Saturday, February 27, 2010

Are Australia's Unique and Much Loved Koalas Facing Extinction?

By Graeme Lanham

When I was a small boy, my first cuddly toy was a koala. I loved its softness and cherished it for many years. Today, it is still my favourite Australian animal. Sadly, there are worrying signs that koalas are vanishing from the Australian bush.

The Australian Koala Foundation said its research showed the furry icons were suffering through urban development and climate change. The number of wild koalas in NSW, where they are already listed as vulnerable, could have dropped to as few as 8000. Koala numbers suffered in Victoria as a result of severe bushfires and the resultant destruction of their natural habitat including specific Eucalyptus trees needed for feeding.

Where can you see koalas today? Fortunately there are many sanctuaries in Australia where you can see these marsupials. All Australian zoos, including Australia Zoo have koala areas and every state in Australia has places where you can see these creatures in captivity. Just contact your local tourist bureau for details.

My home state of Western Australia has a koala park called Cohunu. This place is particularly popular with visitors to Perth, including crew members from visiting United States warships when they are on recreation leave, following a tour of duty in the Middle East. But where can you see koalas in their natural habitat, in the wild?

A few years ago my wife and I took a trip on the famous Great Ocean Road in Victoria. We loved the spectacular coastal scenery, the rain forests and the top surfing destinations including Bells Beach and Lorne.
These were easy to find, but finding koalas in the wild was a little more elusive- even secretive. We had been told there were special places along the Great Ocean Road where we could find them. But where?

As we enjoyed a beer with one of the locals at the Apollo Bay pub, the topic of koalas arose and he mentioned a number of secret spots where they could be seen. He was very cautious because of his concern for the safety for these vulnerable and slow moving animals and the dangers of large numbers of tourists, including those in tourist buses, disturbing and frightening them. Satisfied that we were genuine, he gave us a mud map showing us where we could find them, "just of the road."

The following morning we set off, following his directions. There were no signposts on the road. Not even a car park. A short walk into the bush and there they were. We shared, briefly, the home of 9 koalas, some with babies, totally unconcerned with our presence and very vulnerable. We then understood why the locals were so protective and felt very privileged. My wife could barely contain her excitement as we walked below them in the silence of the forest, taking photos and absorbing an experience we would remember for ever.

Graeme Lanham is a travel writer with a passion for Australia. His readers love his personal anecdotes and descriptions on the best places to see and experiences to enjoy. Secret places mainstream travellers never know. Visit his websites at and They both include 3 special FREE BONUS reports you must read before you start your Australian holidays. These reports will save you time and money and may even save your life! The eBooks are downloaded instantly and are on your screen immediately.

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