Port Macquarie Billabong Zoo gets huge water injection after community bands together

BONE DRY: Andrew Pratt and Peter Negus from Club North Haven and Mark Stone from Billabong Zoo standing where a river of water usually flows. PHOTO:Laura Telford.
BONE DRY: Andrew Pratt and Peter Negus from Club North Haven and Mark Stone from Billabong Zoo standing where a river of water usually flows. PHOTO:Laura Telford.

A desire to help and a few phone calls was all it took to rally the troops to deliver a billabong - or three - of water to Port Macquarie's much loved zoo.

As part of the old Bunnings redevelopment site, a 300,000 litre water tank which was part of the fire sprinkler system needed to be emptied for upgrades. But rather than let the water go down the drain, a call from James Parkinson from FGI-FIRE PL to Club North Haven's Peter Negus has resulted in a collaboration of massive proportions.

The water isn't potable for human consumption but Mr Negus knew just where the water could go.

"It was like all the dominoes lined up and everything just fell into place with the community coming together to help," Mr Negus said.

NO WATER: The lack of water around Billabong Zoo is evident of the dire need of this water injection. PHOTO: Laura Telford.

NO WATER: The lack of water around Billabong Zoo is evident of the dire need of this water injection. PHOTO: Laura Telford.

"The day before the call about the water we had a call from Billabong Zoo asking if there was any water available for their animals. So when the water call came it was just a perfect fit."

The idea to fundraise to distribute water to people in need across the Mid North Coast came about after Andrew Pratt and Shane Globits from Club North Haven sat down to see what the club to do to help during the drought.

Little did Mr Pratt and Mr Globits know how far the idea would go.

"It is unbelievable what has come of the small idea we had to try and help a few people in need," Mr Pratt said.

"To see the whole community coming together is so wonderful."

Billabong Zoo sits on 10 acres of land on the outskirts of Port Macquarie and is an institution run by Mark Stone and his dedicated crew.

Mr Stone said it has only been in the last six months that sourcing water for the animals has reached a critical situation and the donated water will be a lifeline for the animals.

"We are just blown away by what has come from our phone call," Mr Stone said.

BEFORE: When there is water in the billabong the area is green and lush. PHOTO: Supplied.

BEFORE: When there is water in the billabong the area is green and lush. PHOTO: Supplied.

"It is just the typical Aussie thing of when people are in need there is always someone who can lend a hand and help.

"We have a strong focus on water conservation and making sure every last drop of water is used as efficiently as possible but lately it has been really tough.

"In a good season our billabong has over two metres of water in it but at the moment it is bone dry.

"We have never seen it this tough before and the situation is getting worse and worse by the day so things are now pretty dire.

"We have three billabongs which operate throughout our site, one is bone dry and the other two are struggling big time."

This water project is a collaboration between Club North Haven, the main contractors at the old Bunnings site AW Edwards, Hastings Valley Water Carts, First National Real Estate North Haven and FGI-FIRE PL.

All four entities are splitting the cost of freighting the water to the zoo and AW Edwards are donating the water.

ALL HANDS ON DECK: Representatives from Club North Haven, First National Real Estate North Haven, Hastings Valley Water Carts, AW Edwards on hand for the water pumping to begin. PHOTO: Laura Telford.

ALL HANDS ON DECK: Representatives from Club North Haven, First National Real Estate North Haven, Hastings Valley Water Carts, AW Edwards on hand for the water pumping to begin. PHOTO: Laura Telford.

AW Edwards site manager Tom Mitchell said they were delighted to facilitate the water transfer.

"As part of the site's upgrades we needed to empty the tank of water and we are so glad that it can go to helping the animals at Billabong Zoo rather than going down the drain," Mr Mitchell said.

"The water from the tank is mostly roof run off water and the tank was full so it is a good 300,000 litres which will be going to the zoo."

It will take 20-25 trips over three days to get all the water to the zoo but Stewart O'Brien from First National Real Estate North Haven said it is worth it.

SAVIOUR: The first water truck arrived at 10am on December 5. PHOTO: Laura Telford.

SAVIOUR: The first water truck arrived at 10am on December 5. PHOTO: Laura Telford.

"We initially jumped on the Million Litres Promise with Club North Haven because we knew there were so many people suffering in the drought in our local community," Mr O'Brien said.

"And when we heard about this project which is very similar we didn't hesitate to chip in for the cost of freighting the water.

"Billabong Zoo is such an icon in the Hastings region and it goes to show just how bad the drought really is."

Mr Stone said the injection of water as summer is coming will ensure all the animals at Billabong Zoo can be comfortable in the hot summer weather.

BEGIN: The water transfer from the tank to the truck begins. PHOTO: Laura Telford.

BEGIN: The water transfer from the tank to the truck begins. PHOTO: Laura Telford.

"The water in our billabong is used to help cool the animals in the heat and keep the wild animals who come for a visit cool. The water is also home to our fish and eels and ensure our plants are healthy.

"We are just so grateful for everyone who has been involved in this process."

ALSO MAKING NEWS:

Comments