Our koala family adventure has begun! We are on the road at last and have headed down inland NSW. We are two weeks in and whilst it has been exciting, it has also been confronting to explore areas of country NSW in drought and see the impact this is having on our much loved Koalas.
We visited Warialda, a cute little town that is home to the Australian Koala Foundation Shop. We spent lots of time and money here and came out with many new koala additions for Bella - ‘Our Koala Camper’.
Warialda have created a Koala reserve in 2019 as a result of finding two koalas dead and one in severe stress in this area at the time of the worst drought ever in history.
Thanks to a local man, John Hodge, who campaigned to establish the Koala Wildlife Reserve, Warialda has now planted many food and shelter trees and set up three watering points for the Koalas and other wildlife.
Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see any Koalas here. Both the visitors centre and the locals says that the population has declined but a male Koala named Dusty was spotted in this location two days prior to our visit and again two days after our visit.
We continued on to Gunnedah with the hope of seeing our first wild Koala on our trip. The story here though, is a sad one and we had no such luck.
In the 90s Gunnedah had a thriving population of koalas and as a result, named themselves ‘The Koala Capital of the World’.
Until recently, scientists from the University of Sydney had been visiting the area to study this population to try and understand how and why they were thriving. However over the years these koalas have significantly declined to the point that in May this year they ended the study because the population has now been labelled as ‘functionally extinct’. The female koalas are either too old or infertile and there are no joeys.
Heat and drought and the rapid spread of Chlamydia infection seems to be the cause behind this devastating result. During our visit, locals shared stories about the koalas that used to come and visit their town and how the residents would leave water sources out for them.
This community really seemed to care about their koalas. It’s a really sad situation.
We have also learnt from the locals around Pittsworth QLD, that ARTC are building the inland rail through good koala country and there is concern this will decimate the Koalas in the area of the train, as they have no way of getting across the track unless there are above line corridors built every few hundred meters . This seems to be unachievable due to financial costs so the only other option the locals see possible in relation to protecting the koalas, is to move the line to a baron zone where Koalas do not live.
And in Coonabarabran the locals told us that the approved Narrabri Gas Project is actually going to knock down thousands of koala habitat trees in the Pilliga Forest, effecting not only the koalas but many other wildlife species.
By the time we got to Dubbo, we needed a bit of a break from the wild Koala situation, so I convinced mum to take me to the Western Plains Zoo. We saw two Koalas here and I got to see first hand, a koala drinking! This went on for ages. Koalas actually do drink! See video for some enjoyment. It’s really cute.
So far, it’s safe to say it’s been a confronting week of exploration in the dry heat of drought stricken country NSW. The reality of the decline in koala populations out here has been devastating. We are seeing just how important it is to do all we can to protect our existing Koala populations NOW before it is too late.
Moving forward things are going to get better. We are heading to a Koala Festival in Narrandera and then into Victoria where Koalas seem to be more abundant. I look forward to sharing more soon and I might even give you a sneak peak inside of Bella - our koala camper!