A Cassowary land bridge over the Bruce Highway is currently under construction and is expected to be completed in early 2024.
Image: Artist's impression of the fauna crossing
The new land bridge is currently under construction over the Bruce Highway at Smiths Gap between El Arish and Tully in Far North Queensland.
The land bridge will make it safer for both drivers and wildlife. The bridge will be vegetated to attract wildlife and it joins national park on either side of the road.
Cassowaries are an endangered species, with vehicle strike the leading recorded cause of deaths. Fencing along both sides of the highway will guide Cassowaries away from the road and onto the bridge.
Smiths Gap is the bottleneck of the Walter Hill Range wildlife corridor which connects the Cassowary population, at Mission Beach, with the core World Heritage Area rainforests west of the Bruce Highway. The overtaking lane and fauna crossing is a $30.7M project fully funded by the Australian Government under the Bruce Highway Overtaking Lane Program and constructed by the Queensland Government’s Department of Transport and Main Roads. It is expected to be completed in early 2024.
The Cassowary Recovery Team consists of 30 community, industry and government organisations working together to recover the endangered Southern Cassowary in the Wet Tropics and Cape York. For many years, the Cassowary Recovery Team has identified Smiths Gap as a top priority for restoration. Landholders and organisations have been planting trees, removing weeds and protecting habitat there. When the team heard about the proposed overtaking lane at Smiths Gap, requiring road widening and habitat clearing, members began talking with the Queensland Government’s Department of Transport and Main Roads about the Cassowary corridor issue.
The Cassowary Recovery Team have created a fact sheet to answer questions from the community on the land bridge.
In Australia's Wet Tropics, since 2017, at least 57 Cassowaries have been hit by vehicles and 40 of those have died.
Information for this article was sourced from the Wet Tropics Management Authority.