UTAS research finds Maria Island could be perfect place for ‘insurance population’ of rock wallabies


A researcher at the University of Tasmania has suggested Maria Island off Tasmania’s east coast could be an ideal location to form an insurance population of the threatened brush-tailed rock wallaby.

The wallabies are found throughout Australia’s eastern seaboard, but like the koala, are not found in Tasmania.

Last year’s bushfires destroyed significant parts of natural habitat including places where the wallaby is found.

But researcher Shane Morris believes he might have found a safe place for the wallaby to thrive.

‘It’s a wild idea’

Moving a species from their native habitat to an offshore island is not a new method to try and save an animal from extinction, but it can be seen as controversial.

“It has worked before and it can become another tool in our toolkit for conservation management in the future,” Mr Morris said.

Mr Morris researched the natural habitat of the rock wallaby and places they do not live that might be suitable.

“I found that parts of Tasmania would have some pretty suitable areas,” he said.

“Maria Island would be a good place … you have these rocky areas they tend to inhabit, and you’ve got the Tasmanian devils which would stop them from spreading into areas you wouldn’t want them to go.”

UTAS researcher Shane Morris says the Tasmanian devils that were translocated to Maria Island could help keep the brush-tailed wallabies in check.(Supplied: Beauty of Tasmania)

The paper’s co-author professor Chris Johnson says due to the absence of foxes — the animal’s main predator on the mainland — the island could be a safe place for the wallabies.

“This type of wallaby has a very southern distribution and lives in habitats very similar to Tasmanian environments.

“The fear of introducing a new species is that the population would expand and cover the entire state … but if the wallabies move away from those rocky areas [on Maria Island] we have the devil, and the devil would probably prevent them from spreading into flat country.”

A southern brush-tail rock wallaby perches on a rock.
University of Melbourne associate professor Graeme Coulson says a lack of habitat is not the only problem for the wallabies.(Supplied: Annette Rypalski)

Maria Island has already been used to translocate species.

A population of Tasmanian devils were moved from mainland Tasmania to the island after the outbreak of a facial tumour disease.

The wombats on the island are also a subspecies, different to the rest of Tasmania, that were introduced in the 1970s.

Mr Morris believes due to the dire future facing the brush-tailed rock wallaby on the mainland, now is the time to consider more radical alternatives.

Expert sceptical

Graeme Coulson is an associate professor at the University of Melbourne and a member of the Southern Brush-Tailed Rock Wallaby Recovery Team.

He said he was surprised by the idea of translocating rock wallabies to Maria Island.

“This idea has come out of the blue — we are certainly not looking at new sites in Tasmania,” he said.

“Maria Island could be suitable down the track but we don’t know how the devils and rock wallabies would interact.”

Mr Coulson also said a lack of suitable habitat for the animal was not the main issue threatening the animal’s survival.

“Some populations have been threatened by fire but others haven’t — the key issues are to do with genetic diversity and also controlling predators such as foxes,” he said.

Picture of a Tasmanian devil at night
A Tasmanian devil forages for food on Maria Island.(Supplied: Calum Cunningham)

Tasmania could be called on to save threatened species

University of Tasmania law lecturer, Phillipa McCormack, said translocating a species was seen as a last resort.

“From a legal perspective, our conservation laws allow us to identify species at risk of extinction, we put them on a list, and then our governments can produce a recovery plan,” she said.

“Australia has seen a lot of last resort situations and it’s tragic that it’s common because we see so many species right on the brink of extinction.

“We are going to see quite a few more where translocation is proposed because due to climate change, their natural home is just no longer suitable.”

The Painted Cliffs of Maria Island
One expert says Tasmania is likely to be “called upon more and more to consider opening up spaces for other species”.(Flickr: Anthony Tong Lee)

Dr McCormack says the broader Tasmanian community might need to confront the possibility of mainland native animals being brought to Tasmania in the future, as the effects of climate change continue to threaten native species.

“We know that Tasmania offers some really important habitats for species going forward. We have a lot here that needs to be protected, as well as recognising that stuff on the mainland needs access to places that will persist,” she said.

“It’s important to take more of a global perspective. Australia has responsibility to prevent the extinction of Australian species.

“Climate change is going to make that hard and Tasmanians have to have a conversation with each other and the rest of Australia about our role in that process.

Thank you for dropping by My Local Pages and reading this story involving TAS news called “UTAS research finds Maria Island could be perfect place for ‘insurance population’ of rock wallabies”. This news release is brought to you by MyLocalPages Australia as part of our local news services.

