Koala sighting – up close and personal!

Koala at Larnook

The most amazing thing happened last night. Andrew was computering away in the studio as is his habit. The night was warm, the moon bright, and I couldn’t sleep, so I was practising my harmony part for ‘Celtic Dance’ about midnight. I heard Andrew open his door, then exclaim, then a pause, then he came racing over. Good job he had heard me singing as it meant I was awake, but he would have woken me up anyway: A KOALA WAS TRYING TO CLIMB THE CORNER OF HIS STUDIO. AAAAAAAAAH!

It was one of the most thrilling moments of my life – what a privilege to be visited by a wild koala. We often hear them at this time of year, calling out for mates over the hills. Andrew had heard a scratching, scratching at the southern door of the studio. He went out the main door (the northern side) and around the front with a torch to investigate, to discover the koala at the corner. It dashed down the  path behind the studio, clambered up his Aphrodite statue which leans against the slope, and then stopped on the track above the studio. It was at that point he went and got me. We watched it by torchlight for 5 minutes or so, then left it in peace. WOW WOW WOW WOW!

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5 Responses to Koala sighting – up close and personal!

  1. ashbycath says:

    An astoundingly good photo for night! It is so undescribably special when a wild koala visits your own land. While they are clustered in some areas around Australia (especially zoos) they are listed as Vulnerable in New South Wales on the Threatened & Endangered Species listing. Many good Australians I know have never seen one in the wild.

    • Joy Window says:

      I had never seen one in the wild until I moved up to the north coast of NSW (from Adelaide and Sydney). They are hard to see up a tree when humans are out and about (usually way up in a eucalypt, camouflaged by branches, and asleep during the day and so not moving).

  2. alan48 says:

    This is great. I also like the fact that you managed to get a good picture of this animal (so close) at this time of night. Always have a camera ready, I say! Anyhow, I am curious as to the fact that the koala does not appear to be climbing on anything but is rather resting on the ground. Definitely up close and personal.

    • Joy Window says:

      We could have walked right up and touched it, but would probably been scratched and bitten for our trouble. They can travel quite fast – well, faster than you’d think – across the ground when they are motivated (and it’s night when they are awake). This one was resting (is it anthropomorphising to say ‘huddling’?) against a soil bank. It was probably confused by the torch and the talking. We did not want to stress it further. I’ve heard that birds’ eyes can be damaged by photographic flashes – I don’t know whether this is true or whether it also applies to mammals, but I imagine it would at least startle the animal.

      My friend Rick, who is a koala rescuer and a member of Friends of the Koala in Lismore, says not to stand in front of a koala because if it is startled it will climb the nearest tall object – meaning you!

  3. Rick, FOKer extraordinaire, says that a mutual friend, one of our neighbours up the mountain, often hears them in the distance, but only in the last couple of years. He continues:

    ‘Their movement into other areas is of great interest. There is a theory that the Big Scrub was once a koala desert or barrier to koalas. I suspect that food was very limited within the Big Scrub (“the largest area of subtropical lowland rainforest in eastern Australia. It was intensively cleared for agricultural use in the 19th century by colonists” – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Scrub; there is reported to be only 1% left and there’s an ongoing effort to save the remnants and expand them – see http://www.bigscrubrainforest.org.au/)
    ‘Since the white settlers and massive clearing of the Big Scrub I suspect the Koala population diminished and retreated to pockets. The next part is that taken by the “new settlers” in the 70s and 80s who, like me, wittingly and unwittingly planted koala trees or let the regrowth occur. This is my experience at my property at Federal where in the early 80s I never heard Koalas but then in 1990 saw the first one.
    ‘Don’t we have just amazing creatures living around us? I sometimes tell visitors that koalas don’t attack our babies, don’t eat our food, and our lives would be the richer if we could accommodate them into our communities.
    ‘However, don’t stand in front of them – if they are scared they will climb the nearest tall thing.
    ‘We had a researcher from Queensland Uni talk about genetics about 4 years ago. At one stage in the past, FOK was taking ear samples [I assume Rick means small pieces of flesh from the ear for DNA samples, not the whole ear! – Joy] from koalas that came into our group. My poor memory is that she referred to the koalas on Stradbroke Island having a genetic relationship to our koalas but dissimilar to the koalas in the Redlands area of Brisbane. I guess you could infer, or perhaps she did, that at one time there was a land bridge to the Northern Rivers [the north coast of NSW from Tweed Heads down to the Clarence River near Grafton] but somehow the two groups were separated. It’s vague in my head but I can only guess that this idea sprouted from her talk.
    ‘So I can’t take any claim to this or verify now any scientific basis for its validity.
    So you may suggest it’s a theory, but not mine.
    ‘FOK make a recording of sightings so I will fill out the forms for both yours and Cath’s.”

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