Friday, 25 October 2019

Lucky Newcomers

“You know there are koalas in this area!” explained the owner of the rental property…

In April 2018, the Better-Half and I relocated from Western Sydney. As animal lovers, we have spent years travelling through Southeast Asia, visiting rainforest sanctuaries and botanic gardens, so fortunately seeing wild orangutan mothers and babies, vociferous gibbons, inquisitive proboscis monkeys and a wonderful array of plant species including the famed rafflesia. Koalas in their natural state, and in our homeland, however, had eluded our discovery.

Our interest was piqued soon after moving in to our temporary rental home on the discovery of torpedo-shaped poop under the statuesque eucalyptus tree in our front yard. We spent days looking up into the tree wondering whether we had koalas; evenings studying native animal scat online, and nights shining torches into the heights of the tree. No luck…

Of course, we had not learned at this point how much koalas move around in their local territory.

My first Port Macquarie sighting of a koala came in September 2018. Out for a morning walk, a feisty koala ran across my path on our local thoroughfare. So excited, I ran home the few hundred metres to our home to collect the camera and the Better Half.

Other sightings came thick and fast… at a local sporting ground, Pacific Drive at Flynn’s Beach and then on the edge of Lake Innes Nature Reserve.

A male koala 'seeking out a mate' at the Innes Lake Nature Reserve

In mid-November, we finally had action on the home front. One Wednesday night after we had long retired, there was, what seemed to be, an animal eating on our roof! Scratching noises! My tired, three a.m. investigations turned up nothing, but the next morning we discovered koala scat on our front verandah and in our garden pots and along our pathways.

Then, in the dark of the following Sunday night, the Better-Half heard the bellowing of a male koala emanating from our adjoining reserve.

Just one month later, the little torpedoes were scattered all over our driveway again. Following the usual routine, I looked up into the tree… And there she was, our first ‘home’ koala. A beautiful animal, she had found shelter from the impending thunderstorm in our front yard. Later, on examination, our camera revealed that she was nursing a healthy little joey. You cannot imagine our excitement.

Legs akimbo, acting as a cradle for her joey. Can you see the little one?

A little nose appears above the mother's arms...

Our mother and joey visited us on four more occasions, twice coming to a tagged tree in our neighbouring reserve, the most recent visit to our front yard once again.

Mother and Joey. They are beginning to separate, a signal that the joey is becoming more independent.

A motherly portrait

We are so grateful to have experienced these wonderful moments of indigenous nature.
Importantly, these are moments and opportunities which should be preserved for all, especially for generations to follow us. We do not want our precious native animals, as in other nations, to be extracted from their natural environment, to be confined in ‘reserves’.

A big yawn from a secure and beautiful little animal

Should our leaders, therefore, be considering the type of future development that we want as a nation, a development that does not require the further removal of our forests, or even single native trees – habitat for our precious native animals? And on a personal level, should we not be obeying road safety signs and speed signs in designated koala territory.

So, when you drive in Koala Territory, please slow down…

Wishing you hours of enjoyment and contentment in your garden…