Photo: Jay Cronan
We tend to think of ours as a rather koala-less region (the animals kept away perhaps by the spread of civilisation and/or an absence of what koalas dine on). But, in fact, as we beetle to and fro across the Monaro on our way to the snow or to the seaside we are passing through a koala-blessed (albeit rather thinly) bailiwick. There are some in bush-upholstered parts of the Tinderry Ranges that loom up so dramatically behind Michelago, as you drive from Canberra to Cooma.
Now there is, the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) advises, a new, six-week koala survey under way to the east and north-east of Cooma. In six weeks, 70 places that look as if they should have some appeal for discerning koalas will be fossicked through.
''It [the Monaro koalas] is a really exciting population actually. It is amazing,'' OEH koala recovery co-ordinator for south-east NSW Chris Allen tells us. He says that ''most people don't know that they're there'' and that the discovery of them even came as something of a surprise (when made some years ago) to koala experts ''because it's just not the kind of country where koalas should be''.
God's gift to cool ... A Tawny Frogmouth in a Queanbeyan garden.
Allen says that mapping the habitats sustaining Monaro koalas is a complex and challenging task because the Monaro koala population (which he fancies may be of roughly 500 animals) is so widely-scattered. It begins east of Michelago and then stretching, in patches, goes south to the Dangelong Nature Reserve in the Cooma/Nimmitabel region.
''But with the support of the University of Canberra we have analysed the data collected so far on the Monaro and are heartened by the results. We have identified important environmental predictors of koala occurrence on the Monaro, and statistically significant trends in terms of tree species preferences.''
Cooma-Monaro Shire Council project manager Mark Adams says community involvement is important.
Narrabundah College student Amie Maclaine's centenary poster.
''Volunteers play a key part in this work by recording evidence of koalas, so please contact the council on 02 6455 1777 if you are interested in helping with these surveys.''
God's gift to cool, and camouflage
As previously reported, leading theologians point to the many proofs that God has singled Canberra and region out for His special attention, including the way in which He has made Canberra the most (native) bird-blessed city on earth.
He has been good to nearby Queanbeyan too in this and although we have the tawny frogmouth in Canberra suburbs, this divine picture of a sleepy frogmouth (they are mostly nocturnal and snooze by day) roosting in a wattle has just been taken in a Queanbeyan garden.
Frogmouths are so hard to see (as well as only being active at night, by day they sit stock still and impersonate the timber they're sitting in) that our chances of hearing them are much better than our chances of seeing them. So keep your ears pricked at night, especially in spring.
Our gigantic and infallible Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds says the adult call is ''a deep, swelling, deliberate 'ooom-oom-oom''' that is ''resonant and ventriloquial, rhythmic and pulsing''.
Poster girl gets her message across with a capital idea of her own
Alas, this has to be the last of our grateful uses of Narrabundah College media students' centenary posters, advertising our city to the world in novel, eye-striking and wonderfully weird ways that would never have occurred to the conservative souls in charge of the official strutting of our metrosexy stuff.
Amie Maclaine's extremely effervescent poster somehow makes lit-up Canberra look like a giant, Los-Angeles-by-night illuminated megalopolis of a city. She explains to us that ''the inspiration for my poster came from the infamous 'So where the bloody hell are you?' TV advertising campaign which shines a fun Aussie light on Australia''.
''Through some research I discovered that one of the main criticisms of Canberra is that it lacks nightlife; therefore I decided to feature aspects of Canberra's nightlife in the ad,'' she said.
''The fireworks, slogan, Parliament House and the brightest lights are centred in the ad to suggest that everything happens 'together' in Canberra.
''The overall message is that Canberra is an exciting place to live and that one of the supposed 'downfalls' is in fact a highlight.''