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A guide to koalas at Griffith

Since 1975, Griffith University has embraced and protected its natural environment and is responsible for the conservation management of almost 180 hectares of forest.

Our five campuses are home to some of Australia’s most unique native plant and animal species, and we play a key role in maintaining and protecting biodiversity in South East Queensland.

Koalas in Queensland

According to the Queensland Government koalas live over a range of open forest and woodland communities, but ultimately their habitat is defined by the presence of a select group of food trees.

The distribution of koalas covers much of Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and a small area in South Australia. In Queensland, the greatest concentration of koalas is in South East Queensland, where Griffith University’s campuses are located.

Griffith EcoCentre tour of Toohey Forest

How to spot a koala

Koalas have poor vision and rely heavily on their other senses. They can sleep for up to 20 hours a day which can make it difficult to spot them moving around their habitat.

They are mostly active at night (nocturnal) and around dawn and dusk. However, they can be seen moving during the day if they are disturbed, get too hot or cold, or need to find a new tree.

Because of their dark grey colouring, koalas are often well camouflaged high up above in trees, wedged between branches. Sometimes seeing their droppings (see image below) on the ground is a good indication that a koala is nearby. You can also look out for scratch marks on trees from their sharp claws as they climb.

An example of koala ‘scat’, Image supplied by Dr Wade L Hadwen, Griffith EcoCentre.


“The breeding season for koalas runs from September to April each year. Right now – July-August – we are seeing lots of female koalas with joeys. They typically emerge from the pouch around 3-6 months of age and will then stay with the mother for up to 12 months,” says Dr Wade L Hadwen from Griffith’s EcoCentre.

Image supplied by Dr Wade L Hadwen.

International student Himanshu recently spotted a koala while arriving at Nathan campus.

“It was surreal! I have only seen pictures of koalas before but seeing one this close and walking around the ground was absolutely surreal. I was walking to campus heart from the other side and I saw a small group of people gathered on my way, to my surprise everyone gathered around to soak in the cuteness. The koala walked around and started climbing a tree, it was amazing to witness this moment,” says Himanshu.

Koala spotted on campus by international student Himanshu.

Nathan and Mt Gravatt campus

Toohey Forest, located adjacent to Griffith University’s Nathan and Mount Gravatt campuses, is a large patch of forest that is completely surrounded by urban and industrial development, so it is disconnected from other patches of forest.It is home to a variety of native wildlife, including owls, bearded dragons and a small population of koalas. The EcoCentre also runs regular Toohey Forest tours and educational events including EcoAmbassador tours, where student EcoAmbassadors help members of our local community to learn more about the forest (and spot the odd koala too!).

Some of the best places to spot koalas on campus at Nathan include:

  • The Johnson path towards North Ring Road
  • University Road
  • Behind the accommodation annex
  • Behind N61 Law building
  • Toohey Forest walking trails beyond the Ring Road

Map of recent koala sightings at Griffith University Nathan campus.

Image supplied by Dr Wade L Hadwen.

Gold Coast campus

Koalas are sometimes spotted on the Gold Coast campus, however the dense population of the surrounding suburbs mean that the best places to see them are usually in the dense forests and conservation areas nearby. 

According to the Gold Coast City Council, koala populations are found in locations along the east of the Pacific Motorway (M1) with the majority to the west where there is dense forest. They have been sighted in a number of conservation areas, including Pimpama River, Wongawallan (Wilkes Scrub), Clagiraba (Lower Beechmont–Mount Nathan), Coombabah, Elanora, Numinbah Valley, Tugun Hill and Upper Mudgeeraba.

Logan campus

Koalas have been sighted in many parks in and around Logan City including the Daisy Hill Conservation Park. The Daisy Hill reserve is also home to the Daisy Hill Koala Centre, a dedicated koala education centre which houses a large outdoor koala viewing enclosure and many interactive displays. 

Learn where else to spot them around Logan by visiting the Logan City Council website.

Koala conservation

Griffith leads several key environmental and conservation research centres and is a key partner in the Bushfire Recovery Project. Our ongoing commitment to protecting the environment is making a difference to our students, staff and communities.

Sustainability at Griffith

Griffith University is aligned with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and is committed to providing inclusive, equitable, and quality education, while fostering partnerships for the goals.


Watch: Koalas find a home at Toohey Forest


Find out more about our Science and Environment programs here.

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