Koala hospital and tourism centre
A long-held vision for a koala hospital and tourism facility in Port Stephens could be realised under a partnership between the Hunter Koala Preservation Society and Port Stephens Council.
Port Stephens Council have decided to supported a $64,000 feasibility study into the co-location of a koala hospital and tourist facility, as well as confirm a financial contribution from the Hunter Koala Preservation Society.
The centre would be located at Treescape Holiday Park at Anna Bay. It would also be a research base for visiting veterinary and environmental specialists from the Universities of Newcastle, Sydney and Wollongong to conduct further studies into cryptococcosis and chlamydia, two diseases that are ravaging Port Stephens koalas.
Mayor of Port Stephens Bruce MacKenzie said Council officers had been working with the Hunter Koala Preservation Society to develop the concept, and had now reached the stage to seriously pursue its viability.
"The concept has a number of obvious benefits, most importantly for the wellbeing of the existing koala population for animals requiring treatment and care, and boosting local numbers to ensure koalas continue to have a presence in Port Stephens into the future," he said.
"It will also be a wonderful asset for our area, and particularly Treescape, as an added string to our tourism bow.
"There is a similar operation at Port Macquarie that is one of the State's most visited attractions and there is no reason we can't achieve the same result, particularly under a partnership between Council and the Hunter Koala Preservation Society."
Glenn Bunny, Council's Property Services Section Manager, said the feasibility study would calculate the cost of setting up the facility.
“The feasibility study would look at the integration of the centre into the operation of the current Treescape, as well as the business case and forward planning we'd need to put together to progress the project," he said.
"It also considered what marketing opportunities are available to us and what target markets we need to consider.
"We envisage the study would take four to six weeks to complete with a further report to come back to Council."
Hunter Koala Preservation Society president Carmel Northwood said the tourism component would help to fund the ongoing operation of the hospital.
The society would supply rehabilitation yards, a rescue van and other equipment, as well as coordinate volunteers at the hospital.