A writer sharing travels, experiences, a love of festivals & events. Life is a journey and I hope to inspire others. Visit my blog at https://www.travelwithirenke.blogspot.com
Published August 16th 2018
On a road trip from Queensland back to Sydney we decided to make Port Macquarie an overnight stop and so glad we did. It has been a long time since our last visit and boy has the Port changed, so much so we decided to stay an additional night.
There is so much to see and do here that two nights were not even enough. One particular addition to the area is the Hello Koalas Sculpture Trail and my love of art made this a focus during our short stay. With 62 beautiful fibreglass koalas creatively designed and hand-painted by different artists, Port Macquarie is the place to celebrate one of Australia's most iconic animals.
The koalas are scattered amongst shops, cafes, clubs, galleries, tourist attractions, educational institutes, parks and even hospitals, from Port Macquarie to Wauchope and Byabarra in the west, as well as from the Port to Bonny Hills, Laurieton and Kendall in the south.
If you love a good treasure hunt then you'll love this quest to find these koalas. We only managed to photograph 9 of the koalas within the Port, due to time constraints, and many were found by accident. There is, however, a PDF document that pinpoints the locations of each koala on a map and provides pictures of the koalas, the artist's name and specific site details. Alternatively, you can get the trail guide from the Glasshouse Visitor Centre. Note that some of the koalas move around from time to time, so it's wise to check the website for updates.
The koalas have some cool and appropriate names for their locations. At the Glasshouse Regional Gallery you'll find Lady Lola The Dancing Koala and PK Sparkles, whilst at the historic courthouse nearby, Con the Koala and Garage Girl grace the lawns.
Not far away enjoying a stay in the Rydges Hotel is The Mayor of the Koala Republic dressed in mayor attire, a fine guardian of the collection of sculptures whilst the roaming ambassador Captain Koala is currently off the trail having some beauty treatment. Ziggy in his tie and waistcoat is here too at the door greeting guests as a doorman would.
Next door at World Par-Tea (a delightful shop dedicated to the art of tea) is Komorebi. Google tells me Komorebi is a word the Japanese have for when sunlight filters through the trees and this is captured in both the koala's paintwork and its position outside the shop in partial sunlight.
Up at Mantra The Observatory is a favourite of mine, Retro Rita (1st picture). Dressed in a swimming costume, she is near and ready for the beach. Across the road in Rotary Park and nearby at the Maritime Museum are more koalas. In fact, many are grouped close to one another, making it easy to tick them off your list in a reasonable amount of time.
Other places to find multiple koalas are the Gateway Service Centre on the Pacific Highway (there's 5), the Koala Hospital (has 6) and the Sea Acres Rainforest Centre (8). The latter two are located near one another as well so you can capture 14 of them in one hit. I'm kicking myself that I didn't have time to get to these, especially Sea Acres, as it is an attraction in itself and I'm finding myself already itching to get back up to the Port.
The koala sculptures are likely to grow in numbers, such is their popularity. Recent additions are Professor Eugene Eucalyptus at the Charles Sturt University and Wildlife Warrior at BP. The trail is award-winning too with both tourism and business awards to its name. The koalas even have their own festival on the June long weekend that has a focus on the importance of the conservation of these furry balls of cuteness, along with markets and a diverse range of activities.
With the majority of the koalas located in Port Macquarie and an array of wonderful things to do and see, the town with its multiple beaches makes for a great holiday and is way much more than a place to rest overnight.