Hello Koalas and Wauchope profiled on BBC

Stone the crows: 'Stoney' the koala is not too sure what to make of the Bruce Whittaker-painted Hello Koala sculpture at Billabong Zoo.  
Pic: Lindsay Moller
Stone the crows: 'Stoney' the koala is not too sure what to make of the Bruce Whittaker-painted Hello Koala sculpture at Billabong Zoo. Pic: Lindsay Moller
Blossoming: Artist Kylie Mobbs has created 'Bago Blossum the Amaze-ing Koala', to be located at Bago Vineyards. Community Champions Jim and Kay Mobbs and their talented family will proudly display Bago Blossum along the Hello Koalas Sculpture Trail when it launches in September.  
 Photo by Lindsay Moller. Photography Copyright Arts and Health Australia.

Blossoming: Artist Kylie Mobbs has created 'Bago Blossum the Amaze-ing Koala', to be located at Bago Vineyards. Community Champions Jim and Kay Mobbs and their talented family will proudly display Bago Blossum along the Hello Koalas Sculpture Trail when it launches in September. Photo by Lindsay Moller. Photography Copyright Arts and Health Australia.

THE Hello Koalas Sculpture Trail, which launches in September, encompasses 50 one metre high fibreglass koala sculptures sporting an artistic array of colourful, quirky, fun and often very beautiful designs.

This month Linda Hall, Hello Koalas project manager, received a surprise email from BBC UK TV. The producer had heard about the Hello Koalas Sculpture Trail and wanted to include it on BBC TV's popular Travel Show, a global travel program on BBC World News and BBC Two, which has an audience of 70m people.

The only hitch was that BBC TV wanted to access photographic footage within a week so that the Hello Koalas segment would be on air in August in the lead-up to the launch the following month. Voice-overs were to be provided by BBC journalists so that also meant sending over to London a folio of photographs and information about where the Hello Koalas Sculpture Trail would lead people and the artists who had collaborated on painting the koala sculptures.

With local photographer Nathan Branch, Ms Hall set out to capture the essence of the Hello Koalas Sculpture Trail and the beauty of the Port Macquarie Hastings region, from the coast to the hinterland, in just two days.

Community Champions for Wauchope include the Wauchope Chamber of Commerce, Meltique Beef (Hokubee Pty Ltd), Bunyah Aboriginal Land Council, Digital Signs and Printing, Bennetts Steel and Jeannette Rainbow.

For information about the Community Champions for Wauchope campaign, contact Margret Meagher, project director of the Hello Koalas Sculpture Trail, on 0416 641 482 or email info@hellokoalas.com

To showcase the Wauchope district, footage was captured at Billabong Zoo and Wildlife Park, where 'Stoney' the sculpture, painted by Billabong's artist-in-residence, Bruce Whitakker, came face to face with 'Stoney' the real life koala.

Bago Vineyards was also included, with footage of 'Blossom - the Amaze-ing Koala' sculpture painted by Kellie Mobbs, the talented daughter of Jim and Kay Mobbs.

The koala sculptures destined for Wauchope itself are still being painted so Linda was unable to film these designs but the Comboyne Community's 'Cowala' sculpture, by artist Kim Staples, was profiled in one of the photo shoots alongside 'Forest', a sculpture sponsored by Forestry Corporation of NSW, featuring an intricate design by artist Pauline Roods, showing over 150 species found in local NSW state forests.

This koala design will form the basis of a schools and educational program around koala conservation and sustainable forestry.

Forestry Corporation of NSW, based in Wauchope, is also one of the growing band of Community Champions for Wauchope who are financially contributing to the two sculptures planned for Wauchope - one being painted by TAFE Aboriginal art students and the other a vividly coloured design dedicated to the floral emblem for Wauchope, the lasiandra.

The Community Champions for Wauchope campaign is inviting local organisations, businesses and citizens to support these two special koala sculptures which ensures that Wauchope is featured on the Hello Koalas Sculpture Trail and will benefit from the hundreds of thousands of people expected to take the Hello Koalas Sculpture Trail from September 2014 to December 2015.

Hello Koalas Sculpture Trail has been inspired by a similar animal sculpture trail in the UK, 'Larkin with Toads', which attracted 120,000 people in just 10 weeks.

Businesses reported a substantial increase in revenues and custom during the period of the trail.

"Everyone is welcome to contribute to this important cultural tourism project and benefit the Wauchope community," said Margret Meagher.