The North Haven Fire Trail

Key achievements

  • New fire protection asset created for the residents of North Haven, the area’s wildlife and Crown Lands.
  • Established positive working relationships with Hastings and Port Macquarie councils, Crown Land ecologists, residents, and telecommunications companies Optus and Telstra.
  • Disturbance to habitat minimised by landscape planning – The Soil Conservation Service (SCS) deliberately and strategically added bends and curves in the road to save mature trees and reduce the environmental impact.
  • Creating habitat through strategic relocation of large woody debris trunks in swamp areas, maintaining the roosting environment for local water-feeding birds. This includes blue cranes and egrets.
  • All stakeholders were regularly consulted and kept informed on progress.
  • The project was completed within the set timeframe and under budget.

The challenge

North Haven, a small coastal village south of Port Macquarie in an area of high bushfire risk, was without a functioning fire trail.

Our specialist team was tasked with creating fire trail access through difficult conditions to help protect this area during bushfires. An eight metre wide category one trail was required to create a buffer between bushland and houses and allow category three tanker access.

It was a sensitive environmental area, backing onto suburban houses and running through a natural wetland, filled with frogs, waterbirds, ticks, leeches and snakes. The challenge was to build the trail to the required standards, with minimum impact to the wetland environment. Rain hindered construction throughout the entire job, adding complexity to an already wet natural environment.
Work undertaken

SCS commenced construction of the North Haven Fire Trail - a 280m all-weather gravel access track with a porous foundation. The trail was funded by the Rural Fire Service (RFS) at a cost of $280,000, administered by Crown Lands.

The trail consisted of a sub-base layer of basalt rock to allow drainage and water level equalisation in the wetland. A geotextile separation layer was then placed to allow the final compacted gravel surface to remain unaffected by water in the wetland.

The dynamic nature of the wetland environment required careful consideration of the existing surface water flows. Rather than constructing a typical trail that would block flow patterns and increase ponding, SCS constructed the trail with a porous foundation to facilitate surface water drainage from the surrounding houses. The work was undertaken in an environmental hot spot. Strict controls on water quality were maintained in the wetland and around the drainage area. SCS installed and maintained erosion and sediment controls throughout the job to minimise impacts on the surrounding sensitive environment.


The new fire trail now allows RFS all weather access to North Haven, an area previously vulnerable to fire. The new trail has protected humans, animals, urban assets and Crown Land, while maintaining the wetland environment for frogs and waterbird life. The job was undertaken to quality standards, exceeding client and stakeholder expectations.