When one thinks of Australia almost immediately Koalas come to mind. They are cute, fluffy and are native to Australia. Sadly, despite the fact that they don’t have many natural predators, their numbers dropped drastically in the last decade and they are listed as a ‘vulnerable’ species across Australia (some argue that in fact they should be classified as ‘critically endangered’).
It is only lucky that a place like the Koala Hospital exists. Established in 1973 in the regional Australian town of Port Macquarie by a passionate and extremely far sighted couple, Jean and Max Starr, local shop keepers.
The hospital consists of a treatment room, 8 ICU, 6 outdoor ICU and rehabilitations yards. It is run mostly by a group of passionate volunteers whose knowledge on the subject and eagerness to educate the public is truly remarkable.
On our tour we were greeted by Margaret – a lovely lady from England, who fell in love with Australia many many years ago. Margaret talked us through some very interesting things about both Koalas and the hospital itself.
By the entrance to the grounds there is a big board that contains basic medical information on each Koala who is currently a patient (just like in a hospital for humans). Most of the Koalas brought to the hospital suffer from disease (bacterial infection called Chlamydiosis that affects eyes and/or urological organs), motor vehicle accidents, dog attacks and bush fires (this sadly results in horrific internal injuries that are beyond treatment in a lot of cases).
All the koalas that a visitor will see are permanent residents of the hospital. Those animals are sadly incapable of returning to an independent life due to the injuries they have suffered. For example, some, through disease have been rendered blind while others have lost body parts which make living life in the wild too difficult.
There are a large number of koalas whose prognosis are good and they will be fit to be released back into the wild. Those koalas are kept out of visitors sight to help with their transition from hospital back to their natural environment.
When koalas are admitted to hospital each of them is given a name. First name is of the place where they were found and the second of the person that found/rescued them. This is to honour the rescuer but also to enable the return of the koalas to the areas where they originally came from.
The hospital grounds may seem a bit quiet and if you come with expectations of a busy place where you can see vets operating on koalas or with the hope of cuddling one you may end up being disappointed. To understand more both about the hospital and its mission and the koalas themselves you must visit the place at 3pm for a tour run by one of the hospital volunteers. For us it was an eye opener to realise the enormous job that those people do to save koalas and all the difficulties koalas face in the modern world (with increasing human encroachment on natural habitat corridors).
The entrance is free but when you visit please donate, adopt a koalas or buy some souvenirs from their shop as this helps fund the work they undertake. This amazing place needs all the support they can get and surely deserve it too. They are not receiving any government funding and their existence depends on donations so please help them to save koalas – we did.
The Koala Hospital for us was also a great place for our children. They loved seeing koalas and watching them being fed. My older daughter took a great interest in what our tour leader Margaret was saying and she learnt a few interesting facts about koalas, for example: It is illegal to cuddle koalas in NSW and they are fussy eaters and only eat certain varieties of eucalyptus trees.
We really have enjoyed out trip to Koala Hospital and were glad we met those cuddly animals here as we left feeling our knowledge about them increased greatly and our respect for the nature become even bigger.
Quick Review and Hot Tips
The best time to arrive is just before 3pm so you can take part in a very interesting tour organized by the volunteers.
The place is great both for children and adults, but if you hope to cuddle a Koala look elsewhere as strictly speaking it is illegal to cuddle Koala in NSW, and the hospital plays by the rules.
The is no entry charge but out of good heart make sure you buy something in their shop as all the funds are going toward Koalas care.
There is plenty car park spaces next to the attraction.