Image for Retrofitting South Arm Highway

*Pic: IMAGE found on the web of a wildlife crossing in Brisbane.

As the candidates fight for votes in the Pembroke election for an Upper House seat, could the South Arm Highway be a high ground issue?

Before this highway was built, the hills above Bellerive and Howrah had a much higher wildlife population, and people were able to walk over the hills from Bellerive to Knopwood Hill.

Then the South Arm Highway cut through the hills, providing suburban convenience, but devastating the local wildlife population.

Not being voters, animals don’t count ~ or do they?

When we allow the environment to be degraded, we take away something from the quality of our own lives.

When the South Arm Highway cut through the hills, the quality of life was reduced for people, no longer being able to walk across a 4-lane highway through the hills.

Should a wildlife crossing have been build with the highway, allowing wildlife to move over the hills, maintaining higher populations, and also allowing people to continue enjoying a walk in the bush?

That opportunity was lost when the highway was build, but it could be recaptured now, by retrofitting the South Arm Highway ~ with a land bridge and wildlife crossing, as can now be seen in many locations around Australia.

I first proposed retrofitting the South Arm Highway 21 years ago, but obviously, progress on that front has been a tad slow.

The matter rose up when proposing the Sky Walk idea, for a walking trail along the hills from Bellerive to Droughty Point.

That is a walk I did many times as a child growing up in Howrah.

I wondered why other children and their parents shouldn’t be able to enjoy that walk as well.

In the years that followed parts of the Sky Walk were made possible with subdivision decisions, including across the top of the Howrah Hills to Knopwood Hill, and a 2 kilometre section along the Droughty Hills toward Droughty Point.

No longer living in Howrah, or Bellerive, the battle for the Sky Walk is largely in the hands of local residents.

A great first step to completing the Sky Walk, would be to fight for a land bridge and wildlife crossing over the South Arm Highway, where it roars between Howrah and Mornington.

Win that battle of the hills, and interest will gather in completing this work for future generation.

Elections are an excellent time to annoy the candidates and extract promises.

Retrofitting the South Arm Highway would be a rather good promise to extract.

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Where the South Arm Highway cuts through the Howrah Hills

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The line of the South Arm Highway, between Howrah and Mornington, before it was built ~ map found in a 1969 street directory.

*Kim Peart was raised in Howrah when it was still farmland in the 1950s, and watched the suburb grow, great piles of dirt to play on where the roads were made, and houses popping up like mushrooms. It was during the great debate over housing subdivision in the Howrah Hills that Kim was approached, and responded with the idea of the Sky Walk, as a way to connect people in the suburbs with the life of the hills. Many years of engagement in landcare, coastcare and bushcare followed. In 1998 environmental students at the University of Tasmania made a study of the ‘Skywalk Trail’, Frances Mowling and Leigh Stevens, working under the supervision of Dr Jim Russell. Kim now lives in Ross, where he is calling for more walking trails around the heritage of the town and surrounding farmlands.