During my travels, I have been lucky enough to see many, many wonderful things but one of the things that has stuck with me with most is the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital.
Established in 1973, the Koala Hospital is responsible for saving the lives of and rehabiliting hundreds of sick and injured koalas, most of whom are cared for and then released back into the wild. Whilst there is a dedicated team of clinical staff there, the hospital relies heavily on volunteers who help provide care for the koalas, assist with site maintenance and make sure that visitors walk away fully informed about the incredible work that is done there. The hospital also has links to many universities across Australia and together they are researching diseases that affect koalas. The aim of the hospital is to rehabilitate the koalas so that they can be released back into the wild, however in some cares that is not possible. Those who are too sick to be released, such as koalas that have been badly burnt in bush fires, have had to have limbs removed or are blind due to having to have eyes removed from illnesses, stay at the hospital and receive daily care. However the koalas that will be there for life are still treat like wild animals, with visitors and volunteers unable to touch or hold them. Visiting the hospital is free and every day at 3pm you can have a guided tour from one of the incredible volunteers and watch the koalas being fed. It is a not-for-profit organisation that celebrates these Australian icons and seems to be run on passion, dedication and the genuine desire to make a difference.
I was in Port Macquarie for 4 days and for 3 of those days I went to visit the Koala Hospital. I just couldn’t stay away. Not only are koalas incredibly cute, it was wonderful to be in an environment surrounded by people that genuinely cared about what they were doing. From the people in the gift shop to the people giving the koalas medicine to the person doing the tour, everyone was happy to answer any questions we had and had such a wealth of knowledge about them. They spoke about the koalas with such affection that it was contagious. They could tell you when they had arrived at the hospital, the nature of their illnesses and what their temperaments were like. Each koala had it’s own personality and own anecdotes that the volunteers were more than happy to share. The people I spoke to were not paid to be there, but were giving their free time to support such a worthwhile cause because they genuinely cared about the Koala Hospital and the work is does.
It was impossible not to fall in love with these animals. In the end, my fiancé and I ended up ‘adopting’ a koala named Breeza Grant who had been hit by a train and miraculously survived, thanks to the amazing work and dedication of the team at the hospital. For an annual fee of just $60, we contributed to medication, the upkeep of the hospital itself and resources to rescue the injured koalas.
A few snaps of the adorable Breeza Grant
I left Port Macquarie happy to know that a place like this existed. It was a place of serenity and comfort where normal people were extraordinary and selflessly gave their free time to care for these animals and educate the rest of us about them. So often we hear about how selfish people are, how no one cares for anything anymore and how we do things to destroy our planet, yet The Koala Hospital embodies the exact opposite of what we are told and that deserves to be celebrated. It’s time for us to spotlight the people, places, companies and charities that deserve to be talked about for all the good that they do. It’s time for us to spread a little more positivity in the world, just like they do.
To anyone visiting Australia, add the Koala Hospital to your list – I promise you will not be disappointed. Not only was it a sanctuary for the koalas, but it was one for us too.
If you’d like to find out more about The Port Macquarie Koala Hospital and their incredible work, click here.