EVERYONE, including NSW Tourism, loves Port Macquarie’s Hello Koalas Sculpture Trail which last night won Silver for Cultural Tourism at the 2018 NSW Tourism Awards.
Hello Koalas was also a finalist in the Tourist Attractions category.
Project director Margret Meagher said she was delighted to gain the recognition for Port Macquarie, saying “we live in paradise”.
She said it was also important acknowledgement for the business sponsors of the Hello Koalas Sculpture Trail and the talented artists involved in creating each unique koala on the growing trail.
“It’s their backing and creativity which allow us to create this really strong message about koala conservation,” Ms Meagher said.
“Port Macquarie-Hastings has the largest koala population on the east coast but, as in other areas of NSW, it is in decline and raising awareness is a very important step in halting this.”
The Hello Koalas Sculpture Trail currently comprises 62 one-metre high individually designed and handpainted koala characters dotted across the region, encouraging people to explore.
Three more koalas are about to be revealed this summer.
An online store has also been prepared in time for Christmas, with high-quality products including a 2019 calendar, colouring books, T-shirts, tote bags, tea towels, bookmarks, stickers, magnets and other memorabilia.
“It’s a great resource for locals and visitors alike, so they can take home a little piece of Port Macquarie and look back on their visit or send a special piece of home to family and friends,” Ms Meagher said.
“They will make wonderful gifts for people overseas, because of course everyone loves our iconic Australian koalas, but they are under threat, and this is a great way to help them.
“We are really proud to be able to spread this message of conservation throughout our local community but also to visitors far and wide.”
The sculpture trail is currently No. 3 of things to do in the region on TripAdvisor, behind only the coastal walk and its great friend, the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital, and has grown to include an annual festival over the June long weekend.
Yesterday’s win is not the first win for Hello Koalas, which took home Gold for Cultural Tourism at last year’s presentation, and earlier this year won Gold in the same category in the North Coast Regional Tourism Awards, and Silver as one of the region’s leading tourist attractions.
Hello Koalas is an Arts and Health Australia project, conceived by its executive director, Margret Meagher. Find out more at www.hellokoalas.com