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Centre stage for our furry icons

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Narrandera’s treetop residents will take centre stage at the inaugural Koala Festival at the Narrandera Showground on Saturday.

The free event is funded by a NSW Government grant and hosted by the Koala Regeneration Advisory Committee and the Narrandera Shire Council. It is being held to promote Narrandera’s free-ranging koala colony.

Advisory committee chairman Leigh Mathieson said the colony is Narrandera’s tourism trump card and one of the shire’s greatest natural assets.

“The koala colony is seen as sustainable with the koalas breeding and thriving on the River Red Gums in their riverside home,” Mr Mathieson said.

“They are free of over-crowding and development threats which plague less fortunate koalas elsewhere in New South Wales and in Queensland.”

The koalas are a significant drawcard as demonstrated in NPWS’s annual koala counts which attract volunteer koala spotters from the Riverina and further afield, keen to see the iconic animals in their natural habitat.

“With this objective in mind we are offering guided koala spotting tours as part of the festival, enabling families to step aboard the popular Lions train for a trip to Rocky Water Holes in the koala heartland,” Mr Mathieson said.

Shuttles will run from 10am when the showground gates open. The re-introduction of 19 koalas between 1972 and 1974 to a large River Red Gum woodland within walking distance of town is a success story worth telling and an inspiration to conservationists working to ensure the survival of other endangered native wildlife.

In less than half a century the colony has grown to an estimated 400 animals and expanded its range to public and private land both upstream and downstream of the initial release site.

Children are well catered for at the festival with puppet shows, circus acts, a climbing wall, jumping castles with slides and other free rides and amusements.

A koala and nature photography exhibition and food and art stalls are among the attractions. The evening activities include a family bush dance with the Tin Shed Rattlers.

Narranadera Argus 15 September 2022

This article appeared in the Narrandera Argus, 15 September 2022.

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