We’ve moved from a city’s heart into Gumbaynggirr country. White timber cutters arrived here late, in the 1870s, with their bullock trains and families and houses and tracks followed by roads and streets, shops and schools. My grandfather’s ‘daybook’ is a ledger of fields, trees and costs. He was a wheelwright in a village nestled in the heart of England, vertically planted from generations of blacksmiths.

Our house backs onto Jagun Nature Reserve (pronounced Jah-goon in Gumbaynggirr, meaning ‘home’). The reserve is a bundle of trees and tree stumps, orchids, vines, birds, insects, reptiles and mammals. In our first year w recordedjust over a 100 species of birds. It is regrowth forest oversupplied with stumps standing on poor sandy soils with clay substrates. It regrows slowly; it takes 50 to 60 years for hollows used by parrots, possums and gliders to form. We won’t be here that long. Since we’ve been here we’ve heard one Powerful Owl and one male koala squealing like a speared pig in search of a mate here.

Australia has the worst mammal extinction rate of all and the future of koalas here in the Mid North Coast, with such fragmented habitat from development and so many cars and dogs, appears bleak. In serious decline in NSW and Queensland, populations thrive in Victoria and South Australia but are a different sub-species using different food trees.



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