Narrandera is a small town in southern New South Wales, located on the banks of the Murrumbidgee River. Narrandera is home to a thriving colony of wild koalas, descended from individuals that were reintroduced to the area in the 1970s after becoming locally extinct. An annual koala count is held each year to monitor the health and size of the colony.
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History of Koalas at Narrandera
Narrandera, like most areas along the Murrumbidgee river system, was historically populated by koalas, however in the early 1900’s the population was decimated by hunters for the koala fur trade. In the 1960’s there was Council and community support to re-establish the koala population on the crown land reserve at Narrandera adjoining the Murrumbidgee River.
Following representation by Council and community groups, including service clubs, Council was successful with the Narrandera Nature (Koala) Reserve gazetted in 1966. This area was prepared and fenced to enclose 73 hectares on part of the Narrandera Fauna and Flora Reserve (also known as Narrandera Common) which is situated on the northern banks of the Murrumbidgee River.
Between 1972 and 1974 a total of 19 koalas were released in the Reserve; four from Tucki Tucki Reserve, five from Victoria and ten from French’s Island. The Colony has been very successful ever since, with the koalas acclimatising and moving out to form further colonies on the adjoining Narrandera Fauna and Flora Reserve and private properties both upstream and downstream on both side of the Murrumbidgee River.
The Narrandera colony is a success story and from its small beginnings has grown to an estimated 400 koalas with movement upstream and downstream from the original reserve.
Koalas are not bears, so it is wrong to call them koala bears. They should be simply referred as “koalas”.
The koala’s closest living relative is believed to be the wombat, the evidence for which includes similarities in their dental structure, their small tails, and the positioning of the pouch in the females. It was not until 1814 that koalas were recognised as a unique marsupial mammal in a category of their own.
Because koalas are marsupials the young (called joeys) are born immature and develop further in the safety of a pouch for 6 months. The joey clings to mum for another 2 to 3 months before making their own way.
The koala species has evolved over about 15 million years. Koalas are important in many Aboriginal cultures and are connected with several stories relating to the Aboriginal Dreamtime.
Variations occur within the koala species as they adapt to their environment. These differences are mainly in their physical size, the size of their ears and the length and thickness of their fur. They have a life span of between 10 and 20 years, and adults measure from 60 to 85cm and weigh up to 10kgs.
It is also interesting to note that contrary to popular belief koalas do drink water. They are excellent swimmers and can swim a river to escape from floods.
The Narrandera Koala Regeneration Centre Supervisory Committee was established in the early 1970s following community support for the establishment of the Narrandera Nature Reserve Koala Colony. The Committee is a section 355 Committee of Narrandera Shire Council.
The Committee is made up of interested community members, Council delegates and a NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service representative.
The main activity under the charter of the Committee is to monitor the health and development of the colony. The Committee also assists with treatment and recuperation of injured koalas and with the organisation of the Annual Koala Count.
The Committee was instrumental in securing floppy-top fencing on both sides of the Newell Highway which is a crossing point for koalas. The Committee has similarly applied for several grants to support the development of koalas in the area.
The extension and renewal of the tree corridor is the next major project under consideration.
The Committee accepts donations to support this work. Donations may be made by contacting the Committee or at the Narrandera Visitor Information Centre.
Narrandera Koala Regeneration Centre Supervisory Committee
PO Box 454
Narrandera NSW 2700
Narrandera Visitor Information Centre
Narrandera NSW 2700
Ph (02) 69595545