Port Macquarie Koala Hospital is located on the mid-north coast of NSW. The leafy and unique hospital isn't government funded, so they rely on the passionate volunteers and generous support from locals and visitors to continue their good work. Each year, approximately 250 koalas come into their care, after members of the Port Macquarie public call them on their 24/7 emergency hotline to say a koala is in trouble. The main reason that koalas come into care is because of a bacterial disease Chlamydia. This bacterium can affect the eyes of the koala and/or the urogenital tract, making them blind and often targets of dog attacks. Car accidents are another reason why local koalas are often brought in, as they climb down from their trees to find a mate during breeding season and wander onto roads. Loss of habitat, as their trees are cut down, is another.
Visitors and locals to Port Macquarie are encouraged to visit the hospital, view the koalas in their rehabilitation areas and be aware of the work they do. Free tours are held daily at 3pm, to hear the background stories of the koalas in their care - and also hear about the success stories of those who have gone back to the wild.
Emergency Port Macquarie Koala Hospital Hotline - 02 6584 1522.
At the beginning of the tour, the guide explains their whiteboad system and points out how many koalas are currently in intensive care, rehabilitation or permanently in their care, if they can't be sent back into the wild. On admittance to the hospital, the koalas are given a name. Their first name comes from the street where they were found and their last name comes from the family name of the person who called the emergency hotline. It explains how some koalas have such distinctive names, such as "Muston Yogi" and "Shelly Beach Scratchy" - which are all very cute!
The tour group then moves to one end of the koala rehabiltation pens and hears stories about each koala, as they are given a food and medicine mixture in a syringe. This makes them move from their slumber, so visitors can see the koalas in more detail. The guide explains they sleep so much due to the little nutritional value in eucalytpus leaves. This constant grinding on the leaves however, is how the volunteers age each koala - by the wear and tear on the molars. As well as talking about particular patients and koalas in general, the guide also gives tips for local home owners on what to do if a distressed koala is in their garden and important tips - such as not installing Colourbond fences around their homes, as koalas can't climb them to escape dogs.
On our tour we met a koala who had damaged her paws so badly climbing down a burning tree in a bushfire, that sadly, her claws won't regrow so she is in their care for life.
After the tour, feel free to support their work by buying something from their shop, making a donation, becoming a volunteer or adopting a koala who has gone back into the wild. There is also a small educational area about koalas to walk through, to learn more about the biology of these fascinating, fuzzy marsupials.
The Port Macquarie Koala Hospital Tour is a sad, yet interesting half hour tour of this important facility. With pockets of Eucalyptus trees around the region, it creates an awareness of how to look after our native wildlife whilst holidaying in the area. For people who live in other areas of Australia with koalas living close by, it is a reminder for us all to consider the plight of one of our cutest and well-known Australian icons. The Australian Koala Foundation estimates that as a result of the loss of their habitat, around 4,000 koalas around Australia are killed each year by dogs and cars alone.
By joining the tour and supporting the hospital, it helps continue its good work for many more years to come. It ensures that koalas receive the love and care they need to get back to good health and back into the wild where, hopefully, they remain.
Take the tour and be touched by the dedication of the volunteers