I knew that I had made an impression with this fellow – as soon as he saw me, he turned his back . . .
We were visiting the Koala Hospital in Port Macquarie, which is free to enter and all they ask is a donation to the work of looking after sick or injured koalas.
This fellow didn’t mind the camera.
The hospital is a rehabilitation facility, scientific research and educational centre and a tourist ‘must see’.
There are teams on call twenty-four hours a day to rescue wild koalas that may have been injured by a vehicle, loss of habitat due to bush fires, towns expanding, or just are sick and cannot look after themselves. People are asked to phone the emergency services if they find a koala in distress. The Centre handles hundreds of koalas a year.
Recovering koalas are moved from ICU to the outside area where treatment continues until the animal is fit enough to look after themselves. Those that recover fully are returned to their home areas in the wild.
The animals that recover, but are unable to look after themselves are kept in a protected area of the hospital, which is an area that mimics a koala habitat with trees and food. My photographs are of the protected area.
Koalas are now listed as an endangered species.
The above link is copied from the Koala Hospital web site.
The guide who showed us around and explained about the working of the hospital was an ex American army service man who had been in Vietnam during the Vietnam war (or as the Vietnamese call the war – The American war) and during a spot of R&R met and married an Australian. He has been with the hospital for years and was a fund of knowledge about the hospital and koalas.
Koalas only eat a few types of the 900 or so different species of eucalyptus leaves. The leaves are very fibrous and low in nutrition, and to most other animals, eucalyptus leaves are poisonous.
The leaves that the koala like are low in food value so to conserve their energy a koala will sleep 18 to 22 hours a day.
The koalas outside of the ICU have to be supplied with the correct leaves every day and each koala will eat about a half kilo of leaves a day so collecting the food is a full-time job for those connected with the hospital.
The details of feeding the koalas are linked to the above, which is from the hospital web site. Our visit was a very interesting and educational time.
As we left the koala hospital, we decided to visit the historic Roto House, which is next door to the koala hospital, but it closed due to Covid regulations.
The house was built by John Flynn in 1891, he was a surveyor at the time. Flynn’s family lived in this house up to 1979, and the house is now controlled and maintained by the National Parks and Wildlife Services.
For those who have read my previous blogs of Port Macquarie the original homeowner is the Flynn of Flynn’s Beach.
Later we moved on to Sea Acres a rainforest that has been protected as a living heritage that can stretch back to the dinosaurs.
It is a rain forest with a difference because visitors do not walk on the ground but an elevated (up to 7 mtrs or 23 feet) boardwalk for 1.3 km (0.8 of a mile) to experience the forest without contaminating the forest.
All along the walk there are information notices explaining various trees or plants.
Whatever falls from a tree or plant lies on the ground as if humans had never arrived.
I hope the above notice is clear – it is one of the educational notices about Brush Bloodwood that grows to 24 mtrs (79 feet). Early settlers used the sap as paint. The tree contains so much resin that it will burn when green.
Managed to catch a bush turkey searching for food.
Sunlight struggles to get through. Maureen had seen something in the trees.
A Strangler Fig.
This tree provides fruit for rain forest pigeons and grey headed flying foxes who eat the fruit in the canopy of the forest.
After eating the fruit, including the seed the droppings of the birds and bats containing seeds that falls into cracks of a tree and germinate.
The Strangler Fig grows down to the ground rather than from the ground up by sending out long string-like roots to the ground. Over time these roots come together and thicken. Eventually the host tree dies from the thicken graft roots of the Strangler Tree and over time the dead tree rots away leaving a hollow strangler fig.
The hollow area that a full-grown strangler tree has created becomes the home of small animals and birds.
I copied a photograph from Kew Gardens web site for a clearer indication of the strangler.
When the Europeans arrived the east coast of Australia was covered in rainforests similar to the one, we visited.
In 2013 a violent storm hit Sea Acres and a giant strangler fig was destroyed which opened up the canopy. The ‘new’ sunlight encouraged growth of dormant seeds and other plants.
The falling of a giant tree that opens the forest to sunlight is called ‘gap phased dynamics’ as other trees expanded their treetops into the new sunlit area.
Eventually the new growth on the ground will die as the expanding canopy cuts out the sunlight, and the slow growing forest takes over again.
If you hear a cat meowing in the forest it is not a cat but a green catbird
The Birpai people are the original custodians of the area around Port Macquarie.
The land and surrounds provided them with food, medicines, tools, weapons, building supplies, art, clothing, and sea food.