Wetlands, woodlands and wildlife make Tandora a special home.

Story Amanda Burdon   Photo Mark Jeffries 

The memoir of Lindsay Titmarsh’s late father Gordon tells a sobering story. Back in the 1920s, the family’s Queensland property Tandora, between Hervey Bay and Maryborough, “was teeming with wildlife, there were possums and koalas everywhere”.

Fast forward to 2010 and although much of the wildlife was still in abundance, there was not a koala to be seen. Koala populations surrounding Tandora had contracted – victims of historic hunting for their pelts, chlamydia, land clearing, dog attacks and car accidents. Local koala experts were questioning the legislated practice of returning animals that had been rescued and rehabilitated to their former homes, however hazardous.

No-nonsense cattle farmer Lindsay has never been one to sit on his hands. He couldn’t see the merit of sending koalas back to poor habitat either, especially when he had just the healthy woodland they needed on 4400ha Tandora. “These little fellas have been run over or chewed by dogs or been sick with chlamydia,” he says. “They need somewhere safe to go.” 

Bounded on three sides by the sister rivers Mary and Susan, at the end of a dead-end road, and free from chlamydia and domestic animals, Tandora was a perfect release site, Lindsay argued. After years of wrangling, the Queensland Government finally agreed. 

And so it was, in early 2014, that the first koala couple – Chelsea and Cobber – clambered up two trees on the property, as part of an extensive University of Queensland relocation trial. After an absence of 80 years, the koalas were back. “Dad would have loved it,” Lindsay says. “He was so disappointed when they vanished from Tandora after thousands of years. We probably only have 25 or 30 here at the moment, but they’re breeding and they’re fat, and we hope to get about 20 more. We reckon in 10 or 15 years’ time we might have 100; the grandkids are mad keen. Even San Diego Zoo is interested in the tracking and monitoring program that our scientists are doing, but the koalas ... well they’re just doing their thing.”

It’s the latest chapter in Lindsay’s journey from grazier to author/photographer and naturalist; to becoming an accidental greenie who gives occasional nature tours and speaks to schoolchildren about sustainability. 

This story excerpt is from Issue #127

Outback Magazine: Oct/Nov 2019