BY REBECCA GILBERT FROM MRS HATHS’ FOREST NURSERY IN GUNNEDAH:
Now a lot of people think they just throw a eucalyptus in and boom! Koalas! But this isn’t how it works. Koalas actually like a specific type/types of eucalypt. In their eyes not all eucalypts are equal.
Sure, they’ll rest in any tree, I have a picture at the nursery of one resting in a Chinese Elm from back in the 90s, but when it comes to ‘tucker time’ they need the right variety.
Also, importantly they need the right environment too.
They eat eucalypts like Mugga Iron Bark, all the box varieties, River Red Gum, Tumble Down Gum, Blakely’s Red Gum and an angophora called a Rough Barked Apple.
They need shelter trees which can be, casurinas, wattles, kurrajong, wilga, cypress – see where I am going with this. A lot of these trees are endemic to the Gunnedah district so grow well here and yes,
I sell them in tubes! Then they need low shrubbery for protection. Anyone who has gone for a drive out past where the proposed koala park is being built will see there is a plantation of trees in the paddock, they were supplied by me for the park and will eventually become feed for the koalas once they are established and the park is up and running.
Koalas are such an important part of Gunnedah’s history they really need to be nurtured and protected.
I could prattle on about them for hours and all the ideas I have in my head to help but I urge you, if you have a block out of town, acreage, even on all the new smaller blocks popping up everywhere that have been cleared of all trees, pick a little corner and plant 10 or so of food/rest and shelter plants specifically for koalas and do your bit to try and encourage them to hang around our pretty town.
Just a side note, contrary to popular belief not all gum trees drop branches and fall on houses – that is a common misconception so don’t let that discourage you!