Writing for pleasure to showcase the best Australia has on offer.
Published February 24th 2016
Ranger Sophie gives an educational afternoon at Daisy Hill
Over the years I have spent a lot of time looking for venues both educational and social for work excursions or team day events. Late 2015, our team chose Daisy Hill Koala Centre and combined the afternoon with lunch in one of the ground's shelters and an educational lecture with Ranger Sophie.
The centre is open every day from 10.00am to 4.00pm (except Christmas Day, New Year's Day and Good Friday) and is surrounded by 435 hectares of sky-reaching eucalyptus trees. The park opens from 7.00 am to 6.30pm in Summer and 7.00am to 5.30pm in Winter. The original centre, which was erected by the Queensland Government was opened to the public in 1995, however it was refurbished in 2009 to include a large outdoor koala enclosure attached to the main building. There are walkways suitable for wheelchairs around the centre.
After making the initial enquiry for our group to look through the centre and to receive an informative presentation from the ranger, it was also suggested that if our group wanted to make use of the shelter for lunch, then I would need to make application to the Department of National Parks, Sport and Racing to book the shelter. You may think there is no need to secure this during a working day as we were not requiring the barbeque facilities, however when we arrived there were other people using the barbeques and the shelter. There was enough room for both our groups, but if there had not been enough room, we had the correct documentation to prove we had booked the facility. There was no charge for the use of the shelter. After the application was approved, I received an email to confirm our booking.
The population of koala's in the wider Brisbane areas are dwindling due to disease and injury. As new estates are being developed, vegetation for koalas is being demolished. Koalas are also fussy eaters preferring to stay in areas where they like the taste of certain leaves and this is a reason why they are returned to their original habitat after spending time in animal hospitals etc. Many schools are now assisting in the production of eucalypt trees by setting aside a small portion of land to plant 50 trees or more. There is no cost to the schools and the rangers show teachers and students how to plant and care for the trees.
Currently on loan from Dreamworld, "Harry" is the only koala residing at the Daisy Hill Koala Centre. Harry is 10 years old and weighs approximately eight kilograms. He also has the habit of demanding attention from the rangers and squabbling with the other koalas that were housed at the centre from time to time.
Education began with a presentation from Ranger Sophie (Author's photo)
We began our presentation in the outside seated auditorium where Ranger Sophie gave a very informative narration on the life of koalas in South East Queensland. We learnt how to be aware of the symptoms of a sick koala, who to contact, how to keep them safe in our backyards and to find out what we can do to help their species continue in the wild and not just in zoos and wildlife facilities. We were shown samples including fur and bones to assist us in understanding aspects of this beautiful Australian creature. Did you know that koalas use strong smelling oil scent glands to communicate to each other and they let other koalas know they are in the area by rubbing their chests on the trees?
Beautiful grounds surround the centre (Author's photo)
Koalas, or as they are known scientifically "Phascolarctos cinereus", are marsupials, although they are different from any other marsupials, their closest living relative is the wombat. They have strong arms, powerful legs with large feet and sharp claws with two opposable thumbs on their fore paws. These thumbs gives them a better grip for climbing up trees and now when I see a tree with scratch marks, I will now exactly how they got there.
Koala fencing erected in The Redlands (Author's photo)
An interesting fact we did learn was that female koalas have backward facing pouches which protect the young while the mother climbs the trees. The pouch also gives the young easy access for "pap" feeding. Pap feeding is a runny faeces produced by the mother. It is full of bacteria but is just what the young joey needs to digest leaves when it grows up. Eucalypt leaves are toxic yet the koalas are able to break down the toxins using their specialised digestive system.
After the presentation we ventured into the enclosure to meet Harry. He seemed not very interested in any of us as he was nudged awake to give us a smile. In no time at all, he happily found a tree to climb back up and a cosy spot to go back to sleep. Visitors are not able to pat or handle the koalas.
There is plenty to keep you occupied within the centre with films to watch and notices to read. A large observation tower is positioned outside and if you climb to the top, you will have a panoramic view of the hectare property and perhaps catch a glimpse of the much loved koala.
Educational Displays inside the centre (Author's photo)
If you see a sick koala, please telephone the Queensland RSPCA or the Daisy Hill Koala Centre Ambulance. You can safely approach a sick animal from behind and place a washing basket or something with similar ventilation over the koala. To stop the koala from moving away, put a heavy article on top of the basket and maintain a quiet environment until the animal ambulance arrives.
Our group couldn't have asked for a more informative afternoon and each of us left with a much better understanding of this cuddly looking furry creature. The Daisy Hill Koala Centre is definitely a place you could visit more than once.