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Melbourne Storm turn to Wallabies to get Josh Addo-Carr into shape


Barnes, who played 51 Tests and also nine NRL games for the Broncos as a teenager, said it had been impossible to ignore the infectious impact the ‘Fox’ had on the locals, including after a session last week that included Wallabies star Reece Hodge.

“Josh and George have been fantastic up here, they’ve got involved with the community, they’ve had kids trailing them every day, they’ve gone surfing, they’ve done some work with the Healthy Minds Club charity, so I can’t fault them,” Barnes told the Herald.

Josh Addo-Carr (far left) training in Lennox Head, with Berrick Barnes (front row far left) and Scott Wisemantel (blue singlet).

“Scotty lives down the road and has put the training plans together. [Strength and conditioning coach] Pete Roberts is up here, he helps train a fair few guys on the World Surfing Tour, and Dylan Steele works as an osteo and physio. There’s a little bit of everything here for them.

“I’ve trained with them every day. We get a lot of rugby players come through town because Pete lives here, but in terms of current NRL stars, there aren’t too many. To see Josh train the other day, and Reece Hodge was there as well, they were all training together, and you had kids running out on to the oval to get selfies with Josh.

“It shows you the impact he has had on the wider community. He’s well spoken, he has a great work ethic, and he can have a great impact not just on the Indigenous culture but young kids in general.”

Addo-Carr took to social media on Tuesday to invite the locals in the area, including Byron Bay and Ballina, to watch him train on Wednesday morning.

Few NRL players are prouder of their Indigenous heritage than Addo-Carr. One of the most memorable scenes from last year was Addo-Carr lifting his jersey and pointing to the colour of his skin before the All Stars game, just as Nicky Winmar did for St Kilda during a VFL match in 1993.

But given Addo-Carr’s late start to his pre-season, there are concerns he will run out of time to be ready for the February 20 clash against New Zealand Maori.

The Storm appreciate what this game means to Addo-Carr and will not close the door entirely, but their priority is having him fit for round one.

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The premiers will need Canterbury-bound Addo-Carr firing from the outset, especially following the loss of fellow experienced flyer Suliasi Vunivalu.

Addo-Carr and Jennings have travelled more than 750km in the opposite direction from Melbourne, and will complete the remaining 1700km back in the coming days.

The Storm enter a new era without Cameron Smith with Dale Finucane and Jesse Bromwich in a two-way shootout to become the new skipper.

Finucane, Felise Kaufusi, Cameron Munster and Christian Welch resume pre-season training on Friday after an extended break given their Origin commitments.

Nine Storm players, including Ryan Papenhuyzen, made the mad dash back across the border before Christmas to avoid having to quarantine after Sydney was struck down by the latest coronavirus outbreak.

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Rugby news 2021: Matt Toomua, Ellyse Perry, shock split, new romance, Wallabies


Wallabies star Matt Toomua has quickly moved on from his five-year marriage with Australian cricketer Ellyse Perry, unveiling a new romance on social media.

The 31-year-old is reportedly dating 29-year-old psychologist Naomi Cameron, with the couple posting photos of themselves on Instagram.

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According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Cameron and Toomua met mid-last year while he was in Canberra playing Super Rugby.

Naomi Cameron and Matt Toomua.
Naomi Cameron and Matt Toomua.Source: Facebook



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Wallabies captain impacted by COVID-19


Wallabies captain Michael Hooper’s Top League debut has been delayed by a COVID-19 outbreak sweeping through Japanese rugby.

Hooper was expected to emerge from two weeks in quarantine to make his eagerly-awaited first appearance for Toyota Verblitz on Saturday alongside former All Blacks skipper Kieran Read and 2019 Springboks World Cup winner Willie le Roux.

The trio were set to go head-to-head with the likes of New Zealand superstar Beauden Barrett and ex-Wallabies duo Samu Kerevi and Sean McMahon, who are now playing for Suntory Sungoliath.

Former Melbourne Storm NRL premiership winner Will Chambers and Queensland lock Harry Hockings are also on Suntory’s books.

But the Japan Rugby Football Union on Tuesday said two of this weekend’s eight scheduled opening-round games, including Toyota versus Suntory in Aichi Prefecture, had been cancelled after three of the teams involved confirmed positive coronavirus cases.

The JRFU said a total of 44 players and staff tested positive for the virus, including 24 from Canon Eagles, 13 from Toyota and seven from Suntory.

