Bunbury Port Access - Stage 2


Stage Two

The Bunbury Port Access Project Stage Two was officially opened on 31 May 2013 by Western Australian Former Transport Minister Troy Buswell and Federal Labor Senator Sue Lines.

The completion of the project has provided a significant improvement in road and port infrastructure in the State’s South West region, as it will greatly improve access to the Port and Picton industrial area serviced by South Western Highway.

Congestion on Robertson Drive in Bunbury, a key road for both local traffic and inter-regional traffic travelling further south, is expected to improve, providing a significant benefit for the community.

The $170 million Bunbury Port Access Project incorporated stages one (completed in 2010) and two, and was jointly funded by the Commonwealth (80 per cent) and State Government (20 per cent).

The project will improve safety and traffic efficiency by re-directing several thousand vehicles each day from South Western Highway and Robertson Drive through Davenport to the Picton Industrial area and the Bunbury Port via the new roads. The new roads will also provide an alternative link between South Western Highway and the Perth Bunbury Highway.

A major safety feature was the provision of roundabouts at the major junctions of the Bunbury Outer Ring Road with South Western Highway and Willinge Drive, and another at the intersection of Willinge Drive with the Boyanup-Picton Road.  Although the roundabouts will slow traffic using the Bunbury Outer Ring Road, they will improve safety for motorists and allow for efficient movement of traffic well into the future. Eventually, interchanges will replace the roundabouts on the Bunbury Outer Ring Road as traffic volumes increase and the roundabouts reach their capacity.

Another project feature was the construction of several bridges. One bridge was constructed over the Ferguson River (one span of 35 m) and two bridges were built over the Preston River (three spans between 20 m and 25 m), using a 500 tonne crane that was transported to site by five semi trailers. The crane lifted and placed 24 bridge beams weighing between 65 and 115 tonnes each. 

The bridgework included the challenging job of sinking 92 steel piles - weighing five tonne each - into the ground to support the completed bridges. Heavy construction on the banks of the Preston and Ferguson rivers required implementation of extensive measures under the contractor's Environmental Management Strategy to protect the rivers from erosion and sediment run-off. This has included silt fences and rock walls. Regular water testing and monitoring ensured these protection measures performed well.


Environmental Management

Through a rigorous design process, native vegetation clearance was minimised to around 17 Ha, with many large trees being retained through design modifications.

In June 2012, we met with environmental representatives from the South West Environment Centre and Preston Environment Group, who were concerned over the possible clearing of old trees on the Boyanup Picton Road. Through changes to the road design, most of the trees south of Martin Pelusey Road were retained.

We worked with University of Western Australia staff to undertake trapping and capture of Ringtail and Brush Tail possums prior to the clearing operations. Animals captured have been fitted with radio tracking devices and relocated to a control area. These animals were tracked on a weekly basis as part of the Possum Management Plan implementation.

A possum bridge was installed to allow possums to safely cross the Bunbury Outer Ring Road. The bridge has been located to link areas of adjacent habitat known to be home to a group of animals.

The bridge is 87 m long and 10 m high, and houses monitoring systems to track the movements of possums as they navigate their way across the bridge. These systems are a first for WA.

The possum bridge has steel columns, with two cables on the outside and a 12 mm rope woven into 100 mm squares in the centre for the possums to cross.  A rope at the top of each pole leads back into nearby trees so possums have direct access from the bridge to the trees.

We provided funding to the University of Western Australia for Western Ringtail Possum research.

Fauna underpasses and fencing were installed to provide native animals with access between habitat fragmented by the road construction.

To offset the clearing impacts of the project, we rehabilitated over 15 hectares of degraded farmland and purchased 72 ha of remnant vegetation in the vicinity of the project which will be rezoned to Regional Open Space and set aside for conservation purposes.

We also provided funding to the Department of Environment and Conservation for Carnaby’s Cockatoo research as part of the package of environmental offsets.

Pest control has been implemented to control rabbits, and a fox culling program is in place for the next two years. This work forms part of the project's environmental offset proposal.


Project Information

The contract to design and construct the second stage of the Bunbury Port Access Road was awarded to Fulton Hogan.

Transport Minister, Troy Buswell, officially announced the contract award  at a ground breaking ceremony on Friday 24 February 2012 in Bunbury, saying the project would greatly improve access to the Port and Picton industrial area serviced by South Western Highway, and reduce congestion on Robertson Drive in Bunbury.

Construction commenced in February 2012and was substantially completed in May 2013.

