Image - Alternating Content - default

The Sutherland Shire is home to three Grey-headed Flying-fox camps, including Kareela Flying-fox camp, Camellia Gardens Flying-fox camp and the Desalination Plant Flying-fox camp. The Grey-headed Flying-fox is a threatened species, which means they are at risk of becoming extinct in the medium-term future. Their numbers have declined significantly in recent times due to habitat clearing for development. Their role as pollinators and seed dispersers is critical and, due to loss of habitat, they are increasingly roosting in urban areas.

Council have worked hard towards managing flying-foxes, with a priority on reducing the impact of the camps on the community. All actions undertaken in relation to flying-fox management are undertaken in accordance with state and federal legislation that protects the Grey-headed Flying-fox.

If you find a bat or flying-fox do not handle it.  Call WIRES on 1300 094 737. They have trained and vaccinated volunteers that will assist you.

If you are a resident experiencing significant impacts from a flying-fox camp, or for further information, submit your enquiries to More information on living with flying-foxes can be found in Council's Living With Flying-Foxes Fact Sheet.

Report a flying-fox sighting

Kareela Flying-fox Camp

The Kareela camp was established in 2008 adjacent Bates Drive and has held up to 20,000 flying-foxes during peak periods. The camp is situated adjacent special needs schools, residential properties and Harrie Denning soccer fields at Kareela. The following management actions have been undertaken at Kareela in order to reduce the impacts on the community and to improve the amenity of the area:

  • Preparation of a Flying-fox Camp Management Plan (2013)
  • Removal of vegetation to create a 20m buffer between schools/residents and the flying-fox camp (2014)
  • Revegetation of the 20m cleared buffer with low-growing vegetation (2015)
  • Developing procedures for the community if an encounter with a flying-fox should occur
  • Dispersal of the Kareela camp (2015-2016)
  • Eliminating activities that could disturb the flying-fox camp, which in turn disturbs the surrounding community (ongoing)
  • Community engagement and events (ongoing)
  • Amenity impact reduction actions (2017-2018)
  • Further vegetation removal to create a 50m buffer (2017)
  • Bush regeneration and weed control (ongoing)

Since undertaking extensive vegetation removal works over winter 2017, the Kareela flying-fox camp has returned to roost in much lower numbers. The Autumn months (March – May) are peak breeding season for the Grey-headed Flying-fox and there tends to be higher than usual amounts of flying-foxes occupying all Sydney camps at this time. There is estimated to be an average of 1200 - 1500 animals in the Kareela camp at present, which is significantly less than the maximum numbers experienced here in previous years when there were up to 20,000. As is the nature of flying-fox migration patterns, it is expected that this number will start to decrease as winter approaches, and there is a possibility the camp will empty of its own accord as it has over previous winters.

Image - Alternating Content - default
Image - Alternating Content - default

Camellia Gardens Flying-fox Camp

The Camellia Gardens camp was established during a food shortage in July 2016 and has held up to 2600 Grey-headed Flying-foxes. The camp is situated in Council's Camellia Gardens, on the corner of Matson Crescent and President Ave, Caringbah South, in a residential area adjacent Yowie Bay.The following management actions have been undertaken at Camellia Gardens to date:

  • Developing procedures for the community and Camellia Gardens staff if an encounter with a flying-fox should occur
  • Attempted dispersal of the Camellia Gardens camp (winter 2016), this was unsuccessful
  • Community engagement and events (ongoing)
  • Preparation of an Arboricultural Assessment Report (2017)
  • Preparation of a Flying-fox Camp Management Plan (2018)
  • Bush regeneration and alternative habitat creation in Kareena Park Reserve (ongoing)
  • Installation of deterrents, such as sprinklers and lights, to rest and protect Gardens vegetation from flying-fox roosting (ongoing)
  • Provision of grants to assist directly affected residents with the removal of Cocos Palms and/or fruit (in progress)

Council staff are currently investigating alternative methods to humanely manage the Camellia Gardens flying-fox camp, in order to balance the needs of the flying-foxes, the amenity of the community, and the health of the Gardens' vegetation. The Autumn months (March - May) tend to see higher numbers of flying-foxes flocking to Sydney to breed, however numbers usually decrease again naturally over Winter as the flying-foxes migrate north.

Learn About Cocos Palm Subsidy

Captain Cook Drive Flying-fox Camp

The Captain Cook Drive camp was discovered by Council in February 2017. It was likely to have established during the 2016-17 food shortage and has held up to 800 Grey-headed Flying-foxes. The camp is situated on Council land off Captain Cook Drive, opposite Elouera Rd Kurnell, and does not have any sensitive land uses in close proximity. This camp has not been occupied since August 2017. The following management actions have been undertaken at Captain Cook Drive:

  • Developing procedures for the community if an encounter with a flying-fox should occur.
  • Community engagement (ongoing).
  • Preparation of a Camp Management Plan - currently being implemented
Image - Alternating Content - default
Image - Alternating Content - default

Desalination Plant Flying-fox Camp

The Desalination Plant camp was regularly occupied over summer up until 2006-07 summer, when the desalination plant was constructed and the flying-foxes moved to the Kareela reserve and formed the Kareela camp. After 10 years, during the 2016-17 food shortage, this camp was found to be occupied by up to 400 flying-foxes. The camp is situated on Desalination Plant property and does not have any sensitive land uses in close proximity. Veolia are responsible for the management of this flying-fox camp in accordance with a Conservation Management Plan for the site.

Report a flying-fox sighting

Health risks and flying-foxes

NSW Government Health states that there is no risk to the community from the flying-foxes providing that no handling or direct contact occurs. Even though a small percentage of flying-foxes may carry the Australian Bat Lyssavirus (ABLV) a vaccine is available which, if administered immediately following a bite or scratch, can prevent the virus from developing. For further information on flying-foxes and health visit NSW Government Health - Flying-foxes and health.

Ecology of Flying-foxes

Information on the ecology of grey-headed flying foxes/protection status from Department of the Environment

Image - Alternating Content - default

More information

Policies and documents

Kareela Grey-headed Flying Fox Camp Plan of Management Kareela Flying Fox Camp Dispersal Plan


Enquiries can be directed to Bec Williams on or

Did this page help you?

We monitor feedback and will respond to your comments if you include your email address.

Please type the characters you see in the picture below

Please type the code in the box above

Have more to say? Complete our Community survey on the transformation of our website. We are focused on creating a website that provides an intuitive, easy-to-use, and efficient customer experience for our community and we need your feedback to ensure we have captured everything you’d like to see and do on our refreshed website. With the click of a button, you can help us build a better website for our community, provide your feedback now - 2021