Metre-high koalas to inhabit prominent sites as part of project

SEPTEMBER 2014 will see the proliferation of 50 or more metre-high koalas inhabiting prominent sites throughout the Local Government Area.

The cultural project to produce a koala trail leading to each of the fibreglass sculptured Hello Koalas is under the auspice of Arts and Health Australia, with principal sponsor the Port Macquarie-Hastings Council.

The trail will reveal artistically painted themes designed and decorated by local and national artists.

Each will be sponsored by a community group, business or individual who contribute to the establishment of this signature event.

Arts and Health Australia executive director Margret Meagher and Hello Koalas project director recently announced the first champions who have signed on for a Hello Koala – Kathy and Peter Balodis owners of Macquarie Waters Boutique Apartment Hotel and The Corner restaurant.

Mrs Balodis is a board member of Greater Port Macquarie Tourism Association, Port Macquarie -Hastings Council Economic Development Steering Group and Tourism Industry Council NSW, and is co-chair of North Coast Destination Network.

Mrs Balodis said she and her husband are thrilled to be one of the first sponsors and can’t wait to be partnered with the artist who will create their koala design.

“We’re going with a food and wine theme and hope to place our koala on the road reserve on the corner of Clarence and Munster Street,” Mrs Balodis said.

“I think it’s [the project] fantastic and will be a real talking point. The word of mouth will spread so quickly and lead to people exploring the whole region from Camden Haven to Wauchope and Port Macquarie.

“It is so inclusive for the artists, the foreshore, and business.”

Linda Hall, former tourism, events and economic development manager for council, is the project manager.

It sprang from a visit to Hull where 40 toads were erected across the city in 2010 to mark the 25th anniversary of the death of poet Philip Larkin.

It is estimated that 120,000 visitors followed the trail, generating 500,000 pounds of extra income for the city’s retailers.