We were so excited to hear that there was a new attraction for us to visit while we were in Port Macquarie in January. I had been watching the progress of the Hello Koalas Sculpture Trail online and was looking forward to seeing it for myself. It kind of took over our holiday with us striving to see as many of the 50 sculptures as possible. I’m a little competitive like that. Given that we only had 5 days it took some determination as they are spread out around the town centre and surrounding towns of Bonny Hills, Wauchope, Laurieton and Comboyne.
I had the pleasure of meeting Margret Meagher, Executive Director of Arts and Health Australia and the lady behind the Koala Sculpture project. I was thrilled to meet someone who had an idea and the drive and determination to see it through to completion, once again proving my theory that it takes just one person to bring about change. Margret had been inspired by the Larkin with Toads Sculptures Trail in Hull in the UK, which featured painted toad sculptures. Margret thought it would be a wonderful addition to the Greater Port Macquarie region and decided upon Koala sculptures as Port Macquarie has the largest Koala population on the east coast of Australia. Port Macquarie is also home to the fabulous Koala Hospital and Billabong Wildlife Park which does important work with their koala breeding program.
The Hello Koalas Sculpture Trail is made up of 50 large scale one-metre high fibreglass koala sculptures (in 2020 the trail is made up of 70 koalas). Artists from the local area have turned the plain fibreglass koalas into beautiful pieces of original art. It is a wonderful and unique addition to the area and we had lots of fun exploring it.
Armed with the trail guide we hit the trail. The guide can be picked up from Tourist Information Centre at the Glasshouse, or downloaded here. AJ marked off each koala as we saw it and we managed to find 34 of the 50 sculptures (originally there were 50 sculptures). The advantage to picking up your trail guide at the Glasshouse is that you will find three koalas hiding inside. There is also a lovely shop with quality gifts and regional products.
There are quite a few sculptures which are located around the Port Macquarie town centre and are therefore wheelchair accessible.
Each koala sculpture has been sponsored by a local business so some of the sculptures are indoors making those particular ones more difficult to visit for wheelchair users. This is where the trail guide is handy because it tells you the location of the sculpture.
The detail on the koalas is stunning and Australiana Below the Surface is one of my personal favourites. You can’t beat the location and I love the underwater theme.
As you can see from our photos we were on a mission to find as many of the koalas as we possibly could in the time we had.
Each koala has a personality which has been developed with the way the artist has painted it. I love the themes that go with many of the koalas at the different locations, like Ede the koala at Emerald Downs Golf Course who has golfers and golf balls decorating him.
Some of the koala themes reflect the environment like Bushby at the Koala Hospital and Mack the Surf Life Saver and some are just beautiful like PK Sparkles who is covered in a mosaic.
We think that the Hello Koalas Sculpture trail is a wonderful addition to Port Macquarie. We will now have the challenge of getting around to the rest of the sculptures on our next visit.
Thank you to Margret for meeting with me to explain the behind the scenes logistics of the project. I admire your vision, drive and determination which made this project possible.
For more information about the project head to their website here.
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