Stage 2, valued at approximately $130m, involved extending Willinge Drive from Picton to the Bunbury Outer Ring Road, and the Bunbury Outer Ring Road between South Western Highway and the Boyanup-Picton Road.


Planning Approvals

The planned alignments of the Port Access Road and Bunbury Outer Ring Road as provide for in the Greater Bunbury Region Scheme were amended to:

  • Allow for the staged development of the roads;
  • Reduce the clearing of remnant vegetation; and
  • Avoid impacts on major services. 

These have been reviewed and endorsed by the Bunbury City Council and Dardanup Shire Council.  The Greater Bunbury Region Scheme will subsequently be amended.


Environmental Impact Assessment

An Environmental Impact Assessment for the project was undertaken.  Although the project is mainly located within cleared farmland (proposed industrial development), around 17 ha of native vegetation of varying quality needed to be cleared.  The project impacted on the Ferguson and Preston Rivers, and passed several nearby wetlands, as well as impacting some fauna, including protected fauna.

The project was referred to the Western Australian Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) for determination of level of assessment.  The EPA has advised Main Roads and advertised publicly that the overall impact of the proposal does not require assessment by the EPA and setting of formal conditions by the Minister for Environment.

The project was also referred to the Commonwealth Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Culture (DoSEWPaC), for assessment under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.  DoSEWPaC advised that the proposed action is a Controlled Action and assessed through preliminary documentation (refer to Environmental Assessment).  DoSEWPaC issued conditional environmental approval  for the project on 7 September 2011. 

The approval prescribed a number of conditions to manage impacts on the threatened fauna species, which our Environmental Offset Plan and Western Ringtail Possum Management Plan has been was prepared and approved by DoSEWPaC.

Environmental Management Plans were prepared to control and mitigate environmental impacts, including an Environmental Offset Plan for clearing of native vegetation.  This included revegetation of cleared areas and/or protection of existing native vegetation from further clearing.


Aboriginal Heritage

The project impacted on several ethnographical and archaeological heritage sites, including the Ferguson and Preston Rivers and several artifact scatter sites. Main Roads consulted with the Aboriginal Community representatives on the impacts and how they could be mitigated and managed during construction. Community representatives were generally supportive of the project with the implementation of the proposed management measures.

The Minister for Indigenous Affairs granted approval under Section 18 of the WA Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972 to use the land covered by the heritage sites for road construction.

A Heritage Management plan has been was prepared for the project in consultation with the local Aboriginal community and approved by the Department of Indigenous Affairs. Aboriginal Monitors were engaged during the course of the project to monitor ground disturbing activities. Several artifacts of significance were recovered during earthworks operations, which were later buried at a nearby site.


Land Acquisition

While some of the land required was already in government ownership, Main Roads needed to acquire land from 12 affected landowners.  The formal land acquisition process was completed in December 2012 and all land required for the new road was government ownership.



The Bunbury Port Access Project involved the construction of the Bunbury Port Access Road (Willinge Drive) and the Bunbury Outer Ring Road in the Greater Bunbury Area, to improve access to the Bunbury Port, and was carried out in stages.

The Bunbury Outer Ring Road (BORR) is a planned Controlled Access Highway linking the four major highways radiating from Bunbury on the outer edge of the City to the planned Bunbury Port Access Road (PAR).  The Bunbury Port Access Road is a planned Controlled Access Main Road linking the Bunbury Port to the planned Preston Industrial Area and the Bunbury Outer Ring Road.

The BORR and PAR will provide a high standard route for traffic accessing Bunbury Port and the growing Preston industrial areas east of Bunbury, removing the need to travel through developed areas of Bunbury. Once completed, the BORR will provide a complete bypass of Bunbury for inter-regional traffic.

The Bunbury Port Access Project Stage One from the Bunbury Inner Harbour to Picton opened in February 2010.  It provides a more direct link between the Port and the Picton industrial area; improved access to the Port from Perth Bunbury Highway and South Western Highway (north); and an alternative route from Picton to the Bunbury CBD via Koombana Drive.

A Greater Bunbury Region plan is provided, the alignment of new and planned roads in the region.


Project Details and Publications

Work on the Bunbury Port Access Road included:

  • A 3 km extension of Willinge Drive as a two lane road from South Western Highway in Picton to the BORR;
  • A two lane bridge over the Ferguson River; and
  • A new intersection at the junction of Willinge Drive with the Boyanup Picton Road.

Work on the Bunbury Outer Ring Road included:

  • A 4 km section of the BORR  (including 3 km of four lane dual carriageway) from the Boyanup Picton Road to South Western Highway in Davenport;
  • Two dual lane bridges over the Preston River; and
  • New intersections at the junctions with South Western Highway, Boyanup Picton Road, Moore Road and Willinge Drive.

