Blackalls Park flying-fox camp

Grey-headed Flying-fox.jpg

Flying-foxes are increasingly moving to urban areas because of the loss of their natural habitat.

With funding support from Local Government NSW, we are working to restore and enhance a flying-fox habitat at Blackalls Park, which has been identified as a regular camp (there are other transient camps that come and go across the city).

The revegetation project is improving the flying-foxes’ environment and encourages the camp to move further from residential areas and homes.

Council has a Blackalls Park Camp Management Plan in place to protect the Grey-headed Flying-fox, a listed vulnerable species under both state and federal legislation.

Grey-headed Flying-foxes are the primary species within the Blackalls Park camp. They are a keystone species – an organism that helps hold an eco-system together – and are vital to Australia’s eco-system, helping with the health and regeneration of native flora.

These fascinating flying-foxes can spread seeds and pollen over far greater distances than other pollinators like birds and bees.

The little critters are like fly-in-fly-out (FIFO) night shift workers, capable of travelling up to 50 kilometres in a single night foraging for food and spreading up to 60,000 seeds in one outing.

Flying-foxes are not aggressive toward humans or other animals, such as pets, unprovoked. If you leave them alone, they’ll reciprocate! If you find one injured or in distress, don’t try to pick it up or handle it – contact Hunter Wildlife Rescue to assist.

Individual flying-foxes are nomadic, they tend not to stay in one camp or colony permanently, instead moving around the country pollinating. There can be up to a 17 per cent turnover of individual flying-foxes in a camp daily. Below is an example of how far a single flying-fox travels over a four-year span. (Credit John Martin and Justin Welbergen).


The below table* shows the changing population of the camp over time. There are noticeable influxes of Little-red Flying-foxes from time-to-time, but they tend to move on quickly after exhausting local supply of their preferred food sources.





2 November 2023




12 December 2023




10 January 2024




8 February 2024




22 February 2024




20 March 2024




22 April 2024 8,200 0 0

*numbers are estimates

Where is the project up to?

Following community engagement with Blackalls Park residents and the wider community, Council has worked to manage the project site outlined below.

Between July and October 2023, Council planted more than 25,000 native plants in Revegetation Zone A.

As they grow these plants will provide foraging and roosting resources for the flying-foxes using this camp which will encourage them to relocate further away from neighbouring residences.

Previous revegetation in 2018 to the east of the current revegetation zone has already been successful with flying-foxes observed using these young trees to roost.

Zone D will be established as a regeneration zone to buffer plantings from invasive vines such as Madeira Vine.

The funding support from Local Government NSW will continue into 2026 as Council manages the camp and monitors the flying-foxes in the area.  

Flying fox zones.JPG

Frequently asked questions

Why can't Council relocate the flying-foxes? 

Flying-foxes are a protected native species.

Grey-headed Flying-foxes are listed as threatened species under both NSW and Commonwealth legislation.

Redistribution or disturbance to flying-foxes and their habitat is limited by legislative requirements.

The best practice involves managing the camps to minimise the impact on residential areas.

By revegetating the area surrounding the existing camp, the flying-foxes can relocate further away from homes and businesses.

Why are flying-foxes protected? 

Flying-foxes are protected in New South Wales by the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 and nationally under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

The Grey-headed Flying-fox has been listed as a threatened species, with population numbers rapidly declining.

The main threat to flying-foxes is the loss of their natural habitat, which limits availability of food supplies and decreases roosting locations.

The deterioration of vegetation and increasing temperatures means flying-foxes are increasingly susceptible to heat stress events.

Do flying-foxes cause health issues for humans? 

Human infections from viruses borne by flying-foxes are very rare. There is no risk of infection if you do not make physical contact with a flying-fox.

Diseases such as Lyssavirus and Hendra virus are only transmitted through being bitten or scratched.

Australia Bat Lyssavirus is only present in about one per cent of flying-foxes, and it is not spread through droppings or urine.

Provided basic hygiene measures are taken, and you never touch a flying-fox, there is no need to worry.

For more information and health advice, visit NSW Environment and Heritage.

What should I do when living or visiting near a flying-fox camp? 

Living near a colony of flying-foxes is perfectly safe.

Colonies are typically most active at dusk and dawn when leaving and returning to the camp respectively and can make some noise when communicating during these times. During the day they are typically quiet and inactive.

Flying-foxes may feed on backyard trees, especially fruit bearing trees, at night.

You can discourage their visits by removing any flowers, seeds and fruit from the trees in your yard.

