Tasmania's journal of discovery

Fragile coastline under threat

Ralphs Bay, a sweeping inlet south-east of Hobart, is a rich tidal soup that sustains abundant migratory and endemic birds, and provides a timeless marine haven for shellfish, seahorses, the critically endangered Spotted Handfish, and other denizens of the shallows. Its unique place in Tasmania’s ecology is now under threat. Sydney-based Walker Corporation proposes to build Tasmania’s first ‘Gold Coast style’ canal housing estate — with 500 homes and a marina on the footprint of the Ralphs Bay Conservation Area. 

Treasured by locals and visitors alike for its quiet, natural beauty and abundant bird life, Ralphs Bay’s sweeping sand flats provide homes to thousands of local and migratory birds.

The local residents are not happy, and as part of their fundraising activities have just released a 2007 calendar — [available online at the thisTasmania Store. Proceeds from sales will be donated to the cause].

The foreword to the calendar notes:

It is an ecosystem of local, national and international significance and vital to the health of the River Derwent.

The threat to Ralphs Bay is an all too familiar story across Australia’s coastline.

So too the response to a small community seeking to defend its precious place and lifestyle from short-term profit opportunities and inadequate coastal protection.

With its priceless wild beauty, Tasmania’s coastline is under increasing development pressure.

Canal estates, already banned in New South Wales, belong to a time and place long past. In the 21st century, we should know better.

The Save Ralphs Bay organisation is working on behalf of thousands of concerned Australians to save the bay, and all its remarkable creatures, for future generations.

We believe its enduring values lie in the habitat offered to a rich diversity of flora, fauna and marine species, its recreational pleasures, and sweeping vistas across to Mt Wellington.

We value its tranquil sunsets, its misty mornings and the blasting north westerlies that drive white-capped waves on to its shelly shoreline.

To date, we have spent almost three years educating and campaigning to save Ralphs Bay; to protect the feeding ground of the migratory birds who fly to the northern hemisphere and back, the quirky Pied Oystercatchers strutting about on the sand flats, the critically endangered Spotted Handfish feeding and breeding unseen on the bay’s sandy bottom, as well as the microscopic life forms which play a critical role in ecosystem health.

Tasmania’s bays and beaches belong to no single person, State Government or corporation, they belong to us all and the generations to come.

We hope that, if you have never visited Ralphs Bay, this calendar will help paint a picture of its true value.

More information is available at the Save Ralphs Bay web site.

Photographer David Jamrozik took the photographs shown.

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