Koala loses habitat, author finds voice

SAMANTHA Wheeler knew she wanted to write a children’s book with a message, but she never imagined she would become a wildlife warrior in the process.

The Redland Bay writer says she was inspired to write Smooch and Rose, a tale about a little girl and her fight to protect koalas and their habitats, after a devastating discovery two years ago.

“Across the road from my daughter’s school at Thornlands, there was a beautiful stand of gum trees, which was home to a koala. He was always there and tourist buses used to stop on their way to Stradbroke Island to see him,’’ she says.

“One morning I saw that the whole lot was gone, it had been completely cleared, and I thought, ‘But this is a koala habitat, surely that’s not allowed?’

“I rang the council and they said if the koala wasn’t in a tree at the time, then clearing was allowed – I thought, ‘Right! There’s my story’.’’

The reluctant ‘greenie’ but confessed animal lover says while environmental issues are important to her, the one thing she hopes children learn from reading her book is that they have a voice and it’s worth hearing.

“Everyone can make a difference,’’ she said.

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