Sepia Saturday: Aussie royalty – the koala

Sepia Saturday Header

How could I resist this wonderful Sepia Saturday prompt which had passed me by until I read Jollett Etc’s post today?

koala sign croppedThe koala is, of course, a key icon of Australia – they look cuddly and cute, even if all they do is sleep much of the day and between-times munch on a gum leaf or two. In fact, they’re rarely seen in much of Australia these days though I know LoneTester is lucky enough to have them near her home. Despite the local signs, I haven’t seen any koalas or roos as yet, and I surely don’t want to see them on the road!

One place I used to see them in the wild quite often was when we’d visit Magnetic Island off the coast of Townsville. It was a tremendous koala habitat and patience was rewarded with regular sightings. In those days the old Kodak camera just wasn’t up to capturing their images though.

koalas at lone pine 1939 copy

1930. Koalas at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, photographed for Mrs Forgan Smith, October 1939, Queensland State Archives. Copyright expired.

German Shepherd and Koala Lone Pine
Photographed c1960 by P Cass

Brisbane has a long-lived tradition of showing its tourists the cuddly koala at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. While many similar places have limited access to them, they can still be handled by besotted tourists from Princess Alexandra of Kent(1959) or the Russian Ballet troupe (1961) to The Legal Genealogist (2016).  Luckily for all of them the koalas were on their best behaviour and didn’t piddle on royalty, British or genealogical, although it’s possible they were bored and yawned.

Of course it’s not just the tourists who would make the pilgrimage to see the koala at Brisbane’s iconic tourist spot. Back in the day it was a “special treat” outing for children during school holidays. We would catch the ferry from North Quay and arrive upriver at Lone Pine to be greeted by the German Shepherd with a koala on its back.

pauleen Lone Pine
oh my, look at those freckles!


Pauleen Kunkel Valerie Carstens middle and Pauline Morris and brothers Lone Pine
A picnic with family friends by the river at Lone Pine c1960.

You can see from these photos that my family made occasional visits to Lone Pine. While our children didn’t get to go to Lone Pine, they’ve managed to cuddle a koala on a couple of occasions.

Rach Louisa and Bec and koala crop
My small bear is looking a little worried about that ‘bear”..perhaps she knew she was in the “firing line” if it decided to wee.


Koalas Lone Pine news fm TroveLone Pine has always been proud of its reputation, boasting proudly back in 1939 of four generations of koalas living there. The trend for popularity is long established as one was named “Princess” and another “Amy Johnson” and our own Aussie genearoyalty, Jill.  I notice that the sanctuary was still referring to koalas as bears, which they’re not.  Don’t you love the photo from our good friend Trove of a whole row of koalas?

So there we have it, one post combining “Trove Tuesday”, “Sepia Saturday” and a planned-for-another-day “Monday Memories” post.

Have you ever cuddled a koala? Are they on your bucket list? If so you might want to think about visiting Australia for Congress 2018, our triennial family history conference.

And if you think they’re always docile, check out this video which has been doing the rounds on Facebook and YouTube.


FOUR GENERATIONS OF KOALAS (1935, July 6). The Courier-Mail (Brisbane, Qld. : 1933 – 1954), , p. 12. Retrieved June 21, 2016, from

Here are some photos of my aunt and cousins, Patsy and Jimmy, at Lone Pine. Sadly they are all deceased now.

Mary farraher with koala
Aunty Mary, perhaps circa 1995.
My grandmother with cousin Patsy and koala.
My grandmother with cousin Patsy and koala.


My cousin Jimmy being introduced to a koala.
My cousin Jimmy being introduced to a koala.






14 thoughts on “Sepia Saturday: Aussie royalty – the koala

  1. Those koalas riding piggyback are sooooo cute! I enjoyed this post and all the pictures. But now I’m imagining what it must be like to be driving along and seeing a kangaroo on the road.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, they do look adorable 🙂 usually what you do when you see a roo out bush is think “oh dear!” Or words less polite….you really want yo avoid a collision if you can help it as it won’t do you, the roo or the car any good. I had a near miss when I drove from Darwin last year…don’t know who got the bigger fright – me or the roo as he spun on his “heels” very close to my car.


    1. Of course holding them is somewhat frowned upon these days. How lucky to have seen them in the bush. There was a park in Brisbane’s outskirts where you’d see them sometimes but having been away from Brisbane for so long I don’t know if they’re still there.


  2. We’ve visited Australia a few times and were lucky enough to see Kolas in the wild on one trip. We were somewhere close to the Great Ocean Road at the time, possibly Otways? Since then we’ve seen them a couple of times in wildlife sanctuaries but never again in the wild. Our son and daughter in law do see one in their garden from time to time (in Adelaide) so we are hoping he/she will still be around next time we visit.
    I really enjoyed your post and all your photographs.


    1. Thanks Barbara for commenting. Yes, the Otways seem quite possible from what I’ve heard. How wonderful if you get to see the koala at your son’s place!! A combination of in the wild yet close to hand.


  3. I grew up on the Mojave Desert in California, far from koalas. However every year throughout elementary school a boy named Clarence brought a stuffed koala bear to show and tell day. His mother was from Australia and that seemed very exotic to us school children. Not the real deal, but your post evoked the memory.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. How interesting…it shows how iconic they are. I’m pretty sure I sent my US pen friends a similar koala…they were usually made from rabbit skin I think.


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