Margret Meagher founded the Hello Koalas Sculpture Trail in 2014 in Port Macquarie on the NSW Mid North Coast. The trail encompasses over 60 one-metre-high fibreglass koalas, hand-painted by artists. Many of the unique designs have a strong environmental theme.
"I have been involved in sculpture for a long time.
When I moved to Port Macquarie, home of the long-established Koala Hospital, creating a sculpture trail centred on koala conservation seemed like a logical thing to do.
It took 9 months working with the hospital to create an authentic representation of koalas from our region which are smaller and less furry than the ones you see in Victoria and South Australia.
Koalas are a very important tourism asset. We use our Hello Koalas Trail to raise awareness of the very real threat that if we don’t look after koalas, and their habitat, they’ll become extinct. Kids relate to this message conveyed by our Hello Koalas sculptures.
One of the trail’s highlights is an educational exhibition under the banner Save our Koalas, featuring Hello Koalas sculptures on Sea Acres Rainforest Centre’s boardwalk.
Koalas are a very important tourism asset. We use our Hello Koalas Trail to raise awareness of the very real threat that if we don’t look after koalas, and their habitat, they’ll become extinct. Kids, in particular, relate to this message conveyed by our Hello Koalas sculptures.
Sea Acres sees around 10,000 school kids a year so it’s an ideal location to get our message out to the next generation of wildlife warriors. One of the sculptures there is Ranger Riley, roaming ambassador for the NSW Saving our Species program. Riley visited Royal National Park in Sydney for the summer.
It’s amazing how engaged children are with our sculptures, seeing them as real characters. This koala behind me is called Percy Crossingsafe. Percy was designed by Port Macquarie artist Fran Barratt who drew inspiration from the urban koalas that visited her street.
Our hope is that once kids have connected with this particular koala, they will remind their parents: ‘Slow down. This is where the koalas are crossing’.
A recent commission is Benjamin The Return of the Thylacine, by Bellingen artist Fiona Morgan. This sculpture reminds us that the last Tasmanian Tiger died in the same year the animals were finally declared protected.
Koalas are widely regarded as a national icon, but if we don’t look after them now, they could become extinct as well."