Make sure to keep pets indoors overnight for their protection, and to protect flying-foxes.

Don’t try to move them on or disperse the camp; it won’t work and it’s against the law. 

For advice on managing the impacts of living near a camp, visit NSW Environment and Heritage.

What do I do if I find an injured flying-fox? 

NSW Health advises that the public should avoid direct contact with flying-foxes. There is always the possibility of a scratch or bite leading to infection.

If you find an injured, sick or orphaned flying-fox, contact Hunter Wildlife Rescue on 0418 628 483. 

Heat stress events

Flying-foxes are susceptible to heat stress in temperatures of 40 degrees and above.

If you find a sick or injured bat, contact the Native Animal Trust Fund on 0418 628 483. Do not handle sick or injured bats. 


Debunking flying-fox myths

Is flying-fox faeces corrosive?

Flying-fox faeces is, in most cases, less acidic than bird poo and can be cleaned from cars and property with soapy water.

Are they dirty?

No! In fact they’re quite clean little critters. Not only do they constantly groom themselves, they sit upright to go to the bathroom so they don’t soil themselves.

Are they disease ridden?

Like all wild animals, flying-foxes can carry disease, but the risk of infecting humans is low unless you are scratched or bitten by one.

Australia Bat Lyssavirus is only present in about one per cent of flying-foxes, and it is not spread through droppings or urine. Provided basic hygiene measures are taken, and you never touch a flying-fox, there is no need to worry.

Hendra virus outbreaks are also very rare, and there is no evidence humans can contract the virus directly from flying-foxes. Hendra can however be transferred to horses from flying-foxes and then from horses to humans, so it is important to remove horses and their food and water troughs from areas flying-foxes are roosting or feeding.


Are they blood sucking vampires?

This couldn’t be further from the truth, in fact they’re not even carnivores! Flying-foxes are vegetarian and have no interest in humans or their blood.

Are they as ‘blind as bat’?

Flying-foxes actually have excellent vision and a keen sense of smell which helps them navigate varying terrain and geography. Each flying-fox can spread up to 60,000 seeds across a 50 kilometre stretch of land in one night.

Awabakal name

The Awabakal name for flying-fox is winakang – how cool!

Flying-fox species in Blackalls Park

There are normally 3000-6000 Grey-headed Flying-foxes roosting in Blackalls Park with these numbers tending to decrease over winter. There has also been a temporary influx of Little-red Flying-foxes as of early 2024.

There are three different species of flying-fox that typically inhabit the camp at different times.

Grey-headed Flying-fox

The Grey-headed Flying-fox has an orange or brown collar, greyish head and fur all the way down to its ankles.

They travel up to 50 kilometres at night to forage and feed on the fruits and blossoms of more than 80 species of plants, making them an extremely important pollinator.

They communicate using more than 20 distinct vocalisations.

Large camps form during mating season (March-April) and females give birth to a single young around October-November which they carry for four to five weeks, even during flight.

The Grey-headed Flying-fox is the most prevalent species within the Blackalls Park camp.

Little-red Flying-fox

Little-red Flying-foxes are a smaller species, weighing between 200 and 600 grams, which prefers to roost nearer the ground than its larger cousins.

Little-reds travel inland to dry areas in search of specific flora, namely Eucalypt blossoms. Once they have exhausted local supply, they typically move on to new areas.

As their name suggests, Little-reds vary in colour from reddish brown to light brown.

Little-reds breed at different times of year, roost closer together than other flying-foxes and are relatively noisy compared to other species.

Little-reds like to travel in numbers, with camps capable of reaching one hundred thousand. When roosting at Blackalls Park, Little-reds occasionally cause dispersion of the camp and short-term overflow to other nearby areas before they exhaust food supplies and move on.

While noise levels may be higher from the camp while Little-reds are present, it is important to note they disperse quickly, and will typically depart around the middle of the year.

Black Flying-fox

The Black Flying-fox is a large species of flying-fox. Recognisable by its black fur, this species can reach up to one kilogram in weight.

They can fly up to 40 kilometres per hour and may travel more than 50km from camp in search of food.

Black Flying-foxes often share camps with other species, with small numbers occasionally observed the Blackalls Park camp.

Have your say

We’re interested in learning more about community attitudes towards flying foxes. 

Council conducts regular surveys in neighbouring communities to understand residents' issues and concerns about living near flying-foxes.

Please contact council if you have information on new or emerging camps.


For more information about flying-foxes visit