St Bees Island, nearby Keswick, is a national park where no development is permitted. While it is a beautiful island, like many in the Whitsundays, there is one thing that makes St Bees especially unique – its koalas.
The St Bees Island population is unique because the koalas are relatively healthy, and are free from many of the diseases prevalent within most koala colonies.
Koalas were introduced to St Bees in 1938. Since then, the colony has flourished, with koala numbers currently around 290. As their home is isolated from the mainland, and there are no pressures from human beings, this colony is a perfect study population. Central Queensland University are currently leading a research project which is looking at characteristics and behaviours of the St Bees colony to get an understanding of factors such as:
- breeding structure
- when and why they bellow
- what happens when they fight
- how they space themselves across the landscape
- how they share their resources
- how they communicate, and
- why they have less tooth wear than koalas at other sites
This research project commenced in 1998, and continues to seek findings which will provide crucial information to assist in the fight to save remaining koala habitats and colonies
Researchers use Keswick Island as their base when regularly visiting the St Bees koala colony. From Keswick, you can reach St Bees by boat from Keswick Island, being only 620m across Egremont Passage. If you walk gently through the eucalyptus forest, or kayak slowly along the coast, and look very closely you may be lucky enough to spot a koala or two.
For further information, contact us.