Close Encounters of the Koala Kind

Mention the word ‘koala’ to me and the first image that comes to mind is a cute, furry grey animal with a white stomach and no tail, found in souvenir shops, wildlife magazines and at best, in an Aussie zoo! Yes, I’ve caught glimpses of koalas in the wild. However, those sightings were not only rare, but difficult to spot as koalas usually sit high up in eucalyptus branches.

Driver: Look, there’s one up there!

Me: Where? Where?

Driver: See the big tree in the middle? (Duh???) She’s right there.

Me: I see only lots of trees. Where? 

Driver: It’s a bit dark but you can still see her. Up there. Look, she’s moving now.

Me: Where? Where?

Everyone else: Yes, there she is! Aww! That’s so cute! 

Me: Where? Where?

Driver: That’s all, folks. The koala’s gone!

I had never really seen a koala in its natural habitat until I visited the Koala Conservation Centre in Phillip Island. The Centre plays host to a special koala breeding programme, ensuring it remains a key player in the conservation of these iconic animals.

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The unique treetop boardwalks in a eucalypt woodland area gives visitors the chance to see how these amazing creatures live as they would in the wild. Even while strolling, two or three koalas could be seen relaxing in the trees directly above me.

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IMG_4782aIt was super exciting to see them face-to-face. Never in my life had I come this close to a koala. This fella was like on a branch five feet away from me and I could literally touch him if I leaned forward and stretched out my hand.

I was half expecting the koala to move away but instead, he moved even nearer towards me, bringing the both of us to eye level by his sheer weight on the branch. We just stared at each other for around a minute, waiting to see the other’s next move. It was perfect timing for a photograph (or selfie) but I didn’t want to scare him off with a lens in front of my face. That was a very special moment for me and one which I will never forget.

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Certain stretches of the wooden boardwalk have more koala poo than others, indicating that koalas have their favourite spots to hang out. When walking along this part of the bridge, you need to be on your toes (pardon the pun) to avoid stepping on koala poo and keep looking upwards occasionally to make sure that no koala does its toilet business on you!

I have to admit that I’ve never ever seen a koala walk on the ground before! It was specially thrilling to see this cute fella casually climbing down the tree trunk and sitting on a log for a quick rest…

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…before making his way under the boardwalk where I was standing. He appeared on the other side and proceeded to climb up another tree! How I wished I had videotaped the scene but I was so excited to see the koala on the ground that I couldn’t think straight!

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Kennett River situated along the coastal bushland between Lorne and Apollo Bay on the Great Ocean Road is one of the best places in Australia to see koalas in the wild. This area is home to hundreds of colonies that live in both the forests and more urbanised areas. You are practically guaranteed close koala sightings if you drive up the Grey River Road. Here, they can be found in trees surrounding the houses, in peoples’ gardens, relaxing on someone’s balcony and occasionally crossing the road!

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Hearing this catchy tune on the way back to Melbourne, “Please Don’t Call Me a Koala Bear‘ by Don Spencer, sealed the end of a thoroughly enjoyable day with the koalas!

Please Don’t Call Me a Koala Bear

I’m a koala not a bear
And I don’t think it’s fair
The way that people always add a word that isn’t there
I’m a marsupial and proud of it
And there can be no doubt of it
I’m closer to a kangaroo than I am to a bear
 
So please don’t call me a koala bear
Coz I’m not a bear at all
Please don’t call me a koala bear
It’s driving me up the wall
If your name was Tom
And everyone called you Dick
Perhaps you’d understand why I’m sick, sick, sick
I’m simply a koala
And I want the name to stick
 
So please don’t call me a koala bear
I live here in Australia
In a eucalyptus tree
I’m as cuddly, cute and charming
as an animal can be
I don’t understand fair dinkum
How anyone could think them
Grizzly bears and polar bears
Are anything like me
So please dont call me a koala bear
Coz I’m not a bear at all
Please don’t call me a koala bear
It’s driving me up the wall
If your name was Tom
And everyone called you Dick
Perhaps you’d understand why I’m sick, sick, sick
I’m simply a koala
And I want the name to stick
So please don’t call me a koala bear

 

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17 thoughts on “Close Encounters of the Koala Kind

  1. What a great post! Such wonderful pictures that make me want to just cuddle those cutie pies! 😀 I can totally understand why selfies and videos were utterly forgotten as you lost yourself in the magic of the moment 🙂

  2. Such great shots of the Koala, they are so cute. Your images make me want to hold and cuddle one. I haven’t seen any real Koala’s for a quite a while. Thank You for sharing such wonderful images.

    1. Thanks for visiting my blogsite, Karen. The koalas are really cute and lovable! They are really doing a great job in this Conservation Centre. Even my sister who has lived in Australia for decades says that this is the best conservation centre that she has ever visited. So well managed and the koalas are really happy – and so are the visitors! 🙂

  3. I love the new design ! I haven’t been wordpress for while, sorry for my absence. I will try to catch up soon 🙂

    The pictures of the koalas are very impressive. I’ve never seen any koala in the nature, I bet it’s a wonderful sight.

    1. You noticed! I thought I’d try this latest free theme called Shoreditch. I, too, haven’t posted for a while now. I haven’t travelled this year so there’s not much travel stories to relate. I notice that I’m now down to one post a month!! 😦

  4. Loved this much awaited post of yours!! Your photos are great! Up close and personal with koalas. Haha once I was in Kangaroo Island and stayed with a vineyard owner who had a pair of wild “personal” koalas. Haha they decided to live on his eucalyptus tree and the roos would come out at night. Thanks for this lovely post😊

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