Bonny Hills Community Koala Watch

The village of Bonny Hills is home to a small population of koalas, mainly concentrated in the area around Saltwater Creek, crossing Ocean Drive near the tavern, through the Rainbow Beach Holiday Village, and along Duchess Creek north to the bush around the Sewerage Treatment Plant. There have been sightings ranging from near Hurds Quarry in the south, the Jollynose Range in the west, to the Bonny View Estate in the north, though numbers are uncertain. The community Koala watch group has been keeping records since May 2005 to try to get a clearer picture of the size, range and health of our local koala population. Anyone who would like to report seeing or hearing a koala in Bonny Hills is asked to contact the Koala Hospital on 6584 1522 click to email or Penny Marshall local group co-ordinator) on 6586 3294.

Understanding our Koalas

Koalas sleep or rest much of the day, and are most often seen in the late afternoon or early morning when they move around to visit a succession of food trees. They feed almost exclusively on the leaves of certain species of Eucalyptus. When the infant joey is still in the pouch, the mother provides and prepares suitable leaf for it. Once it is out and active she carries it on her chest, and later on her back, to sample and learn about trees and their leaves.

Males move around for food, and to seek females, so the whole population is daily on the move. Matings occur mostly between October and December, peaking in November as the joeys become more independent. Within each animal's home range a disproportionately small number of trees are visited repeatedly, some of which are shared with other animals in the local population. Such trees are important as they enable a population to maintain social cohesion.

The main food trees locally are:

Swamp Mahogany (Eucalyptus robusta)

Tallowwood (Eucalyptus microcorys)

Forest Red Gum (Eucalyptus tereticornis)

Other food trees (eg Eucalyptus nichollii) have been planted in gardens and although not native to the area are sometimes used as a food source. The leaves of the Paperbark (Melaleuca quinquinerva) are also eaten by the koala. Residents should be encouraged to use preferred koala food trees for landscaping purposes where possible to increase opportunities for koala movement around Bonny Hills.

Koala will often sit in non-food trees that are comfortable and provide a good lookout. If you can see a dark brown streak on the koala's chest, this will be the scent gland of the male, which he uses to mark trees. If you see a koala with an ear tag, then it has spent some time in the Koala Hospital in Port Macquarie - females are tagged in their right ears and males in the left. Male koalas grunt or roar when excited, females are usually silent, and joeys may scream if alarmed. Never try to pick up or stroke a koala as they have sharp claws. If the koala seems in difficulty or distress, then please call the Koala Hospital for help on 6584 1522.

          References: Dr Stephen Phillips, Irene Johnson.