Out and About With Michelle Byrne
With Covid finally behind us and with some sunny weather, we decided to pay a visit to Koala Park West Pennant Hills.
Koala Park was first opened in 1930 by Noel Burnet who was concerned about the number of koalas being killed for the export fur trade. Noel dedicated his life to fighting for and protecting these unique Australian Animals for future generations to love and enjoy. To this day his family continues to run the Park which also contains a Koala Hospital.
When you first step into the park you could be forgiven for thinking you were in a rain forest far away from the hustle and bustle of suburbia. The tree canopy as you meander through the park is amazing and in some places when you look up you see nothing but trees.
There is an incredible range of Australian animals including reptiles, wombats, kangaroos, wallabies, emus, goats, sheep, rabbits, guinea pigs, ducklings, quolls, dingoes, native birds and of course Koalas! There are different sessions you can attend to get up close to the animals and to learn more about them. Our favourite session was the koalas where we learned a lot about these loveable animals including that they don’t like wind!
There is also an opportunity to hand feed the kangaroos and the goats which we all enjoyed. Two of the kangaroos currently have joeys and it was funny to watch them hop around with tiny legs hanging out of their pouches. The goats were equally amusing but being typical goats they not only ate the feed but also the paper bag containing the feed.
Throughout the Koala park, there are plenty of places to sit and think and there is also a picnic area which includes a children’s playground much to the delight of our 2 year old. You can either bring a packed lunch or enjoy food from the café onsite. We enjoyed lunch outside only to be joined by two very friendly and hungry peacocks who attempted to steal chips from the hands and mouths of our kids.
Although the threat of the fur trade is no longer a threat to koalas, these animals now face other threats such as vegetation clearing for urbanisation, grazing, agriculture and mining, as well as major bushfires and disease.
It is encouraging to see that the NSW Government has invested a $193.3M Koala Strategy which provides funding for koala habitat conservation, koala safety program, education of the community as well as research into the species. If Noel Burnet was alive today, I am sure he would be thrilled to know Governments are taking the threat of extinction of Koalas seriously and putting in place measures to protect these animals.
Going forward parks such as Koala Park will continue to play an important role in raising community awareness and educating people of the plight of our koalas.