“The Top League has created COVID-19 protocols and procedures together with the teams, but there’s still so much that’s unknown about the virus and we feel threatened,” Top League chairman Osamu Ota said in a statement.

“Fortunately none of the players are seriously ill but I pray for their quick recovery.”

The other game that has been cancelled is Canon’s opener against Ricoh Black Rams scheduled for Sunday at Tokyo’s Komazawa Stadium.

Neither games will be rescheduled. Under league policy, they will be considered draws, with each team getting two points.

This year in the first stage of Japan’s top-tier domestic rugby union competition, the 16 Top League teams will be divided into two conferences to determine their seedings for the second stage.

A total of 20 teams, including four from the Top Challenge League, will be split into four groups of five teams in the second stage.

The top two teams of each group proceed to the playoffs.

Last year, the Top League season was cancelled in March because of the pandemic.

Former Wallabies coach Robbie Deans’ Panasonic Wild Knights were unbeaten when the season was abandoned and dearly hopes the competition will proceed with fewer disruptions in 2021.

“That was a source of frustration for us. We were sitting at the top of the table – six games and six bonus points,” Deans told AAP on Tuesday.

“So (we were) humming and they just pulled the rug out, which never excites the players. They like to play.

“So hopefully we get some rugby because you can only maintain your interest in training for so long.”





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Wallabies captain wins third John Eales Medal as Australia’s best player


Wallabies captain Michael Hooper has created history by winning a third John Eales Medal four years after he was last crowned Australia’s best performed international player.

The 29-year-old, who won Australian rugby’s most prestigious award in 2013 and 2016, edged out winger, and last year’s winner, Marika Koroibete and prop James Slipper after a truncated international season in 2020.

Hooper, who was reappointed captain by new coach Dave Rennie, finished with 91 points in the player-led vote, ahead of Koroibete (88 points), Slipper (79), Nic White (61) and Reece Hodge (56) following six Tests of voting.

The Wallabies played four matches against New Zealand and two against Argentina in 2020 after South Africa withdrew from the Rugby Championship, winning one, losing two and drawing three.

Hooper featured in every one of Australia’s Tests as Rennie blooded 10 new players and joined controversial star Israel Folau as the only Wallabies to win a third John Eales Medal.

Rugby Australia interim chief executive Rob Clarke said Hooper was an “incredible rugby player”.

“On behalf of the Australian rugby community, I would like to congratulate all of our winners throughout the Rugby Australia Awards series,” Clarke said.

“I’d especially like to congratulate our Wallabies captain, Michael Hooper, on winning the John Eales Medal for a third time.

“Michael is an incredible rugby player, an outstanding captain and an excellent leader on and off the field.

“The way he conducts himself is a credit to him and the values he lives his life by, and we congratulate him on his achievement.

“All our winners thoroughly deserve the accolades in what has been a challenging 2020.”

In recent days, Queensland Reds prop Taniela Tupou won the Super Rugby Player of the Year Award, Brumbies back-rower Ema Masi took out the Super W Player of the Year Award, while Reds young gun Harry Wilson claimed the Rookie of the Year Award.



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Wallabies to face Wales, Fiji at 2023 RWC


History will repeat at the 2023 Rugby World Cup for Australia, who will face Wales and Fiji in their pool for the third-straight tournament after receiving a favourable draw.

The Wallabies, ranked sixth in the world and quarter-final casualties at last year’s World Cup in Japan, could have been lumped in a pool with New Zealand, England or holders South Africa for the Paris showpiece.

Instead they’ll face the lower-ranked Wales (ninth) for the fourth time in five tournaments and Fiji (11th), as well as two other yet to qualify nations.

Wales beat the Wallabies in Japan but have struggled since reaching the final four of that tournament, losing seven of their past nine Tests.

But Wallabies coach Dave Rennie, who has overseen one win, three draws and two losses since replacing Michael Cheika after the World Cup, knows there is “so much water under the bridge” until 2023.

“We’re really excited from a World Cup perspective, it’s a long way off but it makes it a bit of a reality now,” he said.

“There’s no easy pool as we’ve all talked about; if you look at the three teams that we know are confirmed in this pool they’re all really tough.

“We’re all three years away, our teams are going to change a lot, there’ll be other guys that will come through and I imagine we’ll all be better in three years time.”

Three-time winners and perennial favourites New Zealand will face hosts France but both teams will be confident of advancing after landing Italy as the third seed.

The Springboks were grouped with Ireland and Scotland while 2019 runners-up England face the potentially tricky dual challenge of Argentina and Japan.

