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Byron Shire
June 18, 2024

Koala sanctuary at Black Rocks would be a tourism boon

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Locals walking in the Black Rocks sports field came across a very strange sight recently: dozens of teddy bears tied to trees near where the Pottsville & District Men’s Shed is proposed to be built.

What was the meaning of the teddy bears? Who put them there and why? Were these teddy bears symbolic of the koalas who quietly sleep in the eucalypts around the sports field, out of sight and out of mind? The teddys were all looking towards the proposed location of the shed just 20 metres away.

One teddy bear appeared to be lying at the base of the tree, no doubt representing koalas too weak to climb and dying from stress-induced chlamydia.

The rest were gawking in the direction of the proposed shed, probably dreading the silence soon to be shattered by even more loud noises but this time from lathes, power tools, drills and petrol-fuelled model aeroplanes being tested from the men’s shed, (in addition to hoons on trail bikes, barking dogs, paramotoring, cricket matches, doof parties, helicopters).

The stressors at Black Rocks are man-made loud noises and not the sound of wind in the trees, rain falling on the ground or occasional thunder.

Loud noises prevent the koalas from getting 18-20 hours sleep a day which they need to digest the gum leaves.

Lack of sleep compromises the immune system leaving them prey to deadly chlamydia, a painful way to die. Since 2014 seven Black Rocks koalas have died from chlamydia.

Imagine if you couldn’t get a decent night’s sleep night after night and how that would affect your health? It’s the same for these sleepy creatures, possibly even more so.

Tweed Shire Council has the view that koalas are not affected by noise and completely ignore the fact that koalas at Black Rocks are dying three times faster than what they can breed and have not recovered from the Xmas 2014 fire.

There are studies available showing that koalas have an aversive response to loud noises, tend to move away and in the process can suffer death, reduced breeding potential or stress.

Koala lovers are wondering why council is unable to recognise that these koalas are the goose laying the golden egg of ecotourism for Pottsville. Maybe this is the message of the teddys?

If council was to revegetate this sports field (as recommended by four ecologists), augment the koala population with genetically similar koalas so they breed up, then turn it into a Koala Sanctuary, (sensitively designed with viewing platforms, walkways and guided tours into the wetlands) imagine what a boost it would be to local businesses?

Not only hospitality and retail but also ecotourism. How rare is it that tourists get to see koalas in the wild? Mostly they are seen in zoos or koala hospitals.

It would put Pottsville on the map. Since koalas bring in $2.5 billion in tourism to Australia every year, why don’t we cash in on this potential?

The Japanese are particularly enamoured with our koalas. In fact, overseas visitors in general love and appreciate our koalas more than we do. How sad is that?

The new council candidates are all talking about helping the economy and creating jobs. Well here is such an opportunity.

Will any of them have the vision to make this idea a reality? It would help the economy and also serve to assist our endangered coastal koalas which council has admitted are in severe decline.

Black Rocks is at the juncture of wildlife corridors going north-south/east-west and critically important to protect.

Putting a men’s shed there runs counterproductive to what the koalas desperately need right now.

For those unwilling to give up the Black Rocks sports field, bear in mind that the upcoming Dunloe Park housing estate will need to build their own sports field in coming years and since there is currently an oversupply of sports fields in the area (three in Pottsville already with Black Rocks hardly ever used) we can afford to wait for this.

Besides, locating the men’s shed more centrally (e.g. Lot 3 Centennial Ave, the Barry Shephard oval or the Raiders) would be better for the shed members than an isolated location 4km from town with a long history of vandalism and arson.

And so we are down to the wire. Will the shed licence be approved by council or not? Submissions are currently being received by council up to 25 October so please write and be a voice for our koalas.

Menkit Prince, Uki

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  1. Menkit from Uki NOT Pottsville the council has been very thorough of it’s investigation of this issue you just choose to ignore it because it doesn’t suit you the same way that it doesn’t suit the Mayor or the ineffective and unqualified Threatened Species Society. For proof of the hypocrisy that these people are guilty of one only has to look at the even closer to Koala habitat that is Lot 3 that they would happily have us move too which needs to be cleared of koala habitat. Get educated, not emotive about this issue. And in this article you even contradict yourself in that you would exploit these koalas for monetary gain danmned hypocritical if you ask me.

  2. what a lot of bollocks!!

    As if the noise of the men’s shed is going to be any more than than the estate that borders it, or the highway to the west (which can be heard on the oval). Or that koalas seem to live well enough next to a school, other sports fields, and housing estates but somehow this oval is totally unique.

    What I find the most galling is the hypocrisy of it all. This is driven by people who chose to live on a new estate as close to the koala habitat as possible but then say no one else has the right to use the area. Except to have a centre where people will come to gawk at koalas is somehow going to have less impact than a few men in a shed.

  3. Oh the irony… a handful of nearby residents, pushing for revegetation of the fields to prevent traffic in their street bombarded by thousands of tourists.

  4. Menkit, you obviously have not looked at a map, google earth or the Tweed Shire council Kaola management report. Black Rocks oval is not in a koala corridor. East west?? to the east is the new estate, and then the ocean both of which I’m pretty sure are not koala habitats, to the west is cleared paddocks which have been sited as future development (hmmmm pretty quiet on that). To the south is cleared paddocks. It swings around the oval and down to the Wooyung corridor. Hmmmm this leads into the caravan park and houses. In short it’s not a corridor, nor is it classified as a corridor.

    As for the argument that the men’s shed is going to produce so much noise that it will endanger the local population seems flawed when the alternative is to have tourists walking through their habitat. Or the fact that it is on the border of a housing estate, Nor that koalas live with loud noises near the school, at Currumbin they are on the flight path or placing it closer to koala habitat at lot 3, or the Barry Shephard oval which is just as isolated, and is in an area of decline (whereas the population at Black Rocks is stable). (again look at a map, read the reports).

    There are plenty of resources out there, do you think people really don’t do their own research?


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