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Trees for koalas around the You Yangs, Little River and Lara Victoria

Written by Janine Duffy

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As we all know, koalas are fussy eaters. So what are the right trees to plant for koalas in your area?  That depends on where you are.  Every region of Australia has it's own native/indigenous suite of plants, and they are the right plants to cultivate.  Are they koala trees?  Will they 'attract' koalas?  Maybe...it all depends. 


If you are planting around the You Yangs Ranges, Little River or Lara we can offer the following suggestions - 

In the granite belt - foothills of the You Yangs, all the way along Granite Road.

(Zone 15 on Indigenous Plants of Geelong Region: Zone 15)

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Eureka in a River Red Gum

  • River Red Gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis) is the native large eucalypt of the lower slopes, creeks and river banks. This is a magnificent tree that koalas adore. In our You Yangs research area it is their number 1 favourite tree.
  • Gippsland Blue Gum (E. pseudoglobulus) is the main smooth-barked eucalypt of the upper slopes of the You Yangs. It is favoured by koalas. There is also another species of Blue Gum planted in the You Yangs that koalas also eat, but its best to stick with the naturally-occurring E. pseudoglobulus.
  • Yellow Gum (E leucoxylon) is the tall Y-shaped forest tree of the lower slopes of the You Yangs. Koalas eat this too - it is their third favourite in our research area.
  • Red Box (E polyanthemos) is the brown-barked tree with rounded leaves that koalas love to shelter in on hot days. It grows on the hot, dry slopes.
  • Red Ironbark (E tricarpa) is the black-barked tree with lovely bluish leaves that sometimes has pink flowers. Like Red Box, koalas prefer this tree on hot days. It also grows on the hot, dry slopes.

Manna Gum (E viminalis) grows in some parts of the You Yangs, particularly the north-east around the mountain bike area. Widely believed to be koala's favourite tree, in the You Yangs we have not found this to be the case. They do eat it.

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Oatsie high in a River Red Gum near a waterbody

Around the You Yangs, south to Lara, along Hovells Creek and east of Staughton Vale along the Little River:

(Zone 14 on the Indigenous Plants of Geelong Region: zone 14)

  • River Red Gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis) along creeks and river banks. This is a magnificent tree that koalas adore. In our You Yangs research area it is their number 1 favourite tree.
  • Yellow Gum (E leucoxylon) is the tall Y-shaped forest tree of the lower slopes of the You Yangs. Koalas eat this too - it is their third favourite in our research area.
  • Grey Box and Yellow Box (E.microcarpa and E. melliodora) are both box-barked trees of the drier areas in the plains north of the You Yangs. The are beautiful trees. Koalas eat both species.

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Pat in a Yellow Gum

The Werribee Plains and Little River town area:

(Zone 16 on the Indigenous Plants of Geelong Region: Zone 16)

Naturally this area was mostly grassland, with lines of trees along rivers, creeks, billabongs and watercourses. Even though there weren't many trees, these riverside corridors are extremely important for koalas - they probably use these to move from forest to forest safely, and trees around waterholes are important refuges on hot days.

  • River Red Gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis) along creeks and river banks. This is a magnificent tree that koalas adore. In our You Yangs research area it is their number 1 favourite tree.
  • Grey Box (E.microcarpa) is a beautiful box-barked tree of the drier watercourses. Koalas eat them.

Introduced Gum Trees:

Throughout the region many other eucalyptus trees are planted. Any large tree is potentially important for koalas - they prefer to be up high, and are safe there. Don't remove it unless you are planning to replace it with an indigenous tree. I have personally witness koalas eating the following, but rarely:

Sugar Gum (E cladocalyx)
Swamp Yate (E occidentalis)
Brown Mallett (E astringens)
Lemon-scented Gum (Corymbia citriodora)
Spotted Gum (Corymbia maculata)

Koalas seek shade in the following trees:

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Eureka in a Radiata Pine - she loved them on hot days

Cherry Ballart (Exocarpos cupressiformis) - this native tree is very important to koalas on hot days, and possibly protects them from bushfire. If you are lucky enough to have these on your property, keep them!!
All types of large wattle (Acacia implexa, mearnsii, pycnantha) and She-oaks (Allocasuarina verticillata, luehmannii) and Paperbarks (Melaleuca lanceolata)
Introduced Radiata Pine
Hakeas and Banksias

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Clancy in a Pincushion Hakea - not even native to this region, but an important shade tree

Important point - if your property is in an area that is naturally grassland, don't cover it with trees just to 'make' koalas live there. It won't work, and it will be the wrong thing for the ecosystem. Native grasslands are critically endangered ecosystems, and should be protected and recreated. The best thing for koalas is a healthy ecosystem. So improve your native grassland, enjoy the species that live there, and watch out for koalas along the nearest waterway!

Don't forget to follow Koala Clancy on Facebook for more great tips! https://www.facebook.com/koalaClancy

on 24 February 2016
Created: 29 February 2016
Last Updated: 29 February 2016