New koala sanctuary welcome – but is it in the right place?

Posing for photos for the media gathered for yesterday’s funding announcement were (from left) Member for Tweed, Geoff Provest, Deputy Premier of NSW, John Barilaro, Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary wildlife keeper Heidi Patrick with the centre of attention, 10-month-old Chardy, Mayor of Tweed, Cr Katie Milne and Currumbin Wildlife Hospital senior veterinarian, Michael Pyne.

Tweed Mayor Katie Milne, has welcomed a $370,000 commitment from the NSW Government to build a koala holding facility at Pottsville.

But Lismore-based Friends of the Koala have questioned the wisdom of the site’s location and wonder why they weren’t consulted regarding its establishment.

The facility will be established on a 100-hectare site in Pottsville dedicated to koala habitat conservation, which was purchased by the NSW Government last year. It adjoins Tweed Council’s Koala Beach bushland reserve and the Cudgen Nature Reserve.

Cr Milne was joined by Minister for Regional NSW John Barilaro and Member for Tweed Geoff Provest at the Currumbin Wildlife Hospital for the announcement.

A media release said the holding facility will allow researchers to conduct vaccine trials to tackle the disease chlamydia in koalas. Koala food trees will also be planted to provide the koalas’ food requirements.

Koala food needed

But Friends of the Koala president Ros Irwin told Echonetdaily that while she ‘doesn’t have a problem’ with the holding cell concept, she questions whether the site contains enough established koala feed trees to adequately provide for more koalas.

‘Currumbin [hospital] is bursting at the seams with koalas, so they are looking at where they can put koalas for treatment and assessment.

‘If you are going to have a facility to house koalas you have to have food for them – and have it easily accessible.

‘Where they are looking at putting them there’s not much koala feed at the moment and certainly not enough to supply Currumbin,’ Ms Irwin said.

Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary wildlife keeper Heidi Patrick cuddles 10-month-old Chardy at yesterday’s funding announcement. Photo supplied.

Tackling chlamydia

Cr Milne said, however, that the funding was most welcome and would help develop protection programs for koalas from chlamydia.

‘Chlamydia is a dreadful threat to local koala populations and research into this insidious disease and others such as retrovirus is vital to the protection of koalas here and throughout Australia,’ she said.

‘The ability to assist researchers and hasten the full use of a vaccine for chlamydia is vital to the recovery of the Tweed Coast endangered koala population. It will also benefit all of the more than 200 koalas from the Northern Rivers that Currumbin Wildlife Hospital treats each year.’

She said the council was ‘proud to have played a major role in the initiation of this project and welcomes the innovative approach to working across levels of government and even state borders in the interests of good outcomes for koalas.’

‘Although there’s a lot more that needs to be done, especially with land clearing laws, I congratulate the local member [Geoff Provest] and the NSW Government for this step forward towards a healthier future for Tweed Coast koalas,’ she said.

Tweed Shire Council will assist the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary to develop and operate the Pottsville koala sanctuary.

Is it in right spot?

But while welcoming the funding, Ms Irwin said that a koala hospital was desperately needed in the Northern Rivers – and that should be sited in the Lismore LGA.

‘The Tweed Coast has a very small population of koalas and they are under great threat and decreasing,’ she said.

‘Of the koalas from the various LGAs that we’re responsible for, Tweed is a long, long way down from Lismore.

‘As well as Lismore you’ve got Byron Bay, Ballina and Richmond Valley, all of which have koalas that need care and attention.

‘If we were talking about a hospital, the most efficient use in the Northern Rivers would be locating it in the Lismore LGA because that’s about halfway between the two existing hospitals at Port Macquarie and Currumbin,’ Ms Irwin said.

Yesterday’s announcement is a component of the recently announced $45 million NSW Koala Strategy, a long-term strategy to support at-risk populations across the state.


2 responses to “New koala sanctuary welcome – but is it in the right place?”

  1. David H says:

    “But Lismore-based Friends of the Koala have questioned the wisdom of the site’s location and wonder why they weren’t consulted regarding its establishment.”

    Because Pottsville is in the electorate of Tweed and work closely with Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. Go and speak with Thomas George if you want funding for something in your electorate.

    Stop crying about “what about this or that” and accept the great news this is.

  2. Neville says:

    Why was land needed to be purchased when the faculty could be built inside the Cudgen nature reserve where koalas can live in their food source and it would draw tourists who’s fee’s to see could pay for the on going costs of operation .
    Turn the land already purchased into a Police station or a branch of the Tweed Hospital

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Become a supporter of The Echo

A note from the editorial team

Some of The Echo’s editorial team: journalists Paul Bibby and Aslan Shand, editor Hans Lovejoy, photographer Jeff Dawson and Mandy Nolan

The Echo has never underestimated the intelligence and passion of its readers. In a world of corporate banality and predictability, The Echo has worked hard for more than 30 years to help keep Byron and the north coast unique with quality local journalism and creative ideas. We think this area needs more voices, reasoned analysis and ideas than just those provided by News Corp, lifestyle mags, Facebook groups and corporate newsletters.

The Echo is one hundred per cent locally owned and one hundred per cent independent. As you have probably gathered from what is happening in the media industry, it is not cheap to produce a weekly newspaper and a daily online news service of any quality.

We have always relied entirely on advertising to fund our operations, but often loyal readers who value our local, independent journalism have asked how they could help ensure our survival.

Any support you can provide to The Echo will make an enormous difference. You can make a one-off contribution or a monthly one. With your help, we can continue to support a better informed local community and a healthier democracy for another 30 years.”

Echonetdaily is made possible by the support of all of our advertisers and is brought to you by this week's sponsor Vast Furniture & Homewares Ballina.