‘The Koalas’ hits the Hills and Valley

'The Koalas' film will be showcasing around the Yarra Ranges and Valley, beginning in Belgrave on Sunday June 30. picture: Gregory Miller

by Gabriella Vukman

Winding its way throughout the nation, a new film raising awareness and invoking a new perspective on koala conservation has reached the screens of the Yarra Valley and Ranges.

‘The Koalas’ film delves into the plight of the fluffy marsupial totem that is now listed as endangered in Queensland, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory.

Having shown on Sunday in Belgrave with future screenings scheduled around the Valley and Ranges such as in Healesville, filmmakers, creators and producers of ‘the Koalas’ Gregory Miller and Georgia Wallace-Crabbe are encouraging locals to hold their own screenings.

Gregory said, “One thing about the film is that we have made the film so that it is for a general audience. It’s rated g so you can even bring kids to it.”

“And it doesn’t have horrible graphic detail in it. We’ve kept it to tell the story without having to show graphic images even though those images are out there,” Gregory said.

“We want to reach as wide an audience as possible. So that’s our strategy for making the film, was to make it accessible to people. The feedback we are getting is that people are finding it a very emotional experience, but I think that is because they genuinely care about the animals anyway.”

Gregory and Georgia set out to encourage and inspire their audience to take action.

“We want people to come away with a sense that it is not a lost cause, that we can turn this around. It is a film that is purposeful and not negative,” George said.

With the Hills and the Yarra Valley’s status as a peri-urban area, the loss of habitat and support for animal aid are two major contentions that underpin the entire film.

Gregory said, “The issue in areas like the Yarra Valley and Ranges is that there is expansion going on. Houses are being built, roads are being constructed. Every time that happens we lose trees and when that happens in an area that is rich with animal life, they suffer and that’s what we are seeing in Victoria and everywhere around the big cities of Australia.”

“One of the key problems that Koalas are facing is that they are interfaced with humans around the edges of the cities. We need to really change the way that we allow development to take place and there needs to be a new approach to design.”

Co Filmmaker of ‘The Koalas’ Georgia said, “The history of the translocation of koalas in Victoria has made it a very unclear story, but koalas have been lost right across the landscape in Victoria in all the areas that have been cleared for farming and in some places like Gippsland where the iconic Straseci koala has hung on because of paddock trees and a mixture of pockets of bushland amongst farmland. The conversion of those areas to forestry has significantly impacted the remaining habitat for koalas.”

“Both in the Upper Yarra and in Gippsland, koalas have hung on in habitats that are now being encroached on either for farming or forestry so the net loss is always less trees and therefore, less habitat. It’s not just for koalas, it’s also for greater gliders and other species,” Georgia said.

“Sometimes Victorians don’t have a sense of where they were in the landscape because it was cleared a hundred years ago.”

Each Yarra Valley and Ranges screening will be accompanied by a discussion with a panel of local experts who will speak on the issues pertaining to Koalas in the local area of the screening.

With extensive native timber logging and development, resulting in the increasing loss of koala habitat, ‘The Koalas’ film promotes the rallying of locals together in order to prevent the 2025 extinction of the koala species.

Georgia said, “I think it’s Very important on local government level that the moratorium really be placed on the clearing of any remnant bush. You’ve got a lot of fantastic, amazing forest, but it’s the chipping away at the edges and in forests that are on private land. All of this is just eliminating the last remaining bits of habitat that these animals can live in.”

“Maybe the trees are protected in the State forests but they are still being chipped away at, so local councils really need to put the animals first in their thinking rather than taking out the last remnant stands of trees like has been happening all over the place,” Georgia said.

‘We need to put pressure on local councils.”

For more information, visit the film’s website at https://www.thekoalasfilm.com/