The sound of male Koalas grunting in the night (and sometimes during the day) with their extra vocal cord folds, so they can call louder than any other marsupial, was a surprise when we moved to our patch of forest in Upper Brookfield. Apparently they aren’t supposed to occur at the elevation of our property, but given their reducing habitat, the type of eucalypts / corymbias on our property, as well as the integrity of the forest corridor, they were there.
No matter how much you think that the Australian icon is overdone, seeing a Koala siting in a tree on ‘your’ land is amazing. After we heard the calls, we saw a couple of male Koalas. We also semi-regularly saw a Koala who often found a tree or walked along the ground close to our house. Without fail they preferred shortish and relatively thin grey gums (Eucalyptus propinqua) or at a pinch an ironbark or stringy. When it was really hot, they would come up to the ridge next to our house to get the breeze and press against the cool bark. We would see less in winter as they hung out at the bottom of the gully, but every year without fail, in mating season we would hear the piggy grunt.
In February this year, at about 10pm there was a knock at our screen door. After looking out twice and seeing nothing, we suddenly realised it was a Koala trying to climb the door. This isn’t usual behaviour and we realised that its eyes had the red look of chlamydia. We called the RSPCA and within half an hour they were there, complete with rubber gauntlets. We were told that the animal would be taken to Australia Zoo and that we could call them to see how it was the next day.
We did call, and it was sad news, the chlamydia was too advanced and, we then found out, it was a female who had to be euthanased.
It turns out that the majority of the Koalas we saw was actually just ‘our girl’, who was obviously used to our residence and human noises and was quite happy to sit in a tree next to us.
Did she come to us for help? Was the screen door the next best thing to a tree because she had mislaid the forest? Is it better that she was looked after rather than having a hard time in the wild? All we know is that we miss her, and hope that another lady Koala comes to take up residence at our place to respond to the fellas who are looking for a date. Our forest is ready and waiting.
Article and photo by Frances and Alan Hayter
Land for Wildlife members
Upper Brookfield, Brisbane