The seedings for the RWC have routinely been decided three years out but this time, given the coronavirus-disruption of the international calendar, organisers decided to use the rankings as at the end of last year – four years ahead of the tournament.

Hence, Wales, beaten semi-finalists in 2019 but ranked ninth, were among the top four seeds while France, hosts and now world No.4, were placed in the second tier.

The 20-team RWC will take place across nine cities from September 8 to October 21, with the final in Paris.

Eight qualifiers are yet to be determined for the 10th edition of the tournament and will not be finalised until November 2022.

French President Emmanuel Macron was present at Monday’s draw in Paris.

“We cannot wait to get ready for this event,” he said.

“The COVID-19 crisis is terrible. In 2023, we want to offer what France can offer: the French way of life – friendliness, gastronomy, parties and culture.”





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Rugby World Cup draw 2023: Wallabies draw, Australia, Wales, Fiji, All Blacks, England


Australia has been handed a favourable draw for the 2023 Rugby World Cup with the Wallabies to face Wales and Fiji in France.

It represents the third consecutive time the Wallabies have been drawn with those two nations at the World Cup,

The fourth side in the group will not be known until one year before the tournament in November 2022.

It means Australia has avoided the likes of South Africa and the All Blacks although a blockbuster quarterfinal showdown with England looms likely.

“From a World Cup perspective it’s a long way off but it makes it a bit of a reality now,” Wallabies coach Dave Rennie told reporters.



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Australia Wallabies in pool with Wales and Fiji for third time in a row


Australia will play against Wales and Fiji for the third Rugby World Cup in a row after the pools for the 2023 tournament were revealed on Monday night (AEDT).

It’s a frustrating result for fans looking to see something different but a favourable draw for Dave Rennie’s side as they look to progress further than a quarterfinal finish in 2019.

The Wallabies comfortably defeated Fiji but lost 29-25 to the Welsh in Japan last year to finish second in their group and set up a meeting against a powerful England side, which they lost.

They will likely need to reverse that result this time around to avoid another quarterfinal against the Poms, who are in pool D with Japan and Argentina.

Australia defeated Fiji and Wales in 2015 before progressing all the way to the final.

Teams were ordered based on their world ranking in January this year ahead of the draw which meant Wales joined reigning world champion South Africa, New Zealand and England in headlining separate pools.

That was good news for Australia. The Wallabies are currently ranked sixth in the world, ahead of Wales which has dropped to ninth. Fiji is 11th. A European team and the winner of the final qualifying tournament rounds out pool C.

New Zealand head coach Ian Foster said facing hosts France in a mouth-watering pool game will be “special”, after Monday’s draw in Paris.

The sides met in the 1987 and 2011 finals, with the All Blacks winning on both occasions.

“It’s going to be very special. I have no doubt they will organise a superb World Cup,” Foster told a press conference.

“We’ve watched with admiration the way they’re rebuilding their team and are really building something special for 2023.

“For us to know the size of the challenge has given us a clear focus and one we can’t wait for,” he added.

England take on Japan, who hosted the last World Cup in 2019, and Argentina, who beat Foster’s men for the first time in their history in November.

A qualifier each from Oceania and the Americas round out a competitive-looking Pool D.

“It’s a great pool to be a part of,” England captain Owen Farrell said. “Obviously with the way that Japan and Argentina are going at the minute, some of the rugby that has been played over the last few years by them both, it’s going to be a tough pool.”

Champions South Africa will face Ireland as well as Scotland and a nation from Asia/Pacific and a further European nation in Pool B.

“It’s exciting, really, to know who your RWC pool opponents will be,” Springboks skipper Siya Kolisi said.

Wales, who lost to the Springboks in the 2019 semi-finals, are in Pool C with two-time Webb Ellis trophy holders Australia as well as Fiji,

Italy and two qualifiers, one from the Americas and another from Africa, make up the rest of Pool A alongside the All Blacks and the French.

– with AFP





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Wallabies to face Wales and Fiji in dream draw


For the third World Cup in a row the Wallabies have been drawn alongside Fiji, who they beat easily in 2015 and, despite an early scare in 2019, managed to defeat 39-21 in Sapporo. Fiji are ranked 11th in the world.

Australia will also lock horns with ‘Europe 1’ and ‘Qualifier’ teams, who are yet to be determined.

“From a World Cup perspective it’s a long way off but it makes it a bit of a reality now,” Rennie told reporters. “There’s no easy pool. If you look at the three sides that are confirmed in this pool they are all really tough.

