Ex-cop rescues koala as northern NSW burns

Video showing an ex-policeman giving a badly burnt koala a drink of water is an emotional scene - one among many - coming out of the devastation on the NSW North Coast.

Former Wauchope area police officer Darrell "Doc" Halliday spotted the juvenile female on the side of a trail in the Bellangry State Forest, near his home west of Port Macquarie.

"She was in a world of hurt. She didn't even move when I walked up to her, she was singed all over and her eyes were shut.

"I gave her a drink and she perked up a bit. The staff from the koala hospital couldn't come to get her as they are all under the pump, so I wrapped her in a blanket and took her back in the car."

Doc said his neighbour works at the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital, but given it's working to capacity in the midst of these horrific fires, she also has a small refuge at home where he took the poor creature.

They've been giving her plenty of fluids over the past 24 hours - "koala Gatorade" Doc called it - to the point where she opened her eyes and livened up enough to munch on a small amount of leaves as well, "which was a good sign".

"In another day or so they said they'd knock her out to clean the burns.

"She's in an enclosure with two or three others so she's not alone."

Doc said his friend said the staff at the koala hospital believe anything from 300-500 koalas have perished in this week's fires.

"They're not coming back in our lifetime," he lamented.

"She was the only living thing I saw out there that day - not even flies. The poor little buggers."

As well as the loss of wildlife, numerous homes and assets have been lost in the ongoing fires around Port Macquarie and Wauchope.

According to the Rural Fire Service as at 7.45am Thursday a fire in the Mount Seaview, west of Wauchope, is more than 69,600 hectares in size and is not yet controlled.

Doc said the situation was horrendous.

"Even inside the house you can still smell the smoke, like being beside a campfire," he said.

"This'll only stop when it's got nothing left to burn, when it hits the ocean."

He said no-one in his neighbourhood had evacuated as yet, but they were all packed and on alert.

"The only thing saving us right now is the lack of wind.

"The fire that burnt all the houses down around here wasn't even the firefront, it was a spot fire, the front is still coming.

"But maybe the spot fire has saved us by creating a break."

He praised the firefighters who surrounded and saved his 100-year-old weatherboard home from the flames.

"They're exhausted, but they're doing a great job."

  • To find out more or donate to the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital, click here
This story Ex-cop rescues koala as northern NSW burns first appeared on Bega District News.