New baby koala makes her debut at Hartley’s


Karlie Brady


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Hartley's brand new baby Koala ‘Paradise’ (centre) hanging with the bigger koalas. Image: Nick Leyshan.

Hartley's Crocodile Adventures might be known for its sharp-toothed ancient reptiles but recently a cuddlier creature has been delighting visitors.

A baby Koala named Paradise has recently made her debut to visitors at Hartley’s in time for the School Holidays.

Hartley’s director, Angela Freeman, said the female Joey who is around 10 months old was born to mum MJ who was also born and raised at Hartley’s.

“She is now enjoying the new world of our Gondwana Gateway but is always close to mum for some milk and a cuddle,” Ms Freeman said.

The Koalas are never short on a meal thanks to Hartley’s four Koala food tree plantations in Miallo, Mareeba, and Smithfield High School.

“During the lockdown period, our teams worked very hard on our plantations to bring them up to tip-top condition including caring for hundreds of new gum trees which we’ve been planting to replace old trees, past their time,” Ms Freeman said.

Hartley’s has only recently reopened its doors to the public in the last few weeks, coming out of hibernation thanks to COVID-19.

“The team is extremely happy about re-opening and are just loving welcoming visitors and taking time to talk to them and answer their questions.

“It’s very satisfying to see the joy in visitors faces after such a difficult time, being able to enjoy our natural setting, the animals, and some quality time with their family and loved ones. It is really special. People are just so supportive and appreciative; we’ve been truly blessed,” she said.

Like most tourism-related businesses in the region, Hartley’s has been doing it tough, however, they couldn’t just go home during lockdown, they had to stay and care for hundreds of animals behind closed doors.

“The team was absolutely amazing and inspirational during the entire time and devoted themselves to the care of our animals while all pitching in to do a major refurbishment of our public areas which now looks brand new.”

One of the new projects competed is the ‘Slither and Slide’ Adventure playground which has already been a big hit with the families.

Ms Freeman said while it has been a difficult time it was also a remarkable experience in many ways.

“For us as owners, we really developed some very close bonds with our team as we were all going through a shared experience together.

“There were many very difficult and challenging times dealing with the highs and lows of announcements which got our hopes up only to be dashed when things did not eventuate.

“It has been a huge battle. Every week has presented enormous obstacles with benefits in some cases but loads of complexity. There has not been a ‘normal’ week the whole time.”

Ms Freeman is cautious of how the rest of the year will play out with currently only a “trickle of visitors from Queensland”, interstate travellers missing most of the peak school holiday season and of course no international visitors for the foreseeable future, severely impacting all tour operators.

“We face the most challenging low season, ever in our history,” she said.

“Job Keeper was a lifesaver and we pray that it does not end at the end of September as there are too many challenges yet in front of us.”

Ms Freeman also implored locals to get out and explore the incredible attractions in our own backyard.

“If you’ve always thought ‘I’ll get around to doing that’, do it now.

“The time to take action and support the industry which provides the lion’s share of revenue directly and indirectly to our region is now.

“Now we need you to all reach out to your friends and relatives and get them to come to our region and spend time and some money,” she said.

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