A multi-million dollar redevelopment will transform Port Macquarie Koala Hospital into a world-class tourist attraction.
The $6.25 million redevelopment will provide a raised walkway through the trees, new rehabilitation and permanent resident koala yards, training, research and education spaces, a shop, koala museum and theatrette.
There will also be interpretive signs, new clinic, administration area, Indigenous storytelling space and educational nature walks.
A crowd gathered on Thursday, October 10 to hear Port Macquarie MP Leslie Williams announce the state government's $5 million grant towards the project.
The koala hospital will contribute $1.25 million.
"You are going to see a koala hospital like you have never seen before," Mrs Williams said.
She thanked everyone involved with the koala hospital.
"Yes, it's one of our key tourist attractions and we all know very well the work it does is so critically important," Mrs Williams said.
She said the redevelopment would absolutely transform the space and the volunteers, staff and management committee deserved that.
Mrs Williams said the koala hospital was already on the map and the redevelopment would transform what the facility was able to provide to the community and tourists.
Koala Conservation Australia president Sue Ashton felt over the moon at the funding announcement.
"It's going to enable the koala hospital to become a world-class tourist operation," she said.
The redevelopment will include the expansion of the clinic, education area and research areas.
Mrs Ashton said underlying all of that, the koala hospital would still be community-based and volunteer-operated, trying to educate the community and arrest the decline of wild koalas in NSW.
She said the redeveloped koala hospital would make Port Macquarie a must-visit tourist destination.
The Port Macquarie Koala Hospital cares for up to 250 koalas a year and attracts more than 100,000 visitors annually.
The koala hospital has about 150 active volunteers and four paid positions.
Greater Port Macquarie Tourism Association president Janette Hyde said people were naturally drawn to koalas and we would have something extra special.
"It will lift our profile even more and it will have an international impact as well," Mrs Hyde said about the redevelopment.
The construction will occur in two phases.
"We will be taking the community on a journey with us," Mrs Ashton said.
"It's not just about the koala hospital - it's about Port Macquarie and we would like to have as much community involvement as we can."
What else is making news, sport?
While you're with us, you can now receive updates straight to your inbox from the Port Macquarie News. To make sure you're up to date with all the news, SIGN UP HERE.