Port Macquarie, New South Wales, is best known for its beautiful beaches and lush hinterland, but it is also home to the Koala Hospital.
A one-of-a-kind hospital that I invite you to explore with me! Let’s start with a meeting with the residents of the centre, followed by some interesting facts. The adorable koalas are on the move!
A Hospital that looks after Koalas
Yes, not only humans, but also koalas, have the right to healthcare. Since 1973, these Australian marsupials have had their own hospital. For nearly 50 years, the Koala Hospital in Port Macquarie has been assisting koalas from all over Australia’s east coast.
The koala, like the kangaroo, is a native and symbolic animal of Australia that people all over the world want to meet. Unfortunately, this adorable animal is also a declining species that the NGO wishes to save from extinction.
The dispensary, which has four employees and 175 volunteers, can accommodate up to 300 koalas per year.
About fifty patients are currently residing there, and they are between good hands!
The Koala Hospital is certainly an out-of-the-ordinary hospital, with its specifically constructed intensive care sections and rehabilitation enclosures for everyone’s needs.
How to get to the Koala Hospital?
On Public transport, the quickest way is to take the bus 333 to West Haven and stop at Lord St at Flynn St. From this stop, the hospital is only 3 minutes walk away.
By Car, it’s a relatively short journey from the town center (About 10 minutes).
Address: Lord St, Port Macquarie NSW 2444, Australia.
Why do Koalas need a Hospital
Koalas population is estimated to be less than 200,000 in Australia, compared to more than 10 million when the first Europeans arrived in 1788.
The hospital was founded in 1973 by a couple of Koala enthusiasts with the goal of assisting and saving the animals. Today, volunteers care for between 300 and 400 Koalas every year.
There are many reasons why there’s a need for a Koala Hospital. The main ones are:
The primary reason for hospital admissions, a specific illness, is decimating koala populations in Port Macquarie and along the east and south-east coasts. Chlamydia is the name given to this bacterial infection.
It is sexually transmitted and can cause severe vision and urinary tract problems. A terrible evil that koalas are facing.
Accidents involving vehicles
The second reason for repatriation to Koala Hospital is an accident. Vehicles frequently collide with wild animals in Australia, whether in the outback or near cities. Koalas, unfortunately, are no exception.
Attacks by dogs
When koalas enter a garden to eat eucalyptus leaves, they are frequently attacked by domestic dogs. They, like the rest of the wildlife, are the unfortunate victims of stray cats.
Loss of Habitat
Human activity has a significant impact on koala habitat. The poor marsupials are witnessing the devastation of their ecosystem as a result of deforestation and forest fires.
Following the 2019 Australian bushfires, 27 mammals in distress were taken to the hospital.
These devastating bushfires killed approximately 60% of the koala population in the Port Macquarie area. A real disaster.
Visit the Koala Hospital
The Koala hospital is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. every day. The good news is that the visit is free!. There is a donation box where you can leave a small (or large) note.
You can explore the Koala Hospital on your own, but there is a daily guided tour at 3 p.m. A fun way to learn more about this adorable animal and its amazing clinic.
I was fortunate enough to arrive in Port Macquarie right on time for the guided tour, that was a highlight of my East coast Australia Road trip.
The tour begins in front of a large board with the names and information of each patient, including those who have recently been admitted, those who are in intensive care, and those who are going to be released back into the wild.
Interesting fact: If you see a volunteer wearing an orange suit, know that they are the ones who are on duty to rescue koalas during bush fires.
Then I followed the path that runs between the 30 reintegration cages. Each patient in recovery has their own room.
Some animals are unable to be seen because they are in intensive care facilities or are being rehabilitated for release into the wild.
Human contact should be limited as much as possible in the latter situation before returning to their natural habitat.
An explanatory sign in front of each enclosure provides information about the inhabitant. Ocean Summer, a female koala, is shown here.
What is her background?
Her mother died after she was hit by a car. Ocean Summer, a one-kilogram baby, was flung out of her mother’s pocket and into the gutter.
She was taken in and rehabilitated, but she is now blind and a permanent resident of the centre. Ocean Summer’s blindness makes it impossible for her to be released into the wild.
She is, thankfully, pampered and spoiled with love and affection!
Some interesting facts about Koalas
After visiting the Koala Hospital, I would like to share some interesting facts:
- Baby koalas, sometimes known as “pinkies,” are just 2 cm long when they are born, which represents the size of a sweet.
- A koala can consume up to half a kilo of difficult-to-digest eucalyptus leaves every day. To preserve his vitality, the Koala can sleep up to 20 hours per day. The enigma is solved: these tiny creatures are neither lethargic nor drug addicted; they simply have an unusual diet.
- The life expectancy of a Male Koala is around 15 years, and 18 years for a female.
- In 2019, Lewis, a Koala rescued from the flames by a woman had press coverage. He was transported and treated at the hospital. Sadly, he didn’t survive.
- There are Koalas all over Australia. However, there’s a big concentration in the east coast (Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria States).
This 1h30 visit is highly recommended. Don’t forget to stop by the Koalaseum, a small yet fascinating museum. It’s amazing to see so many people fighting to help the koalas!