ministerial advisers. We have met regularly to work out the best approach to get MRWA to accommodate our concerns. We have presented our case to the regional managing director, design staff, regional managers and advisors to the Minister.
Some people wish us luck but say we will never get a juggernaut like MRWA to change their minds. We are happy to say that, in terms of tangible outcomes, we have won some concessions in that MRWA has reduced the width of the area at Salt Valley/Sandplain Roads from 90 metres to 50 metres with an 8 metre rather than an 11 metre cut through the hill.
The 420-year-old Powderbark wandoo also looks like it has been saved and an alteration to the bend before Dryandra Road has enabled some of the precious orchids along there to be preserved. We are still waiting for a promised walkthrough with MRWA to confirm these changes and there are still a lot more areas of concern to be addressed.
The threats to the environment along Toodyay Road occur in many areas of the country (for example, Bunbury Outer Ring Road and The EastLink Project). This requires collaboration with like-minded groups and individuals and in SASTR’s case, we work closely with members of the Wildflower Society in particular.
In that regard the outcomes of the recent protest along the Northam-Pithara Road are heartening. Organised by the Society and including SASTR members, the protest succeeded in persuading MRWA to reduce the number of mature Salmon gums they were planning to fell as part of their road improvements.
Photo by Vicki and Greg Warburton
Photo by Vicki and Greg Warburton
Alternatives to the removal of these trees were obvious and well described in MRWA’s own procedures. But felling and vegetation clearing represent the easiest solution which will always be pursued in the absence of protest by those in the community who value such beautiful trees.
Forming such alliances with groups and individuals with influence not only helps us spread the word of our plight, but when it comes to on-the-ground protest, it is essential to get the numbers needed for MRWA to take notice.
We are very grateful to have support from our alliances as well as the general public who have supported us all the way. We wouldn’t have come this far without you.
Our next year sees us:
- Working to identify all significant environmental and historical sites along Toodyay Road to develop the Road into a tourist drive/heritage trail.
- Using the Tourist/Heritage Trail concept to inform MRWA of the need for further changes to their plans
- Forming alliances with similar groups concerned about destruction of roadside vegetation
- Attending the first walkthrough of proposed changes by MRWA
Continue education and informing the public
- Pushing for a local, Toodyay Shire, Significant Tree Register
- Continue negotiations with MRWA to decrease clearing without reducing safety
- Continue to fight for road verges and wheatbelt reminant bushland and all that which inhabits it
Sometimes the work is overwhelming but in 2022/2023 the devastation will continue and stunning areas along Toodyay Road (& others) will go under the bulldozer. There is still much to change so we fight on.
If you would like to join and help us, please send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
- SASTR in the Media
- Celebration of a special tree: the Powder-bark wandoo
- View Roadworks Plans
- Sign our Petition & Fill in our Survey
- Check out Rethink Eastlink and Friends of the Gelorup Corridor
- WA Wildlife Society
- Significant Tree Register
- Toodyay Historical Society
- Toodyay Naturalists Club
- Toodyay Friends of the River
- Avon & Hills Mining Awareness Group