Welcome to Koala country

out koalas in their own backyard

I GREW up in suburbia where the only koalas I'd seen were in zoos. So there's something special to me about Redland Shire other than the bay, the farms that still exist, bushland properties and forest conservation reserves ... the privilege of seeing and hearing one of Australia's best known and loved ambassadors.

This is koala country, wild and free.

For those interested in seeing koalas in their natural habitat then the Redland Shire has one of the densest koala populations in Australia.

I get a most satisfying feeling every spring when in a distant eucalypt a koala bellows.

"Oh good, they're still around," I think.

Point Halloran Conservation Reserve off Orana St at Victoria Point, near Brisbane, has a very high number of koalas. A 1993 census found about two koalas per hectare of suitable habitat - about 70 in all.

A recent census found 1.2 koalas per hectare, about 40 in all, still a high number for a natural population. Of this 78ha coastal reserve, about 32ha are eucalypt and melaleuca woodland and the rest tidal flats. Because of the high number of favourable forest red gums (Eucalyptus tereticornis) the area can support many koalas.

On our first visit to the conservation reserve my husband and 1 spotted two koalas sleeping in trees that were about 500m apart. On my second visit 1 found only one, until 1 met an active retired couple who claimed they had seen five koalas all within the 650m circuit.

"There were more koalas then than now," says Jim Thompson, principal conservation officer from Queensland Parks and Wildlife Koala Research Unit, who has conducted the koala census of this reserve since 1996.

Recent development surrounding the reserve may have contributed to their decline in numbers, perhaps forcing the koalas to other bushlands.

Visitors will find the walking track (wheelchair and pram friendly in dry conditions) pleasant with encouraging signs what to look for when spotting koalas as often they are hard to find because they blend in well with their surroundings.

Soft dark oval droppings, scratchings around tree trunks and even their smell are signs that koalas are nearby.

They sleep a lot and are most active around dusk and dawn as they move from tree to tree to feed.

If you go, cheek the visitors information centre for more details on koalas and other wildlife in the reserve before setting off on your walk. Car parking is also provided.

Venman Bushland National Park (off West Mt Cotton Rd, Mt Cotton) was saved from developers in 1971 when Jack (John) Venman sold his land for $1 to the Albert Shire.

He remained on the property as caretaker, changing his protected bushland home into a parkland for the public to enjoy.

Now maintained by Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, Venman Bushland

National Park, at 416ha, is the largest native bushland park conserved in the Redlands.

The koala population is about.15 per hectare of suitable habitat, or 50-60 koalas. Wildlife ranger Dave from Venman park is always being asked the whereabouts of koalas.

"it's potluck if you see one," he said.

"Sometimes I've seen them in trees you never would expect a koala to be in."

An estimated 20,000 people visit this park each year either to picnic and /or bushwalk. Barbecues, picnic tables and environmental toilets are provided with car parking nearby.

There are numerous wide walking tracks that start from the car park and wind through the bush and over creeks.

Opened to the public last year is the Redland Indigiscape Centre, off

Lyndon Rd and Korawal Sts, Capalaba.

The council and the community bushcare group have developed many trails through partly managed bushland along Coolnwynpin Creek. The koalas on this 14.7ha

site favour the tallow wood (Euealyptus microcorys) and the scribbly gum (Eucalyptus racemosa) which is common too.

Stage 2 of this centre, opening mid-next year, will be Australia's first indigiscape centre.

Redland's native plants will be on display in suburban-sized gardens to educate and encourage the use of these plants. For more information contact Nature Conservation 3286 8459.

Koalas and other wildlife also inhabit the Eprapah Scout Association Environmental Training Centre off Colburn Ave, Victoria Point.

The public is welcome. To help preserve the centre a donation is requested.

Contact the Scout Association to arrange a visit.

PS: Don't forget the mosquito repellant.

The Sunday Mail December 5 1999 pages 108-109.

Please note the twin baby Koalas in the picture above were killed by the same dog over 12 months ago.

Worse than roads

UNRESTRAINED domestic cats and dogs continue to wreak have upon our wildlife in the suburbs. Redland Shire residents have sadly confirmed that one of a pair of rarely seen twin koalas - featured in this newspaper on November 17 - has been killed by a dog.

Edited by Dennis Atkins

Dec. 18 1998

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