Media releases

Gloucester Park was one of 135 Western Australian release sites included in the roll out of a new 20-year national biocontrol plan for pest rabbits.

The new K5 strain of the Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease Virus, called RHDV1 was released last week in the Margaret River region.

Domestic rabbit owners are advised to seek advice from their local vet about vaccinations to help keep their rabbits safe from infection.  

Shire Coordinator Environment Services John McKinney said the release of K5 provides no greater risk to pet rabbits than the existing RHDV1 strain which has been present in Australia for 20 years.

“Domestic rabbits with up to date vaccinations for the existing strain are likely to be safe from K5, however we recommend owners speak to their vet if they’d like further advice.”

“In Australia, no variant of RHDV1 has ever been found to cause infection in any other animal except the European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus).

“Even predatory animals that eat rabbits that have died from RHDV1 do not develop an infection,” he said.

Residents located close to release sites, and members of the public are urged to get involved by using the RabbitScan (FeralScan) app to report rabbit sightings or signs of disease to help track the spread of the virus.

The RabbitScan app is available from iTunes or GooglePlay, or can be downloaded from the FeralScan website.

It is expected that K5 will work better in the cool, wet regions of Australia.

Rabbits are Australia’s most destructive agricultural and environmental pest animal, costing upwards of $200 million in lost agricultural production annually.

The new strain is expected to slow down the increase in pest rabbit numbers.

K5 will not however result in a 90% reduction of pest rabbit populations, as was seen 20 years ago. Rather it is expected to ‘boost’ current management.

The release of K5 comes after more than five years of testing through the Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre RHD Boost project, with major financial and in kind resources provided by the Australian and state governments, and industry and non-government organisations.

For more information visit the Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia RHDV web page

Local businesses and community groups who are offering activities for school–aged children to participate in during the April 2017 term break can advertise their events for free.

Activities registered with the Shire of Augusta Margaret River by 24 March 2017 will be advertised on a ‘What’s On’ noticeboard which will be published on social media, in local newspapers and newsletters, and on leaflets distributed throughout the region.

Shire of Augusta Margaret River Community Development Trainee Callum Noone said the advertisements would serve as a one-stop-shop for parents and children looking for school holiday fun.

“Community groups and local businesses often host wonderful school holidays events and activities but have limited means and funds to promote and advertise their offerings,” he said.

“A collaborative ‘What’s On’ noticeboard takes out some of that leg work while also providing a centralised source of activity information.”

Mr Noone said the goal of the ‘What’s On’ initiative was to increase community engagement and social inclusion for local young people.

“We are very fortunate to live in a community where there is always something on and always something to do,” he said.

“There is a great deal of opportunity to have fun, make new friends and learn new skills by participating in a wide range of activities.

“There are strong established links between youth, community and the Shire and we hope to reinforce those relationships into the future.”

Organisers of school holiday activities who wish to have their listing included on the ‘What’s On’ advertisements can register their information at .

For more information please contact the Shire on 97805255 or email

As of 14 March 2017 the Shire of Augusta Margaret River will be entering into the Restricted Burning Period until 12 May.

During this time, members of the public are reminded to obtain a permit from their Local Fire Control Officer prior to undertaking burning.

Shire Community Emergency Services Manager Nathan Hall acknowledged the significant inroads made over the past year to reduce the threat of bushfire to our community thanks to collaboration between Local Bushfire Brigades, the Department of Parks and Wildlife, Volunteer Fire and Rescue Service and the Department of Fire and Emergency Services.

“The combined bushfire mitigation works between these agencies has significantly increased our community’s resilience to bushfires.”

Mr Hall said the great working relationships that exist in our region have allowed this work to be completed with greater efficiency, protecting people and assets in our region.

 “We are very fortunate to have dedicated volunteers who drive measures to reduce bushfire risk such as the Shire’s Bushfire Brigades and DFES local Fire and Rescue Service, entirely made up of volunteers who give up their time for this important cause.”

Recent grant funding from the National Bushfire Mitigation Program and the Bushfire Risk Mitigation Program has enabled additional fire access tracks and low fuel buffers to be installed across the Shire.

These measures have provided firefighters with greater opportunities to complete controlled burns in Cowaramup, Margaret River, Kudardup and Augusta, reducing potential impacts from bushfire.

Anyone undertaking burning activities are reminded to have adequate resources to manage their burn and consider ways to minimise smoke nuisance to neighbours, especially around vineyards where crops are being harvested.

“Even though we have had a relatively mild summer, fuel loads are very dry and could result in fast moving and variable fire behaviours,” said Mr Hall.

Check Fire Danger Ratings prior to undertaking burns by visiting


Information on where controlled burns will take place is available from the following websites

Department of Parks and Wildlife

Shire of Augusta Margaret River

Department Fire and Emergency Services  (Notification on the day of the burn)



National Harmony Day is set for Tuesday 21 March 2017 and the Shire of Augusta Margaret River is using the occasion to remind residents to complete an online Cultural Diversity Survey.

Results from the survey will help the Shire develop its services and facilities to best respond to the needs and wants of community members from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

Shire President Ian Earl said there are people from many different cultures who practice many different languages and traditions living in our region.

“Harmony Day is about inclusiveness, respect and a sense of belonging for everyone.

“It is a time to reflect on the importance of respecting each other and celebrating our differences.”

Cr Earl said he hoped the occasion will serve as an instigator to completing the Cultural Diversity Survey.

“I love the vibrancy that comes from living in a community of people from many and varied backgrounds,” he said.

“Being surrounded by people from all over the world helps us to be more innovative, knowledgeable and connected on a global scale.”

The Cultural Diversity Survey can be completed online at

For more information by email or phone the Shire on 97805255.

A group of 37 diverse community members met in Cowaramup on Saturday 18 February to discuss the future vision for the Shire of Augusta Margaret River together with councillors and staff.

The Community Reference Group formed last September through an expression of interest process and will meet a total of six times over the course of 12 months creating a blue-print for action to ensure community needs are met as we move into the future.

Shire President Ian Earl said members of the group volunteer their time and are making a significant contribution in shaping the Shire’s Community Strategic Plan for the next 20 years.

“The plan underpins all of the Shire's actions and services as we move forward.”

“These community members are helping to put it under the microscope to ensure it fits community aspirations and desires for the future,” said Councillor Earl.

“The Community Strategic Plan plays a key role for the Shire in guiding decisions ranging from the types of services we deliver such as upgrades to roads, waste and recycling and recreation centre services to issues like environmental protection and creating equal opportunities for everyone in the community.”

“It’s fantastic to see residents rolling up their sleeves and having an active role in shaping the future and I’d like to thank them for taking on this important role.”

The current priorities under review are categorised into five key areas: Valuing the Natural Environment, Welcoming and Inclusive Communities, Managing Growth Sustainably, Vibrant and Diverse Economy and Effective Leadership and Governance.

“Once the group have laid the foundations for this plan, the wider community will be asked to have their say in mid-2017,” Councillor Earl said.

The engagement process provides an opportunity for those who live in the Shire to have their say on community priorities.

For more information on the project or to submit your feedback, visit

The Community Reference Group will next meet in Gracetown on Saturday 29 April 2017.

To view the current Community Strategic Plan: Natural Connected Prosperous 2012 – 2033 or for more information, visit the Shire’s website

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Margaret River WA 6285

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