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$9 million Port Stephens Koala Sanctuary opens its doors

Koala Sanctuary web

Environment Minister Matt Kean MP joined Port Stephens Mayor Ryan Palmer on 25 September to officially open the Port Stephens Koala Sanctuary, with the gates opened to the general public on 26 September.

A partnership between Council, the NSW Government and volunteer care group Port Stephens Koalas, the Koala Sanctuary is focused on sustaining and protecting the threatened species for years to come.

The long-awaited conservation facility is purpose-built to care for sick, injured and orphaned koalas, and it also provides visitors the opportunity to see the marsupials in their natural habitat and learn about our unique koala population.

Environment Minister Matt Kean said the state-of-the-art facility will play a crucial role in helping preserve our koala populations through care, research and education.

“This new sanctuary will not only help protect and care for our iconic koala populations, but it will also provide a boost to the local economy driving eco-tourism dollars to the region,” Mr Kean said.

“The research and eco-tourism facility based right here will see people from all over the world come and learn about the Australian koala population, providing much needed public awareness and education.”

Port Stephens Mayor Ryan Palmer says the facility is vital to helping secure the future of one of the last remaining koala populations on the east coast of Australia.

“Port Stephens is home to koalas. We’re incredibly proud of that and we all have the responsibility to protect koalas and ensure their future for generations to come.

“Port Stephens Council is working to sustain and grow a healthy and viable koala population in our region — the Koala Sanctuary is one way we can do that.

“Given how hard our region has been hit by the effects of COVID-19, it’s incredibly exciting that Port Stephens has a unique new attraction to encourage regional visitation.

“The Koala Sanctuary will help to attract safe and sustainable visitor numbers to our region. This will ensure continued support for our local business and tourism industries, securing jobs as we continue to grow even during these unprecedented times,” Mayor Palmer said.

Holiday Parks Section Manager Kim Latham said the Sanctuary will offer unique experiences with koalas in a natural and idyllic bushland setting.

“The Sanctuary will offer tailored and educational tours from local guides on how we care for sick, injured and orphaned koalas to give them the best opportunity to return to the wild.

“At the same time, we’re providing a unique experience for visitors to view koalas in their natural habitat via the Newcastle Airport SKYwalk and elevated viewing platform.

“The immersive educational Sanctuary Story Walk, Fat Possum café and deluxe 4-star guest glamping accommodation, also provides an incredibly exciting addition to the Port Stephens’ tourism offering,” she said.