AN UPLIFTING CONVERSATION took place on Sunday at Sutherland Multi Purpose Centre, where We Are Hughes and community endorsed independent candidate Linda Seymour held their Koala Event. The discussion was led by local citizen scientists Steve Anyon-Smith and Tom Kristensen and filmmaker Georgia Wallace-Crabbe, who together shone a light on our responsibility to protect koalas and their natural environment.
Mr Anyon-Smith revealed that he and Mr Kristensen had discovered a colony of koalas in Heathcote National Park, which is found in the Hughes electorate.
“It is the only completely healthy, as far as we are aware, koala colony in New South Wales. And it is the only colony that is expanding,” he said.
Rather than using traditional tracking methods like collars or ear tags, which may bother them, Mr Anyon-Smith and Mr Kristensen have found a less invasive way of identifying the koalas.
“We are just walking around with a camera. Koalas can be absolutely identified by their nostrils… the interface is difference in every koala. So, the challenge is getting the koala to look at you so you can get a photo of it’s nostrils.”
To date, using this method the duo have found 67 koalas, or what they like to call “tree wombats” in the area.
Hughes resident and filmmaker Dr. Wallace-Crabbe shared a preview of ‘The Koala Corridor’, a film she is currently co-directing with Gregory Miller to uncover if enough is being done to preserve the endangered species. She believes the native animal is representative of a larger issue.
“We are not talking about koalas in isolation, they are sort of iconic and emblematic of the whole environmental system that needs to be kept intact.”
It’s not just a koala
Campaign members also took to the event to launch Linda’s purple koala mascot, with the symbol seen in the form of homemade corflutes, earrings, mugs and even cookies.
The “koala creators”, including Helma Mulhall and Lynne Edwards, took inspiration from the orange cockatoo that became the symbol of Helen Haines’ campaign in Indi.
“Linda’s launch in November was attended by Denis Ginnivan from Indi. And he brought with him an orange cockatoo… We thought what a great idea, a mascot. ‘What can we do for Linda’s campaign’?” Ms Edwards said.
So the purple koala was born. Now the campaigners are hoping to see plenty more koala corflutes around Hughes.
“Most of them are made from recycled corflutes, we wanted to be environmentally friendly as well,” Ms Mulhall said.
“We’d love one of these in every house.”
It is clear that no matter what happens on election day, Linda’s campaign has been a grassroots movement through and through, bringing people together with the common goal of better political representation.
“When I joined up to Linda’s campaign, it never dawned on me that I’d meet such a wonderful group of people and get to work with them on this campaign, nor did I think I would have the opportunity to see a koala in my electorate.”Lynne Edwards
Linda hopes that similar to the Indi orange cockatoo, the Hughes’ purple koala will become a symbol of her campaign and everything she stands for as an independent candidate, including her passion for genuine action on climate change.
“What we would like is for the koala to become synonymous with our campaign.”Linda Seymour
“When you see the koala, this beautiful purple koala, its emblematic of a broader problem. So that is why the koala is our symbol. It is not just a koala, it is everything that comes with it,” she said.