It always excites me to see people coming together with a shared vision for the common good.
The Wildcare ‘Koala Supermarket’
The Wildcare ‘Koala Supermarket’ came about as a result of countless koala rescues in the middle of the night with my wife Heidi (we are both Wildcare volunteers) and then having the dilemma where to be able to efficiently and safely harvest leaf or fodder to feed the rescued koala ion overnight care.
This led to us thinking how and where could we begin a koala fodder farm that would provide easy and safe access day or night. Currently there is a Wildcare fodder farm in Tallebudgera on the southern Gold Coast, however, this is very inconvenient for rescuers and carers on the northern Gold Coast.
We approached Nerang Country Paradise Parklands because of it proximity as well as being able to provide ample accessible public access at all hours being introduced to Martin Collis from the NCPP Committee by a friend of ours, David Paynter who has started up the Gold Coast Tool Library. Martin was excited and very supportive of the idea and identified an area in the Parklands that would be suitable. He showed us an area that had been designated some time ago for a fruit orchard but never eventuated.
This area was ideal as it had easy access from the road. From here we invited Wildcare Australia Inc. a volunteer wildlife rescue and care organisation based in SEQ to be part of the project and provide ongoing maintenance. As the talks progressed, Watergum applied for an environmental grant through Landcare Australia and things quickly fell into place.
The Vision Takes Form
The site was prepared over June 2020 beginning with spraying to kill the grass, laying down mulch garden beds, and the digging of the holes ready for planting. This was organised primarily by Watergum, with the holes dug by a member of Wildcare and myself.
On Sunday morning of June 28th 2020, a group of volunteers from Koalas On The Green and Wildcare, came together for a group planting event which also included creating garden beds along the fence line with Billabirra Crescent.
Around 300 plants all in all were planted. 80% were primarily planted for koalas, and approximately 20% were planted to feed possums and gliders who are in care. It was a successful event that a little drizzle didn’t scare away the volunteers.
Coming Together For The Common Good
It was a great feeling to have positive people come together to create change in their community.
The energy was palpable as they all worked together for a common vision to assist volunteer wildlife rescuers and carers who have to deal with a lot of trauma as well as joy on a daily basis, and who’s commitment is tempered by the sheer energy needed to sustain their passion. We need to make the shared responsibility of looking after our precious and unique native wildlife for carers as easy as we can if we aren’t to burn out.
Wildlife Volunteers & Mental Health
It is not surprising that some of the highest figures for mental health and suicide happen in the animal and veterinary fields, and by assisting the unpaid volunteer wildlife rescuers and carers wherever we can is critical if our wildlife in suburban areas are to stand a chance of long-term survival.
The Wildcare ‘Koala Supermarket’ is a testament to what can happen when we share a common vision and come together as individuals, organisations and communities to implement it.
Special thanks goes to Martin Collis and Nerang Country Paradise Parklands for being so supportive of the idea from day one. So engaged were they with the project that they came up with the catchy and appropriate name ‘ The Koala Supermarket’.
Thank you also to Karen Scott, the president of Wildcare Australia Inc. who supported the project as soon as we proposed it to her and was subsequently approved by the organisation as well as providing future maintenance of the facility.
Thank you also to Rosalinde Brinkman and Emily Vincent from Watergum, an environmental organisation based at Nerang Country Paradise Parklands who provided generous funding via a Landcare Australia grant they applied for on behalf of the project. They have been instrumental with organising things as we embarked on the journey of establishing the first stage of The Koala Supermarket (Stage Two coming…watch this space).
This really was a koalaborative, I mean, collaborative process – the trees were kindly supplied by Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary.They were looked after by Michelle Benson from Michelle’s Native Plants as well as her donating some E. Salignus and E. Robusta plants for the fodder farm.
The Native Plants Group QLD Gold Coast Branch also donated some trees for the project.
The garden tools for the day were supplied by Nerang Riverkeepers who are located in the Parklands and who have done a tremendous job of the year greening the Parklands and the nearby Nerang River.
Still Work To Do
There is still lots to do now that the planting has been done. Signage will be installed in the coming weeks. It will bring awareness and educate the community of the vital role that volunteer wildlife rescuers and carers play and the critical importance of The Koala Supermarket to support their incredible work.
Additionally, an irrigation system will be installed to ensure that the plants grow into healthy trees and are not stressed especially during extended periods of dry weather as we have experienced in the past. After all it is important to feed only the best ‘koality’ leaf to compromised animals in care.
The koala food trees will take 3-4 years time to be big enough for wildlife volunteers to be able to harvest providing fresh juicy leaf for koalas and possums and blossoms for gliders.