Department of Education lists Salamander Bay and Fullerton Cove properties for sale

ANGRY: Conservationists and concerned residents Jutta MacIntyre, Simone Aurino and Heather Callister want the Port Stephens Drive property conserved for koalas. Picture: Sam Norris
ANGRY: Conservationists and concerned residents Jutta MacIntyre, Simone Aurino and Heather Callister want the Port Stephens Drive property conserved for koalas. Picture: Sam Norris

CRITICAL was how a preservationist described a six hectare parcel of land to the Tomaree peninsula koala population, up for sale and potential development. 

The Department of Education has listed the surplus land for sale and potential development on Port Stephens Drive, Salamander Bay, and that’s angered the Hunter Koala Preservation Society.

“It’s primary habitat and forms part of a corridor along the peninsula,” care and rescue coordinator Simone Aurino said.

“This parcel of land is critical to our koala population.”

The seven lots, listed for online auction closing June 9, adjoin the Mambo Wetlands, are said by locals to be teaming with wildlife.

Mrs Aurino said there had been 220 rescue-release incidents at the site since 2000.

“We’ve lodged a request with the state government to have the Port Stephens koala population listed as critically endangered,” she said.

“The koala situation across the peninsula is dire; we’re losing habitat and corridor hand over fist.”

The land’s advertisement came as a shock to nearby residents.

“It’s up for auction on June 9 and the signs went up last Friday… we’ve lost precious time already over the weekend to fight this,” disgruntled resident and preservationist Heather Callister said.

“The state government needs to pulled into line over this.”

The land is zoned E2 Environmental which restricts but does not prohibit development.

Jutta MacIntyre said she and her husband chose their home Salamander Bay home right next door to the forested area when they moved from the Blue Mountains.

“I see wildlife like cockatoos, monitors and echidnas on a daily basis,” she said.

“You can hear and see koalas all the time.” 

The Examiner understands that Port Stephens Council was not informed that the land would be listed. It’s up for sale along with a 6.9ha ‘hobby farm’ at Fullerton Cove. 

“I’ve got a real problem with this, it’s another fire sale by the Baird government,” Cr Peter Kafer said.

“It will only raise money to build another freeway in Sydney.”

A spokesman for the Department of Education said it was aware of the Salamander property’s environment value and that it was not needed for a school in any case.

“Unused sites are typically declared surplus after demographic modelling determines that they will not be required for school infrastructure,” he said.

“Surplus land is then sold by competitive process on the open market, as mandated by NSW Treasury Guidelines.”

The Department of Education bought the Salamander site “a number of years ago”. Some in the community believe it’s 50 years.

“The Department is aware of the conservation value of the land, given it lies directly adjacent to the Mambo Wetlands. The Department has determined that it will not develop the site for a future school, and has declared it surplus to educational requirements.”

The spokesman said any development would require approval from the Port Stephens Council.

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