News from the Field

An update from AWC’s newest sanctuary, Gorton Forest

14 Jun. 2023
Brad Leue/AWC

Situated less than three hours north of Sydney, AWC’s newest sanctuary protects 3,932 hectares of native forest in the Hunter region of New South Wales – lush habitat for the Endangered Koala and many forest-dwelling species that do not currently occur within AWC’s network of sanctuaries and partnership areas.

Located on the Traditional Lands of the Worimi Nation, Gorton Forest Sanctuary is a working title and AWC is seeking to consult with the Local Aboriginal Land Council on an appropriate name.

Gorton Forest Sanctuary, New South Wales Brad Leue/AWC
Gorton Forest Sanctuary, New South Wales

Getting a new sanctuary of this magnitude off the ground requires diligent effort and a lot of collaboration. Keep reading for the latest update from our field team working at Gorton Forest.

“We haven’t spotted a koala in person yet… That said, the team have taken up the challenge of finding these elusive marsupials and have discovered countless fresh claw marks on trees throughout the sanctuary, so it is only a matter of time.” –  Josh Gunthrie, Senior Land Management Officer.

While on their recent Koala quest, AWC team members photographed their favourite residents, including the Spotted-Tailed Quoll, the Eastern Brown Snake, the Diamond Python, the Shingleback Lizard, as well as mesmerizing, fairytale-level fungi.

The homestead is now occupied by AWC staff, who are working hard to create a secure and comfortable living space for future science and operational staff, volunteers, interns, and visitors. They are working to build strong relationships with Traditional Owners, the Worimi people, their neighbours, the NSW Rural Fire Service, and the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service.

Gorton Forest Sanctuary homestead Josh Guthrie/AWC
Gorton Forest Sanctuary homestead

The team has already accomplished significant safety and procurement work and is now evaluating the most effective methods to contain weeds like blackberry and lantana. Clearing the intricate network of access trails across the forest is no easy task, but as Senior Land Management Officer Josh jokingly puts it, all the tough bushwhacking work is more than worth it to “establish a joyful abode.”

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