Port Macquarie Koala Trail excites Weekender TV crew

Koala meets koala: Billabong Zoo Koala and Wildlife Park owner Mark Stone with Stoney the koala and Sydney Weekender reporter Mel Symons and the Hello Koala sculpture that will be displayed at the zoo from September.
Koala meets koala: Billabong Zoo Koala and Wildlife Park owner Mark Stone with Stoney the koala and Sydney Weekender reporter Mel Symons and the Hello Koala sculpture that will be displayed at the zoo from September.

SYDNEY Weekender reporter Mel Symons was surrounded by koalas on Thursday as the television show filmed a segment on the Hello Koalas Public Sculpture Trail, to air on Prime7 in September.

On hand were three of the artists chosen to decorate some of the metre high fabricated koalas which will be placed throughout the Hastings, Camden Haven and hinterland to form the tourist trail of 50 sites.

Five of the koalas already finished or part finished were on show and one of the sponsors, Mark Stone from Billabong Zoo Koala and Wildlife Park, brought along Stoney, one of the zoo's resident koalas.

Artist Bruce Whittaker designed the zoo's sculpture complete with gum trees, waterfalls and wildlife.

Whittaker is a familiar face there, having created a number of backdrops to complement the various animal enclosures over the years. 

Before the crew from Sydney Weekender arrived, five groups of primary school children, out on nature walks, spied the sculptures and made a beeline for them.

Cameras flashed and cuddles were plentiful as the children predicted what is likely to be the reaction from visitors to the trail when it is in place.

Once the TV crew was set up, Stoney the koala was happy to pose for the cameras as other passers-by became curious about the gathering.

The trail is the brainchild of Arts and Health's Margret Meagher, who sees public art as a key to fostering connected communities, promoting creative industries and generating cultural tourism.

Arts and Health Australia partnered with the Legendary Pacific Coast tourism body to entice the popular lifestyle program to come to Port Macquarie for the segment.