Our History

Our History

The Port Macquarie Koala Hospital was opened in 1973 by local residents, Jean and Max Starr. Jean and Max were local shop keepers who observed local koalas, witnessed the development of the town and were determined to help injured and sick koalas.

The Port Macquarie Koala Hospital remains dedicated to the Starrs’ original mission: to rescue, rehabilitate and release wild koalas, and to provide a facility where all visitors can learn about this unique Australian species.


Koala Preservation Society of NSW Inc formed in Port Macquarie.


The first Port Macquarie Koala Hospital opened.

1985 A larger Koala Hospital was constructed and Jean Starr was awarded the Order of Australia (OAM).

1986 Australian country music star, John Williamson, visits the Koala Hospital and composes the song “Goodbye, Blinky Bill" after seeing and hearing about the problems facing koalas.


John Williamson Intensive Care wing added to the Hospital, funded by royalties from ‘Goodbye, Blinky Bill’.


Increased national and international media interest.

2000 onwards Increased collaboration with researchers and government agencies.

2005 Further expansion of the Hospital completed through funds provided by overseas benefactor, including more intensive care units, extensions to outside yards, large treatment room with viewing window and souvenir shop.

2013 First National Koala Conference.

2014 Opening of “Koalaseum” an educational, interactive museum about koalas

2017 Second National Koala Conference.

2019 Koala Conservation Australia awarded $5,000,000 grant to redevelop Port Macquarie Koala Hospital.

2020 Work begins on redeveloping Port Macquarie Koala Hospital

2021 Work begins on Wild Koala Breeding and Research Program funded by donations from the public.

2022 Third National Koala Conference - Date to be announced

Greatest threats to Koalas
How you can get involved ‘hands on’