Vast database on Campbelltown's koalas shared

Data goldmine: Researcher Dr Robert Close shows one of his koala maps to high school student Lara de Montfort and her teacher Fabio Capracarelli. Picture: Jeff McGill.
Data goldmine: Researcher Dr Robert Close shows one of his koala maps to high school student Lara de Montfort and her teacher Fabio Capracarelli. Picture: Jeff McGill.

A newly created website is giving those interested in Campbelltown's koala colony free access to a vast and invaluable database of information collected over more than 20 years.

The region's pre-eminent koala researcher Dr Robert Close tracked, collared and monitored the movements of koalas during countless expeditions into Campbelltown's bush, meticulously recording his observations and findings.

That treasure trove of scientifically-collated research, along with videos, maps, newspaper clippings, press releases and the back catalogue of Mac Koala Club, a column written by Dr Close and published weekly in the Advertiser from 1995 to 2013, is now but a few clicks of an electronic device away.

Digitising the voluminous amount of information took Dr Close and a small team of volunteers more than two years to complete.

Dr Close said koalas were a vital part of Campbelltown's identity and he wanted to help others, like himself, who were keen to ensure their long-term survival.

Campbelltown's koalas are Australia's only chlamydia-free colony.

"Students can use the database to further existing studies or to ask new questions," Dr Close said.

"Other people such as conservationists, town planners, local land services and bushwalkers might also be interested."

Dr Close said he had shared "good information" about where koalas were living, their movements, what they ate, how long they lived and how many young were produced.

"I'd like to thank Lyn Bowden, Stephen Fellenberg and Steve Ward for their help in putting together this electronic resource," Dr Close said. "Without them it wouldn' have happened."

Dr Close was also grateful for the many hours of hard work that Wedderburn resident and koala activist Barry Durman put into the project.

Mr Durman described the online database as a goldmine of information for koala enthusiasts.

"It's not hearsay, it's indisputable scientific evidence," he said.

All research documentation on the website can be downloaded.