Koalas

How to report a koala sighting

You can report sightings or evidence of koalas through the I Spy Koala app or website.

Our local koalas

Koalas were once common in the Kempsey region, featuring in local Indigenous law and legend. The place name Yarrahapinni comes from ‘yarra’, the Dunghutti/Thungutti word for ‘koala’.

The Macleay Valley has stunning natural beauty and diverse environments, from the rugged hinterland to the fertile coastal plains, and represents a mixing zone for subtropical and temperate biota. As a result, our region has a high biological diversity. A large proportion of the region’s koala habitat has been mapped as an ‘area of regional koala significance’ under the NSW Government’s Saving our Species program

At least four genetically different koala populations live in the Macleay Valley region. Genetic diversity is critical to the survival of koalas, as populations show different levels of resistance to disease.

We all have a responsibility to ensure koalas survive into the future. This means maintaining koala habitat and reducing threats such as cars, dogs and the removal of native vegetation. 

What we are doing

Our goal is to protect and increase the koala population in the region. The Kempsey Shire Council Koala Plan of Management (volume 1(PDF, 1MB) and volume 2(PDF, 807KB)), lists actions to improve koalas’ status in the area, including: 

  • protect and increase koala habitat
  • create koala management areas at South West Rocks, Eungai Rail–Stuarts Point–Grassy Head, and Dondingalong–Kundabung–Crescent Head
  • foster habitat linkages
  • increase knowledge of koalas
  • reduce threats to koalas
  • work with landowners to keep or plant more koala-friendly vegetation
  • undertake koala sighting counts

What you can do

Habitat is key

Quality habitat is vital to koala conservation. The best thing we can do for koalas is provide them with large areas of consolidated, high-quality habitat away from threats.

Koalas feed almost exclusively on eucalyptus leaves. The two or three tree species they prefer vary throughout their range. The following preferred food trees have been identified in the Kempsey Shire: 

Primary food tree species

Tallowwood (Eucalyptus microcorys)

Forest Red Gum (Eucalyptus tereticornis)

Swamp Mahogany (Eucalyptus robusta)

Secondary/supplementary food tree species

Grey Gum (Eucalyptus propinqua)

White Stringybark (Eucalyptus globoidea)

Stringybark (Eucalyptus tindaliae)

Where to plant koala trees

Koala food trees are best planted:

  • near existing koala habitat to increase food resources
  • near watercourses like creeks, rivers or dams
  • between isolated remnants of koala habitat to connect the areas and create habitat corridors
  • close to fence lines

If you would like to plant koala food trees on your property, it is best to use plants grown from locally grown seed stock. Macleay Landcare can help you source local seed stock. The Port Macquarie Koala Hospital (email habitat@koalahospital.org.au) can also assist with habitat enquiries.

Landholders with koala habitat can receive financial and other incentives for participating in conservation initiatives – see the NSW Government’s Biodiversity Conservation Trust

Other actions you can take

Most koala habitat in our region is on private land. As a landowner, you can play a critical role in helping increase and maintain koala population areas. People living near koala habitats in Kempsey Shire can take the following actions to help protect koala populations from further deterioration and increase numbers:

  • Be aware of koalas and wildlife when driving, especially between dusk and dawn. Drive slowly and carefully at night. During the August–February breeding season, koalas are particularly vulnerable, spending more time on the ground to find a mate. If you see wildlife on the road at night, slow down, sound your horn and dim your lights.
  • If you do hit an animal or see a sick or injured one, call WIRES on 1300 094 737, FAWNA on 02 6581 4141, or Port Macquarie Koala Hospital on 02 6584 1522.
  • Manage your dogs, especially if you live near bushland or koala habitat, by: 
    • keeping your dog inside or restrained at night
    • not allowing your dog to roam freely
    • always walking your dog on a lead and reporting stray or roaming dogs to Council
    • restraining your dog if you see a koala in your yard, which will give the koala a chance to move on
    • giving your dog its own play area, fenced off from the rest of the yard with koala exclusion fencing.
  • Install koala-friendly fences or make your existing fence koala-friendly. You can find information on koala-friendly fences at www.savethekoala.com.
  • Apply low-intensity, mosaic pattern fuel reduction burns adjacent to koala habitat.

More information

Find a local wildlife rehabilitation group

Find a koala group near you

Koala Smart for School Kids

Koala Recovery Partnership