Koalas battle the elements

WARNING: Gunnedah Urban Landcare Group member George Truman uses a drill to great effect to warn drivers to look out for koalas. Photo: John Lemon
WARNING: Gunnedah Urban Landcare Group member George Truman uses a drill to great effect to warn drivers to look out for koalas. Photo: John Lemon

GUNNEDAH’S koalas are on the move and drivers are being reminded to keep an eye out for our furry friends.

Koalas are taking to the ground to look for a mate and are further motivated by a need for water in the soaring summer temperatures.

On Tuesday, the Namoi Valley Independent was saddened to see a new road victim on the side of the Kamilaroi Highway between Curlewis and Nea.

Gunnedah Urban Landcare Group (GULG) member Angela Baker also spotted the koala that morning and said he was likely hit at dusk the day before, or dawn.

“It was a young male who looked like he’d been in good health before the accident,” she said.

“He had no wet bottom, no sign of conjunctivitis.”

Ms Baker lives near Nea and said she hadn’t seen a koala in the former hot spot for three or four years.

“That was the frustrating thing. I haven’t seen one for so long,” she said.

The landcare volunteer said koala did not see vehicles as an issue when they are crossing roads and drivers need to be “vigilant”.

“They’re on a mission to get on a tree or find a mate,” she said.

“Definitely at dusk and dawn are the main times they could be walking around. 

“They’re looking for new feed tree or shelter tree part in this heat.”

The koala was killed not far from a new sign put up by GULG members George Truman and Mark Kesby in late December.

The sign is one of 10 that the group have installed at koala hot spots including Quia Road, Kamilaroi Highway and the Oxley Highway in the directions of Mullaley and Carroll. The signs read “Koalas deaths here. Slow down.”

GULG is also helping to find suitable spots for Blinky Drinkers with two already installed on Wandobah Road and at the Gunnedah Resource Centre.

One of the eye-catching signs installed by Gunnedah Urban Landcare Group in koala hot spots. Photo: Gunnedah Urban Landcare Group

One of the eye-catching signs installed by Gunnedah Urban Landcare Group in koala hot spots. Photo: Gunnedah Urban Landcare Group

Blinky Drinkers are water drinkers placed on trees to give koalas access to water. They were designed by Gunnedah’s Robert Frend who trialled them to great success.

GULG member Rod Browne has been assisting with the installation of the drinkers and said there were seven more to be installed.

David Walker installing a water stand and Blinky Drinker. Photo: Gunnedah Urban Landcare Group

David Walker installing a water stand and Blinky Drinker. Photo: Gunnedah Urban Landcare Group

“It’s a matter of finding a suitable site and ones where koalas are about and one that won’t be too exposed to vandalism,” he said.

The volunteer said more sites were needed for the drinkers and volunteers to help install them.

“Landholders with koala habitat on their properties will be needed to host some of the Blinky Drinkers,” he said.

The Gunnedah Koala Conservation Plan for Landcare and Community Groups will be discussed on January 18 at 6pm at Gunnedah Services and Bowling Club.