Koala art trail arrives in Macarthur

You've always been able to see beautiful flowers, plants, trees and ponds at the Australian Botanic Garden, Mount Annan, but now there's something even more special on offer - koalas.

Well, koala sculptures.

The garden today launched the Hello Koalas Sculpture Trail, a collection of 22 one-metre, beautifully painted fibreglass koala sculptures.

Sixteen of the sculptures are dotted throughout the gardens, while a further six can be found in Campbelltown.

The trail, a partnership between Campbelltown Council, the Royal Botanic Gardens and Hello Koalas (the Port Macquarie trail these loaned koaals are from), is in the region for the month of April and highlights conservation and education.

A special ceremony was held at the garden this morning to launch the trail.

Royal Botanic Gardens chief executive Denise Ora told the Advertiser there had already been a lot of interested in the colourful new additions.

"When we first did this exhibition in Sydney in 2019, it was such a huge success and I think it's actually going to be bigger in Western Sydney because we've had so many inquiries coming through," she said.

"There's a real fun aspect and a real educational aspect, but the really important part for us is the conservation message.

"The next generation out there is going to be smarter than us, and they're taking in all this information."

Each of the koalas was specifically chosen for their message, including Charlie the Horticulturalist, Frankie Firefighter, and Wollemia, named after the Wollemi Pine.

"Charlie the Horticulturalist is my favourite, even though I'm not supposed to have favourites, and he's actually named after the first Superintendent of the gardens, Charles Fraser," Ms Ora said.

"He reminds me how amazing our horticulturalists are and that we wouldn't have all this [at the garden] if it wasn't for them."

Ms Ora said she anticipated school groups would take the opportunity to visit the koalas and learn more about conservation.

Hello Koalas founder Margret Meagher told the crowd at the launch that the recent flooding at her Port Macquarie home had her worried that she wouldn't make it to Campbelltown at all.

She said she had a batch of concrete plinths, which the koalas rest upon, floating in flood waters at her home and she called upon the local football team to help her pack them up ready for their journey south.

Local Indigenous elder Uncle Ivan Wellington delivered a Welcome to Country address and spoke beautiful words in the native Dharawal language.

He said one passage translated to 'we leave this place to all of you to live while we sleep'.

"They've been asleep a long time and we're trying to take care of them," Uncle Ivan said.

He spoke of the importance of taking care of the land and listening to the 60,000+ years of Aboriginal learning.

The launch event was also attended by Campbelltown mayor George Brticevic, Campbelltown Council general manager Lindy Deitz, Campbelltown deputy mayor Meg Oates, Camden MP Peter Sidgreaves, Macarthur MP Dr Michael Freelander and Port Macquarie MP Leslie Williams, who made the journey down to Campbelltown.

There are are nine koalas within a short stroll of the garden's visitor centre and main car park, while a further seven can be found along some of the walking trails.

Other koalas can be spotted at Campbelltown Civic Centre, Campbelltown Arts Centre (three), Quondong Visitor Centre and Greg Percival Library in Ingleburn.

Maps are available at the garden. Entry is free.

This story Koala art trail arrives in Macarthur first appeared on Campbelltown-Macarthur Advertiser.