Port Stephens koala, found in a lounge chair, stuns Soldiers Point residents

PERCHED on the lounge like it was no one’s business a misdirected koala gave one Soldiers Point resident one hell of a fright.

As Michele Goodman wrestled her mountain bike through the front door on Tuesday night she saw what at first seemed like a possum. 

“Zoey was barking and I’ve told her to shut up,” the casual school teacher said. 

“But then I saw it and was yelling, ‘there’s a koala on my lounge’.”

Full of adrenaline Ms Goodman turned to her partner Vicki Haines, lost for what to do. A couple of phone calls put them in touch with the Hunter Koala Preservation Society.

And so begun the wait.

“It had the right idea sitting in front of the heater and TV,” Ms Haines said.

“But we couldn’t offer it a beer or wine because we’re doing Dry July.”

With the koala now between them and the front door they wondered how they might finish unpacking the car after their day trip.

Ms Goodman opted to jump the side fence rather than tangle with the sizable young male.

“It’s claws were just massive so I didn’t want to get too close,” she said.

Once the initial shock wore off they took some photos to share with family and friends on Facebook. Even the rescuers Simone Aurino and her wildlife warrior of a son, Mason, were happy to pose for shots with the safely caged ‘Tough Bugger’. He was so named with a heavy dose of irony, found in such plush quarters.

“I often come out on rescues with mum,” Mason said.

The 12-year-old cultivates green tree frogs and keeps snakes – though he’s quick to point out they’re kept separate.

“He even finds frogs at the beach,” Ms Aurino said.

“He’s like his older brother Bailey, who only wanted to be called ‘Steve’, after Steve Irwin.

“Bailey broke out of pre-school one day and took a few of the other kids into the bush to find some wildlife.”

Tough Bugger stumbled into the home through the dog door.

Ms Aurino said koalas establish a territory in their first 18 months of life and tend to follow a straight line from tree-to-tree.

“Finding them in homes is becoming more and more common because there isn’t the connectivity of habitat there once was,” she said.

“Working with Port Stephens Council we’re encouraging people to plant appropriate street trees.”

One rescuer was recently called to a bedroom on the Tomaree peninsula to rescue Ted.

“This man thought his wife had bought a stuffed bear until it moved,” Ms Aurino said.

Many of the koalas on the peninsula struggle with one disease or another but Tough Bugger at six kilos is a picture of health.

“He’s not an alpha male yet but we hope he will be,” Ms Aurino said.

For more on koala care and habitat preservation visit www.hunterkoala.com.

The koala encounter is certainly not the first time people have shared close quarters with wild animals.

Nor can we can’t forget the seagull in a hurry for some curry.

But Ramsay has nothing on this kitchen nightmare.

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