Albury children's garden open for play once more

Albury Council’s David Armstrong is all smiles now the children’s garden is open. Picture: KYLIE ESLER
Albury Council’s David Armstrong is all smiles now the children’s garden is open. Picture: KYLIE ESLER

THE Albury children’s garden has reopened earlier than expected after successful initial attempts to rid the Botanic Gardens of more than 1000 bats.

The children’s garden had been shut since the mid-January heatwave when there were fears the bats would fall from the trees and injure someone if they came in contact with them.

But Albury Council yesterday agreed to re-open the garden, located in the south-west corner of the 127-year-old Botanic Gardens and directly beneath the trees that had been a regular roosting place for the bats since last October.

The relocation strategy of producing loud noise at dawn and dusk, which began on Monday, has resulted in no bats roosting in daylight hours and only small numbers returning overnight before being moved on again.

The council’s parks and recreation team leader David Armstrong isn’t prepared to declare victory over the bats just yet.

“We are under no illusions we’ve got to continue our program,” he said.

“Their natural migration is they go out during the night and feed and come back in the morning and find a roosting spot for the day.

“But we are there in the mornings making noise and making it uncomfortable for them and they don’t land in the gardens.”

He said on Thursday and Friday mornings no bats had returned, enabling the council to go ahead with plans to reopen the children’s garden after a clean-up of debris and bat droppings.

“It is spick and span and ready to go,” he said.

“We’ve got them (the bats) down to the river, they are out of the gardens, but we’ve got to discuss what our next step is.

“We encourage people if they see a bat not to touch them or handle them.

“If the bats are injured they should contact WIRES.”

The Botanic Gardens should also be bat-free for the final performance in the Music in the Gardens series featuring flautist Jane Rutter at 1pm tomorrow.

The Murray River is a known habitat of the bats, which have headed towards an area near Mungabareena Reserve.

The council will continue monitoring the situation with WIRES and representatives from the Australian Research Centre for Urban Ecology and the Office of Environment and Heritage.

It is also liaising with Melbourne Botanic Gardens staff.