How many readers have seen a Koala close to Newstead, or further afield in the box-ironbark country? My memory is not great, but in more than 25 years in the district I can recall only a handful of sightings. The following observation from Chris Johnston and Ross Lumsden is extremely noteworthy.
Walking down Dunns Reef Track this morning (1/12), up near the Red, White and Blue Mine in the Muckleford Forest, a squabbling group of choughs high up in a tall Yellow Gum drew our attention. Perhaps a nest? Unusual to see choughs squabbling in the tree tops – usually it over some tasty morsel on the ground. Through the binoculars, a pale grey soccer ball shape was visible on a nearby branch – not a nest but what was it? Sort of looked like a very large paper wasps ball. Walking over to the tree, looking up – it was a koala. We were both so excited. After years of walking in the Muckleford Forest, it was the first koala we’d seen in the forest – thanks to the choughs who were pretty upset to have a large intruder in their tree.
I paid a visit to the site later in the day and sure enough the Koala was still there in the same tree, one of a few tall trees scattered in a recently harvested firewood collection area.
The Koala Phascolarctos cinereus is widespread but scattered throughout the goldfields and usually found in areas adjoining moist foothill forests. It’s always terrific to hear of sightings such as that made by Chris and Ross.