In addition to the two new roads, Stage Two included:

  • Realignment and reconstruction of a 1.5 km  section of the Boyanup Picton Road adjacent to the BORR, including upgrading of the intersection with Martin Pelusey Road;
  • Improvement to sections of South Western Highway adjacent to the BORR;
  • Provision of truck parking bays; and
  • Construction of property accesses to several properties affected by the project.
The following project publications can be downloaded:



Traffic counts on Willinge Drive in 2011 indicate that approximately 2500 vehicles per day use the road, of which about 500 are large semi trailers and road trains that would otherwise have travelled through the Eelup Roundabout.

The Bunbury Port Access Project Stage Two will:

  • Improve access to the Port and the Picton industrial area from areas south of Bunbury serviced by South Western Highway;
  • Provide an alternative route for freight vehicles  from South Western Highway to Forrest Highway,  bypassing  the congested  sections of the Inner Ring Road (Robertson Drive) between South Western Highway and the Eelup Roundabout; 
  • Reduce traffic congestion and improve road safety on the Inner Ring Road by diverting traffic, in particular large freight vehicles, from the Inner Ring Road; and
  • Traffic modeling has indicated that traffic on Willinge Drive will increase to about 4000 vehicles per day with the completion of Stage 2.


Funding and Timing

Final stages of the Bunbury Outer Ring Road between Forrest Highway and Boyanup Picton Road, and between South Western Highway and Bussell Highway, are currently unfunded and there is no timeframe for construction.  Planning has commenced to confirm the suitability of the planned routes included in the Greater Bunbury Region Scheme. 


EPBC Act Environmental Assessment


We referred the construction of Stage 2 of the Bunbury Port Access at Bunbury Western Australia, within the Shire of Dardanup and City of Bunbury, to DoSEWPaC for assessment under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.  The project includes the construction of Stage 2 of the Bunbury Port Access Road (between the Port Access Road Stage 1 and the Bunbury Outer Ring Road) and Stage 1 of the Bunbury Outer Ring Road (between Boyanup Picton Road and South Western Highway), as well as modifications to the Boyanup Picton Road and South Western Highway.

The Project was determined to be a controlled action and as such required assessment and approval by the Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and communities before it could proceed, due to potential impacts on threatened species within the following controlling provisions of the EPBC Act:

  • Listed threatened species and communities (Section 18 and 18A)

The proposal was assessed by preliminary documentation under the provisions of the EPBC Act.  In accordance with subsection 95B (4), the following documentation was published.

The following associated supplementary documentation is also available:

Hard copies of the documentation can be viewed at:

    • Main Roads South West Regional Office - Robertson Drive, Bunbury
    • City of Bunbury Library - Parkfield Street, Bunbury
    • State Library of WA (Perth Cultural Centre) - 25 Francis Street, Perth
    • The Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Populations and Communities Library - John Gorton Building, King Edward Terrace, Parkes, Canberra

The Public Comment period for this proposal closed on 24 June 2011 and no comments were received.

DoSEWPaC issued conditional environmental approval for the project on 7 September 2011.  The approval prescribed a number of conditions to manage impacts on the threatened fauna species, which Main Roads are currently in the process of addressing.

An Environmental Offset Plan and Western Ringtail Possum Management Plan has been prepared and approved by DoSEWPaC.

To offset the clearing impacts of the project, Main Roads has agreed to rehabilitate over 15 ha of degraded farmland and purchase 72 ha of remnant vegetation in the vicinity of the project, which will be placed into conservation.  Details of the offsets and management measures are provided in the Environmental Offset Plan.

To mitigate impacts on the Endangered Western Ringtail Possum, Main Roads plans to implement management measures on the project, which include installation of a possum rope bridge over the BORR and to fund ongoing monitoring and research on the efficacy of rope bridges.  Planned management measures are detailed in the Western Ringtail Possum Management Plan. 


Community and stakeholder liaison

We have been working with all key stakeholders in recent times to discuss project issues and mitigate potential impacts, including environmental, heritage (Indigenous and European), social and economic impacts.

Meetings have been held with:

  • Local Government Officers
  • Department of Planning
  • Department of Environment and Conservation; and 
  • Department of Water

Briefings have also been provided to:

  • Bunbury City Council
  • Dardanup Shire Council
  • South West Environment Centre
  • Leschenault Catchment Council
  • Bunbury Port Authority; and
  • Freight industry representatives and community members.


Modified: 22 Feb 2018