Whitehaven Coal has officially marked its $2 million contribution toward the establishment of the Gunnedah Koala Sanctuary.
The sanctuary will reinforce Gunnedah shire’s position as the ‘Koala Capital of the World’ with a range of wildlife and tourist attractions focussed on the awareness, education and preservation of koalas, now recognised as an endangered species.
The 60-acre site will be home to a world-class facility including a koala hospital and protected natural habitats for a variety of animals, and will offer universities access to study native species. It will also feature accommodation and hospitality options.
Whitehaven managing director and CEO Paul Flynn said the sanctuary would be an asset to the Gunnedah region for years to come.
“This is a unique opportunity for Gunnedah to establish a world-class Koala Sanctuary that will not only support conservation, but also attract visitors to the region and provide benefits for the local environment and community,” Mr Flynn said.
“We are grateful for the opportunity to partner with the Gunnedah Shire Council on this exciting development, which will create a positive environmental and economic impact for years to come.”
“This major investment is another way we are supporting regional growth and delivering tangible benefits to our communities.”
The funding builds on a wealth of state government investment for the koala park, much of it in recent months, following news that project costs had increased significantly due to “skyrocketing supply and labour costs”.
Gunnedah shire mayor Jamie Chaffey said Whitehaven’s funding made the Gunnedah Koala Sanctuary a truly collaborative project between the NSW government, Gunnedah Shire Council and local business.
“Whitehaven’s support is helping to make this exciting and important new venture a reality,” Cr Chaffey said.
“The Gunnedah Koala Sanctuary will go beyond tourism to play a role in both conservation and education about one of the world’s favourite animals. We are really excited about the future of this facility, and thank Whitehaven for its generous contribution.”
Whitehaven’s $2 million contribution builds on $8 million from the NSW government under the Regional Tourism Activation Fund. The sanctuary was also awarded $5.62 million through the NSW government’s Resources for Regions program and $6.48 million from its Regional Communities Development Fund, while the Gunnedah Shire Council has provided the land and contributed around $1.5 million to the project to date. Construction started in late 2022. Whitehaven confirmed on Tuesday that its funding contribution will be delivered without conditions and is not tied to any specific project at the sanctuary.To order photos from this page click here