Port Stephens Council and Hunter Water present Port Stephens Koalas group with keys to four-wheel-drive

FULLY EQUIPPED: Port Stephens Koalas vice president Ron Land with Hunter Water managing director Jim Bentley and Port Stephens Council general manager Wayne Wallis. Picture: Sam Norris
FULLY EQUIPPED: Port Stephens Koalas vice president Ron Land with Hunter Water managing director Jim Bentley and Port Stephens Council general manager Wayne Wallis. Picture: Sam Norris

Port Stephens Koalas pressed its new four-wheel-drive into action only hours after it took delivery.

The organisation previously known as Hunter Koala Preservation Society received a call from Glen Oak that an alpha male was in a bad way.

“It was only the second day we had it,” vice president Ron Land said.

“The koala – Gavin the Gorilla – had been hit by a car and left with a broken leg.”

Since the beginning of March the volunteers have already racked up 3000 kilometres on rescues and leaf gathering missions.

Hunter Water and Port Stephens Council conducted the official handover on Thursday. They contributed $16,000 and $10,000 toward the vehicle respectively.

“We’re pleased in joining with Hunter Water in funding this vehicle that we hope will mean more koalas saved and returned safely to their habitat,” the council’s general manager Wayne Wallis said.

Hunter Water managing director Jim Bentley said it was money well spent to support such a hard working organisation.

“We believe we have an important role to play ensuring the sustainable growth of the Hunter region, and this includes promoting and protecting the natural environment for future generations to enjoy,” he said.

The 4WD is the organisations second vehicle. A van has been it’s only means of transport for years.

“With the 4WD we can really get off road and go ‘leafing’,” Mr Land said.

“Previously we’ve had to rely on volunteers using private vehicles and the SES and RFS.”

The second vehicle has doubled the group’s presence in the community.

“When we’re stopped in a vehicle it’s like a magnet to people,” Mr Land said.

“The community has got a great deal of affection for what we do.

“It’s extremely common for people to express that gratitude when they see us on the road.”

Gavin the Gorilla remains in care after he was hit by the car. So named for his dislike of human interaction, carers have had his broken leg pinned and is on the road to a speedy recovery.