JOIN industry workers and volunteers at a community event in Kurrajong ro raise awareness and encourage conservation of local koalas.
Koala Fest is a family fun day and festival for all ages, with local speakers, entertainment and kids activities, as well as the opportunity to get up close and personal with real koalas.
Cumberland Reach resident and coordinator of the event, Richard Benson, said he wanted to encourage locals to “go into protection mode” to help the endangered koala.
“Koala Fest is about building resilience in the community against whatever threats our koalas face, including bushfires and other disasters,” he said.
“The day is focussed on education so there’ll be a range of stall holders providing information, from community organisations to state and local government.
“It’s also about bringing together the community, volunteers and businesses so we can discuss strategies and work together to achieve good outcomes for our koala populations.”
Mr Benson is an office bearer on the committee for the Hawkesbury Environment Network (HEN), and founder of the Cumberland Reach Landcare Group. He was also named 2017 Environmental Volunteer of the Year for the Hawkesbury area.
He works as a weed control officer for Hawkesbury River County Council, where he comes in daily contact with the wide range of issues faced by Hawkesbury’s koalas.
“I’ve always been interested in koalas, and they’re a great flagship species for a range of different threats faced by bushland in the Hawkesbury, including increased pressure from development,” Mr Benson said.
“This is the first Koala Fest in Kurrajong and hopefully we’ll be able to make it an annual event, moving it around to different town centres in the Hawkesbury so we can capture a broad audience.”
In the meantime, Mr Benson advised any locals who spotted koalas to record their sightings on the Science for Wildlife website at scienceforwildlife.org.
“It’s really important to keep track of where they are and their movements. We hear that Kurrajong Hills is a hot spot at the moment, and I’ve heard about a lot of sightings down Hermitage Road and Cabbage Tree Road at Grose Vale as well,” he said.
Mr Benson said people can also get involved in land care and bush care by joining their local community nursery, or applying for funding through local land services.
“Because they are a threatened species, a lot of people are getting on board to help through programs like the Saving our Species program through the NSW Environment & Heritage office,” he said.
Koala Fest is a HEN initiative and has the support of Hawkesbury City Council, Western Sydney University, and local community groups including Kurrajong Community Forum.
The event will take place on Saturday, September 15 from 10am until 2pm at Kurrajong Village Memorial Park, 84-96 Old Bells Line of Road, Kurrajong.
For more information, call 4560 4525 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.