Hello Koalas Festival is one of the world’s first festivals celebrating Australia’s iconic species, the koala, with the specific objective of promoting koala care and conservation.
The event kicks off in Port Macquarie on Friday, June 2 with a big program of events through until June 11.
The Port Macquarie-Hastings region has the largest koala population on the east coast of Australia with care a rehabilitation of the species internationally recognised at the Koala Hospital.
The Hello Koalas Festival builds on the popularity of the award winning Hello Koalas Sculpture Trail, created by Arts and Health Australia in 2014. It is now a permanent tourism attraction in the Port Macquarie-Hastings LGA comprising 57 one metre high koala sculptures, hand painted by selected artists.
A recently commissioned Hello Koalas sculpture is Ranger Riley, ambassador for the Saving our Species program and NSW National Parks. Designed by Port Macquarie artist, Pauline Roods, Ranger Riley’s uniform features 33 threatened species in NSW National Parks.
A second new Hello Koalas sculpture will be unveiled at this week’s festival. Benjamin: The Return of the Thylacine, designed by Bellingen artist Fiona Morgan, is named after the last surviving Tasmanian Tiger which died in Hobart Zoo in 1936.
This Hello Koalas sculpture is a tragic reminder that species are vulnerable and can become extinct.
Benjamin will be joining a mini sculpture trail at Sea Acres Rainforest Centre in Port Macquarie, as part of a new environmental boardwalk attraction under the banner of Save our Koalas.
The full Hello Koalas Festival program:
Hello Koalas Tea Tastings
World Par Tea has created 5 specialty teas around the Hello Koalas sculptures. Tea tastings will be held between 10am-3pm at the World Par Tea shop in Hay Street between June 1-11.
Koalas in Kolour Exhibition
The U3A textiles group will showcase their latest works at the Port Macquarie Museum between 9.30am and 4.30pm, June 1-11. Curated by artist Jill Williams.
Making Gumleaves – At Home With The Koalas
An exhibition by residents of Catholic Care of the Aged curated by Lisa Hort, Ronne Webb and Adele Lingard.
The works will be on exhibition at Port Macquarie Museum between 9.30am and 4.30pm, June 1-11.
Artist’s Markets in the Historic Courthouse Gardens
Create your own koala painting workshop led by local artists on Saturday, June 3 and Sunday, June 4 between 9am and 2pm.
See a brand new Hello Koalas sculpture by Yvonne Kiely.
Explore the worlds of local artists including Francessca O’Donnell, Maureen Hales and Deb Broughton.
Save Our Koalas – Sea Acres Rainforest Centre
An exciting new educational attraction at Sea Acres where you can meander around the boardwalk and discover five new koala sculptures. Meet Benjamin – the Return of the Thylacine by artist Fiona Morgan.
Open to the public from June 5, 9am to 4.30pm daily.
Saving Our Species Public Talk
Mike Roache is principal project officer, Saving Our Species who is also presenting at the National Koala Conference. He will speak at Sea Acres Rainforest Centre on Monday, June 5 at 11am.
Special performance by Bel Canto Choir, Tacking Point Public School.
Hello Koalas Artist Tours at Koala Hospital
Meet Hello Koalas artists at the Koala Hospital between June 6-9, 10.30am-11.30am and enjoy a tour of the hospital grounds.
Hello Koalas Festival High Tea
Hello Koalas specialty tea, cupcakes and cocktails at Rydges on Saturday, June 10 and Sunday, June 11 at 11am and 4pm. Book by phoning 6589 2888.
Hello Koalas Festival Picnic and Parade
A free community event at Roto House gardens will be the festival finale on Sunday, June 11 between 11am and 3pm.
Bring your favourite koala toy and be in the running for prizes.
There will be refreshments and entertainment.