“Fiji has got amazing athletes and with Vern [Cotter] being in charge, he’ll give them an edge which will be a real difference. We’re all three years away. Our teams are going to change a lot. There will be guys who come through and I’d imagine we’ll all be better in three years. There’s so much water under the bridge. Our focus will be on a really big campaign next year. We could play as many as 15 Tests next year.”

There is a decent chance the European side will be Georgia, who the Wallabies also ran into at the most recent World Cup in Japan.

In Pool A, hosts France have been drawn alongside New Zealand and Italy, Pool B sees South Africa, Ireland and Scotland pooled together, while reigning finalists England have been pitted alongside the ever-improving Japan and Argentina in Pool D.

The winner of Pool C will face the runner-up of Pool D, meaning that if Australia finish first in Pool C and England top Pool D, the Wallabies will square off against either Japan or Argentina.

However, in the event Australia lose to Wales, like they did in 2019, there is a high chance they will once again have to come up against Eddie Jones’ England outfit.

The final pools for the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France.

The final pools for the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France. Credit:Twitter

Under new coach Rennie, Australia won just one of their six Tests in 2020 but came away with three draws, two of which came against Argentina.

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The Wallabies had a forgettable 2019 World Cup despite being drawn in a favourable pool alongside Wales, Fiji, Georgia and Uruguay. They fell to England 40-16 in a quarter-final in Oita.

World Rugby decided that seedings would be done from rankings at the end of last year because of COVID-19 and a disjointed Test calendar in 2020.

The Wallabies are ranked sixth in the world but have done well to ensure that on current standings, all teams they will line-up against in 2023 are below them on the world rankings.

2023 Rugby World Cup Pools

Pool A: New Zealand, France, Italy, America 1, Africa 1

Pool B: South Africa, Ireland, Scotland, Asia/Pacific, Europe 2

Pool C: Wales, Australia, Fiji, Europe 1, Qualifier

Pool D: England, Japan, Argentina, Oceania 1, Americas 2

QF 1 – Winner Pool C v Runner up Pool D
QF 2 – Winner Pool B v Runner up Pool A
QF 3 – Winner Pool D v Runner up Pool C
QF 4 – Winner Pool A v Runner up Pool B

SF 1 – Winner QF1 v Winner QF2
SF 2 – Winner QF3 v Winner QF4

(The winners of the semi-final matches qualify for the final and the losers of the semi-final matches will contest the bronze final).

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Wallabies face Wales, Fiji at 2023 RWC


Australia will play Wales in the pool stage of the 2023 Rugby World Cup (RWC) for the fourth time in five tournaments, with the ever-dangerous Fiji also in the same group.

Three-times winners and perennial favourites New Zealand will face hosts France but both teams will be confident of advancing after landing Italy as the third seed in the group when the draw was made on Monday.

Holders South Africa were grouped with Ireland and Scotland while 2019 runners-up England face the potentially tricky dual challenge of Argentina and Japan.

The seedings for the RWC have routinely been decided around three years out but this time, given the coronavirus-disruption of the international calendar, organisers decided to use the rankings as at the end of last year – four years ahead of the tournament.

Consequently, Wales, beaten semi-finalists in 2019 but currently ranked ninth, were among the top four seeds but France, hosts and now ranked fourth, were placed in the second tier.

Scotland and Argentina would have been in the second tier of seeds on current rankings but were placed in the third level after failing to reach the knockout stages in 2019.

World Champions South Africa went into the draw having not played a single match since the 2019 final.

Their victory in Japan marked the first time a team had won the competition after losing a pool match.

New Zealand are the only team never to have lost a pool game.

In 2011 they beat France at that stage, then again in the final.

The tournament, the sport’s 10th, will take place across nine cities from September 8 to October 21, with the final in Paris.

France also hosted the 2007 Rugby World Cup.

The tournament will consist of 20 teams drawn into four pools of five.

Twelve teams have already qualified – making up the top three bands of seeds – while eight qualifiers are yet to be determined and will not be finalised until November 2022.

French President Emmanuel Macron was present at the draw.

“We cannot wait to get ready for this event,” he said.

“In 2023, it will be 12 years since we last reached the final. But this time it will be at home so you (the team) figure out a way of winning the Cup. France also reached the finals of 1987 and 1999 – continuing the 12-year cycle.

“The COVID-19 crisis is terrible. In 2023, we want to offer what France can offer: the French way of life – friendliness, gastronomy, parties and culture,” Macron added.





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