|Koalas||Program||Image Library||Smiths Creek Reserve|
An early morning phone call alerted us to the imminent release of Brian, a 4 year old male koala which had been found inside the Busways depot at Airds the night before. (We made absolutely sure that there was film in the camera. We'd been with Lynn, the koala tracker at a site in Ruse less than a fortnight ago when we'd located Shirley and her new baby, excitedly took lots of photos only to discover that the effort was in vain !) Dr Robert Close arrived with Brian in a sturdy bag. Overnight, the koala had been examined by a vet, weighed (he's 8.3kg) and tagged.Brian certainly created some interest for the bus drivers at the depot. They arrived in force to farewell their interloper! Most had not seen a koala in its natural environment before, so took the opportunity to ask lots of pertinent questions. Robert quickly dispelled the notion that koalas live in colonies, explaining that the males live solitary lives while the females nurse their young until independence at approximately 2 years of age. It is only at mating that male and female koalas become social!
After examining the area, between the bus depot and the playground of St Thomas More School, in Smiths Creek, Brian was released at the base of a large eucalypt. He clung on tentatively but without any sign of fear of his audience. Eventually, he decided to seek another trunk which did not impose a strain on his powerful arms. Down he climbed, before disappearing into the long kikuyu grass. Suddenly, he reappeared and without hesitation, mounted the narrow trunk of another eucalypt in the closely grouped clump. Soon, he was comfortable in a fork, well out of reach.
In their weekly column, Mac's Koala Club, in the Macarthur Advertiser of the 4th July, 2001 Robert Close and Steven Ward wrote, " We have not yet found breeding females in Smith's Creek, so we assume that Brian walked from the Georges River through housing in Airds. It's not a huge journey and readers may remember when we found the koala, Linda, in Cheviot Place, which is not far away. Perhaps she was headed for Brian ! His story shows that we may expect to see koalas anywhere in eastern Campbelltown wherever decent stands of timber remain."
It's not just the feeding trees which are important. Smiths Creek Reserve has these but, importantly, it also has the resting trees which koalas love - Turpentines and Christmas Bush. So, if you walk through Smiths Creek Reserve, keep your eyes open and your ears alert. If you do spot a koala, phone the University of Western Sydney hotline on 9962 9996 as soon as possible. Remember, koalas move frequently within their territories ! It's a case of here today, possibly gone tomorrow.
The male koalas, Brian, Frank and Dan, have all been recorded visiting Smiths Creek Reserve. There may well be others, searching for a mate. While they may not necessarily be seen, they can sometimes be heard bellowing in the bush. Dr Close has provided a tape of that on 46203200 so residents can be alert to a koala's presence.
It is vital that all koala sightings are recorded. When the Australia Koala Foundation undertook its study for Campbelltown City Council's Koala Plan, Smiths Creek Reserve was identified as koala habitat. Unfortunately, this was received with scepticism by some Councillors and some Council officers. The plan has not yet been implemented. One can only ask why !