Caring for koalas in Warialda

One man's perseverance results in a new koala group and a new reserve

Caring for koalas in Warialda

One man's perseverance results in a new koala group and a new reserve

Community Participation -


The issue

A few years ago, local Warialda man John Hodge identified that koalas were being killed trying to cross the highway to access water during dry times.  John was also concerned about the lack of awareness of koala populations in the area by government and locals alike.  

Though there was plenty of anecdotal evidence of koalas, nothing official stated that koalas existed in the area.  John wanted to support the local koalas and other wildlife.

The solution

In 2019 John began installing watering points for koalas on the southern side of the Gwydir Highway, Warialda, in order to prevent koalas crossing the busy road in order to access water.  A survey of the area carried out by Southern Queensland University with funding from Northern Slopes Landcare had identified a clear path from the koalas' habitat across to the creek.  By installing watering points, John eliminated the need for the koalas to cross the road.  To further support the population of koalas, John then set about seeking funding and support to establish more habitat plantings around the watering points.

With financial support from both the Office of Environment and Heritage and North West Local Land Services, as well as huge in kind and financial support from the Gwydir Shire Council, John planted the Warialda Koala Wildlife Reserve.  

Since then, John has formed the North West Regional Koala ARKS group - a group of stakeholders including Northern Slopes Landcare Association, GWYMAC Landcare, Gwydir Shire Council, both North West and Northern Tablelands Local Land Services, Wires Carers, local ecologists and local citizens, in order to improve the habitat of and protect these endangered icons.   

The impact

Last year, with the support of Northern Slopes Landcare Association and GWYMAC Landcare, the newly formed group secured funding through the Wires National Grants program to further develop the reserve with new entrance signs & interpretive signage.  In addition, the funding enabled the group to build awareness of the plight of koalas among the community by facilitating two koala forums, and an official opening of the reserve - where free habitat trees and shrubs were handed out for planting out on local properties. 

Gwydir Shire Council also continues to support the reserve with a recent upgrade to the entrance and road.  Future plans for the reserve include the addition of picnic table to further encourage both tourists and locals to spend time in the reserve - learning more about the koalas and other flora and fauna in the reserve.

Key facts

  • Providing water points for koalas in strategic locations may reduce the number of koalas being killed on our roads
  • Finding ways to increase community awareness of the threats to koala populations is paramount if we want to help save this iconic species

Project Partners