New giant koala installed on side of Appin Road

We all know Appin is home to a thriving community of koalas, but now there's a new resident who's a little bit bigger.

Well, actually, a lot bigger.

Appin Community Hub has just welcomed a giant fibreglass koala into the town.

The big koala, who is yet to be named, can be found on the corner of Appin Road and Market Street, near the Appin Hotel and park.

Appin Community Hub's Lauren Eade said the koala, which was delivered from South Australia and installed with the help of "a few boys eating lunch at the pub", was designed to not only be a tourism draw, but also highlight the importance of the local koala population.

"This has a bit of a tourism impact, but it's also about the environmental concerns out in Appin at the moment," she said. "There's a lot of push for development and we want to make sure that there are plans around the wildlife corridors. We want to drive a bit of awareness that there are lots and lots of koalas in Appin and we'd like to really see planning done around their conservation.

"It's already sparked some conversation and engagement so far, especially with things like the Outer Sydney Orbital in discussions."

While the giant koala certainly makes its mark, it's not the only new resident in town.

The Community Hub also commissioned several local artists to paint smaller, 80-centimetre koalas which will be placed around the Appin township.

"The local artists will paint their own unique koala, which will then be sponsored by a business in Appin and the Wollondilly surrounds," Ms Eade said. "They'll be placed out as art installations in the town. We wanted to get a bit of a koala trail started and we've put out four different koalas so far.

"This was a way to bolster the arts in the area, as a lot of artists have lost business during Covid. This way we can give them some paid work and businesses and local groups can support them."

Ms Eade hopes that the koala trail can grow to a real tourism draw, with people visiting the town and following the trail of koalas to spend more time and money in Appin. She said the koalas could be placed at sites of cultural and historic importance, and information about the trail could be included on a website.

"We've got one of the little koalas in a tree outside the public school, there's one at the skate park," Ms Eade said.

"We can send them to places that are important to history, or architecture, interesting businesses that they might not know are here, like the Sydney Doll Hospital.

"When they search the trail, it might give a bit more opportunity for those businesses and places."

Ms Eade said the big koala was sponsored by Bright Sparks, the day care centres operated by herself and her sister Lesley Thomas.

The pair started Appin Community Hub with Deb Monte, Kate Gay and Danielle Crotty.

"Danielle was one of our friends, a super duper community advocate who helped out at the footy club and with any volunteering she could," Ms Eade said.

"She helped us out with the Appin carols, and she passed away on the night of our last carols, in 2019.

"She's given us the drive to keep going on with all we set out to do, and koala conservation is one of those really important things."

Ms Eade encouraged people to visit the new koalas, take pictures with them and start that conversation about the importance of the furry creatures.